1 Samuel 3 Commentary

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Legend: B.C. dates at top of timeline are approximate. Note that 931BC marks the division of the Kingdom into Southern Tribes (Judah and Benjamin) and Ten Northern Tribes. To avoid confusion be aware that after the division of the Kingdom in 931BC, the Southern Kingdom is most often designated in Scripture as "Judah" and the Northern Kingdom as "Israel." Finally, note that 1 Chronicles 1-9 is not identified on the timeline because these chapters are records of genealogy.

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The Man Samuel in 1 Samuel 1-8

1 Samuel 3:1  Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the LORD before Eli. And word from the LORD was rare in those days, visions were infrequent.

  • Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the LORD before El: 1Sa 3:15 2:11,18 
  • And word from the LORD was rare in those days: 1Sa 3:21 Ps 74:9 Isa 13:12 Am 8:11,12 

Related Passages:

2 Chronicles 15:3 “For many days Israel was without the true God and without a teaching priest and without law.

Amos 8:11  “Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord GOD, “When I will send a famine on the land, Not a famine for bread or a thirst for water, But rather for hearing the words of the LORD. 

"20/20 VISION"


Now the boy Samuel was ministering (sharathto the LORD before Eli - We saw Samuel as a young boy was ministering to the Lord in (1Sa 2:11,18) he continues, almost like this is a description of Samuel. Although extra-Biblical Josephus wrote that even as a young child, 12 years old, he was placed in the temple, and “ministered to the Lord before Eli.”  It was while here that he received his first prophetic call. 1Sa 3:1-18. He next appears, probably twenty years afterward, suddenly among the people, warning them against their idolatrous practices. 1Sa 7:3, 4. Then followed Samuel’s first and, as far as we know, only military achievement, 1Sa 7:5-12 (not counting his hacking of King Agag - 1Sa 15:33).

Samuel was a sharath (Lxx = leitourgeo = describes the performance of religious duties) a title of subservience, of submission to authority. Joshua was called the "sharath" of Moses and spent 40 years under Moses' leadership learning how to obey as a servant, as a man under discipline, before he commanded as a general. He was first a servant, and then God made him a leader.

THOUGHT - When you were born again you too entered into a lifelong (and even eternal) ministry to the Lord. From that moment you were no longer your own, for Jesus had purchased your body with His blood (1Cor 6:19, Rev 5:9, Titus 2:14), and your objective henceforth is to glorify God in your body (1Cor 6:20+). How are you doing priest ______ (fill in your name). 1 Peter 2:9+ affirms that now "you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light." (cf Col 1:13, Acts 26:18)  A clerical outfit does not a priest make! 

And Word (Lxx =  rhema = spoken word) from the LORD was rare (yaqarin those days, visions (chazown/chazonwere infrequent (literally "were not breaking forth" Lxx = diastello = "a vision continually giving commands or instruction") - Word and visions are parallel. Rare (yaqar) is translated precious in 2/3's of the OT uses (35 uses total) which is certainly what the Word of the LORD is to us - PRECIOUS! The Septuagint translates rare with timios which means  valuable, precious, costly, of great worth or value, held in honor, respected. Why was revelation from God rare? Clearly this was a form of judgment on the nation. For one thing they were at the end of the dark days of the Judges which was characterized by repeated cycles of apostasy by the nation of Israel. Secondly, the current priestly leadership was polluted by the worthless sons of Eli who functioned as Israel's priests.  Note the first use of visions (chazown/chazon) in Scripture is found here in 1Sa 3:1. Could this have anything to do with the fact that 1 Samuel historically immediately follows the 300 year period described in the book of Judges (Jdg 21:25+)?

THOUGHT - When God's Word is "rare" and "visions" are infrequent, a society (AND AN INDIVIDUAL) is in grave danger as indicated by Proverbs 29:18+ which says "Where there is no vision (chazown/chazon)(PROPHETIC WORD FROM GOD), the people are unrestrained ("run wild"; Hebrew = para' means to let go, to let loose literally used of hair that was "loose" or unkempt), But happy (blessed) is he who keeps the law." This "truism" proved true in Judges which ends on a low note as expressed by the "theme verse" - "In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes." (Jdg 21:25+) Evil leaders cause a drought of revelation (i.e., Ezek. 7:26; Micah 3:6). America 2022, are you listening? 

Utley points out that "YHWH manifested Himself to humans in several ways. (1) physical encounters (i.e., the Angel of the Lord, Exodus 3), (2) dreams (i.e., Gen. 15:12; 28:12; 31:10,11,24; 37:5,9) and (3) visions (i.e., Ezekiel, Daniel)"

THOUGHT - Heb 1:1-2 says "God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world." This begs the question are you in the Word daily? Better yet is the Word truly in you (planted firmly in your heart - cf Memorize, Meditate)? If not, could this be the explanation of why your fallen flesh seems to occasionally "run wild?" Just asking, but I have to look in the mirror every morning to answer the same question! 

Walter Kaiser - Israel endured times when the prophetic word was silent. When Samuel was a young boy, “in those days the word of the LORD was rare” (1 Sam 3:1). For all the times Israel rejected the word, God sent a famine on the earth; not a famine of food and water, but an even more damaging famine: a famine of the word of God (Amos 8:12; see also 2 Chron 15:3; Ps 74:9).

Ministering (08334sharath basically means to minister to or wait on another, human or divine. Those who so minister are usually human beings, but may include the heavenly host (Ps 103:21) or even the nonhuman (pS 104:4). (1) personal service rendered to important person, usually ruler - Joseph to imprisoned officials (Gen 39:4; 40:4); Joshua to Moses (Ex 24:13; Josh 1:1); Elisha to Elijah and the youth to Elisha (1Ki 19:21; 2Ki 4:43; 6:15); the Levites to Aaron (Num 3:6; 13:2) and the congregation of Israel (16:9) and (2) ministry of worship of those in special relationship to God, eg priests (2/3's of uses are in this category). In royal contexts, sharath has reference to personal attendants (2 Sa 13:17–18; 1 Kgs 1:4; 10:5; 2Chr 22:8; Xerxes in Esther 1:10; 2:2; 6:3; cf. Ps 101:6). Occasionally, the word is used of political or military officials (1 Chron 27:1; 28:1; 2 Chron 17:19; cf. Prov 29:12). The verb, therefore, has to do with serving a superior by one of lower rank. The service is continuous but limited in duration. It is the service of free people, not slaves. The first two uses describe Joseph as servant, first to Potiphar (Ge 39:4) and then over other prisoners (including the cupbearer and the baker for the king of Egypt - Ge 40:4). 

