1 Samuel 3:21 Commentary: Samuel’s Divine Calling at Shiloh

And the Lord appeared again at Shiloh, for the Lord revealed himself to Samuel at Shiloh by the word of the Lord.

1 Samuel 3:21, ESV

1 Samuel 3:21 Commentary

1 Samuel 3:21 tells of a pivotal moment where God reveals Himself to Samuel at Shiloh, marking a significant turn in Israel’s history and Samuel’s prophetic journey. This verse captures the essence of God’s intimate communication with His chosen prophet, a young Samuel, which profoundly impacted Israel’s spiritual landscape.

The historical setting of this verse is rooted in the period of the Judges, a time characterized by social and religious turmoil in Israel. Shiloh was the central religious hub where the Ark of the Covenant resided (Joshua 18:1), and the young Samuel served under Eli, the high priest.

This era was marked by a rarity of divine messages and widespread moral decay (1 Samuel 3:1).

Theologically, this verse sits within the broader narrative of God’s relentless pursuit of His people. Samuel’s calling represents a pivotal shift from the era of the Judges to the prophetic era, signifying a renewal of divine communication and guidance for Israel. A transition that underscores the importance of listening and responding to God’s call, a theme that permeates the Bible.

A detailed interpretation of the verse emphasizes God’s direct revelation to Samuel. The phrase “appeared again” suggests a renewal of God’s active presence, while “by the word of the Lord” highlights the power and centrality of divine speech. This encounter signifies God’s choice of Samuel as a prophet and the beginning of his mission to lead Israel spiritually.

The ethical and moral implications are profound: Samuel’s calling reminds us of the importance of listening to God’s voice and the responsibility that comes with receiving His revelation – challenging readers to consider their own responsiveness to God’s guidance and the moral integrity required to fulfill His calling.

For the contemporary Christian, this verse speaks to the need for spiritual leaders and the power of divine communication, addressing the longing for moral clarity and divine guidance in a complex world.

Cross-references like Jeremiah 7:12, which recalls Shiloh’s earlier significance and its eventual desolation due to Israel’s disobedience, provide a stark contrast and a warning. References to Samuel’s later role as a prophet and judge (1 Samuel 9:15-16) further underscore the importance of his initial divine encounter.

1 Samuel 3:21 is a testament to God’s active presence and communication in a time of need.

It marks a turning point for Israel and for Samuel as well, whose prophetic voice would shape the nation’s future and invites reflection on the nature of divine calls and the readiness of each individual to respond with faith and integrity.

Read 1 Samuel 3:21 in Additional Translations

And the Lord appeared again in Shiloh: for the Lord revealed himself to Samuel in Shiloh by the word of the Lord.

1 Samuel 3:21, KJV

The Lord continued to appear at Shiloh, and there he revealed himself to Samuel through his word.

1 Samuel 3:21, NIV

The Lord continued to appear at Shiloh and gave messages to Samuel there at the Tabernacle.

1 Samuel 3:21, NLT

Then the Lord appeared again in Shiloh. For the Lord revealed Himself to Samuel in Shiloh by the word of the Lord.

1 Samuel 3:21, NKJV

The Lord continued to appear in Shiloh, because there he revealed himself to Samuel by his word.

1 Samuel 3:21, CSB