Pastoral Commentary for 1 Samuel 3-4
Author: Pastor Bob Nordlie
In a period of time when "Everyone did what was right in his own eyes" God chooses a young man to be His prophet. Samuel had not yet had a direct experience of the word of the LORD when God called him by name as he slept in the Tabernacle early one morning. Samuel thought that Eli the priest had called him, but after repeated interruptions to his sleep, Eli realized the LORD was speaking to Samuel. "Speak, for your servant is listening," was a God-pleasing answer and the word of the LORD came to Samuel announcing judgment on the house of Eli because tolerated the sin of his sons who despised the LORD and claimed the fat portions of the sacrifices for themselves. This was only the first time God spoke through Samuel, but he soon became an attested prophet because "none of his words fell to the ground," but instead proved to be true. When the Philistines defeated Israel, the elders of Israel decided to bring the Ark of the Covenant into battle, thinking it would bring them victory. This was false thinking, treating the Ark like a good luck charm. Because they failed to trust God, the Israelites were again defeated and the ark was captured by the Philistines. When Eli heard the news of the Ark being captured and his sons being killed, he fell over backwards and died. Eli's grandson, born to the wife of Phineas was appropriately named Ichabod, meaning "no glory" for the glory of the Lord had departed from God's people, even as faith had departed from the hearts of God's people.