Rare (03368)(yaqar from verb yaqar = to be precious, prized or appraised) is an adjective meaning precious, rare, splendid, weighty, valuable. Describes God's Word in 1Sa 3:1, God's lovingkindness in Ps 36:7, God's wisdom in 3:15. Note first use in 1Sa 3:1 and KJV says "the word of the LORD was precious." Describes precious and costly stones (2Sa 12:30; 1Ki. 10:2, 10, 11), the valuable foundation stones  (1 Ki. 5:17), expensive building stones or materials (1Ki. 7:9-11). IN Jer 15:19 yaqar describes what is valuable, noble, moral, ethical, or worthy compared to what is worthless. 

Gilbrant - It is exclusively coupled with stones (gemstones and foundation stones) and with life, instructing us regarding its precious value. The Temple was financed with precious stones (1 Chr. 29:2) and had precious stones laid in it (2 Chr. 3:6). The Queen of Sheba gave King Solomon gifts, including precious stones (2 Chr. 9:1, 9f). By extension, the adjective is used to describe a variety of valuable objects, including speech (Jer. 15:19) and the moon (Job 31:26). In 2 Sam. 12:30, yāqār emphasizes value over weight or volume: "And he took the crown from off their king's head. Its weight was a talent of gold, with a precious stone in it. And [he] set it on David's head." In the same way, the solid foundation stone laid by Yahweh in Zion is called a precious cornerstone (Isa. 28:16). The cornerstone is the most valued and important, for it rests on bedrock. Since most every edifice in Jerusalem is built on steep hills, only one corner, side or portion rests on bedrock. Literally, the cornerstone is the most stable of the entire structure. One recently discovered foundation stone of the Jerusalem Temple complex weighs an estimated 600 tons, and beside it is another one weighing over 400 tons. If these two stones were to shift, the entire complex would collapse. To hew out, square and transport such stones was not cheap. Certain stones in Solomon's Temple were known as "great stones, costly stones" (1 Ki. 5:17). Peter applies this passage and concept to Christ as the most precious in the sight of God (1 Pet. 2:4-8) as does Paul (Eph. 2:20f), who implies that our entire lives are built on the cornerstone of Jesus Christ himself. (Complete Biblical Library)

 Yaqar - costly(6), glory(1), luminaries(1), noble(1), precious(23), rare(1), splendor(1), weightier(1). 1 Sam. 3:1; 2 Sam. 12:30; 1 Ki. 5:17; 1 Ki. 7:9; 1 Ki. 7:10; 1 Ki. 7:11; 1 Ki. 10:2; 1 Ki. 10:10; 1 Ki. 10:11; 1 Chr. 20:2; 1 Chr. 29:2; 2 Chr. 3:6; 2 Chr. 9:1; 2 Chr. 9:9; 2 Chr. 9:10; 2 Chr. 32:27; Job 28:16; Job 31:26; Ps. 36:7; Ps. 37:20; Ps. 45:9; Ps. 116:15; Prov. 1:13; Prov. 3:15; Prov. 6:26; Prov. 12:27; Prov. 24:4; Eccl. 10:1; Isa. 28:16; Jer. 15:19; Lam. 4:2; Ezek. 27:22; Ezek. 28:13; Dan. 11:38; Zech. 14:6

Vision (02377) (chazown/chazon) describes a divine revelation by means of an oracle, a vision or a word from God (as to His prophets). The meaning is not so much the means (vision, oracle) but the end achieved (the message). This word speaks of God's direct revelation to people via His prophets, His "mouth pieces" as it were. Notice that in this passage "vision" is paralleled with the law, which further supports that the writer intends "vision" to mean a divine word or a word from God and, not someone's personal vision or dream.

Chazon - 35x in 34v -   vision(31), visions(4) - 1 Sa 3:1; 1 Chr. 17:15; 2 Chr. 32:32; Ps. 89:19; Prov. 29:18; Isa. 1:1; Isa. 29:7; Jer. 14:14; Jer. 23:16; Lam. 2:9; Ezek. 7:13; Ezek. 7:26; Ezek. 12:22; Ezek. 12:23; Ezek. 12:24; Ezek. 12:27; Ezek. 13:16; Dan. 1:17; Dan. 8:1; Dan. 8:2; Dan. 8:13; Dan. 8:15; Dan. 8:17; Dan. 8:26; Dan. 9:21; Dan. 9:24; Dan. 10:14; Dan. 11:14; Hos. 12:10; Obad. 1:1; Mic. 3:6; Nah. 1:1; Hab. 2:2; Hab. 2:3

A godly life can develop in spite of ungodly influences surrounding it. So it was with Moses in Egypt, Daniel in Babylon, and our Lord in Nazareth. Samuel was not isolated, but he was separated. He belonged to the Lord. Daily, he was in contact with sin, and yet he was not contaminated by it. He was a “living sacrifice” and experienced God’s transforming power (Ro 12:1,2).

Even though Eli was not the most godly example or mentor, young Samuel submitted to his authority. We submit to man’s authority “for the Lord’s sake” (1Pe 2:13-25), for we serve God, not men. We trust Him to protect us and work out His will even in the lives of ungodly people.

God gave His message to Samuel because He knew Samuel was faithful. The lad was accustomed to being alert to Eli’s voice and to obeying immediately, so when God spoke, Samuel was ready. Being faithful in a few small things prepares you for bigger things (Mt 25:21). Hearing the voice of God did not keep Samuel from doing the work of God (v15); he went right back to the old tasks. The nation would now listen to Samuel’s words, for they knew he was God’s spokesman.

Matthew Henry Concise - Verses 1-10. The call which Divine grace designs shall be made effectual; will be repeated till it is so, till we come to the call. Eli, perceiving that it was the voice of God that Samuel heard, instructed him what to say. Though it was a disgrace to Eli, for God's call to be directed to Samuel, yet he told him how to meet it. Thus the elder should do their utmost to assist and improve the younger that are rising up. Let us never fail to teach those who are coming after us, even such as will soon be preferred before us, John 1:30. Good words should be put into children's mouths betimes, by which they may be prepared to learn Divine things, and be trained up to regard them. 

ILLUSTRATION OF NO WORD FROM THE LORD - October 7, 1969 the Montreal, Canada police force went on strike. Because of what resulted, the day has been called Black Tuesday. A burglar and a policeman were slain. Forty-nine persons were wounded or injured in rioting. Nine bank holdups were committed (almost a tenth of the total number of holdups that occurred the previous year) along with 17 robberies at gunpoint. Usually disciplined, peaceful citizens joined the riffraff and went wild, smashing some 1,000 plate glass windows in a stretch of 21 business blocks in the heart of the city, hauling away stereo units, radios, TVs and wearing apparel. While looters stripped windows of valuable merchandise, professional burglars entered stores by doors and made off with truckloads of goods. A smartly dressed man scampered down a street with a fur coat over each arm. With no police around to reign in crime, anarchy reigned! (A modern day picture of the book of Judges!)

