Matthew Poole's Commentary
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.The Lord calleth Samuel three times; he knows not God’s voice, but thinks it to be Eli who calls him; runs to him, who instructs him, 1 Samuel 3:1-9. At the fourth call he answers, 1 Samuel 3:10. God acquainteth Samuel with the destruction of Eli’s house, 1 Samuel 1:11-14. Samuel in the morning discovers it to Eli, at his request: Eli’s submission, 1 Samuel 1:15-18. All Israel acknowledgeth Samuel for a prophet, 1 Samuel 1:19-21.
Before Eli, i.e. under his inspection and direction, which, being so young, he needed.
The word of the Lord, to wit, the word of prophecy, or the revelation of God’s will to and by the prophets.
Was precious, i, e. rare or scarce, such things being most precious in men’s esteem, whereas common things are generally despised.
There was no open vision; God did not impart his mind by way of vision or revelation openly, or to any public person. to whom others might resort for satisfaction, though he might or did privately reveal himself to some pious persons for their particular direction. This is here premised as a reason why Samuel understood not, when God called him once or twice.
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;In his place; in the court of the tabernacle.
He could not see, to wit, clearly and distinctly. This is added as an evidence of his old age, partly to show God’s contempt of him, notwithstanding his venerable age, and his preferring the child Samuel before him in this vision; and partly as the reason why Samuel so readily ran to him upon the first call, because his great age made him more to need his servants’ help.
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;Ere the lamp of God went out; before the lights of the golden candlestick were put out, i.e. in the night season, or before the morning, when they were put out, as they were lighted in the evening, Exodus 27:21 Leviticus 24:3 2 Chronicles 13:11.
In the temple, i.e. in the tabernacle, which is sometimes called the temple, as being of the same use and significancy.
Samuel was laid down to sleep; not that this happened when he first lay down, but whilst he was lying there.
That the LORD called Samuel: and he answered, Here am I.No text from Poole on this verse.
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.He ran; showing his great faithfulness and diligence in the service, either of the Lord, or of his master Eli.
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.No text from Poole on this verse.
Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD, neither was the word of the LORD yet revealed unto 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.
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.He arose and went to Eli; he persists in the same readiness to obey and serve him and was not discouraged or driven from his duty by his double mistake and disappointment.
Eli perceived, by the consideration of Samuel’s piety, of the sanctity of the place adjoining, from whence God had oft-times spoken, and of the solitude of the place, where there was no human person besides himself who could or would have called Samuel in that manner.
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.Thy servant heareth, i.e. I am ready to hear what thou speakest, and to do what thou requirest.
And the LORD came, and stood, and called as at other times, Samuel, Samuel. Then Samuel answered, Speak; for thy servant heareth.The Lord came; before, he spake to him at a distance, even from the holy oracle between the cherubims; but now, to prevent all further mistakes, the voice came near to him, as if the person speaking had been present with him.
And stood; before, the voice passed by him, now the speaker fixeth his abode with him for a time, till he had uttered his whole mind to him.
As at other times; as he had done before.
Samuel, Samuel; his name is here doubled, to engage him to the more speedy and diligent attention.
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.I will do a thing: those things which are related in the next chapter, which though done by the Philistines, God here ascribes to himself, because he was the first and chief cause of it, by withdrawing his helping hand from Israel, and by delivering the ark, and Eli’s two sons, and the rest of people, into his and their enemies’ hands.
Both the ears of every one that heareth it shall tingle; which will be so terrible, that not only those that feel it shall groan under it, but those that only hear the report of it shall be struck with such amazement and horror, which will make their heads and hearts ache. A metaphor from him, who being surprised with some great and hideous noise, such as thunder or great guns, his head is much affected with it, and the sound or tingling of it abides in his ears a good while after it. This phrase is used also 2 Kings 21:12 Jeremiah 19:3.
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.In that day; in that time which I have appointed for this work, which was about twenty or thirty years after this threatening. So long space of repentance God allows to this wicked generation to make their peace with God, and prevent the execution, as others did in like cases.
All things which I have spoken, by that prophet, 1 Samuel 2:27.
When I begin, I will also make an end; though this vengeance may and shall be delayed for a season, to manifest my patience, and incite them to repentance; yet when once I begin to inflict, I shall certainly go on with it, and not desist till I have made a full end.
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.I will judge, i.e. condemn and punish or destroy, as the word judge is oft used, as Genesis 15:14 John 3:18 16:11.
His house; his children and posterity, as is manifest by the story; as the word house is frequently taken, as 2 Samuel 7:11 1 Kings 21:29. So the house of Judah, of Aaron, of David, are oft taken for their posterity. And to build a house, in Scripture use, is to increase their posterity, as Exodus 1:21 Deu 25:9 Ruth 4:11. Compare Genesis 16:2 30:3.
For ever; till they be utterly rooted out; or for a long time, as that phrase is oft used.
Which he knoweth; either by the information of the prophet, 1 Samuel 2:27, &c., or by his own guilty and self-accusing conscience. But these and the foregoing and following words may well be and are rendered thus;
for this iniquity, because he knew (both by common fame, and by his own observation)
that his sons, & c. He cannot pretend ignorance, or want of proof of their wickedness, which aggravates his sin.
Vile; not only hateful to God, but contemptible to all the people, whereby they also brought their sacred office and God’s holy ordinances into contempt. Heb. cursed themselves, or made themselves execrable or accursed, both to God and men: by their lewd and cursed practices they put themselves under the curse of God, by such a gross violation of God’s commands: compare Joshua 6:18 7:12,13. This expression may be used by way of reflection upon their father, because he did not denounce the curse of God against them, nor put them out of the priesthood, as accursed persons, although they were so vile, that they had prevented their father’s censure, and meritoriously cast themselves out, and cut themselves off from the priesthood and congregation of the Lord, which their father should have done judicially.
He restrained them not; he contented himself with a cold and gentle reproof, and did not severely rebuke, and punish, and effectually restrain them from their abominable courses, nor use that authority which God had given him, as a father, as a high priest, and as a judge, or chief magistrate, against them, as by the law of God he was obliged to do.
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.I have sworn; which might be done before, though it be mentioned here only. Or, I do swear; the past tense being commonly put for the present in the Hebrew tongue. Unto the house, or, concerning, as the prefix lamed is oft used, as Exodus 14:3 18:7 2 Samuel 11:7 Psalm 91:11, compared with Matthew 4:6.
Shall not be purged with sacrifice, i.e. the punishment threatened against Eli and his family shall not be prevented or hindered by all their sacrifices, as they fondly imagine, but shall infallibly be executed.
And Samuel lay until the morning, and opened the doors of the house of the LORD. And Samuel feared to shew Eli the vision.Opened the doors of the house of the Lord: although the tabernacle, whilst it was to be removed from place to place in the wilderness, had no doors, but consisted only of curtains, and had only hangings before the entrance, instead of doors; yet when it was settled in one place, as now it was in Shiloh, where it had been for a long time, it is more than probable, both from this place, and by comparing 1 Samuel 1:9 2 Samuel 6:17, and from the nature and reason of the thing, that it was enclosed within some solid building, which had doors, and posts, and other parts belonging to it.
The vision, i.e. the matter of the vision or revelation, partly from the reverence and respect he bore to his person, to whom he was loth to be a messenger of such sad tidings; partly lest if he had been hasty to utter it, Eli might think him guilty of arrogancy or secret complacency in his calamity, which was like to tend to Samuel’s advancement. And not being commanded by God to acquaint Eli herewith, he prudently suspended the publication of it till a fit occasion were offered, which he might reasonably expect in a very little time, knowing that Eli would be greedy to know the matter of that revelation, the preface whereof he was acquainted with; and that it would be less offensive, and therefore more useful to Eli, when he saw that Samuel was not puffed up with it, nor forward to vent it, until Eli forced it from him.
Then Eli called Samuel, and said, Samuel, my son. And he answered, Here am I.No text from Poole on this verse.
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.God inflict the same evils upon thee, which I suspect he hath pronounced against me, and greater evils too. Or, God do so, i.e. let God deal with thee so severely, as I cannot, or am loth to express. So it is a kind of aposiopesis, usual in oaths and in adjurations. The same phrase is in Ruth 1:17. Thus he adjures him to utter the whole truth, as was usual among the Hebrews, as 1 Kings 22:16 Matthew 26:63.
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.This severe sentence is from the sovereign Lord of the world, who hath an absolute power and right to dispose of me and all his creatures as he pleaseth, to whose good pleasure I therefore freely submit: from Israel’s God, who was known by this name of Jehovah, who is in a special manner the ruler of the people of Israel, to whom it properly belongs to punish all mine offences, whose chastisement I therefore accept.
And Samuel grew, and the LORD was with him, and did let none of his words fall to the ground.Samuel grew, as in stature, so in wisdom and piety, and God’s favour, and reputation with the people.
Fall to the ground, i.e. want its effect or success; God made good all his predictions. A metaphor from precious liquors, which when they are spilt upon the ground, are altogether useless and ineffectual. This phrase is oft used, as Joshua 21:45 Esther 6:10, &c.
And all Israel from Dan even to Beersheba knew that Samuel was established to be a prophet of the LORD.From Dan even to Beer-sheba; through the whole land, from the northern bound,
Dan, to the southern,
Beer-sheba; which was the whole length and largest extent of the land. See Judges 20:1,2 2 Samuel 17:11.
Knew, both by Eli’s testimony, and particular relation of the foregoing history, to the people that came from all parts; and by succeeding revelations made to him, whereof mention is made in the next verse, which though placed after, might be done before.
And the LORD appeared again in Shiloh: for the LORD revealed himself to Samuel in Shiloh by the word of the LORD.Or, did use to reveal his mind to Samuel.
By the word of the Lord, i.e. by his word, the noun for the pronoun, which is frequent, as Leviticus 14:15, &c.; by his word of command, which he chose to deliver to Israel by his mouth, as it here follows; or by his word of prophecy concerning future events.