1 Sam 3:1-21 – The Lord Calls Samuel

Christian Mölk1 Samuel Leave a Comment

1Sam 3:1

  1. The boy Samuel grows up with the priest Eli because his mother Hannah was actually barren but miraculously became pregnant. Since Hannah had been given her child by God, she chose to give Samuel back to God and thus let him grow up among the priests (1 Sam 1).
    1. In the same way, today we should also hand over our children to the Lord and ask God to bless them (Mark 10:13-16).
      1. Compared to Eli’s two sons, Samuel is a stark contrast. Eli failed to raise his own two sons but does a good job with Samuel.
    1. We do not know exactly how old the boy Samuel was at this time, but according to the Jewish historian Josephus, he was twelve years old.
    1. Probably Samuel served by performing various practical tasks such as “opening the doors of the house of the Lord” as we read in verse 15.
  2. The only time God spoke in the book of Samuel before this occasion is when God judges the priest Eli and his sons for their sinful lives (1 Sam 2:27).
  3. If God’s people honestly and humbly seek God, he will answer (Jer 29:12-13), so presumably God did not speak because both the people and the priesthood were so far removed from God that they were uninterested in God’s voice.
  4. Part of the reason Israel was in a dark period was that Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, abused their priesthood and slept with women who served at the tent of meeting (1 Sam 2).
    1. Eli was warned by a man of God because of this behavior (1 Sam 2:27ff), but he could not get his sons to stop.
    1. Eli was both a parent and a manager of his two sons, and thus had a dual responsibility to rebuke his sons.
      1. Parents have the greatest responsibility, but also the greatest influence, over the spiritual development of their children. A child is far more influenced by the religiosity of his or her parents than by that of the pastor or Sunday school. A parent who does not read the Bible or pray with their children, but leaves it to Sunday school, is unlikely to see their children learn to read the Bible and pray.
    1. When God sends a prophet with a word of judgment, there is always time to repent before the judgment comes (Jonah 3:10).
    1. It is probably no coincidence that Samuel and Eli’s two sons are mentioned alternately in these chapters. Samuel’s pious life is in stark contrast to the unrighteous life of Eli’s two sons. It is not possible to live a selfish and covetous life if one intends to serve God.
      1. Samuel did as God said and lived a life that honored God, which resulted in God entrusting his word to Samuel and allowing him to be a prophet.
      1. Eli’s two sons lived a corrupt and lustful life which resulted in their eventual disappearance from the scene.

1Sam 3:2

  1. Just as Eli the priest had begun to go blind, Israel was also spiritually blind.
  2. For the one who seeks God with all his heart, God will allow himself to be found.

1Sam 3:4

  1. Eli the priest didn’t listen to the man of God, so now God speaks through a little boy. God has many ways of speaking to us and if we don’t listen the first time, it’s not impossible that he will speak to us a second time in a new way.
  2. God speaks to us humans in different ways. Among other things, God can speak to us through a clear and audible voice, through Bible words or through our thoughts.
    1. How do you know that it is actually God’s voice you are hearing and not your own thoughts? Personally, I sometimes find it hard to tell. Sometimes I have a clear sense that it is God speaking, but sometimes I find it hard to know if it is not my own thoughts I am hearing. The best way to find out if it is God speaking or not is to try! Present what you think is God’s message to the person in question and be sure to point out that you are unsure whether it is God’s voice or not and ask the person in question to test whether the message was from God or not. The more you practice and listen, the more God tends to speak and the more confident you become.
  3. Judging from Samuel’s reaction, it seems that God spoke to Samuel with an audible voice.
  4. Even if Samuel doesn’t understand that it is God who is speaking, his response to God’s call is perfectly good!
  5. Abraham (Genesis 22:1), Jacob (Genesis 46:2), Moses (Exodus 3:4), Isaiah (Isaiah 6:8) and Ananias (Acts 9:10) also responded in this way.

1Sam 3:5

  1. Even if Samuel misunderstood the situation, he still does the right thing based on his knowledge. Samuel didn’t understand that it was God speaking, so he dutifully rushes to Eli, who is blind and may be in need of help.