1 Samuel 3:2  It happened at that time as Eli was lying down in his place (now his eyesight had begun to grow dim and he could not see well),

  • his eyes: 1Sa 2:22 4:15 Ge 27:1 48:19 Ps 90:10 Ec 12:3 


It happened at that time - Nothing "just happens!" The omnipotent, omniscient God is in full control of all happenings that happen! As Ripley said "Believe it or not!" This truth can be either very disturbing or very comforting, depending on one's perspective. 

THOUGHT- The word "providence" (pronoia) is found only once in the Bible, a usage which refers to human providence (Acts 24:2), and yet Divine Providence permeates the pages of Holy Writ from Genesis to Revelation! This great truth ought to cause all of God's children to shout "Hallelujah! Our God Reigns!" Amen. Indeed a healthy understanding of God's providences should produce praise from His people, for as John Piper rightly said "In all the setbacks of your life as a believer, God is plotting for your joy." And certainly this proved true in Hannah's life as it would in Samuel's life. See The Providence of God.

As Eli was lying down in his place (now his eyesight had begun to grow dim and he could not see well) - As a physician, my diagnosis of his physical eye disease is that he most likely had cataracts (at 77 I am in need of cataract surgery!) But as with every soul created in the image of God, he also had spiritual vision, and sadly his spiritual vision had also begun to grow dim and he could not see well enough to see the incredible harm the unholy acts of his worthless sons, Israel's "priests," were committing against the Holy One of Israel. And it was just as true then as it is now that Eli (and all of us) do well to "not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For (A VITAL TERM OF EXPLANATION - DON'T MISS IT! WHAT'S PAUL EXPLAINING?) the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life." (Gal 6:7-8+) Eli's spiritual blurring prevented him from seeing that there would be a reaping on the nation, because of the sowing of corruption! 

THOUGHT - Dear reader, how is your vision? I'm not speaking of your physical vision, but your spiritual vision. Is it "20/20"? Or is it blurred by unconfessed sin, sin that you are covering over, but which will surely bring corruption to your soul? Confession is to be a believer's lifestyle for the verb "confess" (homologeo) in 1Jn 1:9+ (cf Jas 4:8+, Pr 28:13+) is in the present tense (calls for continual, habitual confession, an act that fallen flesh continually resists and which therefore calls for continual reliance, submission to and sensitivity to the promptings of the Holy Spirit to accomplish confession daily. And the active voice calls for us to make a choice of our will, energized by the Spirit, to confess). As an aside, a great preventative and antidote for "blurred spiritual vision", is maintenance of  "Vertical Vision," and a "Maranatha Mindset," for this quality of looking and thinking will function to produce the "Expulsive Power of a New Affection." If your spiritual vision is dim, then like David, the man after God's own heart, beseech the Almighty God to "Search me, O God, and know my heart. Try me and know my anxious thoughts;  And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way." (Psalm 139:23-24)

1 Samuel 3:3  and the lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the LORD where the ark of God was,

  • the lamp: Ex 27:20,21 30:7,8 Lev 24:2-4 2Ch 13:11 
  • the temple: 1Sa 1:6 Ps 5:7 27:4 29:9 


and the lamp of God had not yet gone out - This refers to physical light in the Temple, not spiritual light, for it is probable the Temple lamps were extinguished before the rising of the sun.

THOUGHT - Without taking the text too far, in "light" of the fact that Ps 119:105+ says "Thy word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path," there could be a spiritual implication that figuratively the lamp of God had gone out to a large degree and certainly 1Sa 3:1 supports this thought. Later in the 400 year intertestamental period, there was no revelation from God in Israel until Jesus' day. 

And Samuel was lying down in the temple of the LORD where the ark of God was - Talk about a "soft pillow" for your head -- next to the Holy One's presence in the Holy of holies! Samuel's sleeping in the Temple reminds me of Anna the Prophetess in Luke 2:36+ "And there was a prophetess, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years and had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple, serving night and day with fastings and prayers.

Utley writes that "It is uncertain where Eli slept. Samuel slept in the inner shrine of the tabernacle (i.e., "the holy place"). It was his job to make sure the lights on the menorah did not go out."

THOUGHT - Support for Utley's comment that Samuel was literally inside the Temple proper is that that is where the menorah was and had to be kept burning as there were no windows in the holy place and secondly the Septuagint translates Temple with naos which refers in the NT, not to the entire Temple complex, but to the inner aspect of the Temple, including the Holy of holies. Of course Samuel could not have been in the Holy of holies, so by default he very likely slept in the Holy Place, and was as close physically as a human being could approach God's presence manifest by the Shekinah glory over the Ark of the Covenant in the Holy of holies [the exception by the Day of Atonement when High Priest went it but interestingly there is no record of keeping of Yom Kippur at this time and certainly not by the corrupt priests Hophni and Phinehas who would have been struck down had they even entered the Holy of holies!])

In these early days of Samuel, "the Lord of hosts" was believed uniquely to be enthroned upon the ark of the covenant at Shiloh (cf. 1Sa 4:4), which was the military and religious center for the tribes. Shiloh was located approximately 20 miles north of Jerusalem.. Shiloh, which was the center of the tribal confederation, possibly had some kind of permanent temple structure rather than just a tabernacle. Note also the references to doorposts (1Sa 1:9) and doors (1Sa 3:15).

Henry Morris - By this time, the original tabernacle, or tent, would certainly have worn out (ED: NOW WAIT A MOMENT! GOD WAS ABLE TO KEEP THE ISRAELITES' SHOES INTACT FOR 40 YEARS! Dt 8:4, Dt 29:5+), for the Israelites had been in Canaan for several centuries at least (ED: THIS IS TRUE - OVER 300 YEARS). Evidently, since it had been established at Shiloh at what was assumed to be a permanent home, the tent had been replaced by a permanent structure of some kind, which was called a temple (ED: THIS IS POSSIBLE BUT SOMEWHAT CONJECTURAL AS WE HAVE NO FIRM BIBLICAL OR ARCHAEOLOGICAL EVIDENCE TO SUPPORT THIS PREMISE). The structure housed the ark of the covenant and the tables of the law. This was not the later temple built by Solomon at Jerusalem.

The lamp (golden lampstand in the Holy Place) burned from evening to morning outside the veil (God had commanded that this lamp burn continually - Lv24:3; Ex27:20-21). In the early morning hours, while Samuel lay near the ark, the Lord commissioned him for his prophetic ministry. 

1 Samuel 3:4  that the LORD called Samuel; and he said, "Here I am."

  • called Samuel: Ge 22:1 Ex 3:4 Ps 99:6 Ac 9:4 1Co 12:6-11,28 Ga 1:15,16 


That the LORD called Samuel; and he said, "Here I am."- Samuel was lying down and presumably asleep. Was this "call" in a vision or dream? We cannot be dogmatic. Regardless, Samuel detected an audible voice, which evoked an audible answer. Recall Samuel's may mean something like "heard of God," (ED: THE EXACT MEANING IS DEBATED), and if true, would reflect Hannah's prayer as having been "heard by God" and thus naming her son, who then himself "heard God." 

