Revelation to Samuel. 1During the time young Samuel was minister to the LORD under Eli, the word of the LORD was scarce and vision infrequent. 2* One day Eli was asleep in his usual place. His eyes had lately grown so weak that he could not see. 3The lamp of God was not yet extinguished,* and Samuel was sleeping in the temple of the LORD where the ark of God was.a 4The LORD called to Samuel, who answered, “Here I am.” 5He ran to Eli and said, “Here I am. You called me.” “I did not call you,” Eli answered. “Go back to sleep.” So he went back to sleep. 6Again the LORD called Samuel, who rose and went to Eli. “Here I am,” he said. “You called me.” But he answered, “I did not call you, my son. Go back to sleep.”
7Samuel did not yet recognize the LORD, since the word of the LORD had not yet been revealed to him. 8The LORD called Samuel again, for the third time. Getting up and going to Eli, he said, “Here I am. You called me.” Then Eli understood that the LORD was calling the youth. 9So he said to Samuel, “Go to sleep, and if you are called, reply, ‘Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.’” When Samuel went to sleep in his place, 10the LORD came and stood there, calling out as before: Samuel, Samuel! Samuel answered, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” 11The LORD said to Samuel: I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears it ring.b 12On that day I will carry out against Eli everything I have said about his house, beginning to end. 13I announce to him that I am condemning his house once and for all, because of this crime: though he knew his sons were blaspheming God, he did not reprove them.c 14Therefore, I swear to Eli’s house: No sacrifice or offering will ever expiate its crime.* 15Samuel then slept until morning, when he got up early and opened the doors of the temple of the LORD. He was afraid to tell Eli the vision, 16but Eli called to him, “Samuel, my son!” He replied, “Here I am.” 17Then Eli asked, “What did he say to you? Hide nothing from me! May God do thus to you, and more,* if you hide from me a single thing he told you.” 18So Samuel told him everything, and held nothing back. Eli answered, “It is the LORD. What is pleasing in the LORD’s sight, the LORD will do.”
Samuel Acknowledged as Prophet. 19Samuel grew up, and the LORD was with him, not permitting any word of his to go unfulfilled.d 20e Thus all Israel from Dan to Beer-sheba came to know that Samuel was a trustworthy prophet of the LORD. 21The LORD continued to appear at Shiloh, manifesting himself to Samuel at Shiloh through his word. Samuel’s word spread throughout Israel.
* [3:2–18] The call of Samuel: This section may be divided as follows: 1. the triple summons (vv. 2–9); 2. God’s revelation (vv. 10–14); 3. Samuel informs Eli (vv. 15–18).
* [3:3] Not yet extinguished: referring to the nighttime setting of this narrative (cf. Ex 27:20–21) and foreshadowing a permanently extinguished lamp when the ark is captured and Shiloh destroyed.
* [3:14] Lv 4:3–12 presents another view: the offering of a bull can expiate priestly sin.
* [3:17] May God do thus to you, and more: an oath formula which strengthens Eli’s demand by threatening divine punishment if Samuel does not obey. Cf. 14:44; 20:13; 25:22; 2 Sm 3:9, 35; 19:14.
b. [3:11] 2 Kgs 21:12.