1 Samuel 3:19
And Samuel grew, and the LORD was with him, and He let none of Samuel's words fall to the ground.
Here to GrowJ. R. Miller, D. D.1 Samuel 3:19
SamuelN. Emmons.1 Samuel 3:19
The Character of SamuelD. Moors, M. A.1 Samuel 3:19
The Growth of CharacterW. J. Woods, B. A.1 Samuel 3:19
The Ministry of SamuelJ. Harrison.1 Samuel 3:19
Samuel the ProphetB. Dale 1 Samuel 3:19-4:1
A prophet of the Lord (ver. 20). "A prophet was a man who drew aside the curtain from the secret counsels of Heaven. He declared or made public the previously hidden truths of God; and, because future events might chance to involve Divine truth, therefore a revealer of future events might happen to be a prophet. Yet, still, small was the part of a prophet's functions which contained the foreshadowing of events, and not necessarily any part of it" (De Quincey, 'Confessions,' p. 27). The greatest of prophets, and more than a prophet, was Moses (Numbers 12:6-8; Deuteronomy 18:15; Deuteronomy 34:9). After him a prophet arose at rare intervals. With Samuel, who was second only to Moses, a new prophetic era began. He was called to a permanent prophetic work; a type of the future line of the prophets which he virtually founded, and "set for all time the great example of the office of a prophet of the Lord." "In Samuel - Levite, Nazarite, at the sanctuary of Shiloh, prophet, and destined founder of a mightier prophetic power - were united from the first all spiritual gifts most potent for the welfare of the people, and under his powerful control stood the wheels on which the age revolved He was truly the father of all the great prophets who worked such wonders in the ensuing centuries" (Ewald. See 'Davison on Prophecy;' 'Fairbairn on Prophecy;' 'Prophecy a Preparation for Christ,' by the Dean of Canterbury). The summary of his prophetic activity here given leads us to consider -

I. HIS QUALIFICATION. "And Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him" (ver. 19). "And the Lord appeared again in Shiloh (ver. 10): for the Lord revealed himself to Samuel in Shiloh by the word of the Lord (ver. 21).

1. The possession of a holy character, which was the general condition of prophetic endowment. At the time of his call Samuel entered into a higher knowledge of God, and a closer fellowship with him than he had before; he gradually advanced therein, and his character became more and more perfect. "Equable progression from the beginning to the end was the special characteristic of his life." "The qualifications which the Jewish doctors suppose necessarily antecedent to render any one habilem ad prophetandum are truly probity and piety; and this was the constant sense and opinion of them all universally, not excluding the vulgar themselves" (John Smith, 'Sel. Disc.' p. 250).

2. The revelation to him of the Divine word - by voices, visions, insight, intuition, inspiration (ver. 7). "For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man; but holy men of God spake as they were moved (borne along as a ship by the wind) by the Holy Ghost" (2 Peter 1:21). The communications of God to men have been made in many ways (by dreams, by Urim, by prophecy), and one communication faithfully received and used has prepared the way for another. How long after the Lord first appeared to Samuel he "apeared again" to him is not stated.

3. The conviction of its Divine origin, amounting to absolute certainty, and impelling him to speak and act in accordance with the revelation he received.

II. HIS VOCATION. "And the word of Samuel came to all Israel" (ch. 4:1). He had not only to receive the word from God, but also to utter it to men. He was a spokesman for God, a messenger or interpreter of the Divine will.

1. The nature and purpose of his vocation were -

(1) The communication of doctrine; the teaching of moral and spiritual truth; the declaration of the mind and will of the invisible and eternal King, with special reference to the requirements of the time in which he lived. He was a witness of the presence and government of Jehovah, his nature and character, his hatred of sin and love of righteousness, his dissatisfaction with merely formal and ceremonial services, his opposition to idolatry, his gifts, claims, and purposes with respect to his people. "The prophetic order in its highest signification was nothing else than a living witness for those eternal principles of righteous ness which previous revelation had implanted in the Hebrew race, and through them in the life of humanity" (Tulloch).

