1 Samuel 3 Commentary
1 Samuel 3 stands as a crucial chapter in biblical narrative, marking the transition of prophetic leadership in Israel.
In this chapter, the young Samuel, serving under the priest Eli at the temple in Shiloh, experiences a divine calling that sets the course for his life and the nation of Israel. The chapter vividly portrays the rare occurrence of God’s direct communication during a time when such events were not common and highlights the significant moment when Samuel, initially mistaking God’s voice for Eli’s, receives a daunting message about the future of Eli’s family.
This chapter not only establishes Samuel as a key prophet but also signals a shift in Israel’s spiritual journey.
1 Samuel 3:1-10, The Lord Calls Samuel at Night
The story unfolds in a time when divine messages were rare and visions infrequent: The young Samuel, serving under Eli in the temple, experiences a life-changing encounter. The key moment is when Samuel, hearing his name called, repeatedly goes to Eli, mistaking the voice for Eli’s (1 Samuel 3:4-6).
This misunderstanding highlights the rarity of direct divine communication during this period. It’s only after the third occurrence that Eli realizes the voice is the Lord’s and instructs Samuel on how to respond (1 Samuel 3:8-9). The pivotal verse here is when Samuel says, “Speak, for your servant is listening” (1 Samuel 3:10), demonstrating his readiness to serve and obey God.
This interaction marks the beginning of Samuel’s journey as a prophet and his direct communication with God.
1 Samuel 3:11-14, The Lord’s Message of Judgment Against Eli’s House
God reveals to Samuel a message of impending judgment against Eli’s house (1 Samuel 3:11). This judgment, resulting from Eli’s failure to restrain his sons who were blaspheming God, signifies a major shift. The key verse here is “I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears about it tingle” (1 Samuel 3:11), indicating the severity of the coming judgment.
This prophecy not only serves as a divine indictment against Eli’s family but also underlines the consequences of failing to uphold God’s commandments.
1 Samuel 3:15-18, Samuel Relays God’s Message to Eli
Samuel, though apprehensive, fulfills his duty by relaying the message to Eli (1 Samuel 3:15). Eli’s response is significant as he accepts the judgment with resignation, saying, “He is the Lord; let him do what is good in his eyes” (1 Samuel 3:18).
This reaction reflects Eli’s recognition of God’s sovereignty, despite the dire prophecy against his family. It also shows a contrast between Eli’s submission to God’s will and his earlier failure to correct his sons.
1 Samuel 3:19-21, Samuel Established as a Prophet of the Lord
In the closing verses, Samuel’s growth as a prophet is emphasized. “The Lord was with Samuel as he grew up, and he let none of Samuel’s words fall to the ground” (1 Samuel 3:19) indicates that Samuel’s prophecies were accurate and respected. This phrase symbolizes Samuel’s credibility and the fulfillment of his role as God’s messenger.
The final verse, “The Lord continued to appear at Shiloh, and there he revealed himself to Samuel through his word” (1 Samuel 3:21), encapsulates the establishment of Samuel as a recognized prophet in Israel, marking a new era of prophetic leadership.