1 Samuel 3


Samuel ministers to the Lord before Eli, 1.

He is thrice called by the Lord; who informs him of the evils

which shall be brought on the house of Eli, 2-15.

Eli inquires of Samuel what the Lord had said, 16, 17.

He gives a faithful reunion of the whole, which Eli receives

with great submission, 18.

Samuel prospers; is established as a prophet in Israel; and the

Lord reveals himself to him to Shiloh, 19-21.


Verse 1. Samuel ministered unto the Lord] He performed minor

services in the tabernacle, under the direction of Eli, such as

opening the doors, &c. See 1Sa 3:15.

The word of the Lord was precious] There were but few

revelations from God; and because the word was scarce, therefore

it was valuable. The author of this book probably lived at a time

when prophecy was frequent, See the preface.

There was no open vision.] There was no public accredited

prophet; one with whom the secret of the Lord was known to dwell,

and to whom all might have recourse in cases of doubt or public


Verse 2. Eli was laid down in his place] It is very likely that

as the ark was a long time at Shiloh, they had built near to it

certain apartments for the high priest and others more immediately

employed about the tabernacle. In one of these, near to that of

Eli, perhaps under the same roof, Samuel lay when he was called by

the Lord.

Verse 3. Ere the lamp of God went out] Before sunrise; for it is

likely that the lamps were extinguished before the rising of the

sun. See Ex 27:21; Le 24:3.

Verse 4. The Lord called Samuel] The voice probably came from

the holy place, near to which Eli and Samuel were both lying.

Verse 7. Samuel did not yet know the Lord] He had not been

accustomed to receive any revelation from him. He knew and

worshipped the God of Israel; but he did not know him as

communicating especial revelation of His will.

Verse 9. Speak, Lord; for thy servant heareth] This was the

usual way in which the prophets spoke, when they had intimations

that the Lord was about to make some especial revelation.

Verse 10. The Lord cane, and stood] He heard the voice as if it

was approaching nearer and nearer; till at last, from the sameness

of the tone, he could imagine that it ceased to approach: and this

is what appears to be represented under the notion of God standing

and calling.

Verse 11. The Lord said to Samuel] He probably saw nothing, and

only heard the voice; for it was not likely that any extraordinary

representation could have been made to the eyes of a person so

young. He heard a voice, but saw no similitude.

The ears-shall tingle.] It shall be a piercing word to all

Israel; it shall astound them all; and, after having heard it, it

will still continue to resound in their ears.

Verse 12. I will perform-all things which I have spoken] That

is, what He had declared by the prophet, whose message is related

1Sa 2:27, &c.

When I begin, I will also make an end.] I will not delay the

execution of my purpose: when I begin, nothing shall deter me from

bringing all my judgments to a conclusion.

Verse 13. I will judge his house for ever] I will continue to

execute judgments upon it till it is destroyed.

His sons made themselves vile] See 1Sa 2:12-17, 22-25.

He restrained them not.] He did not use his parental and

juridical authority to curb them, and prevent the disorders which

they committed. See at the conclusion of the chapter.

Verse 14. Shall not be purged with sacrifice nor offering] That

is, God was determined that they should be removed by a violent

death. They had committed the sin unto death; and no offering or

sacrifice could prevent this. What is spoken here relates to

their temporal death only.

Verse 15. Samuel feared to show Eli] He reverenced him as a

father, and he feared to distress him by showing what the Lord had

purposed to do. It does not appear that God had commanded Samuel

to deliver this message: he, therefore, did not attempt it till

adjured by Eli, 1Sa 3:17.

Verse 17. God do so to thee, and more also] This was a very

solemn adjuration: he suspected that God had threatened severe

judgments, for he knew that his house was very criminal; and he

wished to know what God had spoken. The words imply thus much: If

thou do not tell me fully what God has threatened, may the same

and greater curses fall on thyself.

Verse 18. Samuel told him every whit] Our word whit, or wid,

comes from the Anglo-Saxon [A.S.], which signifies person, thing,

&c.; every whit is every thing. The Hebrew et col

haddebarim, "all these words."

It is the Lord] He is Sovereign, and will do what he pleases;

he is righteous, and will do nothing but what is just.