It is worth noting and probably more than coincidence that another of Israel's greatest prophets spoke a similar reply to Yahweh "Here am I." (Isaiah 6:8) This answer from a young prophet and a mature prophet implies both were what we might today characterize with the acronym "F.A.T.", Faithful, Available, Teachable. Are you "F.A.T."?

Here I am has some other notable speakers including Abraham (thrice), Esau, Isaac, Jacob (twice), Moses ...

Genesis 22:1  Now it came about after these things, that God tested Abraham, and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.”

Genesis 22:7  Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” And he said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”

Genesis 22:11  But the angel of the LORD called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.

Genesis 27:1  Now it came about, when Isaac was old and his eyes were too dim to see, that he called his older son Esau and said to him, “My son.” And he said to him, “Here I am.”

Genesis 27:18  Then he came to his father and said, “My father.” And he said, “Here I am. Who are you, my son?”

Genesis 31:11  “Then the angel of God said to me in the dream, ‘Jacob,’ and I said, ‘Here I am.’

Genesis 46:2  God spoke to Israel in visions of the night and said, “Jacob, Jacob.” And he said, “Here I am.”

Exodus 3:4 When the LORD saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.”

Here are the remainder of the 22 uses of Here I am -  1Sa 3:4; 1Sa 3:5; 1Sa 3:6; 1Sa 3:8; 1Sa 3:16; 1Sa 12:3; 1Sa 14:7; 1Sa 14:43; 1Sa 22:12; 2Sa 1:7; 2Sa 15:26; Isa. 52:6; Isa. 58:9; Acts 9:10

1 Samuel 3:5  Then he ran to Eli and said, "Here I am, for you called me." But he said, "I did not call, lie down again." So he went and lay down.

Then he ran to Eli and said, "Here I am, for you called me." - That Samuel ran to Eli indicates implies Eli was nearby, although probably not inside the Temple, as he presumably would have heard the LORD's call and Samuel would hardly have had to run to him if Eli was in the Holy Place. What do we learn about young Samuel? "He ran...for you called me" clearly indicates that Samuel was obedient even as a youth (a time when many are far from obedient! - I had 4 children so speak from experience - none were name "Samuel"!), even though he did not discern it was the LORD Who called to him. 

But he said, "I did not call, lie down again." So he went and lay down - The implication is that this was a divine call during the night because Eli tells him in essence "Go back to bed and get a good night's sleep." (And quit bothering me!) 

1 Samuel 3:6  The LORD called yet again, "Samuel!" So Samuel arose and went to Eli and said, "Here I am, for you called me." But he answered, "I did not call, my son, lie down again."

  • 1Sa 4:16 Ge 43:29 2Sa 18:22 Mt 9:2 


The LORD called yet again, "Samuel!" So Samuel arose and went to Eli and said, "Here I am, for you called me." But he answered, "I did not call, my son, lie down again." - Eli still did not grasp what was transpiring, another "symptom" of the dulling of of aged Eli's spiritual eyesight. We have to give Eli some credit here because he did not say "Quit bothering me and let me get some sleep!" 

1 Samuel 3:7  Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD, nor had the word of the LORD yet been revealed to him.

  • did not yet: Jer 9:24 Ac 19:2 

Related Passage:

Jer 9:23-24 Thus says the LORD, “Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; 24 but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD Who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,” declares the LORD. 


Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD - Know is the Hebrew verb yada (Lxx = ginosko = speaks of knowing by experience) and thus speaks of intimate knowing (cf 1Sa 1:19 = Heb = "Elkanah knew his wife." cf Ge 4:1+). The second use of yada (Lxx = ginosko) is 1Sa 2:12 "Now the sons of Eli were worthless men; they did not know the LORD." So neither Samuel nor Eli's sons knew the Lord, but there are four significant differences. One, Samuel was young, they were older, presumably more "mature." Two, Samuel stayed close to the LORD, sleeping in the Holy Place, while they "slept" with the women who helped take care of the Temple. And third, Samuel was clearly obedient to Eli, while the sons rejected Eli's counsel. Fourth, and most significant, is the fact that Samuel did come to truly know Yahweh and eternal life, whereas the two sons of Eli did not and ended with eternal death! 

THOUGHT - There is an interesting lesson in this section. Samuel was not destitute of the knowledge of God, even as Eli's sons were not destitute of divine knowledge. Samuel knew and worshipped the God of Israel for he was even sleeping in His Temple. But Samuel did not know God personally at this time. That would soon change! In this sense Samuel was like those today who know Who God is, can quote Scriptures, worship in church every Sunday, give money to God's work, etc,  but sadly are devoid of knowing Who God is personally in Jesus Christ. As Jesus prayed "This is eternal life, that they MAY KNOW (ginosko) You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ Whom You have sent." (Jn 17:3)

Nor had the word of the LORD yet been revealed to him - Samuel had presumably heard the Word of the LORD (albeit, such a Word was rare in those days). We know Moses had recorded God's Word for Joshua 1:8 says "This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success."

THOUGHT - Note the important principle. Supernatural revelation can only transpire by supernatural means! One can know what the Bible says (e.g., most football fans have seen the "John 3:16" signs at games), but have no saving knowledge of Him, because it has not yet been revealed by the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth. 

1 Samuel 3:8  So the LORD called Samuel again for the third time. And he arose and went to Eli and said, "Here I am, for you called me." Then Eli discerned that the LORD was calling the boy.

  • the third: Job 33:14,15 Although Samuel did not apprehend the way in which God reveals himself to his servants the prophets--by the "still small voice"--yet when this direct communication from the Almighty was made the third time, in a way altogether new and strange to him, it seems astonishing that he did not immediately apprehend.  Perhaps he would have been sooner aware of a divine revelation, had it come in a dream or a vision.  Those who have the greatest knowledge of divine things, should remember the time when they were as babes, unskilful in the word of righteousness. 1Co 13:11,12 


The third time is the charm is an English idiom which is used to say that two efforts at something have already failed but perhaps the third will be successful. Of course, God could have revealed Himself the 

So the LORD called Samuel again for the third time - If Samuel had been playing baseball, we would have said "Three strikes and you're out," but he was playing "prophet in preparation," and so we soon discover that it's "Three strikes and you're IN" (IN the Spirit as God's prophet)!

And he arose and went to Eli and said, "Here I am, for you called me." - Once again we get a sense of young Samuel's obedient heart. It would have been easy to ignore this third call as Eli pestering him, roll over and fall back asleep. Not so with Samuel whose actions and words to Eli indicated his willingly obedient spirit. 

