What Does 1 Samuel 3:15 Mean?

So Samuel lay down until morning. Then he opened the doors of the house of the LORD But Samuel was afraid to tell the vision to Eli.

1 Samuel 3:15(NASB)
Picture courtesy of Moody Publishers

Verse of the Day

Samuel was probably in his teens when God called to him in the night. The lamp of God had not yet gone out in the Temple, and three times, the Lord called out to the boy, before Eli realised that it must be the Lord Who was calling him in the night. Eli had become 'spiritually impaired' and did not realise it was God Who was calling the boy so persistently, but finally he instructed Samuel to return to his bed and answer, "Speak Lord, Your servant is listening."

For a fourth time, the Lord came and stood and called as before, "Samuel! Samuel!" This time the young man quickly responded, "Speak, for Your servant is listening." The Lord then began to reveal that He was about to do something in Israel which would cause the ears of everyone who heard it to tingle. God then told Samuel that a day was coming when judgement would fall on the house of Eli, because of the depravity in his family which Eli had failed to correct. 

This must have been a shock for Samuel who had lived his entire life in the House of the Lord with Eli and his sons. He had grown up with the old priest ever since Hannah, his mother, fulfilled her oath to the Lord that she would give her son back to Him all the days of his life, if the Lord would graciously reverse her barrenness and give her the joy of bearing a son.

The Lord told Samuel that He had already warned Eli that He was about to judge his house for the iniquitous behaviour of his wicked sons, because he refused to rebuke them for their profane acts. The ungodly behaviour of Eli's children had disgraced the holy office of the priesthood, but despite the earlier warnings of judgement from the Lord, the old man did not discipline his unruly sons.

Because Eli did not hearken to God's warning, the Lord told Samuel, "Therefore I have sworn to the house of Eli that the iniquity of his house would never be atoned for, either by a sacrifice or offering, forever." This was the horrifying message the Lord gave to the young teenager when He called to him in the night hours: "So Samuel lay down until morning. Then he opened the doors of the house of the Lord. But Samuel was afraid to tell the vision to Eli."

After his night vision, Samuel carried out his various duties in the House of God. He opened up the door into the holy place and probably put oil in the lamp of God, which 'had not yet gone out'. This was well before Solomon's magnificent Temple was built, but would probably refer to a more permanent structure than the wilderness tabernacle, which would have been erected in Shiloh during the times of the judges. 

The 'door' of the house of the Lord would probably refer to the great curtain into the courtyard, but the revelation Samuel had received caused him great distress, and he was fearful of having to tell Eli all the Lord had said to him about the forthcoming judgement on his household and family.

Israel had fallen into deep apostasy and even the holy priesthood had become profane, but the eyes of the LORD had been moving to and fro looking for a man whom He could use to forward His perfect plan for the restoration of his people and the redemption of the world. The vision given to Samuel that night may have been the start of his prophetic ministry to God, but the Lord had been preparing this young man for many years.

In this brief passage, we see a young man who had learned about the Lord from His mother's knee, and no doubt Hannah continued to pray for her firstborn son whom she had given back to the Lord. We see in Samuel a young man who honoured his elders, fulfilled his daily duties, was obedient to Eli's instructions, and attentive to God's call on his life.

Hushed was the evening hymn,
The temple courts were dark;
The lamp was burning dim
Before the sacred ark;
When suddenly a voice divine
Rang through the silence of the shrine.

The old man, meek and mild,
The priest of Israel, slept;
His watch the temple child,
The little Levite, kept;
And what from Eli’s sense was sealed
The Lord to Hannah’s son revealed.

O give me Samuel’s ear,
The open ear, O Lord,
Alive and quick to hear
Each whisper of Thy Word,
Like him to answer at Thy call,
And to obey Thee first of all.

O give me Samuel’s heart,
A lowly heart, that waits
Where in Thy house Thou art,
Or watches at Thy gates;
By day and night, a heart that still
Moves at the breathing of Thy will.

O give me Samuel’s mind,
A sweet unmurm’ring faith,
Obedient and resigned
To Thee in life and death,
That I may read with child-like eyes
Truths that are hidden from the wise.

May we have an ear that is ready to hear God speaking to us, a heart that is willing to obey His Word, a mind that chooses to live for Christ alone, and may we be willing and able to say, "Thy will, not mine be done."

My Prayer

Heavenly Father, thank You for the lovely example of Samuel who was open to hear Your voice calling to Him in the night, and was obedient to obey Your call on his life. Keep me from all forms of spiritual impairment or from allowing a worldly mindset to cause me to slip into compromised Christianity or develop a lukewarm attitude to You. May I be open to every whisper of Your Word. May I be ready to obey Your call on my life, no matter when it comes or however difficult it may be. I pray that, like Samuel, my eyes, ears, heart, and will, may be open to Your leading and guidance. This I ask in Jesus' name, AMEN.

Picture courtesy of Moody Publishers

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