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Bible Commentaries

Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary

1 Samuel 3

 

 

Verse 1

CONTENTS

In this Chapter we have related to us the call of Samuel, in an extraordinary manifestation of the Lord to him by night in the temple. What the Lord said to him; his fear of communicating it to Eli: Eli's demand of Samuel to be informed of it: Samuel's faithful relation of it: Eli's solemn resignation in consequence thereof to God's will. Samuel in the close of the Chapter is said to be established in the Prophetical office.

1 Samuel 3:1

(1) ¶ And the child Samuel ministered unto the LORD before Eli. And the word of the LORD was precious in those days; there was no open vision.

Reader! do not fail to remark, that while the sons of Eli were so worthless, this child, unconnected with Eli, attended diligently in his service. How often have we seen, and still see, in life, that while those who have all the advantages of a pious education, and pious examples, nevertheless neglect and despise the whole; others, without such advantages, come forward and improve. Oh! Reader! learn to value grace above all accomplishments. Rather, blessed Jesus, would I have thy favour in the lowest station, than without it to dwell in the palace of the great. How precious must have been, in those days, the slightest tokens of God's favour in his holy word. And ought not that blessed word of God to be very precious now? Lord! give me grace to esteem it more than my necessary food. May it be my study all the day. And may my eyes prevent the night watches that I may meditate therein. Psalms 119:97; Psa_119:148.


Verse 2-3

(2) And it came to pass at that time, when Eli was laid down in his place, and his eyes began to wax dim, that he could not see; (3) And ere the lamp of God went out in the temple of the LORD, where the ark of God was, and Samuel was laid down to sleep;

The smaller lamps, which were lighted for common use, no doubt like other common things, were extinguished when their ministry came no longer necessary. But the lamps before the altar were never suffered to go out. To intimate, no doubt, that neither the fire of Jesus's sacrifice, nor the light of the Holy Ghost's grace, were ever to cease their efficacy. Leviticus 24:2.


Verse 4

(4) That the LORD called Samuel: and he answered, Here am I.

It appears, that in this first call of God; Samuel was unconscious who it was that called: He knew not the voice. So is it frequently with the first manifestations of grace to the heart. When a sinner first hears the word of God, by the ministry of his servants, though the Lord's power accompanies the word, and the poor creature discovers more in it than he ever did before; yet, still he is unacquainted with the cause of its being more interesting than before, and only fancies that it is the peculiarity of the word, or the very striking nature of the sermon which he had heard, or the Providence with which he might be visited. His mind is arrested, but he doth not yet discover the cause.


Verse 5

(5) And he ran unto Eli, and said, Here am I for thou calledst me. And he said, I called not; lie down again. And he went and lay down.

Under the first impressions of the call, Samuel concluded that it must have been Eli, and therefore ran to him. But, when the aged Priest told him that he did not call him, Samuel was easily reconciled, and returned to his slumber. And doth not the sinner do the same, under the first impressions of grace, very frequently? Elihu describes it; when he saith, God speaketh once, yea, twice, yet man perceiveth it not. Job 33:14.


Verse 6-7

(6) And the LORD called yet again, Samuel. And Samuel arose and went to Eli, and said, Here am I for thou didst call me. And he answered, I called not, my son; lie down again. (7) Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD, neither was the word of the LORD yet revealed unto him.

This last verse explains wherefore Samuel was unconscious who it was that called him: he did not yet know the Lord. But how very precious are the first views of God! How delightful, when the visions of God begin! Here might Samuel look back, in the after stages of life, when any circumstances of trial, or trouble should arise, and say, Did the Lord my God call me, when I was a child; did he reveal himself to me then, when I had no consciousness of the Lord, and will he leave me now? Is he not the same God still; and is not his mercy towards me the same? Reader! if there be similar circumstances in your life, will you not make, through grace, the same use of them?


Verse 8

(8) And the LORD called Samuel again the third time. And he arose and went to Eli, and said, Here am I for thou didst call me. And Eli perceived that the LORD had called the child.

How gracious is the Lord, in repeating his calls. How numberless are the calls of his grace, in the experience of his people! Eli is taught before Samuel, that these repeated calls, must be from the Lord. So the ministers of God, are sometimes better enabled to explain, than the Lord's people themselves, how the Lord is dealing with them; and therefore, when at any time, souls are first brought under the awakenings of the Spirit, they would do well to consult some faithful minister, and communicate to him, what their minds feel.


Verse 9-10

(9) Therefore Eli said unto Samuel, Go, lie down: and it shall be, if he call thee, that thou shalt say, Speak, LORD for thy servant heareth. So Samuel went and lay down in his place. (10) And the LORD came, and stood, and called as at other times, Samuel, Samuel. Then Samuel answered, Speak; for thy servant heareth.

Samuel thus instructed, is now prepared to make answer, to the call of God, when that call should be renewed. I would have the Reader remark with me, two things in these verses. One is, that the Lord now calls Samuel by name twice, Samuel, Samuel. As if, after the first discoveries of his love, his manifestations are fuller, and larger. And the other is, that though Eli commanded Samuel to say, Speak Lord, for thy servant heareth; Samuel omitted the word Lord: perhaps, Samuel hesitated to call the Person speaking Jehovah, until be was more fully convinced that it was Jehovah. This glorious incommunicable Name of Jehovah, all the seed of Israel were taught from their youth, to be very cautious in the use of: and never were allowed to use, but upon the most solemn occasions.


