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1 Samuel 3:1. The child Samuel ministered unto the Lord— That is, he performed in the tabernacle the services whereof he was capable, for the assistance and under the direction of Eli. Josephus supposes that he was then about twelve years old. The word of the Lord was precious in those days. God then seldom revealed himself in an immediate and particular manner, as it is explained in the next words; there was no open vision. See 1 Samuel 3:21. In the whole Book of Judges we have mention but of two prophets, Judges 4:4; Judges 6:8.
1 Samuel 3:3. And ere the lamp— Dr. Waterland renders this verse, and the lamp of God went not yet out, (and Samuel was sleeping) in the temple, where the ark of God was. See Exodus 27:20.
1 Samuel 3:4. The Lord called Samuel— The voice came, most probably, out of the most holy place. So the Chaldee renders it; a voice was heard out of the tabernacle of the Lord. Here am I, was a form of speech implying attention to what was said, and readiness to execute what was commanded.
1 Samuel 3:7. Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord— The second clause in this verse explains the first: Samuel was not yet instructed in the will of GOD as a prophet; he had not yet received any immediate revelation from him.
1 Samuel 3:10. The Lord came, and stood, &c.— These last words, which are the same as those used in the history of Balaam, Numbers 22:22; Num 23:30 are employed to denote some appearance; and, therefore, both Jewish and Christian interpreters have supposed, that GOD revealed himself to Samuel under some bright and glorious symbol.
REFLECTIONS.—Justly provoked with the ill-conduct of the priests, God had withdrawn his gracious appearances from them. Darkness now reigns in the desolate sanctuary, and neither vision nor dream had for a long time been vouchsafed; but God having raised up Samuel for extraordinary services, and early prepared him, by his exemplary piety, for communion with his blessed self, begins, while he is yet a youth, to manifest himself to him in Shiloh. Note; Early piety is usually favoured with especial impartings of divine consolations. We have,
1. The time when God appeared to him,—in the night, when Eli, sinking under age and infirmities, was retired for repose, and Samuel in some room near him, to be ready at Eli's call. Note; We have to bless God for the bed of repose on which we can sleep in peace, and still more if by refreshing dreams he makes that repose doubly profitable for our souls as well as bodies.
2. The manner in which he appeared. By an audible voice, calling Samuel by his name; who, either awakened with the sound, or awake before, and employed in holy meditation before the morning light, answers immediately, supposing it Eli's voice, and runs to his chamber, to inquire what he wanted. Eli assures him he did not call, and bids him lie down again. Note; (1.) A willing servant runs at his master's voice, happy, and therefore in haste, to serve him. (2.) They who see their servants officious to please them, ought, in return, to shew themselves tender of them, and to consult their comfort and repose.
3. Repeated calls are given, and Samuel returns to Eli, persuaded that the voice was his; for he was a child, and had not as yet been used to any such extraordinary manifestations of God's presence, nor had received any prophetical revelation from him. At first Eli sends him back to his bed; but after a second and third call, he began to reflect, and to conclude that the voice was divine; he therefore bids him lie down again, and at the next call, to answer, Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth, as attentive to the notice, and ready to obey the command. Hereupon, no sooner was he composed on his bed, than the Lord stood before him, probably in a human form, as he afterwards appeared in earnest, and called him Samuel, Samuel. Samuel, according to Eli's instructions, answers, Speak, for thy servant heareth. Note; (1.) We may expect some gracious manifestation from God, when our obedient ear is attentive to the Divine call, and out of his word we are inquiring, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? (2.) Such as are elder, and more experienced in the ways of God, should delight to instruct the younger who are training up in the same ways. (3.) They who are careful to observe the good instructions they receive, will find the blessing of so doing.
1 Samuel 3:12. When I begin, I will also make an end— God declares to Samuel, that he will execute upon the house of Eli all that he had threatened against him by the prophet whom he had heretofore sent; that he would not delay it; nor would he discontinue it till the just measure of his chastisements was fulfilled. Eli and his sons perished first; eighty-five priests of this family fell afterwards by the sword of Doeg; then Abiathar was degraded; and thus the house of Eli was reduced to the greatest misery.
1 Samuel 3:13. Because his sons made themselves vile, &c.— Here we read the crime of Eli, and the sad cause of all his misfortunes. He knew the wickedness of his sons, and, content with chiding them gently, he had not resolution enough to chastise them with severity. The Hebrew is very expressive: it says, that the sons of Eli rendered themselves execrable, or accursed; or, according to Houbigant, that they caused the name of God to be blasphemed. Their intolerable conduct cried aloud for vengeance; yet their father frowned not upon them: he shewed only a slight indignation, instead of testifying a just horror of their crimes, by chastising them in an exemplary manner, and removing them from the priest's office. Unhappy those superiors, and more particularly those parents, who, by a blind indulgence, omit to chastise their inferiors and children for their crimes! They provide for themselves the most vexatious evils, and afflictive punishments.
1 Samuel 3:16-18. Then Eli called Samuel, and said— Either that he might not afflict Eli, or displease God, Samuel feared to tell this unhappy father what had been revealed to him. But Eli, naturally distressed and uneasy, presses him earnestly to conceal nothing from him: he adjures him by a solemn imprecation, God do so to thee, &c. which obliged Samuel to satisfy his desire. The manner in which Eli received this terrible denunciation does great credit to his character. He acknowledged the greatness of his fault, and humbly resigned himself to the will of God.
1 Samuel 3:19-20. The Lord was with him, and did let none of his words fall, &c.— None of the predictions of Samuel were unaccomplished; in the same manner as an arrow shot by a good archer fails not to arrive at its mark; for this is the metaphor. See Schultens's Orig. Heb. pars 2: page 143. Thus the Lord shewed that he was with him, or blessed him. Compare Genesis 31:2.
1 Samuel 3:21. By the word of the Lord— i.e. By his Son, who is called the Word of the Lord by way of eminence. See Acts 3:24.
REFLECTIONS.—As Samuel increased in years, he grew more distinguished by Divine manifestations, and more esteemed by the people of God.
1. The Lord appeared to him again, by the word of the Lord, the incarnate Word, whose voice had spoken to him before; and all his predictions were verified in the accomplishment, and all his words weighty and profitable. Note; (1.) They who improve one gracious visit from God, shall not be long without a second. (2.) God will not suffer the words of his ministers to be spilt as water on the ground, or drop as an arrow to the earth ere it hath reached the mark; but will cause his word in their mouth to be clothed with power, and to accomplish the thing whereunto he sendeth it.
2. The people knew and honoured the rising prophet; his fame spread throughout the land, and his piety made him as distinguished as his prophesy. Note: Though we are not to seek our own honour, yet we should reckon it a valuable acquisition to possess the esteem and respect of good men.
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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 3". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://studylight.org/
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