Samuel was the last of the great judges and the first great prophet. His parents were childless so his mother prayed for a child. The Lord answered and she gave her child back to God by giving him to the priest.
1Meanwhile, the boy Samuel served the lord by assisting Eli. Now in those days messages from the lord were very rare, and visions were quite uncommon.
2One night Eli, who was almost blind by now, had gone to bed. 3The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was sleeping in the Tabernacle near the Ark of God. 4Suddenly the lord called out, “Samuel!”
“Yes?” Samuel replied. “What is it?” 5He got up and ran to Eli. “Here I am. Did you call me?”
“I didn’t call you,” Eli replied. “Go back to bed.” So he did.
6Then the lord called out again, “Samuel!”
Again Samuel got up and went to Eli. “Here I am. Did you call me?”
“I didn’t call you, my son,” Eli said. “Go back to bed.”
7Samuel did not yet know the lord because he had never had a message from the lord before. 8So the lord called a third time, and once more Samuel got up and went to Eli. “Here I am. Did you call me?”
Then Eli realized it was the lord who was calling the boy. 9So he said to Samuel, “Go and lie down again, and if someone calls again, say, ‘Speak, lord, your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went back to bed.
10And the lord came and called as before, “Samuel! Samuel!”
And Samuel replied, “Speak, your servant is listening.”
11Then the lord said to Samuel, “I am about to do a shocking thing in Israel. 12I am going to carry out all my threats against Eli and his family, from beginning to end. 13I have warned him that judgment is coming upon his family forever, because his sons are blaspheming God and he hasn’t disciplined them. 14So I have vowed that the sins of Eli and his sons will never be forgiven by sacrifices or offerings.”
Samuel Speaks for the lord
15Samuel stayed in bed until morning, then got up and opened the doors of the Tabernacle as usual. He was afraid to tell Eli what the lord had said to him. 16But Eli called out to him, “Samuel, my son.”
“Here I am,” Samuel replied.
17“What did the lord say to you? Tell me everything. And may God strike you and even kill you if you hide anything from me!” 18So Samuel told Eli everything; he didn’t hold anything back. “It is the lord’s will,” Eli replied. “Let him do what he thinks best.”
19As Samuel grew up, the lord was with him, and everything Samuel said proved to be reliable. 20And all Israel, from Dan in the north to Beersheba in the south, knew that Samuel was confirmed as a prophet of the lord. 21The lord continued to appear at Shiloh and gave messages to Samuel there at the Tabernacle.
Respond: What do you think would be more frightening – hearing from God or telling Eli what God said?