1 Samuel 3:1
Verse (Click for Chapter)
New International Version
The boy Samuel ministered before the LORD under Eli. In those days the word of the LORD was rare; there were not many visions.

New Living Translation
Meanwhile, 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.

English Standard Version
Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the LORD in the presence of Eli. And the word of the LORD was rare in those days; there was no frequent vision.

New American Standard Bible
Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the LORD before Eli. And word from the LORD was rare in those days, visions were infrequent.

King James Bible
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.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
The boy Samuel served the LORD in Eli's presence. In those days the word of the LORD was rare and prophetic visions were not widespread.

International Standard Version
Meanwhile the boy Samuel was serving the LORD before Eli. A word from the LORD was rare in those days, and visions were infrequent.

NET Bible
Now the boy Samuel continued serving the LORD under Eli's supervision. Word from the LORD was rare in those days; revelatory visions were infrequent.

New Heart English Bible
The child Samuel ministered to the LORD before Eli. The word of the LORD was rare in those days; there was no frequent vision.

GOD'S WORD® Translation
The boy Samuel was serving the LORD under Eli. In those days a prophecy from the LORD was rare; visions were infrequent.

JPS Tanakh 1917
And the child Samuel ministered unto the LORD before Eli. And the word of the LORD was precious in those days; there was no frequent vision.

New American Standard 1977
Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the LORD before Eli. And word from the LORD was rare in those days, visions were infrequent.

Jubilee Bible 2000
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.

King James 2000 Bible
And the child Samuel ministered unto the LORD before Eli. And the word of the LORD was rare in those days; there was no open vision.

American King James Version
And the child Samuel ministered to the LORD before Eli. And the word of the LORD was precious in those days; there was no open vision.

American Standard Version
And the child Samuel ministered unto Jehovah before Eli. And the word of Jehovah was precious in those days; there was no frequent vision.

Douay-Rheims Bible
Now the child Samuel ministered to the Lord before Heli, and the word of the Lord was precious in those days, there was no manifest vision.

Darby Bible Translation
And the boy Samuel ministered to Jehovah before Eli. And the word of Jehovah was rare in those days; a vision was not frequent.

English Revised Version
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.

Webster's Bible Translation
And the child Samuel ministered to the LORD before Eli. And the word of the LORD was precious in those days; there was no open vision.

World English Bible
The child Samuel ministered to Yahweh before Eli. The word of Yahweh was precious in those days; there was no frequent vision.

Young's Literal Translation
And the youth Samuel is serving Jehovah before Eli, and the word of Jehovah hath been precious in those days -- there is no vision broken forth.
Study Bible
The Lord Calls Samuel
1Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the LORD before Eli. And word from the LORD was rare in those days, visions were infrequent. 2It 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),…
Cross References
1 Samuel 2:11
Then Elkanah went to his home at Ramah. But the boy ministered to the LORD before Eli the priest.

1 Samuel 2:18
Now Samuel was ministering before the LORD, as a boy wearing a linen ephod.

1 Samuel 2:35
'But I will raise up for Myself a faithful priest who will do according to what is in My heart and in My soul; and I will build him an enduring house, and he will walk before My anointed always.

1 Samuel 2:36
'Everyone who is left in your house will come and bow down to him for a piece of silver or a loaf of bread and say, "Please assign me to one of the priest's offices so that I may eat a piece of bread."'"

Psalm 74:9
We do not see our signs; There is no longer any prophet, Nor is there any among us who knows how long.

Proverbs 29:18
Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained, But happy is he who keeps the law.

Ezekiel 7:26
Disaster will come upon disaster and rumor will be added to rumor; then they will seek a vision from a prophet, but the law will be lost from the priest and counsel from the elders.

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.

