1 Samuel Chapter 3

Eli was the high priest, in the Israelite temple in Shiloh. Samuel was a young boy, who had been given to Eli, into the service of the Lord. From a very young age, Samuel served the Lord in the temple. Eli’s sons had dealt unrighteously with their own service in the temple, and because of that, and how he had chosen to deal with it, Eli had been told that his posterity would not continue to serve in the temple. The story of Samuel and Eli continues as follows:

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.
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;
4 That the Lord called Samuel: and he answered, Here am I.
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.
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.
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.
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.

At this time, the Lord had not been leading his people through visions and revelations, but through His words alone, which had already been given by the prophets long before. There have been many times throughout the history of the world, when the Lord has removed his prophets from the earth. Whether this is done to test the people, because the people become too wicked, or some other reason, it is a test of the faith of the people of the Lord. This had been one of those times for the Israelites, who had not had a prophet among them since the days of Joshua.

Samuel was serving the the temple of the Lord. Eli became old and his vision was weak, he was in bed, and it says the lamp of God went out. The instructions of the Lord had been, that the lamp of the Lord was always to be lit. It seems that Eli was unable to perform the duty of keeping the lamp lit. At that time, Samuel had laid down to sleep. The Lord called him and he answered, assuming that it was Eli who had called him. He went to Eli, but Eli told him he had not called him, and that he should return to his bed. The Lord called Samuel again, he answered and returned to Eli to see why he had been called. Eli told him again, that he had not called him, and that he should return to his bed. Samuel was young and had not been taught all the things about the Lord. He was not yet familiar with the word of the Lord, or possibly the ways the Lord spoke to men. He did not recognize, for himself, that the Lord was speaking to him. The Lord called Samuel for the third time, and when he went to Eli to ask why he had called for him, Eli recognized that it was a calling from the Lord. He told Samuel to return to his bed, and if he was called again, he was to answer the Lord and say that he was ready to hear the word of the Lord. He went back to bed and when the Lord called him for the forth time, Samuel answered the Lord as Eli had instructed.

It is blessing to learn how to hear the Lord speak to us. The spirit of the Lord can touch the hearts and minds of all men and women. When we learn to listen, and are obedient to the commandments, we can feel and hear God speak. A child, as Samuel, is unlikely to know and recognize this on their own. It is important for those who know, to teach the youth of the world these things. I think it is one of the most important thing parents and leaders of youth can teach them. There is great power and safety in learning to recognize how the Lord speaks to us personally. If we want the youth of today to have greater strength and courage to do what is right, we need to teach them this principle.

11 And the Lord said to Samuel, Behold, I will do a thing in Israel, at which both the ears of every one 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 for ever 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 for ever.

Samuel was told that in the day when his promise to Eli was to be fulfilled, the ears of every one who heard it, would tingle. The witness of the spirit, would come to the Israelites, and they would be able to know that the Lord had been true to his word regarding the house of Eli. The Lord told Samuel that Eli had been told of the judgement which was to come upon his house because of the wickedness that he was aware of in his family, which he did nothing to stop. His family would no longer be purged by sacrifices and offerings.

I think that the wisdom and knowledge of the Lord, was such that He knew the sons of Eli would not somehow become an example of righteousness, but would instead be a stumbling block to the House of Israel. They could no longer be counted among the worthy, and therefore could no longer serve in His holy house. Additionally, they could not bring their own sacrifices and offerings to the temple, to be made clean by them. In punishing the house of Eli in this way, the Lord was setting (or resetting) a standard for worthiness in serving in the temple. There are times, when a few must be stopped or even destroyed in their wickedness, so that a great number more might be saved. This reminds me of a Book of Mormon story of young Nephi. He had been sent to get sacred records from Laban, who dealt wickedly with his family. The Lord gave the following instruction through the voice of the spirit, “Behold the Lord slayeth the wicked to bring forth his righteous purposes. It is better that one man should perish than that a nation should dwindle and perish in unbelief.” (see 1 Nephi 4:13) This was the wisdom of the Lord for the family of Nephi and the future nation that would come from them. Likewise, the punishment of the family of Eli, needed to be this strong for the benefit of the souls of many others.

15 And Samuel lay until the morning, and opened the doors of the house of the Lord. And Samuel feared to shew 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 any thing 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.

Samuel stayed in his bed until the next morning, got up and opened the temple doors. He was afraid to tell Eli what the Lord had told him. It would have been natural for a young boy to be worried about telling his master that the Lord was prepared to judge the master for something he had done. I imagine that Eli spent the night considering what the Lord was sharing with Samuel as well, and possibly because of that, Eli called Samuel for him. Eli asked Samuel what the Lord had said, so Samuel told him everything and Eli knew it would be as the Lord had said.

19 And Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him, and did let none of his words fall to the ground.
20 And all Israel from Dan even to Beer-sheba 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.

Samuel grew up and was recognized throughout all of Israel, as the prophet of the Lord. All the words of Samuel were fulfilled and he had the Lord, or the spirit of the Lord, with him. The Lord showed himself unto Samuel in Shiloh, and He showed revelations unto him, because Samuel was the prophet of the Lord.

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