Then Eli discerned (bin/biyn) that the LORD was calling the boy - Then is a time sensitive word. And while Eli was old and clearly had some spiritual weaknesses (failure to properly discipline his sons, the spiritual leaders of Israel), he was spiritually astute enough to realize that this was Yahweh speaking to young Samuel. Obviously the Spirit of God also opened his understanding to this truth, for in his natural state he could still not have perceived this was the voice of Yahweh. Notice he does not "guess" that it was Yahweh, but clearly understood it was Yahweh, indicating it had been spiritually revealed to him. And so we have to give Eli credit here, because he did not say go back to sleep, or tell him something like "You must have eaten a bad batch of matzoh bread causing you indigestion and making you think you are hearing things."  

Discerned (bin/biyn) is translated in the Septuagint with the verb sophizo (used in 2Ti 3:15 = "give wisdom") which means to make one wise and here in the middle voice means to reason out something. 

Discerned (understood) (0995bin/biyn  means basically to distinguish, to separate, to understand or to perceive. From this is derived the common meaning, “to discern, to see distinctions, to perceive.” The verb refers to knowledge which is superior to the mere gathering of data. Bin/biyn conveys the same idea as our word discrimination. It entails the idea of making a distinction as in 1Ki 3:9 where Solomon ask God for the ability "to discern (bin/biyn) between good and evil". Many of the OT uses of bin/biyn are translated "understanding," an understanding which is the result of comparative "study" or "mental separation". can perceive by means of their senses: eyes (Prov. 7:7); ears (Prov. 29:19); touch (Ps. 58:9[10]); taste (Job 6:30). But actual discerning is not assured. Those who hear do not always understand (Dan. 12:8). In the final analysis, only God gives and conceals understanding (Isa. 29:14). The verb yada can also mean "understanding" in the sense of ability (e.g. Esau as a skilful hunter), but yadaʿ generally describes the process whereby one gains knowledge through experience with objects and circumstances, while  bin/biyn is a power of judgment and perceptive insight and is demonstrated in the use of knowledge.

1 Samuel 3:9  And Eli said to Samuel, "Go lie down, and it shall be if He calls you, that you shall say, 'Speak, LORD, for Your servant is listening.' " So Samuel went and lay down in his place.

  • Speak: Ex 20:19 Ps 85:8 Isa 6:8 Da 10:19 Ac 9:6 


And Eli said to Samuel, "Go lie down, and it shall be if He calls you, that you shall say, 'Speak, LORD, for Your servant (ebed; Lxx = doulos) is listening (shama; Lxx = akouo in present tense = continually).' Recognizing the call of God is not always easy. Here Eli performed faithfully as a witness, and Samuel was instructed to return and indicate his willingness to hear whatever God would say. It is interesting Eli saw Samuel as the servant of Yahweh, indicating that he had clearly perceived something different about the demeanor of Samuel as contrasted with his worthless sons. Eli's instruction is significant. First, he encourages Samuel to seek the LORD to speak to him, where the verb speak is a command, not in the sense of demanding God speak, but expressive of such a willingness to hear that he uses the imperative mood. It would be something like "Speak LORD, because I need to hear Your voice and know Your will." Second, Eli says designate yourself as His servant, something undoubtedly Samuel had evidenced to Eli as he faithfully served in the Temple. This is something Eli could never have told his sons, so there must have been some joy that he could confidently say this to Samuel. Thirdly, Eli says to tell Yahweh you are listening. At first glance, listening does not sound that significant, for in fact Samuel had already heard Yahweh three times. But Eli is clearly indicating a different type of listening than when one simply hears sounds. This is the picture of hearing with an open, receptive heart that is ready and willing to obey what Yahweh says. Again, Eli speaks something to young Samuel, he could never have spoken constructively to his disobedient sons. To reiterate, listen conveyed the sense of "I am ready to obey what I hear You say."

THOUGHT - This is the type of listening every believer should practice. How easy it is to listen to the Bible digitally or hear an exhorting message from one of God's men, and as we walk away, it's like it goes one ear and out the other. We must avoid the deceptive type of listening James commands writing "But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; 24 for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. 25 (THE DESIRED CONTRAST) But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, (HERE IS THE PROMISE OF TRUST AND OBEY!) this man will be blessed in what he does. " (James 1:22-25+)

EXCURSUS ON DOULOS - Used in Septuagint to translate servant - A doulos is onr bound to another in servitude and conveys the idea of the slave's close, binding ties with his master, belonging to him, obligated to and desiring to do his will and in a permanent relation of servitude. In sum, the will of the doulos is consumed in the will of the master. Doulos speaks of submission to one's master The doulos had no life of his own, no will of his own, no purpose of his own and no plan of his own. All was subject to his master. The bondservant's every thought, breath, and effort was subject to the will of his master. In sum, the picture of a bondservant is one who is absolutely surrendered and totally devoted to his master. Based on this description, would you classify yourself as a doulos of the Lord Jesus Christ?

So Samuel went and lay down in his place - Don't miss the phrase So Samuel, for this speaks of his unquestioning obedience. Samuel would prove the words of the great hymn Trust and Obey true in his life, for he did listen and he did obey and he was blessed, as God made him one of the great men of the Old Testament. 

When we walk with the Lord in the light of His Word
What a glory He sheds on our way!
While we do His good will, He abides with us still
And with all who will trust and obey

Trust and obey, for there's no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey

Servant (05650) 'ebed from 'abad = work in any sense) means a slave or bondservant. Slavery in Israel amounted to indentured servitude. A fellow Israelite could not be held indefinitely against his will. In fact, his time of service was limited to 6 yr (Ex 21:2). The master could be punished if evil intent against the slave was proven (Ex 21:14) or if the slave died (Ex 21:20). These types of servants held a position of honor (Ge 24:2ff; 41:12, 15:2).

Listening (obey, understand)(08085shama means to hear (Adam and Eve hearing God = Ge 3:8, 10, Ge 18:10 = "overheard"), to listen (Ge 3:17, Ge 16:2 [= this was a big mistake and was the origin of Jews and Arabs!] Ex 6:9,16:20, 18:19, Webster's 1828 on "listen" = to hearken; to give ear; to attend closely with a view to hear. To obey; to yield to advice; to follow admonition) and since hearing/listening are often closely linked to obedience, shama is translated obey (1 Sa 15:22, Ge 22:18, 26:5, 39:10, Ex 19:5, disobedience = Lev 26:14, 18, 21, 27) or to understand. KJV translates shama "hearken" (196x) a word which means to give respectful attention. Of God's hearing in general or hearing our prayers (Hab 1:2, Ps 66:18, click here for more in the Psalms, cf God's hearing in Zeph 2:8, Ge 16:11, 17:20, 30:17, 22, Ge 21:17, 29:33, 30:6, 17, 22; Ex 2:24, Ex 16:8, 9, 12, Nu 11:1, 12:2). Shama means “to hear intelligently and attentively and respond appropriately." In other words to hear does not convey the idea of "in one ear and out the other!"