Verses 11-14

(11) ¶ And the LORD said to Samuel, Behold, I will do a thing in Israel, at which both the ears of everyone that heareth it shall tingle. (12) In that day I will perform against Eli all things which I have spoken concerning his house: when I begin, I will also make an end. (13) For I have told him that I will judge his house forever for the iniquity which he knoweth; because his sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not. (14) And therefore I have sworn unto the house of Eli, that the iniquity of Eli's house shall not be purged with sacrifice nor offering forever.

This information in its consequences, to young Samuel, was not so much what became interesting to him, as to the house of Eli. But yet, we consider what is said of Samuel's sons, in the after history of his life, who walked not in his ways, but turned aside after lucre, and took bribes, and perverted judgment; perhaps, the impression of this first vision to Samuel, was designed to leave a suitable effect upon his heart. See 1 Samuel 8:3.


Verses 15-18

(15) And Samuel lay until the morning, and opened the doors of the house of the LORD. And Samuel feared to show Eli the vision. (16) Then Eli called Samuel, and said, Samuel, my son. And he answered, Here am I. (17) And he said, What is the thing that the LORD hath said unto thee? I pray thee hide it not from me: God do so to thee, and more also, if thou hide anything from me of all the things that he said unto thee. (18) And Samuel told him every whit, and hid nothing from him. And he said, It is the LORD: let him do what seemeth him good.

These verses are very interesting. Let us admire the modesty of Samuel, who, though the Lord had thus began to manifest his revelations, it did not prompt him to be lifted up above the ordinary office of a door-opener. No! Divine favors always tend to induce humbleness of soul. Whenever the Lord exalts a soul, depend upon it, that soul, will be lower in the dust before God. See Abraham's conduct in this particular: Genesis 17:3. The pious resignation of Eli deserves also to be noticed. Though this tremendous judgment was thus pronounced upon him and his household, yet he bends before it. It is the Lord that hath said it, and that is enough. Eli hath nothing more to say. Perhaps Eli viewed it as a temporal judgment: and therefore, the more readily bowed down before it; hoping that it would act as a correction, according to that sweet promise: if then their uncircumcised hearts he humbled, and they accept the punishment of their iniquity; then will I remember my Covenant. Leviticus 26:41. See another similar example in the case of Aaron's sons, when the Lord consumed them. Aaron held his peace. See Leviticus 10:1-3.


Verse 19

(19) ¶ And Samuel grew, and the LORD was with him, and did let none of his words fall to the ground.

While looking at Samuel, in his progress towards the prophetical office, I would desire the Reader, not to lose sight of a greater than Samuel, on whom the Spirit was to rest without measure. Of Him it is also said, that Jesus increased in wisdom, and stature, and in favor with God and men. Yes! the manhood of the Lord Jesus, was in all points, in the sinless state of his nature, such as ours: for it behoved him to be in all things, made like unto his brethren. Luke 2:52; Hebrews 2:17.


Verse 20-21

(20) And all Israel from Dan even to Beersheba knew that Samuel was established to be a prophet of the LORD. (21) And the LORD appeared again in Shiloh: for the LORD revealed himself to Samuel in Shiloh by the word of the LORD.

Successive revelations, follow the effectual calls of God's grace. Jesus hath promised his gracious manifestations, to his people; and the Father's with him. Reader! it should be the very earnest enquiry of believing souls, to search for those precious tokens of divine love. John 14:23.


Verse 21

REFLECTIONS

I WOULD pause over this delightful Chapter, which the Holy Ghost hath graciously caused to be written for the edification of the Church; and in the call of Samuel desire to bless God for all the early manifestations, which the Lord hath been pleased to make to his people.

Who can venture to call in question the work of God, upon the heart of his people, when in the instance of a child like Samuel, we see that works so strikingly manifested, and at a time, when the rich partaker of this unspeakable grace, knew not the Lord, and was unconscious what grace meant. Let any Reader compare the striking dissimilarity, between the hoary Eli, and the young child Samuel: And then let him determine, (for to his own decision I leave it) what but grace, could have made all this difference.

If the Reader be among the youthful part of mankind, let him reflect upon the blessed manifestations here recorded, to have been made to Samuel. And are you not anxious, I would say, my youthful friend, to enjoy the same? Do you not feel the rising prayer, in the soul; Lord, manifest thyself to me! if not in a way so splendid, yet at least in a way so gracious, as to Samuel, that I may be a partaker also, of the grace which is in Christ Jesus!

And let not the most aged of my Readers close the book, and take leave of this Chapter, without first having dropped the knee in prayer, or praise. In prayer; if so be, that no evidences of the renewed life be found in his own experience; that the same God, who called Samuel, would, though at the eleventh hour, call him; and in praise; if the Lord hath manifested himself, as in the case of Samuel, to his soul, otherwise than he doth to the word.

Blessed Lord! help my soul to praise thee, under the humble hope and assurance, that thou hast called me out of darkness into this marvellous light, and translated me from the power of Satan, into the kingdom of thy dear Son; in whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins.

 


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Bibliography Information
Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 3:4". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/pmc/1-samuel-3.html. 1828.

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