Amos 8:12
"People will stagger from sea to sea And from the north even to the east; They will go to and fro to seek the word of the LORD, But they will not find it.
Treasury of Scripture

And the child Samuel ministered to the LORD before Eli. And the word of the LORD was precious in those days; there was no open vision.

the child

1 Samuel 3:15 And Samuel lay until the morning, and opened the doors of the house …

1 Samuel 2:11,18 And Elkanah went to Ramah to his house. And the child did minister …

the word

1 Samuel 3:21 And the LORD appeared again in Shiloh: for the LORD revealed himself …

Psalm 74:9 We see not our signs: there is no more any prophet: neither is there …

Isaiah 13:12 I will make a man more precious than fine gold; even a man than the …

Amos 8:11,12 Behold, the days come, said the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine …

(1) The child Samuel ministered unto the Lord.--The writer of this history, although well aware of the great revolution accomplished in Israel by the prophet whose life and work the Holy Spirit bade him record, gives us but the simplest and shortest possible account of the child-days of him who was only second to Moses in his influence on the eventful story of the chosen people. But short and devoid of detail though the record be, it is enough to show us that the atmosphere in which the child lived was a pure and holy one; the boy was evidently kept apart from Hophni, Phinehas, and their impious self-seeking party. The high priestly guardian was evidently fully conscious of the importance of his charge, and he watched over his pupil with a tender watchful care. Perhaps his sad experiences with his evil headstrong sons had taught the old man wisdom; certainly the training he gave to Samuel was one that educated the boy well for his after-life of stirring public work. The notices of the childhood and boyhood are indeed brief. The first contrasts sharply the lawless profligacy of the priestly houses with the pure holy childhood passed in the sanctuary courts, probably always in the company of the old man. Hophni and Phinehas, the grown men prostituted the holy work to their own vile worldly ends: the child ministered before the Lord in his little white robe; and while in the home life of his own mother and father in Ramah, his brothers and sisters were growing up with the sorrows and joys of other Hebrew children, "the child Samuel grew before the Lord" amid the stillness and silence and the awful mystery of the Divine protection, which seems ever, even in the darkest days of the history of Israel, to have surrounded the home of the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord. It was amidst this silent, sacred mystery, apart from the disorders of his priestly sons, that Eli taught the boy the story of his ancestors, with only the dark curtains of the sanctuary hanging between master and pupil and the mystic golden throne of God, on which His glory was sometimes pleased to rest.

The writer wrote his gloomy recital of the wild unbridled life of the wicked priests, wrote down the weak, sorrowful remonstrances of the father and high priest, foreshadowing, however, their certain doom; and then, again, with their life of shame sharply contrasts the pure child-life of the little pupil of the old sorrow-stricken high priest--the boy whom all men loved. "And the boy Samuel grew on, and was in favour both with the Lord, and also with men."

Once more Eli, now weak with age, is warned of the sure consequences which would follow the evil licence and the irreligion of his priestly sons; and again the boy Samuel and his life, guided by Eli, his guardian and teacher, is contrasted with the wild, unchecked lawlessness of the priestly sons of Eli perpetually dishonouring religion and the sanctuary--a lawlessness which had just been denounced by the nameless prophet (1Samuel 2:27-36).

Josephus tells us that Samuel, when the Lord first called him, was twelve years old. This was the age of the child Jesus when He disputed with the doctors in the Temple.

Was precious in those days.--Precious, that is, rare. "The word of the Lord" is the will of the Lord announced by a prophet, seer, or man of God. Between the days of Deborah and the nameless man of God who came with the awful message to Eli, no inspired voice seems to have spoken to the chosen people.

The "open vision" refers to such manifestations of the Divinity as were vouchsafed to Abraham, Moses, Joshua, and Manoah, and in this chapter to Samuel. There may possibly be some reference to the appearance of Divine glory which was connected with the Urim and Thummim which were worn by the high priest. This significant silence on the part of the invisible King the writer dwells on as a result of the deep corruption into which the priests and, through their evil example, a large proportion of the nation, had fallen.

