Dave Burnette's Commentary

1 Samuel Chapter 3

Written By: God through Inspiration
Penned By: Samuel, Nathan, & Gad 
Date Penned: (931-975 BC)
Overview: Samuel, Israel's Last Judge (c 1-31)
Theme: Eli and Samuel (c 1-7)
Message: God Calls Samuel to Serve Him (v 1-21)

1 Samuel 3 Commentary

(3:1-7) God's Word is Not Heard - Although God had spoken directly and audibly with Moses and Joshua, his word became rare during the three centuries of rule by judges. By Eli's time, few prophets were speaking God's messages to Israel. Why? Look at the attitude of Eli's sons. They, like many others at this time, either refused to listen to God or allowed greed to get in the way of any communication with him. Listening and responding is vital in a relationship with God. Although God does not always use the sound of a human voice, he always speaks clearly through the Bible. To receive his messages, we must be ready to listen and to act upon what he tells us. Like Samuel, be ready to say "Here am I" when God calls you to action

(3:2-3) The Ark is Stored in a Holy Place - The ark of God was kept in the most holy place, the innermost room of the tabernacle, where only the high priest could enter once a year. In front of the most holy place was the holy place, a small room where the other sacred furniture of the tabernacle was kept (the altar of incense, the table for the special bread, and the candlestick). Just outside the holy place was a courtyard with small rooms where the priests were to stay. Samuel probably slept here with the other priests, only a few yards away from the ark.

(3:8-9) Samuel Hears From the Lord - One would naturally expect an audible message from God to be given to the high priest Eli and not to the child Samuel. Eli was older and more experienced, and he held the proper position. But God's chain of command is based on faith and an openness to listen, not on age or position. In finding faithful followers, God may use something unexpected. Be prepared for the Lord to work at any place, at any time, and through anyone he chooses.

(3:10) Samuel Learns to Listen to the Lord - Samuel was young, but he was learning to listen to God. Many priests and even King Saul would not do so. The whole nation of Israel found it difficult (Psalm 95:6-8). Each day we can begin our prayers this way: "Speak to me, Lord. I'm listening."

(3:13) Eli Neglects His Family - Eli had spent his entire life in service to God. His responsibility was to oversee all the worship in Israel. But in pursuing this great mission, he neglected the responsibilities in his own home. Don't let your desire to do God's work cause you to neglect your family. If you do, your mission may degenerate into a quest for personal importance, and your family will suffer the consequences of your neglect.

(3:14) A Severe Punishment - God was saying that the sin of Eli's sons could not be covered by sacrifice and that their punishment was certain. These sins were so serious and Eli's sons so entrenched in their wickedness that there was no remedy for the situation.

(3:20) A Term for Boundaries - The phrase "from Dan . . to Beer-sheba" was often used to describe the boundaries of the Promised Land. Dan was one of the northernmost cities in the land, and Beer-sheba was one of the cities farthest south. In this context, it was a way of emphasizing that everyone in Israel knew that Samuel had been called to be a prophet.


Dave Burnette's Life Application

Listen to the Lord


Each day we walk through the Bible chapter by chapter, making application of our text to help us grow in the Lord. Today we continue in the book of 1st Samuel with Chapter 3, and we see the account of the Lord Speaking to Samuel the child instead of Eli the Priest. From this text, we can understand that the Lord speaks to individuals, to listen for the Lord's voice because He speaks to us today through His Spirit and His Word, but what catches my eye is how the Lord says to those so clearly that live righteously even at such an early age. It reminds me of an eight-year-old boy who I taught in Church. He suggested that  I change the name of my business because the Lord showed him that I should honor God in all things, including my business. I listened to him, and now my company, Christian Inc., glorifies God and attains more customers today because we honor God with our name. How about you? Do you Listen to the Lord speak to you in your life? Let us learn from our text today that the Lord says words of wisdom that will impact our lives.


1 Samuel 3

1 Samuel 3

 1And 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.

 2And 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;

 3And 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;

 4That the LORD called Samuel: and he answered, Here am I.

 5And 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.

 6And 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.

 7Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD, neither was the word of the LORD yet revealed unto him.

 8And 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.

 9Therefore Eli said unto Samuel, Go, lie down: and it shall be, if he call thee, that thou shalt say, Speak, LORD; for thy servant heareth. So Samuel went and lay down in his place.

 10And the LORD came, and stood, and called as at other times, Samuel, Samuel. Then Samuel answered, Speak; for thy servant heareth.

 11And 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.

 12In 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.

 13For 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.

 14And 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.

 15And Samuel lay until the morning, and opened the doors of the house of the LORD. And Samuel feared to shew Eli the vision.

 16Then Eli called Samuel, and said, Samuel, my son. And he answered, Here am I.

 17And 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.

 18And Samuel told him every whit, and hid nothing from him. And he said, It is the LORD: let him do what seemeth him good.

 19And Samuel grew, and the LORD was with him, and did let none of his words fall to the ground.

 20And all Israel from Dan even to Beersheba knew that Samuel was established to be a prophet of the LORD.

 21And the LORD appeared again in Shiloh: for the LORD revealed himself to Samuel in Shiloh by the word of the LORD.