(2) The enforcement of practice, by urgent appeals to the conscience, and presenting powerful motives of gratitude for past benefits, hope of future good, and fear of future evil. "The prophets, beside their communication of doctrine, had another and a direct office to discharge as pastors and ministerial monitors of the people of God. Their work was to admonish and reprove, to arraign forevery ruling sin, to blow the trumpet of repentance, and shake the terrors of the Divine judgment over a guilty land. Often they bore the message of consolation or pardon; rarely, if ever, of public approbation or praise" (Davison).

(3) The prediction of things to come; not simply general results of good or evil con duct, but specific events that could not have been known except by Divine inspiration (1 Samuel 7:4; 1 Samuel 10:2; 1 Samuel 12:17; 1 Samuel 13:14); an element which became more prominent in subsequent times - the things to come having relation to the setting up of a kingdom of heaven on earth. We need not here dwell upon other matters connected with and growing out of the prophetic vocation of Samuel, viz.,

(4) his offering sacrifice;

(5) his civil magistracy;

(6) his presiding over the "school of the prophets;"

(7) his recording the events of his time (1 Chronicles 29:29).

2. The persons whom his vocation immediately concerned.

(1) The people and the elders of Israel - directing them what to do, exhorting them to forsake their sins, sometimes opposing and condemning their wishes. "His business was to keep all Israel true to the Divine purpose for which they had been made a nation" ('Expositor,' vol. 3. p. 344).

(2) The priesthood, as in the case of Eli and his sons.

(3) The king - teaching him that he was a servant of Jehovah, appointed by him, and bound to obey his laws, and when he departed from them denouncing his disobedience. "Under the protection generally, though not always effectual, of their sacred character the prophets were a power in the nation often more than a match for kings and priests, and kept up in that little corner in the earth the antagonism of influences which is the only real security for continued progress The remark of a distinguished Hebrew, that the prophets were in Church and State equivalent to the modern liberty of the press, gives a just but not an inadequate conception of the part fulfilled in national and universal history by this great element of Jewish life" (J.S. Mill, 'Representative Government,' p. 41).

3. The manner in which it was fulfilled: diligently (Jeremiah 23:28; Jeremiah 48:10 = negligently): faithfully (not according to his own natural wishes, but God's will); fearlessly; established = found trustworthy - Numbers 12:7; 1 Samuel 2:35), fully (not shunning to declare all the counsel of God - Deuteronomy 4:2; Acts 20:27).

III. HIS CONFIRMATION. "The Lord was with him, and did let none of his words fall to the ground" (but made them stand firmly, or attain their aim like an arrow which hits the mark - ver. 19). He attested, sealed him as his messenger -

1. By bringing to pass the good or evil foretold by him (Numbers 22:6).

2. By providential and even miraculous occurrences, indicating his approval (1 Samuel 7:10; 1 Samuel 12:18).

3. By clothing his word with power, so that it was felt by those to whom it was addressed to be the word of the Lord; for there is something Divine within which responds to the Divine without, and every one who is truthful perceives and obeys the voice of eternal truth (John 18:37).

IV. HIS RECOGNITION. "And all Israel from Dan even to Beer-sheba knew that Samuel was established to be a prophet of the Lord" (ver. 20). The Divine word was no more rare (1 Samuel 3:1).

1. His authority was universally admitted. It was familiarly known throughout the land that he had been appointed as a regular medium of communication between Jehovah and his people.

2. His utterances were widely disseminated, and regarded with reverence. "The word of Samuel came to all Israel."

3. His work thereby became highly effective. Its full effect appeared long afterwards. But even before the blow of judgment, which he predicted, fell (some ten years after his call), he doubtless laboured not in vain; and during the succeeding twenty years (1 Samuel 7:2) he "spent his time in a slow but resolute work of kindling the almost extinguished flame of a higher life in Israel." - D.

And Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him.
It is the design of the present discourse to show what was implied in God's being with Samuel.

I. This implied THAT GOD PRESERVED HIS LIFE AND HEALTH. While other children died, Samuel lived, and grew in stature and strength. He could gratefully say, "I am old and grey-headed." Long life is often represented as the natural effect and temporal reward of early piety.

