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Bible Commentaries
1 Samuel 3

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

Verse 1

And the child Samuel ministered unto the LORD before Eli. And the word of the LORD was precious in those days; there was no open vision.

The child Samuel ministered unto the Lord before Eli. His ministry consisted, of course, of such duties in or about the sanctuary as were suited to his age, which is supposed now to have been about twelve years. Whether the office had been specially assigned him, or it arose from the interest inspired by the story of his birth, Eli kept him also as his immediate attendant (Michaelis): and he resided not in the sanctuary, but in one of the tents or apartments around it, assigned for the accommodation of the priests and Levites, his being near to that of the high priest, who seems to have been particularly attached to the boy.

The word of the Lord was precious in those days, [ yaaqaar (H3368), rare, and therefore precious]. "In those days" implies a contrast between the scarcity of that period and the fullness of revelation at other times, either before or after; and in point of fact only two prophets are mentioned as having appeared during the whole administration of the judges (Judges 4:4; Judges 6:8).

There was no open vision, [ nipraats (H6555), spread abroad, common; chaazown (H2377), a vision from God respecting future events, a prophetic vision (Psalms 89:19; Lamentations 2:9; Micah 3:6; Daniel 1:17) - words communicated to a person in a dream (Isaiah 29:7)]. So powerful was the impression made upon the mind by an illusion of the senses, that Samuel thought the sound proceeded from an external voice. And it is evident that the historian considered the voice was wholly the effect of an internal vision, both from the manner in which he introduces the narrative and from 1 Samuel 3:15. "There was no open vision" [Septuagint, ouk een horasis diastellousa] - no publicly recognized prophet whom the people could consult, and from whom they might learn the will of God. There must have been certain indubitable evidences by which a communication from heaven could be distinguished. Eli knew them, because he may have received them, though not so frequently as is implied in the idea of an "open vision."

Verse 2

And it came to pass at that time, when Eli was laid down in his place, and his eyes began to wax dim, that he could not see;

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 3

And ere the lamp of God went out in the temple of the LORD, where the ark of God was, and Samuel was laid down to sleep;

Ere the lamp of God went out in the temple of the Lord. The "temple" seems to have become the established designation of the tabernacle, and the time indicated was toward the morning twilight, as the lamps were extinguished at sunrise (see the note at Exodus 27:20-21; Leviticus 24:2-3; 2 Chronicles 13:11). "Lamp" [ geer (H1616), the candelabrum, or golden candlestick; Septuagint, ho luchnos tou Theou prin episkeuastheenai]. Kimchi gives the following gloss upon the words-`If this be spoken concerning the lamps in the candlestick, the communication was made to Samuel somewhat before day; because the lamps burnt from even until morning; yet did they sometimes some of them go out in the night. They put oil into them by such a measure as should keep them burning from even until morning, and many times they did burn until morning; and they always found the western lamp burning. Now it is said that this prophecy came to Samuel "before the lamp went out" - i:e., while it was not yet light, about the time of cock-crowing; because it is said afterward that Samuel lay until morning. Allegorically, it speaks of the lamp of prophecy: as it is said, the sun arises and the sun sets: before the holy, blessed God cause the sun of one righteous to set, he causeth that of another righteous man to rise. Before Moses' sun set, Joshua's sun arose; before Eli's sun set, Samuel's sun arose; and this is that which is said, "before the lamp of God went out."'

Verse 4

That the LORD called Samuel: and he answered, Here am I.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 5

And he ran unto Eli, and said, Here am I; for thou calledst me. And he said, I called not; lie down again. And he went and lay down.

He ran unto Eli, and said, Here am I; for thou calledst me. It is evident that his sleeping chamber was close to that of the aged high priest, and that he was accustomed to be called during the night.

Verse 6

And the LORD called yet again, Samuel. And Samuel arose and went to Eli, and said, Here am I; for thou didst call me. And he answered, I called not, my son; lie down again. No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 7

Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD, neither was the word of the LORD yet revealed unto him.

Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord - i:e., by the extraordinary prophetic revelations of His Spirit. The three successive calls addressed to the boy convinced Eli, there being no human person in the chamber, of the divine character of the speaker; and he therefore exhorted the child to give a reverential attention to the message.

Verses 8-9

And the LORD called Samuel again the third time. And he arose and went to Eli, and said, Here am I; for thou didst call me. And Eli perceived that the LORD had called the child.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 10

And the LORD came, and stood, and called as at other times, Samuel, Samuel. Then Samuel answered, Speak; for thy servant heareth.

The Lord came, and stood. In the previous calls the voice appeared to proceed from a distance; now the sound was as if the speaker stood beside him, and remained in the same close contiguity until the communication was finished.

Samuel, Samuel. The repetition of his name was intended to arrest the boy's attention.

Verse 11

And the LORD said to Samuel, Behold, I will do a thing in Israel, at which both the ears of every one that heareth it shall tingle.

I will do a thing in Israel. The reference is to the national disasters detailed in the following chapter, and the awful nature of which would strike with astonishment and horror all who should hear of them.

The ears of every one that heareth it shall tingle. This phrase was a familiar and favourite mode of speaking among the Hebrews (cf. 2 Kings 21:12; Jeremiah 19:3).

Verse 12

In that day I will perform against Eli all things which I have spoken concerning his house: when I begin, I will also make an end.

