Opening Prayer

Patient One, so often my life is tamper-resistant to you. May your Word break through and make me whole.

Read 1 Samuel 3:1 – 4:1a

The Lord Calls Samuel

3 The boy Samuel ministered before the Lord under Eli. In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions.

One night Eli, whose eyes were becoming so weak that he could barely see, was lying down in his usual place. The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the house of the Lord, where the ark of God was. Then the Lord called Samuel.

Samuel answered, “Here I am.” And he ran to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”

But Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.” So he went and lay down.

Again the Lord called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”

“My son,” Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.”

Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord: The word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him.

A third time the Lord called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”

Then Eli realized that the Lord was calling the boy. So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.

10 The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!”

Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”

11 And the Lord said to Samuel: “See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears about it tingle. 12 At that time I will carry out against Eli everything I spoke against his family—from beginning to end. 13 For I told him that I would judge his family forever because of the sin he knew about; his sons blasphemed God,[a] and he failed to restrain them. 14 Therefore I swore to the house of Eli, ‘The guilt of Eli’s house will never be atoned for by sacrifice or offering.’”

15 Samuel lay down until morning and then opened the doors of the house of the Lord. He was afraid to tell Eli the vision, 16 but Eli called him and said, “Samuel, my son.”

Samuel answered, “Here I am.”

17 “What was it he said to you?” Eli asked. “Do not hide it from me. May God deal with you, be it ever so severely, if you hide from me anything he told you.” 18 So Samuel told him everything, hiding nothing from him. Then Eli said, “He is the Lord; let him do what is good in his eyes.”

19 The Lord was with Samuel as he grew up, and he let none of Samuel’s words fall to the ground. 20 And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba recognized that Samuel was attested as a prophet of the Lord. 21 The Lord continued to appear at Shiloh, and there he revealed himself to Samuel through his word.

4 And Samuel’s word came to all Israel.


  1. 1 Samuel 3:13 An ancient Hebrew scribal tradition (see also Septuagint); Masoretic Text sons made themselves contemptible

New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.


‘Speak, Lord, in the stillness, while I wait on you.’1

Think Further

It seems sad that, although Samuel could open the doors of the house of the Lord and was obviously now really integrated into the practical aspects of a priestly ministry (even sleeping with the Ark of God) and was clearly growing in favor with God,2 he seemed to lack a personal knowledge of the Lord. Today, too, it is very easy to get caught up in churchy things and to miss the point altogether. For example, how many children today are proficient choral scholars, yet do not know the God they sing about? For Samuel, the events of this chapter were a watershed. Compare verse 1 (God’s silence) with verses 19–21 (the whole nation hearing God’s word) – and all because a child was willing to listen and obey.

Interestingly, Samuel is given a fully adult, very fierce message to pass on to Eli – no sheltering of a child from harsh realities back then. For Eli, it was nothing new, and he accepted it in the same frame of mind as he had always done. Evans says, ‘Eli stands as a warning against drifting through life with a well-meaning attitude but without taking up the responsibilities that are really ours.’3 For Samuel, however, this was a turning point. He had met with God. From now on his relationship with God was close and he faithfully listened and spoke out God’s word to the whole nation. As he grew, the people in turn began to see in him a mature man of God, a widely recognized prophet. God was no longer silent.

Are we the kind of people in whom others can see God? A church leader, or simply an ordinary Christian, will be recognized as trustworthy by who they are and what they say and do, not by the authority they assume for themselves.


Pray that you may always listen to God and obey his Word.

Closing prayer

Gracious God, today I pray for listening ears, eager to hear your voice, and then to obey.

1 Emily Mary Crawford, 1864–1927 2 1 Sam 2:26 3 Mary Evans, The Message of Samuel, IVP, 2004, p40

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Last Updated on August 29, 2022 by kingstar

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