The greatest significance of the use of shama is that of relation of man to God, especially where the context speaks of obedience. Obedience is the supreme test of faith and reverence for God. The Old Testament conception of obedience was vital. It was the one important relationship which must not be broken. While sometimes this relation may have been formal and cold, it nevertheless was the one strong tie which held the people close to God. The significant spiritual relation is expressed by Samuel when he asks the question, “Hath Yahweh as great delight in burnt-offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying (shama) the voice of Yahweh? Behold, to obey (shama) is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams” (1 Sa 15:22). It was the condition without which no right relation might be sustained to Yahweh. This is most clearly stated in the relation between Abraham and Yahweh when he is assured “In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed (shama) my voice” (Ge 22:18). 

1 Samuel 3:10  Then the LORD came and stood and called as at other times, "Samuel! Samuel!" And Samuel said, "Speak, for Your servant is listening."

  • the Lord came: This seems to imply a visible appearance, as well as an audible voice.
  • as at other: 1Sa 3:4-6,8 

Then the LORD came and stood and called as at other times, "Samuel! Samuel!" - Note the time phrase as at other times. Which times? Surely the 3 previous occasions of calling out to young Samuel. This fourth time was like the other times and here we learn Yahweh came and stood. This implies Yahweh's personal presence, even as the Angel of the LORD had stood before other Old Testament saints. If that is the case, then why did Samuel not see Him as well as hear Him. We can only surmise that he was supernaturally prevented from seeing Him, if in fact Yahweh was visibly present the 3 previous occasions. 

Note also the repetition of his name which in Scripture always indicates a message of special importance. Consider these other examples: Abraham (Ge 22:11); Moses (Ex 3:4);  Jerusalem (Mt 23:37) Martha (Lu 10:41) Simon (Lu 22:31), Saul (Acts 9:4 22:7 26:14)

And Samuel said, "Speak, for Your servant is listening." - It is interesting that Samuel did not say Speak Lord, and yet for Samuel to call himself Your servant clearly implies he recognized and accepted the Speaker as His Lord and Master. As noted above the Hebrew word listening means "to hear with a view to obeying." Samuel was listening to God's Word and was determined to obey it. 

R W DeHaan wrote "Thomas ˆ Kempis (1379-1471) summed it: "Blessed indeed are those ears which listen not for the voice sounding without, but for the truth teaching inwardly. Blessed are the eyes that are shut to outward things but intent on things inward. Blessed are they who are glad to have time to spare for God, and who shake off all worldly hindrances. Consider these things, O my soul, and hear what the Lord your God speaks." How long has it been since you've asked the Lord to make your heart receptive to His Word? He wants to hear you say, "Speak, Lord, I'm listening." 

    Speak, Lord, in the stillness,
    While I wait on Thee;
    Hushed my heart to listen
    In expectancy. --Grimes

God speaks to those who take time to listen.

1 Samuel 3:11  The LORD said to Samuel, "Behold, I am about to do a thing in Israel at which both ears of everyone who hears it will tingle.

  • I am about to do: Isa 29:14 Am 3:6,7 Hab 1:5 Ac 13:41 
  • both the ears: 2Ki 21:12 Isa 28:19 Jer 19:3 Lu 21:26 


Tinnitus - While often described as a ringing, it may also sound like a clicking, buzzing, hiss, or roaring. The sound may be soft or loud, low or high pitched, and often appears to be coming from one or both ears or from the head itself. In some people, the sound may interfere with concentration and in some cases it is associated with anxiety and depression. This divine tinnitus would likely be associated with both of these latter reactions! 

The LORD said to Samuel, "Behold, - As always this word calls for close attention to the message, and what a message it was! 

Spurgeon reminds us that "Behold is a word of wonder; it is intended to excite admiration. Wherever you see it hung out in Scripture, it is like an ancient sign-board, signifying that there are rich wares within, or like the hands which solid readers have observed in the margin of the older Puritanic books, drawing attention to something particularly worthy of observation." I would add, behold is like a divine highlighter, a divine underlining of an especially striking or important text. It says in effect "Listen up, all ye who would be wise in the ways of Jehovah!"

I am about to do a thing in Israel at which both ears of everyone who hears it will tingle - As a physician I would encounter folks with tinnitus, ringing of the ears. This is far worse, for it is a case of "divine tinnitus."  Samuel's first test as a prophet was to bring an ear-tingling message of doom to Eli.  The Hebrew word tingle (tsalal) gives rise to Hebrew word for "cymbal", a good audio "picture" of what would transpire in the hearers ears (and more likely deep within their spirit and soul as they heard Samuel's words). Imagine someone clanging a cymbal in your ears! Woe! That would shake you up, which is what God's acts would do to Israel and to Eli when he hears the prophecy against his house!

Tingle (06750)(tsalal) means to tingle, quiver, shake, then to be stunned and even confused. All 4 uses are in the context of prophecies in which God will bring calamity on His Chosen People!  The Hebrew verb צָלַל, meaning quiver, shake, is used only in Hab 3:16 of lips quivering and in 1 Sam 3:11; 2 Kgs 21:12; Jer 19:3 of ears tingling, in all cases describing involuntary physiological response to bad news! 

The Septuagint translates tsalal in 1Sa 3:11 with the verb echeo which described something as sounding or ringing out; (1) of brass gonglike instruments that boom out, resound and used metaphorically in 1Co 13.1 resounding cymbal, clanging brass or of the sea roar (Lk 21.25)

Used 4x in Scripture - 1Sa 3:11; 2Ki 21:12; Jer 19:3; Hab 3:16.

2 Kings 21:12  therefore thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘Behold, I am bringing such calamity on Jerusalem and Judah, that whoever hears of it, both his ears will tingle.

Jeremiah 19:3   and say, ‘Hear the word of the LORD, O kings of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem: thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, “Behold I am about to bring a calamity upon this place, at which the ears of everyone that hears of it will tingle.

Habakkuk 3:16  I heard and my inward parts trembled, At the sound my lips quivered. Decay enters my bones, And in my place I tremble. Because I must wait quietly for the day of distress, For the people to arise who will invade us. 

1 Samuel 3:12  "In that day I will carry out against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end.

  • I will perform: 1Sa 2:27-36 Nu 23:19 Jos 23:15 Zec 1:6 Lu 21:33 


In that day - Other versions have the time phrase "ON that day," which implies the timing would occur on a specific day and not in a time in general. Indeed, Eli's house appears to be devastated in a single day as the story unfolds. 