1Sam 3:6

  1. Samuel was not dissing God when he ran away to Eli, he simply did not understand that it was God speaking. God saw Samuel’s heart and spoke again.
  2. It is not uncommon that once God speaks to us, he also confirms it by either saying it again, that a friend has received the same message, or in some other way. If you are unsure whether God has spoken or not, it is not wrong to ask God for some kind of confirmation that you have indeed heard correctly.
    1. Being unsure whether you have heard correctly or not does not necessarily mean that you doubt that God can speak, but that you doubt that you can hear.

1Sam 3:7

  1. Although Samuel grew up among priests, served before the Lord, and seems to have been a pious little boy, he still did not know the Lord.
  2. In the same way, today you can grow up in a Christian family, go to church every Sunday and know the message of the Bible, and still not have given your life to God.
  3. It is right and proper to raise one’s children in the best righteous way possible, but it is still up to each individual to give his or her life to God and become a disciple of Jesus.
  4. We see in this text that it was God who first sought Samuel, not the other way around. According to Jesus, no man can come to Jesus unless the Father “draws him” (John 6:44) and surely Samuel’s mother Hannah had prayed many times for her little son Samuel, and now she is getting answers.

1Sam 3:8-9

  1. Here, Eli the priest gives Samuel the boy good advice. Eli tells Samuel to make himself available to God’s voice, to wait for God’s word, and to respond humbly and respectfully if God should speak again.
    1. In order to listen to God’s voice, it is good to make yourself available. Samuel goes back to his room and waits for God to speak. If you live too busy a life and can never sit still, there’s a good chance you’ll rarely hear God’s voice.
    1. Once God spoke, Eli wanted Samuel to say, “Your servant is listening.” It is important to understand that it is God who has power and that we are very small compared to God.

1Sam 3:10

  1. It is very interesting that it says “Then the Lord came and stood there”. So it seems that this was a physical manifestation of God. Perhaps it was Jesus who somehow appeared to Samuel?

1Sam 3:11

  1. That what God will do will “echo in both ears” was an expression that what is to come is great and terrible (2 Kings 21:12).
  2. The message that God wants Samuel to convey to Eli is a terrible judgment on Eli and his family.

1Sam 3:14

  1. Eli has previously received a word of warning from the man of God, yet has not repented and now it is too late.
  2. In the same way, we should think today that as long as we live, we have time to repent and start believing in Jesus. But when this life is over and we have to come before the Lord, it is too late to repent. Now is the time for reconciliation, now is the time for repentance, take care while grace is still offered!
  3. What then happened to Eli and his family was that he himself fell backwards and broke his neck (1 Sam 4:18), his two sons died in the war (1 Sam 4:17), many of his descendants were killed at Nob (1 Sam 22:17-19), and the high priesthood was transferred to the family of Zadok (1 Kings 2:26-27, 35).

1Sam 3:17-18

  1. Little Samuel must have trembled at the prospect of saying this. It’s much easier and more fun to deliver happy, positive messages from the Lord, but a prophet must also be able to deliver a word of warning. A prophet who never dares to tell it like it really is runs the risk of tempting the people concerned to continue living a life of sin.
    1. A prophet who does not tell the whole truth is like a doctor who examines us and finds that we have a deadly disease, yet tells us that we are perfectly healthy. Just as a doctor has a responsibility to communicate the whole truth about our health, so a prophet and a sermon have a responsibility to proclaim the whole word of God, not just the positive.
  2. What would you do if someone told you that you are a sinner? Would you shrug it off and say, “You’re only human!”?
    1. When we are convinced that we are sinners, it is important that we repent and confess our sin. Then we can have our sins forgiven and have a new and better life.
    1. The positive thing about Eli was that he was open to God’s word, he wanted to listen to God, the negative thing is that he unfortunately did not change his life in response to God’s word.

1Sam 3:20

  1. Dan was a city in the far north of Israel and Beer-Sheba a city in the far south. The expression “from Dan to Beer-Sheba” was thus an expression similar to our English “from north to south”. The expression means “all of Israel”.

1Sam 3:21

  1. God reveals himself most often through his “word”, that is, through the Bible.
  2. Listening to a sermon or reading the Bible not only means learning more about the Christian faith, it means first and foremost that you can meet God through the words of the Bible.
  3. If you want to meet the Lord through the words of the Bible, you should listen to Eli’s advice to Samuel in verse 9; to make yourself available to God’s voice, to wait for God’s word, and to respond humbly and respectfully if God speaks.
Share & Print

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *