Wesley's Notes on the 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.
3:1 Before Eli - That is, under his inspection and direction. Word - The word of prophecy, or the revelation of God's will to and by the prophets. Precious - Rare or scarce, such things being most precious in mens' esteem, whereas common things are generally despised. 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 privately reveal himself to some pious persons for their particular direction. This is 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;
3:2 His place - In the court of the tabernacle.
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;
3:3 Went out - Before the lights of the golden candlestick were put out in the morning.
That the LORD called Samuel: and he answered, Here am I.
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.
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.
Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD, neither was the word of the LORD yet revealed unto him.
3:7 Did not know - He was not acquainted with God in that extraordinary or prophetical way. 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.
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.
And the LORD came, and stood, and called as at other times, Samuel, Samuel. Then Samuel answered, Speak; for thy servant heareth.
3:10 Came and stood - Before, he spake to him at a distance, even from the holy oracle between the cherubim: but now, to prevent all farther mistake, the voice came near to him, as if the person speaking had been standing near him.
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.
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.
3:12 In that day - In that time which I have appointed for this work, which was about twenty or thirty years after this threatning. So long space of repentance God allows to this wicked generation. When I begin, and c. - Tho' this vengeance shall be delayed for a season, to manifest my patience, and incite them to repentance; yet when once I begin to inflict, I shall 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.
3:13 Restrained them not - He contented himself with a cold reproof, and did not punish, and effectually restrain them. They who can, and do not restrain others from sin, make themselves partakers of the guilt. Those in authority will have a great deal to answer for, if the sword they bear be not a terror to evil - doers.
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.
3:14 Have sworn - Or, I do swear: the past tense being commonly put for the present in the Hebrew tongue. Unto - Or, concerning it. Purged - That is, the punishment threatened against Eli and his family, shall not he prevented by all their sacrifices, 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.
3:15 Doors - Altho' 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 hangings before the entrance, instead of doors; yet when it was settled in one place, as now it was in Shiloh, it was enclosed within some solid building, which had doors and posts, and other parts belonging to it. Feared - The matter of the vision or revelation, partly from the reverence 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.
Then Eli called Samuel, and said, Samuel, my son. And he answered, Here am I.
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.
3:17 God do so, and c. - God inflict the same evils upon thee, which I suspect he hath pronounced against me, and greater evils too.
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.
3:18 It is the Lord - This severe sentence is from the sovereign Lord of the world, who hath an absolute right to dispose of me and all his creatures; 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.
3:19 Fail, and c. - That is, want its effect: God made good all his predictions. A metaphor from precious liquors, which when they are spilt upon the ground, are altogether useless.
And all Israel from Dan even to Beersheba knew that Samuel was established to be a prophet of the LORD.
3:20 From Dan, and c. - Thro' the whole Land, from the northern bound Dan, to the southern, Beersheba; which was the whole length of the Land.
And the LORD appeared again in Shiloh: for the LORD revealed himself to Samuel in Shiloh by the word of the LORD.