The Call of Samuel

A man was having difficulty communicating with is wife and concluded that she was becoming hard of hearing. So he decided to conduct a test without her knowing about it. One evening he sat in a chair on the far side of the room. Her back was to him and she could not see him. … More


Listening and responding is vital in a relationship with God. As we see from this passage, God is no respecter of age or position when it comes to communication. He can and may work through anyone he chooses. Most of us would have expected God to speak to the older statesman, Eli, and not to the child, Samuel. When God spoke to Samuel, he did not recognize that it was God speaking, for this had not happened to him before. In fact, His speaking to anyone in an audible voice had been rare during the three centuries of rule by the Judges, where everyone did what was right in his own eyes. It took Eli to convince Samuel that it must be God speaking and he needed to listen (vv. 1-10).

The message God had for Samuel was so dreadful that it would cause the ears of anyone who heard it to tingle (vv. 11-12). Keep in mind Eli had spent his entire life in service to God and overseeing the worship in Israel but, in doing so, he neglected his responsibilities in his own home (v. 13). You can understand why Samuel was hesitant to share it with Eli, but Eli asked him to do so (vv. 14-19).

Eli’s sons are described as scoundrels, or wicked men and the degree of their wickedness is shown by the procedures they’d introduced around the sacrificial system. What was supposed to happen, you see, was that the breast and the right thigh were to be given to the priest and the rest was either burnt as a burnt offering to God or was boiled and the meat used for the family feast. These young men wanted more. So before the meat was even cooked they’d come along and help themselves. And you can imagine that if all you’d brought was a small bird then you might end up with nothing to eat, while the priests fattened themselves up on the best they could get. And because Eli had failed to restrain them from this blasphemy he and his family line was to be all but wiped out. The priesthood that had been theirs since the days of Moses and Aaron was to be taken away and given to another.

Even though God had promised that Eli’s house would minister forever, it wouldn’t happen. Their failure was too great. In fact their failure is an example of the continuing failure of family lines to maintain faithfulness to God through the generations. The phrase “from Dan to Beersheba,” emphasized that everyone in Israel know that Samuel was called to be a prophet (vv. 20-21).


I must never let the desire to do God’s work cause me to neglect my family. The consequences will bring heartache and shame to me and them.

I Samuel 3:1-21 (English Standard Version)

Now the young man Samuel was ministering to the LORD under Eli. And the word of the LORD was rare in those days; there was no frequent vision. At that time Eli, whose eyesight had begun to grow dim so that he could not see, was lying down in his own place. The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the LORD, where the ark of God was. Then the LORD called Samuel, and he said, "Here I am!" and ran to Eli and said, "Here I am, for you called me." But he said, "I did not call; lie down again." So he went and lay down. And the LORD called again, "Samuel!" and Samuel arose and went to Eli and said, "Here I am, for you called me." But he said, "I did not call, my son; lie down again." Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD, and the word of the LORD had not yet been revealed to him. And the LORD called Samuel again the third time. And he arose and went to Eli and said, "Here I am, for you called me." Then Eli perceived that the LORD was calling the young man. Therefore Eli said to Samuel, "Go, lie down, and if he calls you, you shall say, 'Speak, LORD, for your servant hears.'" So Samuel went and lay down in his place. And the LORD came and stood, calling as at other times, "Samuel! Samuel!" And Samuel said, "Speak, for your servant hears." Then the LORD said to Samuel, "Behold, I am about to do a thing in Israel at which the two ears of everyone who hears it will tingle. On that day I will fulfill against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end. And I declare to him that I am about to punish his house forever, for the iniquity that he knew, because his sons were blaspheming God, and he did not restrain them. Therefore I swear to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli's house shall not be atoned for by sacrifice or offering forever." Samuel lay until morning; then he opened the doors of the house of the LORD. And Samuel was afraid to tell the vision to Eli. But Eli called Samuel and said, "Samuel, my son." And he said, "Here I am." And Eli said, "What was it that he told you? Do not hide it from me. May God do so to you and more also if you hide anything from me of all that he told you." So Samuel told him everything and hid nothing from him. And he said, "It is the LORD. Let him do what seems good to him." And Samuel grew, and the LORD was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground. And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba knew that Samuel was established as a prophet of the LORD. And the LORD appeared again at Shiloh, for the LORD revealed himself to Samuel at Shiloh by the word of the LORD.

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