II. God's being with him implied THAT HE PRESERVED HIM FROM MORAL AS WELL AS NATURAL EVIL. He lived in an evil day. All orders and ages of men had grown corrupt, and every kind of error, delusion, and vice prevailed. Samuel, therefore, was greatly exposed to be carried away by the torrent of moral corruption, and nothing but the presence of God could preserve him from being overwhelmed and destroyed. But God was with him and he with God; for he lived as seeing Him who is invisible. A love to God, and a sense of His constant presence, made him hate and avoid every sinful course. This was certainly owing to God's being with him, and restraining the native depravity of his heart. It is easy for God to keep the heart of those who constantly lean upon Him.

III. God's being with Samuel implied HIS CONSTANT GUIDANCE IN THE PATH OF DUTY. Accordingly we find that God did from time to time, direct him in duty. He directed him to bear His solemn messages to Eli and his house. He directed him to comply with the voice of the people, and anoint Saul to be king over Israel. And He directed him, at the hazard of his life, to anoint David, the son of Jesse, to succeed Saul on the throne which be then claimed and possessed. Besides directing him in extraordinary cases, whither to go, what to do, and what to say, He directed him in all his common and daily conduct.

IV. God's being with Samuel implied THAT HE AFFORDED HIM ASSISTANCE IN THE DISCHARGE OF DUTY. Samuel was constantly dependent on God to enable him to do his duty, after he was led to the knowledge of it. He was called to many arduous and self-denying duties, which he would have neglected to perform if God had not inspired him with courage, resolution, and zeal. He was at first afraid to deliver the Divine messages to Eli. It was a dangerous duty to anoint David king over Israel, while Saul his enemy was on the throne.

V. God's with Samuel implied THAT HE SUCCEEDED, AS WELL AS GUIDED AND ASSISTED, HIM IN DUTY. Men may form wise and good designs, and pursue them with activity and diligence, but without success. In all their undertakings, it depends upon God whether they shall obtain the object of their wishes.

VI. That God's being with Samuel implied THAT HE MADE HIM EMINENTLY USEFUL IN HIS DAY AND GENERATION. God made Samuel uncommonly useful in various ways.

1. By his predictions. He early called him and ordained him a prophet, to reveal His will to His chosen people.

2. God made Samuel useful by his instructions. Though he was not a priest, yet he was an eminent instructor. He was the first that taught the school of the prophets; which was a most excellent institution, and continued in the nation until after the Babylonish captivity, when synagogues were first established and multiplied in the land. But, beside this, he taught the people at large, and restrained them from the gross practices and errors to which they were exposed, while there was no king nor faithful priests in the nation.

3. God made Samuel very useful, by clothing him with civil authority, and giving him opportunity to administer justice through the land. We read, "Samuel judged Israel all the days of his life."

4. God gave Samuel the spirit of grace and supplication, by which He enabled him to draw down national blessings, and avert national salami. ties. David mentions the efficacy of Samuel's prayers, as an example to the people of God in the days of darkness and distress. "Exalt ye the Lord our God, and worship at His footstool: for He is holy Moses and Aaron among His priests, and Samuel among them that call upon His name: they called upon the Lord, and He answered them."

5. His example crowned and established his character in the view of the nation. He was called to visit all parts of Judea, which gave the people a peculiar opportunity of seeing his holy and exemplary conduct. This constrained them to believe that God was with him, for he carried the visible appearance of living near to God, and of enjoying His gracious presence.IMPROVEMENT.

1. It appears from the character and conduct of Samuel that pious and faithful parents may do much to promote the piety and usefulness of their children.

2. We learn from the character and life of Samuel the importance of parents being pious.

3. The character and conduct of Samuel show the peculiar obligations of those who have been the subjects of parental dedication and instruction, to make a personal dedication of themselves to the Lord.

4. In the view of the character and conduct of Samuel we may see the great importance of early piety.

5. We learn from what has been said that it is very criminal to obstruct early piety.

(N. Emmons.)

