1 Samuel 3:7
Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD, neither was the word of the LORD yet revealed to him.
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1 Samuel 3:7. Samuel did not yet know the Lord — How God was wont to teach and instruct men in his will. Neither was the word of the Lord yet revealed to him — He was not acquainted with the way wherein God made himself and his mind known unto the prophets, because he had never spoken to him before. So that he did not know how to distinguish between the voice of God and that of men. And this ignorance of Samuel served God’s design, as it gave Eli the fuller assurance of the truth of God’s call and message to Samuel.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.Did not yet know the Lord - i. e. in His supernatural communication, as follows at the end of the verse. The text rendering of this verse is better than that of the margin. 5-18. he ran unto Eli, and said, Here am I; for thou calledst me—It is evident that his sleeping chamber was close to that of the aged high priest and that he was accustomed to be called during the night. The three successive calls addressed to the boy convinced Eli of the divine character of the speaker, and he therefore exhorted the child to give a reverential attention to the message. The burden of [the Lord's message] was an extraordinary premonition of the judgments that impended over Eli's house; and the aged priest, having drawn the painful secret from the child, exclaimed, "It is the Lord; let him do what seemeth him good." Such is the spirit of meek and unmurmuring submission in which we ought to receive the dispensations of God, however severe and afflictive. But, in order to form a right estimate of Eli's language and conduct on this occasion, we must consider the overwhelming accumulation of judgments denounced against his person, his sons, his descendants—his altar, and nation. With such a threatening prospect before him, his piety and meekness were wonderful. In his personal character he seems to have been a good man, but his sons' conduct was flagrantly bad; and though his misfortunes claim our sympathy, it is impossible to approve or defend the weak and unfaithful course which, in the retributive justice of God, brought these adversities upon him. Either, first, He was not acquainted with God in that extraordinary or prophetical way. Or rather, secondly, He did not yet understand, any more than before, that it was not Eli, but God, who spake to him. And this ignorance of Samuel’s served God’s design, that his simplicity might give Eli the better assurance of the truth of God’s call and message to Samuel. Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord,.... He knew that Jehovah, the God of Israel, was the true God; he had spiritual knowledge of him, and knew somewhat of his word and worship, ways and ordinances, in which he had been instructed by Eli; wherefore, though the Targum is,"Samuel had not yet learned to know doctrine from the Lord;''it can only be understood, that he had not learnt it perfectly; somewhat he knew of it, but in an imperfect manner, being a child: but the sense of the word is, that as yet he was ignorant that God had used to speak with ordinary and familiar voice to men, as Maimonides says (s); he perhaps had never heard of any such thing, and much less was experimentally acquainted with it, that God ever did speak after such a manner to men, and could not distinguish between the voice of God and the voice of Eli:

neither was the word of the Lord yet revealed unto him; what of the written word that was in being he had, and read, as the law of Moses; but the meaning is, that no word of prophecy of the Lord was revealed unto him, as the Targum; he never had prophesied as yet, and knew not the form and manner of prophecy, as the above writer observes, or what methods God took to reveal himself, his mind and will, to men, at least not this by an audible voice.

(s) Moreh Nevochim, par. 2. c. 44.

Now Samuel did not yet know {f} the LORD, neither was the word of the LORD yet revealed unto him.

(f) By vision.

7. Now Samuel, &c.] This verse explains why Samuel failed to recognise the Voice. ‘Knowing the Lord’ here denotes not the general religious knowledge of a pious Israelite, but the special knowledge communicated by a personal revelation. The phrase is used in a different sense in 1 Samuel 2:12.At the time when Samuel served the Lord before Eli, both as a boy and as a young man (1 Samuel 2:11, 1 Samuel 2:21, 1 Samuel 2:26), the word of the Lord had become dear, i.e., rare, in Israel, and "Prophecy was not spread." נפרץ, from פּרץ, to spread out strongly, to break through copiously (cf. Proverbs 3:10). The "word of the Lord" is the word of God announced by prophets: the "vision," "visio prophetica." It is true that Jehovah had promised His people, that He would send prophets, who should make known His will and purpose at all times (Deuteronomy 18:15.; cf. Numbers 23:23); but as a revelation from God presupposed susceptibility on the part of men, the unbelief and disobedience of the people might restrain the fulfilment of this and all similar promises, and God might even withdraw His word to punish the idolatrous nation. Such a time as this, when revelations from God were universally rare, and had now arisen under Eli, in whose days, as the conduct of his sons sufficiently proves, the priesthood had fallen into very deep corruption.
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