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Here Am I

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The Bible Knowledge Commentary 3. Samuel’s Vindication (3:15–21)

3. SAMUEL’S VINDICATION (3:15–21)

3:15–21. This first act of Samuel as a prophet was recognized by Eli as having come from God. This was only the beginning of a public ministry as prophet, which would last through a lifetime and be recognized by all the people as a divine calling. The word of the LORD had been rare in those days (v. 1). Now, however, it would be common, for God had found a man to whom He could entrust it. The sign that Samuel was a spokesman for God was the fact that God let none of his words fall to the ground (v. 19), that is, everything he prophesied came to pass. All Israel from Dan to Beersheba (the northernmost and southernmost towns in Israel—a distance of about 150 miles) recognized that Samuel was … a prophet of the LORD. There was no clearer indication that a man was called to be a prophet than the fact that his predictive word invariably was fulfilled (Deut. 18:21–22). When it was understood that Samuel’s credentials as a prophet were established, a new era was under way. Revelation through priest and ephod was passing away, and revelation through prophets was beginning.

1. the divine Call[voice] (3:1–10)
3:1–10. Though Samuel had been dedicated to the Levitical ministry at Shiloh and had undergone training in the things of the Lord, he had not yet been addressed by the direct revelation of God (v. 7). At last the time came for the Lord to fulfill His promise to remove Eli’s priesthood and establish another, so the divine silence was broken. While Samuel was reclining in the tabernacle (the meaning of the Heb. hêkāl, temple, v. 3) attending to the burning lamp, he heard the voice of the Lord, which he mistakenly took to be that of Eli. Finally Eli discerned that the lad was being addressed by the Lord so he advised him to submit himself to whatever the Lord would have him do.
Samuel heard his name. He gets up and runs to Eli. Eli’s eyes had grown worse. In the darkness before dawn, he might need help. Samuel wants to help. He wants to serve. That’s good. And how could Samuel have recognized the Lord calling out to him? “In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions” ( NIV1984). It had been centuries since the Lord had regularly spoken through Moses. No prophet like that had been raised up since then. Even though his parents as well as Eli would have told him about the Lord and his promise of the Savior, Samuel did not know that the Lord would reveal himself in this special way. So it’s no wonder that Samuel figured Eli was calling. And yet, do you see how it would’ve been better for Samuel to listen first before the busyness of running? That’s what he needed to do in the end anyway. Listen first. “Speak, for your servant is listening” ( NIV1984).
2. the divine message (3:11–14)
But what about you and me? What excuse do we have for not listening first? We might say that it’s been a lot longer for us since the Lord spoke directly to a prophet. As far as we know that has not happened since the days of the Apostles. But that’s no excuse. For the Lord has spoken to us and keeps on speaking to us in a way that Samuel never experienced. The writer of Hebrews brings this out as he begins, “In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son” (, NIV1984). You, dear friends, you have the words and works of Jesus himself, the Son of God, recorded and proclaimed through the Evangelists and the Apostles of the New Testament. We have the whole Bible. And we have his word made visible in the Sacraments, which bring us Jesus.
2. the divine message (3:11–14)
3:11–14. The message consisted of the announcement that the promised removal of Eli’s family from the priesthood was about to occur. It was an announcement so shocking that it would cause the ears of the people to ring like hammer blows on a bell. The reason is explicitly stated—Eli’s sons were wicked, and though he knew it he failed to restrain them. Though the message was given right then to Eli through Samuel, Eli himself lived for a short time thereafter, and indeed the priesthood continued in his family for three more generations. This is clear from 14:3—Ahijah served as priest to King Saul. He is identified as the great-grandson of Eli through Phinehas and Ahitub. The prophecy to Samuel came to pass fully when Abiathar, son of Ahijah (the same as Ahimelech of 22:9–12), was apparently replaced by King David with Zadok after Abiathar sided with Adonijah against Solomon (; , ). Thus the time between prophecy and fulfillment was more than 130 years. Yet it did come to pass and the priesthood switched to Zadok, a descendant of Aaron’s son Eleazar, and it remained with his offspring throughout Israel’s subsequent history.
Merrill, E. H. (1985). 1 Samuel. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 1, p. 435). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
3:11–14. The message consisted of the announcement that the promised removal of Eli’s family from the priesthood was about to occur. It was an announcement so shocking that it would cause the ears of the people to ring like hammer blows on a bell. The reason is explicitly stated—Eli’s sons were wicked, and though he knew it he failed to restrain them. Though the message was given right then to Eli through Samuel, Eli himself lived for a short time thereafter, and indeed the priesthood continued in his family for three more generations. This is clear from 14:3—Ahijah served as priest to King Saul. He is identified as the great-grandson of Eli through Phinehas and Ahitub. The prophecy to Samuel came to pass fully when Abiathar, son of Ahijah (the same as Ahimelech of 22:9–12), was apparently replaced by King David with Zadok after Abiathar sided with Adonijah against Solomon (; , ). Thus the time between prophecy and fulfillment was more than 130 years. Yet it did come to pass and the priesthood switched to Zadok, a descendant of Aaron’s son Eleazar, and it remained with his offspring throughout Israel’s subsequent history.
3. Samuel’s Vindication (3:15–21)
3:15–21. This first act of Samuel as a prophet was recognized by Eli as having come from God. This was only the beginning of a public ministry as prophet, which would last through a lifetime and be recognized by all the people as a divine calling. The word of the Lord had been rare in those days (v. 1). Now, however, it would be common, for God had found a man to whom He could entrust it. The sign that Samuel was a spokesman for God was the fact that God let none of his words fall to the ground (v. 19), that is, everything he prophesied came to pass. All Israel from Dan to Beersheba (the northernmost and southernmost towns in Israel—a distance of about 150 miles) recognized that Samuel was … a prophet of the Lord. There was no clearer indication that a man was called to be a prophet than the fact that his predictive word invariably was fulfilled (). When it was understood that Samuel’s credentials as a prophet were established, a new era was under way. Revelation through priest and ephod was passing away, and revelation through prophets was beginning.
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