We are not in this world merely to do the pieces of work, large or small, that are set over against our hand. We are here to grow in strength and beauty of character. And it is not hard to see how this growth may go on continually amid life's daily toil and cares. If we are diligent, careful, faithful, prompt, accurate, energetic in the doing of a thousand little things of common life, we are building these qualities meanwhile into our soul's fabric. Thus we are ever learning by doing and growing by doing. There is art unseen spiritual building arising within us continually as we plod on in our unending tasks. Negligence in common duties mars our character. Faithfulness in work builds beauty into the soul.

(J. R. Miller, D. D.)

I. Consider SAMUEL IN HIS EARLY ADVANTAGES. He was in a special and peculiar sense a child of prayer.


1. Observe his attention to all appointed duties. This is seen in the promptness with which he rises to obey the fancied summons of Eli even at midnight.

2. Let us consider next the deportment of Samuel towards others. Thus we find it was always modest, and courteous, and respectful. We never find him elated by the honourable position to which he had been advanced.

3. But once more, notice among the personal qualities of Samuel his steady, uncompromising faithfulness. Removed at so early a period from the pious over. sight of his parents; left only to the instruct, ions of the feeble, and as it would seem now careless Eli; compelled to be a witness of the fruits of his master's sinful negligence, and even to be the daily associate of that master's profligate and abandoned sons — we could hardly have wondered if, infected by the surrounding contagion, this plant of early and holy promise had withered and faded sway. "But the Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptation."

III. But let us consider Samuel, in the last place, AS HE STOOD HIGH IN THE FAVOUR OF GOD. This is especially observable in the circumstances of his prophetic calling. The latter times of the Judges were times of great spiritual decline. Good men were scattered like two or three berries on the top of a bough.

(D. Moors, M. A.)

These passages (1 Samuel 12:23) bring out some of the most characteristic points in the life of Samuel the prophet. The child devoutly surrendered bee sins the first and greatest of the prophets, the man chosen to close the order of judges and inaugurate the government of kings. It is as the first of the prophets that he appears before us in our text: "And Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him, and did let none of his words fall to the ground. And all Israel knew that Samuel was established to be a prophet of the Lord."

1. First, our text tells us, he grew. What a child will become depends very much on its capacity of growth. There are some who never grow, or, if they grow at all, grow feebly or imperfectly. Their body is stunted, their mind is undeveloped, their character makes no progress. But where there is full power of growth there is hardly any degree of eminence which may not be attained. Growth mainly results from two things, vigour of life, and suitable culture. Samuel enjoyed both these. But this growth was aided by culture. That culture began in infancy. He was brought to the house of the Lord; he was placed under the care of Eli — the devout, the true, though too indulgent Eli. Nor were there other influences wanting. His mother never ceased to pray for him. His mother came up every year, we are told, to offer the early sacrifice, and brought with her a little mantle, or coat, woven by her own hands. Oh! the anticipation of that yearly visit. Oh! the joy with which she folded him in her arms, and clothed him in his new dress. Oh! the love which she poured into the susceptible heart from hers, with fondest kisses and tenderest prayers. The impression of these visits lived on from year to year, and more than any other influence served to keep his heart pure, and loving, and devout. Above all, God Himself took Samuel in hand, and completed his education by His own Spirit.

2. The second thing our text tells us is that the Lord was with him. The Lord was with him, a blessing of the most comprehensive and sufficing kind, a blessing which seems to include all other blessings in itself. Only thus is the man blessed who fears the Lord, and whom the Lord delighteth to honour. The Lord was with Jacob to keep him safely in all the places whither he went. The Lord was with Joseph, and all that he did prospered. The Lord was with Moses, "certainly I shall be with thee," and with confidence before which even Pharaoh quailed, he wrought deliverance for Israel. The Lord was with Joshua as He was with Moses, and he became strong and very courageous, and with the people took possession of the land. Paul at his first examination before Caesar was left alone, all men forsook him, nevertheless the Lord stood with him, and his preaching was so fully known that all the Gentiles heard, and he was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. And so "the Lord was with Samuel, and did let none of his words fall to the ground."