Let him do what seemeth him good.] There is much of a godly

submission, as well as a deep sense of his own unworthiness, found

in these words. He also had sinned, so as to be punished with

temporal death; but surely there is no evidence that the

displeasure of the Lord against him was extended to a future


Verse 19. Samuel grew] Increased to manhood.

The Lord was with him] Teaching him, and filling him with grace

and holiness.

None of his words fall] Whatever prediction he uttered, God

fulfilled it; and his counsels were received as coming from the


Verse 20. All Israel from Dan even to Beer-sheba] Through the

whole extent of Palestine; Dan being at the northern, Beer-sheba

at the southern extremity.

Was established to be a prophet] The word neeman,

which we translate established, signifies faithful: The faithful

Samuel was a prophet of the Lord.

Verse 21. The Lord appeared again] vaiyoseph

Yehovah leheraoh, "And Jehovah added to appear; " that is, he

continued to reveal himself to Samuel at Shiloh.

By the word of the Lord.] By the spirit and word of prophecy.

IN this chapter we read again of the fearful consequences of a

neglected religious education. Eli's sons were wicked: their

father knew the Lord; but he neither taught his children, nor

restrained them by his parental authority. I have already had

occasion to remark, that were a proper line of conduct pursued in

the education of children, how few profligate sons and daughters,

and how few broken-hearted parents should we find! The neglect of

early religious education, connected with a wholesome and

affectionate restraint, is the ruin of millions. Many parents,

to excuse their indolence and most criminal neglect, say, "We

cannot give our children grace." What do they mean by this? That

God, not themselves, is the author of the irregularities and

viciousness of their children. They may shudder at this

imputation: but when they reflect that they have not given them

right precepts, have not brought them under firm and affectionate

restraint; have not showed them, by their own spirit, temper, and

conduct, how they should be regulated in theirs; when either the

worship of God has not been established in their houses, or they

have permitted their children, on the most trifling pretenses, to

absent themselves from it; when all these things are considered,

they will find that, speaking after the manner of men, it would

have been a very extraordinary miracle indeed if the children had

been found preferring a path in which they did not see their

parents conscientiously tread. Let those parents who continue to

excuse themselves by saying, "We cannot give grace to our

children," lay their hand on their conscience, and say whether

they ever knew an instance where God withheld his grace, while

they were, in humble subserviency to him, performing their duty.

The real state of the case is this: parents cannot do God's work,

and God will not do theirs; but if they use the means, and train

up the child in the way he should go, God will not withhold his


It is not parental fondness, nor parental authority, taken

separately, that can produce this beneficial effect. A father

may be as fond of his offspring as Eli, and his children be sons

of Belial; he may be as authoritative as the grand Turk, and his

children despise and plot rebellion against him. But let parental

authority be tempered with fatherly affection; and let the rein

of discipline be steadily held by this powerful but affectionate

hand; and there shall the pleasure of God prosper; there will he

give his blessing, even life for evermore. Many fine families have

been spoiled, and many ruined, by the separate exercise of these

two principles. Parental affection, when alone, infallibly

degenerates into foolish fondness; and parental authority

frequently degenerates into brutal tyranny when standing by

itself. The first sort of parents will be loved without being

respected; the second sort will be dreaded, without either respect

or esteem. In the first case obedience is not exacted, and is

therefore felt to be unnecessary, as offenses of great magnitude

pass without punishment or reprehension: in the second case, rigid

exaction renders obedience almost impossible; and the smallest

delinquency is often punished with the extreme of torture, which,

hardening the mind, renders duty a matter of perfect indifference.

Parents, lay these things to heart: remember Eli and his sons;

remember the dismal end of both! Teach your children to fear

God-use wholesome discipline-be determined-begin in time-mingle

severity and mercy together in all your conduct-and earnestly

pray to God to second your godly discipline with the power and

grace of his Spirit.

Education is generally defined that series of means by which the

human understanding is gradually enlightened, and the dispositions

of the heart are corrected, formed, and brought forth, between

early infancy and the period when a young person is considered as

qualified to take a part in active life. Whole nations have been

corrupted, enfeebled, and destroyed, through the want of proper

education: through this multitudes of families have degenerated;

and a countless number of individuals have come to an untimely

end. Parents who neglect this, neglect the present and eternal

interests of their offspring.

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