I will carry out against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end - I will carry out implies Yahweh is personally involved in bringing this prophecy to fruition. He would use people (the Philistines), but as the LORD of Hosts, He is in control of armies in Heaven and on earth.  All that I have spoken refers to 1Sa 2:27-36. Beginning to end speaks of the degree of completeness of this prophecy. Yahweh would leave no stone unturned, no "dangling participles!" What He began, He would bring to an end. There is no "wiggle room" in this prophecy, no escape from the heavy hand of the LORD on Eli and his house! 

Henry Morris - God had told Eli that he and his sons had forfeited their right to the priest's office (1Sa 2:30-33). Hophni, Phinehas and Eli all died the same day (1Sa4:11,18). Later, Saul slew Ahimelech, grandson of Phinehas, who had continued to serve as priest (1Sa2 2:16-20), but his son Abiathar escaped and served as priest under David. Abiathar was in turn deposed by Solomon (1Ki 2:26-27), finally completing the prophecy. Thereafter Zadok and his descendants held the priests' office.

God told Samuel that no atonement can cover continued, willful, deliberate sin. The sacrificial system was never meant to cover the sins of a "high hand", that is, sins committed knowingly in flagrant disobedience to God. If such sins were ever to be forgiven, it could only be by the grace of God. All forgiveness of sins provided for in the offering of sacrifices ultimately came through the grace of God, not the sacrifices themselves. The sacrificial system was simply the method God provided for the people to follow in seeking forgiveness. Forgiveness of sins only comes from God, and only to those who are repentant, approaching God in a sincere quest for forgiveness. That was what the sons of Eli apparently lacked.

1 Samuel 3:13  "For I have told him that I am about to judge his house forever for the iniquity which he knew, because his sons brought a curse on themselves and he did not rebuke them.

  • For I have told him. 1Sa 2:27-30,31-36 
  • I am about to judge: 2Ch 20:12 Eze 7:3 18:30 Joe 3:12 
  • which he knew: 1Ki 2:44 Ec 7:22 1Jn 3:20 
  • his sons: 1Sa 2:12,17,22,23-26 
  • he did not rebuke them - Heb. frowned not upon them, 1Sa 2:23-25 1Ki 1:6 Pr 19:18 Pr 23:13,14 Pr 29:15 Mt 10:37 


For  - Term of explanation. Yahweh explains to Samuel why He would carry out such a complete destruction against Eli's house. God did not need to explain this to justify His actions. The explanation is that all generations might read and understand that intractable, egregious sin will reap a sure reward of righteous judgment! One is reminded of Paul's warnings in 1 Cor 10:6-12+

Now these things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved. (cf HOPHNI AND PHINEHAS) 7 Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written, “THE PEOPLE SAT DOWN TO EAT AND DRINK, AND STOOD UP TO PLAY.” 8 Nor let us act immorally, as some of them did (cf HOPHNI AND PHINEHAS), and twenty-three thousand fell in one day. 9Nor let us try the Lord, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the serpents. 10 Nor grumble, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer. 11 Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. 12 Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall. 

I have told him that I am about to judge his house forever for the iniquity which he knew - Sometimes forewarned is forearmed, but not in this case, because who can stand against our God Who is a consuming fire? Forever leaves no doubt about the verdict which leaves no room for appeal or parole (so to speak). Why so severe. The iniquity was fully known by Eli. The gross evil of his sons did not occur in a corner but in the sight of all Israel, undoubted making their ears "tingle" with rumors throughout the land! 

Because (Term of explanation) his sons brought a curse on themselves and he did not rebuke them - The family had no one to blame for the coming judgment. They had made themselves a curse. Eil had blown his only chance to hold back God's wrath when he failed to rebuke them and punish them (which potentially would have called for him executing them)!  

Henry Morris -  It was completely inexcusable for those who would be priests to behave as Eli's sons were doing (1 Samuel 2:12-17; 22), and it was Eli's duty to force them to behave responsibly. Their crimes were actually capital crimes and, if unrepented and uncorrected, it would have been his responsibility even to have them executed (Deuteronomy 21:18-21). Eli rebuked his sons verbally (1 Samuel 2:22-25), but they ignored him, and Eli allowed them to continue. God therefore sharply rebuked Eli himself (not just his sons) for honoring his sons more than the Lord (1 Samuel 2:29). Eli's descendants were eventually to be banned from the priesthood as a result.

Ryrie adds "The epitome of a tragic family situation: rebellious children and failure in the area of parental discipline." (WOE!)

1 Samuel 3:14  "Therefore I have sworn to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli's house shall not be atoned for by sacrifice or offering forever."

  • the iniquity: 1Sa 2:25 Nu 15:30,31 Ps 51:16 Isa 22:14 Jer 7:16 15:1 Eze 24:13 Heb 10:4-10,26-31 


Therefore I have sworn to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli's house shall not be atoned for by sacrifice or offering forever."

Eli’s family was apparently guilty of presumptuous sin. For such defiant sin, there was no atonement and the death penalty could be immediately applied (see Nu 15:30, 31).Isa 22:14; Heb 10:26, Ex21:14  

Compare to "Presumptuous sins": Dt 1:43; 17:12,13, 1Sa 3:14, Ex 21:14   Such sins also excluded the individual from sanctuary in the cities of refuge (Dt 19:11-13). 

1 Samuel 3:15  So Samuel lay down until morning. Then he opened the doors of the house of the LORD. But Samuel was afraid to tell the vision to Eli.

  • opened: 1Sa 1:9 Mal 1:10 
  • Samuel: Samuel reverenced Eli as a father, and feared to distress him by shewing what God had purposed to do.  It does not appear that God commanded Samuel to deliver this message; he therefore did not attempt it till adjured by Eli.  It might be supposed that Samuel would have been so full of ecstasy as to have forgotten his ordinary service, and run amongst his friends to tell them of the converse he had with God in the night:  but he modestly keeps it to himself.  Our secret communion with God is not to be proclaimed on the house-top.
  • feared: Jer 1:6-8 1Co 16:10,11 

So Samuel lay down until morning. Then he opened the doors of the house of the LORD. But Samuel was afraid to tell the vision to Eli.

1 Samuel 3:16  Then Eli called Samuel and said, "Samuel, my son." And he said, "Here I am."

Then Eli called Samuel and said, "Samuel, my son." And he said, "Here I am."

1 Samuel 3:17  He said, "What is the word that He spoke to you? Please do not hide it from me. May God do so to you, and more also, if you hide anything from me of all the words that He spoke to you."

  • I pray thee: Ps 141:5 Da 4:19 Mic 2:7 
  • God: 1Sa 20:13 Ru 1:17 2Sa 3:35 19:13 1Ki 22:16 Mt 26:63 
  • more also: Heb. so add
  • thing: or, word

He said, "What is the word that He spoke to you? Please do not hide it from me. May God do so to you, and more also, if you hide anything from me of all the words that He spoke to you."

