Yahweh’s call to Samuel (1 Sam 3:1-3:9)

“Now the boy Samuel was ministering to Yahweh under Eli. The word of Yahweh was rare in those days. Visions were not widespread.”

It does not say how old Samuel is at this time, but he is still a boy. Jewish tradition puts him at the age 12. Luke puts Jesus at this age of 12 when he was teaching in the temple. So there may be some coincidence. Interesting enough the idea of visions and word of Yahweh was not widespread then, as if there may have been a time when it was.

“At that time Eli, whose eyesight had begun to grow dim, so that he could not see, was lying down in his room. The lamp of God had not yet gone out. Samuel was lying down in the temple of Yahweh, where the ark of God was. Then Yahweh called. ‘Samuel! Samuel!’ Samuel said. ‘Here I am!’ He ran to Eli, and said. ‘Here I am, you called me.’ But Eli said. ‘I did not call. Lie down again.’ So he went and lay down. Yahweh called again. ‘Samuel!’ Samuel got up and went to Eli, and said. ‘Here I am, you called me.’ But he said. ‘I did not call, my son. Lie down again.’ Now Samuel did not yet know Yahweh. The word of Yahweh had not yet been revealed to him. Yahweh called Samuel again, a third time. He got up and went to Eli, and said. ‘Here I am, you called me.’ Then Eli perceived that Yahweh was calling the boy. Therefore Eli said to Samuel. ‘Go, lie down. If he calls you, you shall say. ‘Speak, Yahweh, for your servant is listening.’ So Samuel went and lay down in his place.”

This is the first mention of Yahweh speaking directly with Samuel as he was near the Ark of the Covenant. This will put Samuel in the line with the judges and the prophets, not quite as important as Moses and Joshua, but above Samson and some of the judges. Yahweh calls him by name, ‘Samuel, Samuel!’ Samuel replied that he was ready with the classic biblical response to a call from Yahweh, ‘Here I am.’ Samuel assumed that was Eli that was calling him. This happened 3 times. Each time Eli said that he was not calling Samuel. This is the basis of the famous song “Eli’s calling.” Finally, Eli gave Samuel some advice on how to respond.

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