1 Samuel 3 Study Notes


3:1 On served, see note at 2:11. Prophetic visions were not widespread because of the general corruption of the time. God might withhold his word from people who showed by their conduct they did not want to receive it.

3:2-3 The lamp of God was to burn from evening until morning (Ex 27:21), so the wording suggests a time just before dawn.

3:4-6 When the Lord called Samuel, the youth confused the voice with that of Eli.

3:7 The text now gives a reason why Samuel did not recognize God’s call—no prior vision or voice had come to him.

3:8 After the third time, Eli surmised that Samuel might be hearing God’s voice. Perhaps no one else was present in the tabernacle complex.

3:9 Eli’s suggested words to Samuel, Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening, provide a model prayer for those who seek to follow God’s will.

3:10 The twofold Samuel, Samuel may indicate urgency, as it did with Abraham on Mount Moriah (Gn 22:11), with Moses at the burning bush (Ex 3:4), or with Saul of Tarsus on the road to Damascus (Ac 9:4).

3:11 The phrase everyone who hears about it will shudder means literally “the two ears of everyone who hears about it will tingle (or ring or quiver),” indicating a response to a horrific report (2Kg 21:12; Jr 19:3).

3:12 Everything I said about his family refers to 2:27-36.

3:13 Eli did try to stop his sons (2:23-25), but apparently his words came after he had let their abuses continue too long.

3:14 The phrase wiped out might be translated “atoned for.”

3:15 Samuel was afraid to tell Eli the vision, probably because Eli had served as Samuel’s guardian and mentor and Samuel did not want to give him bad news.

3:16-17 Eli’s words sound harsh, but they were probably intended to encourage Samuel to share the full details of his revelation. This was the standard form of an oath (cp. 2Sm 3:35).

3:18 The Lord’s word to Samuel confirmed the earlier word that Eli had received from the man of God (2:27-36). Eli’s words emphasize the sovereignty of God.

3:19 Samuel began his prophetic ministry, and the Lord authenticated it according to Dt 18:21-22.

3:20 The cities of Dan and Beer-sheba essentially marked the northern and southern borders of Israel, respectively, spanning a distance of about 110 miles (2Sm 3:10; 24:2).

3:21 Samuel had demonstrated a willingness to receive and follow God’s word, so the Lord continued to appear in Shiloh, whereas he had not done so during the unfaithfulness of Eli’s day (v. 1).