In that day I will perform against Eli all things which I have spoken concerning his house - i:e., at the time appointed; and in the course of Providence, which was between 20 and 30 years of this prophetic denunciation, the judgments threatened by the man of God (1 Samuel 2:27) began to be inflicted.

When I begin, I will also make an end. Judgment being God's strange work, He long delays it, and in the exercise of long-suffering patience affords ample time for repentance. But when the period of grace expires, the judicial infliction commences, and will be carried on until the vial of divine wrath is emptied.

Verse 13

For I have told him that I will judge his house for ever for the iniquity which he knoweth; because his sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not.

I will judge his house - i:e., I will punish (cf. Genesis 15:14) his posterity (cf. 2 Samuel 7:2; 1 Kings 21:29).

For ever - or, for a long time, as the phrase generally signifies in the early historical books.

For the iniquity which he knoweth; because his sons made themselves vile, [ 'ªsher (H834) yaada`

(H3045) kiy (H3588) mªqalliym (H7043) laahem (H3807a) baanaayw (H1121)] - because he knew that his sons were bringing a curse upon themselves [the verb is used reflectively with lª- (the Hebrew preposition)]. And he restrained them not, [ wªlo' (H3808) kihaah (H3543) baam (H871a)] - and he rebuked them not.

Verse 14

And therefore I have sworn unto the house of Eli, that the iniquity of Eli's house shall not be purged with sacrifice nor offering for ever.

Therefore I have sworn - or, I do swear concerning the house of Eli.

Verse 15

And Samuel lay until the morning, and opened the doors of the house of the LORD. And Samuel feared to shew Eli the vision.

Samuel lay until the morning, and opened the doors of the house of the Lord, [ daltowt (H1817), doors]. At first the tabernacle was closed simply by [maacaak] a hanging drawn across (Exodus 36:37). But in the Holy Land it was furnished with doors.

And Samuel feared to show Eli the vision, [ hamar'aah (H4759)]. This word signifies a vision from God (Numbers 12:6; Ezekiel 1:1; Daniel 10:7) in the night season (Genesis 46:2). 'It is always used,' says Hengstenberg, 'of internal visions; sights. When the indirect and incidental references to the subjective character of the incident cannot come into notice, then it is certain that the author, without further observation, narrates internal incidents in the series of the external;' and the sacred historian does so in this context by representing 'the Lord as coming, and standing, and calling' (1 Samuel 3:10).

Verse 16

Then Eli called Samuel, and said, Samuel, my son. And he answered, Here am I.

Then Eli called Samuel. The burden of this communication to Samuel was an extraordinary premonition of the judgments that impended over Eli's house; and the aged priest, having drawn the painful secret from the simple child, exclaimed, "It is the Lord; let him do what seemeth to him good." Such is the spirit of meek and unmurmuring submission in which we ought to receive the dispensations of God, however severe and afflictive. But, in order to form a right estimate of Eli's language and conduct on this occasion, we must consider the overwhelming accumulation of judgments denounced against his person, his sons, his descendants, his altar, and nation. With such a threatening prospect before him, his piety and meekness were wonderful. In his personal character he seems to have been a good man, but his relative conduct was flagrantly bad; and though his misfortunes claim our sympathy, it is impossible to approve or defend the weak and unfaithful course which, in the retributive justice of God, brought these adversities upon him.

Verses 17-18

And he said, What is the thing that the LORD hath said unto thee? I pray thee hide it not from me: God do so to thee, and more also, if thou hide any thing from me of all the things that he said unto thee.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 19

And Samuel grew, and the LORD was with him, and did let none of his words fall to the ground.

And Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him - i:e., he advanced not only in age and physical stature, but in the acquirements of wisdom and piety; and the spiritual gifts with which he was so eminently endowed, showing as they did that he enjoyed the favour and blessing of God, secured him in consequence great influence with the people.

And did let none of his words fall to the ground - a metaphor derived from water being spilt on the ground (cf. Joshua 21:45; Esther 6:10), and signifying that none of Samuel's judgments were falsified by the event, but that all his predictions were fulfilled.

Verse 20

And all Israel from Dan even to Beersheba knew that Samuel was established to be a prophet of the LORD.

All Israel, from Dan even to Beer-sheba, knew that Samuel was established to be a prophet of the Lord, [ ne'ªmaan (H539)] - accredited, verified for a prophet of the Lord. [ naabiy' (H935), a prophet (see the note at 1 Samuel 9:9: cf. Genesis 20:7; Exodus 7:1; Numbers 11:25-29).]

Verse 21

And the LORD appeared again in Shiloh: for the LORD revealed himself to Samuel in Shiloh by the word of the LORD.

And the Lord appeared again in Shiloh, [ wayocep (H3254) Yahweh (H3068) lªheeraa'oh (H7200), and the Lord added to the seeing] - i:e., Yahweh (the revealer of God to man) continued to appear to Samuel in Shiloh; namely, in visions, or by mental revelation; because it deserves notice that the verb here used is that from which ro'eh (H7200), 'the seer,' comes.

For the Lord revealed himself to Samuel ... by the word of the Lord. The ancient Jews understood "the word of the Lord" in a personal sense, (Paulis' 'Great Mystery,' part 3:) But the phrase cannot bear this meaning; because in that case the Lord would be said to reveal himself by himself. It must signify His word of command or prophecy.

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 3". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/1-samuel-3.html. 1871-8.
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