BSB - "God do so to you, and more also" is a familiar oath formula (cf. Ru1:17; 1Sa14:44; 20:13; 25:22; 2Sa3:9, 35; 19:13; 1Ki2:23; 2Ki6:31). The speaker calls for a terrible fate to befall someone if the oath is not fulfilled. The word "so" was probably accompanied by some symbolic action.

1 Samuel 3:18  So Samuel told him everything and hid nothing from him. And he said, "It is the LORD; let Him do what seems good to Him."

  • every whit: Heb. all the things, or, words, Whit, or wid, comes from the Anglo-Saxon {wiht,} which signifies person, thing, etc.:  every whit is every thing: equivalent to every jot.
  • It is the Lord: Ge 18:25 Jud 10:15 2Sa 16:10-12 Job 1:21 2:10 Ps 39:9 Isa 39:8 La 3:39 1Pe 5:6 

So Samuel told him everything and hid nothing from him. And he said, "It is the LORD; let Him do what seems good to Him

1 Samuel 3:19  Thus Samuel grew and the LORD was with him and let none of his words fail.

  • grew: 1Sa 2:21 Jud 13:24 Lu 1:80 2:40,52 
  • the Lord: 1Sa 18:14 Ge 39:2,21-23 Isa 43:2 Mt 1:23 Lu 1:28 2Co 13:11,14 2Ti 4:22 
  • let none: 1Sa 9:6 1Ki 8:56 Isa 44:26 

Thus Samuel grew and the LORD was with him and let none of his words fail

Lxx And Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him, and there did not fall one of his words to the ground.

GREW (3SAPI: megaluno = make great, enlarge  Ac5:13): The Lxx suggests the growth was not just physical stature but in esteem & reputation (before God & among men cf Josh4:14).  All our increase in wisdom and grace is owing to the presence of God with us; this is all in all to our growth. He grew famous; all that came up to Shiloh to worship took notice of him, and admired him, and talked of him when they returned home. 

AND THE LORD WAS WITH HIM AND: This was the key to Samuel’s success as a prophet (Mt28:18-20). 

LET NONE OF HIS WORDS FAIL: more literally "hath not let fall any of his words to the earth", so NASB paraphrases what is clearly an idiom. Cf Lu1:37 ASV: For no word from God shall be void of power. This fulfillment of Samuel’s word proved that he was a true prophet of God (Dt18:21-22).  By fulfilling what he spoke by him: God did let none of his words fall to the ground.  Whatever Samuel said, as a prophet, it proved true, and was accomplished in its season. Probably there were some remarkable instances of the truth of Samuel’s predictions that happened soon after (cf his prediction to Eli), which confirmed those that were afterwards to be fulfilled, and gave general satisfaction as to his mission. God will confirm the word of his servants, and perform the counsel of his messengers (Isa44:26), and will do what he hath said.
     “The Lord was with Samuel” (v19). The drumbeat of the writer is that the Lord was at work in Samuel’s life—from the moment of his conception (1:19-20), through his early development (2:21, 26), into his entrance into the prophetic ministry (3:4, 6, 8, 10), and now in the maturation of that ministry. The Lord did not let Samuel’s prophetic pronouncements “fall to the ground”; the young man’s words, like those of any authentic prophet, were authoritative and trustworthy because they were the Lord’s words. Samuel’s success was in fact the Lord’s success. The New American Commentary 

Matthew Henry Concise - Verses 19-21. All increase in wisdom and grace, is owing to the presence of God with us. God will graciously repeat his visits to those who receive them aright. Early piety will be the greatest honour of young people. Those who honour God he will honour. Let young people consider the piety of Samuel, and from him they will learn to remember their Creator in the days of their youth. Young children are capable of religion. Samuel is a proof that their waiting upon the Lord will be pleasing to him. He is a pattern of all those amiable tempers, which are the brightest ornament of youth, and a sure source of happiness. 

1 Samuel 3:20  All Israel from Dan even to Beersheba knew that Samuel was confirmed as a prophet of the LORD.

  • Dan: Jdg 20:1 2Sa 3:10 17:11 
  • established: or, faithful, 1Ti 1:12 

All Israel from Dan even to Beersheba knew that Samuel was confirmed as a prophet of the LORD.

EVEN FROM DAN TO BEERSHEBA (about 150 mi or 241 km): emphasizes the full extent of Israel from North (Dan) to South (Beersheba). (cf. Jdg20:1). Samuel’s status as a spokesman of God’s message was acknowledged by all throughout Israel. This truth makes it amazing that they did not seek him when they were defeated in battle (4:2).  
    Most Israelite leaders during the period of the Judges exercised authority in only small areas of the country, but not Samuel. Though his role as a judge was almost certainly limited to the central region of Israel, his prophetic ministry was not so restricted. Because of his service at Israel’s central sanctuary during the earlier years of his ministry, pilgrims visiting Shiloh spread his reputation as a prophet throughout “all Israel from Dan to Beersheba” (v20).

SAMUEL WAS CONFIRMED (established, attested, "was trustworthy") = ne'émän ~ aman related to our "amen" (Mt5:18) or so be it. In a sense then Samuel was "amened" by God's presence & power (not letting any of his words fall to the ground). The Lxx describes Samuel as pistos (faithful cf "faithful men" in 2Ti2:2)  or trustworthy, dependable & reliable, good qualities to have in a day when everyone was doing what was right in their own eyes. For the first time since Moses, Israel had a national prophet.

AS A PROPHET OF THE LORD: The last prophet God had sent over the preceding 350 years was in (Jdg6:8). The term prophet means “spokesman” and refers to one who speaks for another (see Ex7:1, 2).

1 Samuel 3:21  And the LORD appeared again at Shiloh, because the LORD revealed Himself to Samuel at Shiloh by the word of the LORD.

  • And the Lord: {Wyyoseph yehowah lehairaoh,} "And Jehovah added to appear:" that is, He continued to reveal himself to Samuel at Shiloh.
  • appeared: Ge 12:7 15:1 Nu 12:6 Am 3:7 Heb 1:1 
  • the word: 1Sa 3:1,4 

The Lxx adds to the Hebrew "LXE  And the Lord manifested himself again in Selom, for the Lord revealed himself to Samuel; and Samuel was accredited to all Israel as a prophet to the Lord from one end of the land to the other: and Heli was very old, and his sons kept advancing in wickedness, and their way was evil before the Lord." Remember the modern English versions utilize the Hebrew Masoretic text fo translate into English. The Septuagint was translated from another Hebrew manuscript. 

More literally "And Jehovah added to appear:" that is, He continued to reveal himself to Samuel at Shiloh.

And the LORD appeared again at Shiloh, because the LORD revealed Himself to Samuel at Shiloh by the word of the LORD: Samuel had faithfully delivered the message he was entrusted with, and therefore God employed him again in his service. God will graciously repeat his visits to those that receive them aright.