3. Thirdly, "the Lord did let none of his words fall to the ground." Because he had the capacity which was revealed in growth, and because the Lord was with him, therefore his words were words of power and took lasting effect. His predictions came to pass because they were really the utterances of the Spirit. Perhaps we have never grown as Samuel did, never grown up to such an apprehension of Divine truth that it has become a living power in our souls, and therefore we cannot skilfully unfold it to others, Perhaps we have never felt that the Lord was with us when we spake, and so the one influence which alone could open the heart was wanting. And the other passages I have read as part of my text show us how this was. First, because he adhered to his purpose: "I will teach you the good and right way." What Samuel taught he felt to be of the first importance, and he could not be sure that what he taught would, in the highest sense, be good and right, unless it were Divine. Like all the ancient prophets he kept his ear open to catch the words of the heavenly oracle, his heart open to receive the celestial fire. If his teaching were of God, it would be true in its substance, decisive in its affirmations, and, however severely tested, would firmly stand. When men speak of "advanced thought" in the present day, and mean by it thought which is simply human, wrought out by man's unaided reason, and freed from the assumption of being Divine, they might be indulging in the severest irony. Thought that springs up in a feeble human mind in advance of that which flows from the Divine! Thought originating in perceptions which are dim, limited, liable to be distorted, in advance of thought originating in perceptions which are clear, illimitable, and unperturbed! Save us from such progress as this. To a noble soul there is something stimulating in the persuasion that God has spoken to man, and that we have His words. Then, secondly, our text tells that he tolerated nothing that was unreal. When Samuel saw the miserable dissimulation which Saul was practising in covering his self-will with the cloak of sacrifice, he scornfully said, "Behold, to obey. is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the blood of rams." The deep sincerity of the man, his determination to unmask all that was hollow and unreal, his demand for substance, not show, was another element of power in virtue of which none of his words fell to the ground. And finally he continued instant in prayer.

(J. Harrison.)

1. Let us reflect, first, upon this description as applying to the ancient seer of Israel. "And Samuel grew." It was a saying of the poet Southey that, live as long as we may, the first twenty years are the longest half of our life. Why is this? There is a physiological and there is a moral reason for it. The physiological cause lies in the more vivid sensibility of youth — the soft wax is not yet set, the tender branch is not yet hardened. The moral cause lies in the greater variety of influences to which we are subject before life's choice is made, and ere we have definitely cast in oar lot either with the good or the bad. And both these are gathered into one statement if we say that the first twenty years are the longest half of life because they are the period of vigorous and determining growth; that being the analysis of the growing process — vigour of life and determination of life. Hence the significance of the clause, "And Samuel grew." There was the vigour of the lad's life; wherefore the young limbs lengthened and the supple frame waxed strong, and he developed into a magnificent man. And there was the determination of the lad's life towards wise and pure conduct; wherefore he eschewed the evil example of Eli's sons, and set himself to walk in the good and right way. This persistent emphasis upon the growth of the prophet is intended to teach that the secret of his even and consistent life is to be found in his early piety. The visitations of God's grace were upon him like the dews of the morning; he grew, and when he was old and grey-headed, he remained like a tree rooted in its place. Occasionally a wild, ungodly youth is followed by a consecrated manhood, for the grace of God can work miracles; and this ham been seen in such lives as Augustine's, Ignatius Loyola's, John Bunyan's, and John Newton's. But the law is that "whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap; be that soweth to the flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; he that soweth to the spirit shall of the spirit reap life everlasting." And even those apparent exceptions to which I refer do really confirm the rule, since, as the greatest of ecclesiastical historians has pointed out, the men who are converted after a lawless and reckless youth usually become Christians of an ill-wrought and inharmonious type. Always the Christliest saints are those of whom it can be said, as of the first prophet, "And Samuel grew."

2. The text goes on to speak of a second characteristic. "And the Lord was with him." Alone, he would have fallen. Alone, his spiritual nature would have sickened in the atmosphere of unclearness; he would have learned to tolerate the crimes of his neighbours — it may have been to outdo them.

3. Once more the text tells us that "the Lord did let none of his words fall to the ground." This was the natural and appropriate result.

(W. J. Woods, B. A.)

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