Verse 1. - The word of the Lord was precious in those days. Or rather rare; it came but seldom, and there was no proper order of persons from whose ranks the "speakers for God" would naturally step forth. It was this which made the revelation of Jehovah's will to Samuel an event so memorable both for the Jewish nation and for the Church; for he was called by the providence of God to be the founder of prophecy as an established institution, and henceforward, side by side with the king and priest, the prophet took his place as one of the three factors in the preparation for the coming of him who is a king to rule, a Priest to make atonement, and also a Prophet to teach his people and guide them into all the truth. There was no open vision. Literally, "no vision that broke forth" (see 2 Chronicles 31:5, where it is used of the publication of a decree). The meaning is, that though prophecy was an essential condition of the spiritual life of Israel, yet that hitherto it had not been promulgated and established as a fact. The gift had not absolutely been withheld, but neither had it been permanently granted as a settled ordinance. There are in Hebrew two words for vision: the one used here, hazon, refers to such sights as are revealed to the tranced eye of the seer when in a state of ecstasy; while the other, march, is a vision seen by the natural eye. From the days, however, of Isaiah onward, hazon became the generic term for all prophecy. And the child Samuel ministered unto the Lord before Eli,.... Under his direction and instruction; the Targum is, in the life of Eli, and in such parts of service, relating to the tabernacle of the Lord, as he was capable of, such as opening and shutting the doors of it, lighting the lamps, singing the praises of God, &c. according to Josephus (n), and others, he was now about twelve years of age:

and the word of the Lord was precious in those days; that is, a word from the Lord in a dream or vision, directing, informing, instructing, or reproving, this was very rarely had; of late there had been but very few instances; and which accounts for it why not only the child Samuel knew not that it was the voice of the Lord that called to him, but Eli himself thought nothing of it until he had called a third time, so rare and scarce was any instance of this kind; for which reason these words are premised in the following narration: and as everything that is scarce and rare is generally precious, so the word of God in this way also was; and so it is as considered in every view of it; as the written word of God; when there was but little of it penned, as at this time, and few or none to teach and instruct in it, Eli being old, and his sons so vile; or when it is forbidden to be read, and the copies of it destroyed, and become scarce, as in the times of Dioclesian; or when there are but very few faithful evangelical ministers of the word; which, though it is always precious to them that have precious faith in it, the promises of it being exceeding great and precious, and the truths of it more precious than fine gold, and the grand subject of it a precious Saviour, who is so in his person, offices, blood, righteousness, and sacrifice; yet is generally more precious when there is a scarcity of it, when God makes a man, a Gospel minister, more precious than fine gold, even than the golden wedge of Ophir, see Isaiah 13:12 where the word is used in the same sense as here:

there was no open vision; or prophecy, as the Targum; no publicly known prophet raised up, to whom the people could apply for counsel, direction, and instruction in divine things; in all the times of the judges we read only of Deborah the prophetess, and one prophet more, Judges 4:14, excepting the man of God lately sent to Eli, 1 Samuel 2:27, and this want of prophecy served to set off with greater foil the glory of Samuel as a prophet of the Lord, when he was an established one; there having been none of that character in the memory of man, and therefore he is spoken of as at the head of the prophets, Acts 3:24, for though there might be some private visions to particular persons, or God might appear in vision to private persons for their own special use and instruction; yet there was no public vision, or what was for public good and general use: some render it, "no broken up vision" (o); it lay hid, concealed out of sight, as if it was immured and shut up within walls, or like water pent up, that cannot break through its fences, and spread itself; or "not multiplied", as R. Isaiah, not frequent and repeated, the instances of it few and rare; the sense of this clause is much the same as the former.

(n) Antiqu. l. 5. c. 10. sect. 4. (o) "perrupta", Piscator; "fracta vel rupta", Drusius. CHAPTER 3

1Sa 3:1-10. The Lord Appears to Samuel in a Vision.

1. the child Samuel ministered unto the Lord before Eli—His ministry consisted, of course, of such duties in or about the sanctuary as were suited to his age, which is supposed now to have been about twelve years. Whether the office had been specially assigned him, or it arose from the interest inspired by the story of his birth, Eli kept him as his immediate attendant; and he resided not in the sanctuary, but in one of the tents or apartments around it, assigned for the accommodation of the priests and Levites, his being near to that of the high priest.

the word of the Lord was precious in those days—It was very rarely known to the Israelites; and in point of fact only two prophets are mentioned as having appeared during the whole administration of the judges (Jud 4:4; 6:8).

there was no open vision—no publicly recognized prophet whom the people could consult, and from whom they might learn the will of God. There must have been certain indubitable evidences by which a communication from heaven could be distinguished. Eli knew them, for he may have received them, though not so frequently as is implied in the idea of an "open vision."3:1-10 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, Joh 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.
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