God Calls Samuel
The boy Samuel was Eli’s helper and served the LORD with him. At that time the LORD did not speak directly to people very often. There were very few visions.
Eli’s eyes were getting so weak that he was almost blind. One night he went to his room to go to bed. The special lamp in the LORD’S temple* was still burning, so Samuel lay down in the temple near where the Holy Box was. The LORD called Samuel, and Samuel answered, “Here I am.” Samuel thought Eli was calling him, so he ran to Eli and said, “Here I am. You called me.”
But Eli said, “I didn’t call you. Go back to bed.”
So Samuel went back to bed. Again the LORD called, “Samuel!” Again Samuel ran to Eli and said, “Here I am. You called me.”
Eli said, “I didn’t call you. Go back to bed.”
Samuel did not yet know the LORD because the LORD had not spoken directly to him before.
The LORD called Samuel the third time. Again Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am. You called me.”
Finally, Eli understood that the LORD was calling the boy. Eli told Samuel, “Go to bed. If he calls you again, say, ‘Speak, LORD. I am your servant, and I am listening.’ ”
So Samuel went back to bed. 10 The LORD came and stood there. He called as he did before, saying, “Samuel, Samuel!”
Samuel said, “Speak. I am your servant, and I am listening.”
11 The LORD said to Samuel, “I will soon do things in Israel that will shock anyone who hears about them. 12 I will do everything I said I would do against Eli and his family, everything from the beginning to the end. 13 I told Eli I would punish his family forever. I will do this because Eli knew his sons were saying and doing bad things against God. But he failed to control them. 14 That is why I swore an oath that sacrifices and offerings will never take away the sins of the people in Eli’s family.
15 Samuel lay down in bed until the morning came. He got up early and opened the doors of the LORD’S house. Samuel was afraid to tell Eli about the vision.
16 But Eli said to Samuel, “Samuel, my son.”
Samuel answered, “Yes, sir.”
17 Eli asked, “What did God say to you? Don’t hide it from me. God will punish you if you hide anything from the message he spoke to you.”
18 So Samuel told Eli everything. He did not hide anything from him.
Eli said, “He is the LORD. Let him do whatever he thinks is right.”
19 The LORD was with Samuel while he grew up. He did not let any of Samuel’s messages prove false. 20 Then all Israel, from Dan to Beersheba, knew that Samuel was a true prophet of the LORD. 21 And the LORD continued to appear to Samuel at Shiloh. There he told Samuel what he wanted.§
* 3:3 temple This could mean the Holy Tent at Shiloh where people went to worship the Lord or a larger area where they put the Holy Tent. 3:7 the LORD … him before Literally, “the word of the LORD had not yet been revealed to him.” 3:14 Or “That is why I swore an oath that Eli’s family would not be forgiven for their sins against the offerings and sacrifices.” § 3:21 word of the LORD This often means simply “a message from God.” But sometimes it may mean a special way God spoke to his prophets.