1 Samuel Chapters 3 and 4

by Linda Claassen Mitchell

Eli and Samuel — Day 1

Today I am reading in 1 Samuel Chapter 3 where God Calls Samuel. I’ll be following the footnotes as I go.

1 Samuel 3:1 Image

1 Samuel 3:1 (IEB): “The boy Samuel (i) was serving Yahweh under the supervision of Eli. (j) In those days, Yahweh did not speak directly to the people very often. (k) There were very few visions coming from God.”

Following the footnotes for 1 Samuel 3:1:
(i) Josephus thought that Samuel was about 12 years of age at this time.
(j) Samuel performed both prophetic (1 Samuel 3:19-20) and priestly (1 Samuel 7:9-10; 10:8; 16:2, 5) duties.
1 Samuel 3:19-20: “The Always-Present One continued to be with Samuel as he grew up. Yahweh did not let any of Samuel’s messages fail to come true. Then all Israel, from Dan to Beer-Sheba, (from the extreme north to the farthest point south) knew that Samuel was confirmed as a true prophet of Yahweh.”
1 Samuel 7:9-10 (IEB): “Then Samuel took a little lamb, and he offered it to Yahweh as a whole burnt-offering (see Lev. 22:27). He called out to Yahweh on behalf of Israel. And, Yahweh answered him. While Samuel was doing the whole burnt-offering, the Philistines came near
(The Israelites were particularly vulnerable, because they would not halt this sacrifice in order to fight.) They were about to attack Israel, but Yahweh thundered against the Philistines with a loud thunderstorm. The Philistines were so scared that they became confused. The Israelites defeated the Philistines in battle.”
1 Samuel 10:8 (IEB): Samuel tells Saul “Go on down to Gilgal ahead of me. Listen, I will come down to you later. Then I will offer whole burnt-offerings. But you must wait for seven days. Then I will come to you and tell you what you must do.”
1 Samuel 16:2,5 (IEB): God finally rejects Saul and chooses David to be the new king. He sends Samuel to David “2) But Samuel said, ‘How can I go? When Saul hears about it, he will try to kill me!’ Then Yahweh said, ‘Take a young calf with you. Say this: ‘I have come to offer a sacrifice to Yahweh.'” “5) Samuel answered, ‘Yes, I come in peace. I have come to make a sacrifice to Yahweh. Make yourselves holy for God and come with me to the sacrifice.’ Then Samuel purified Jesse and his sons. And, he invited them to come to the sacrifice.”

Following the footnotes for 1 Samuel 3:1 continued:
(k) literally, “And the Word of Yahweh was precious in those days.” Only two prophets appeared in the Book of Judges (Judges 4:4 (
Deborah); 6:8 (an unnamed man). Why would God want to communicate through Eli and his evil sons?”

The footnotes for this one verse took me all through the story of Samuel to show that he was both a prophet and a priest. Samuel kept a right relationship with God and was blessed. Eli and his sons were disrespectful and evil. They did not keep a right relationship with Yahweh, and God was silent.


God Calls Samuel — Day 2

Today I am continuing in 1 Samuel Chapter 3 where God Calls Samuel. I’ll be following the footnotes as I go. Yesterday’s study skipped around the book of 1 Samuel to show that Samuel was both a priest and prophet who had a right relationship with God and was blessed. Today’s study goes back to the first time God spoke to Samuel.

1 Samuel 3:2-10 (IEB): “Eli’s eyes were so weak that he was almost blind. One night, Eli was lying in bed. Samuel was also in bed near Yahweh’s Holy Tent. The Holy Chest of God was in the Holy Tent. God’s lamp was still burning. (a)
Then Yahweh called out to Samuel. Samuel answered, ‘Yes, I’m here!’ Samuel ran to Eli and said, ‘Yes, I’m here. Did you call me?’ But Eli said, ‘I didn’t call you. Go back to bed.’ So, Samuel went back to bed. Yahweh called again, ‘Samuel!’ And, Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, ‘Yes, I’m here. You called me?’
Again Eli said, ‘I did NOT call you, my son. Go back to bed!’ (Samuel did not yet really know Yahweh. Yahweh had not spoken directly to him yet.)
And Yahweh called out to Samuel for a third time. So Samuel got up from his bed and went to Eli. He said, ‘Yes I’m here. You called me?’
Then Eli realized the Yahweh was calling the boy. So Eli told Samuel.
“Go back to bed. If God calls out to you again, say this: ‘O Yahweh, speak; I am Your servant, and I am listening’.” (b) So Samuel went back and lay down in his bed. The Always-Present One came and stood there. And, Yahweh called as He did before. He said, ‘Samuel! Samuel!’ And Samuel said, ‘O Yahweh, speak; I am Your servant, and I am listening.'”

Following the footnotes:
(a) It was very early in the morning. The lamp was extinguished at sunrise. (Leviticus 6:12-13)
(b) The attitude which shows that Samuel was willing to do whatever God said. (See 1 Samuel 15:22)
1 Samuel 15:22 (IEB): “What pleases Yahweh more – burnt-offerings and sacrifices? Or, obedience to His voice!? Listen, it is better to obey God than to offer a sacrifice! It is better to pay attention to God than to offer the fat of rams!”

The world would tell me that it’s better to act now and ask forgiveness later, but that is not what God wants! He wants me to be obedient to His word – from the start!

I leave my study thinking about what Samuel said to God: “I am Your servant, and I am listening.” This is the attitude God wants in me. I can listen to God by dwelling on His word. Deuteronomy 6:6 says: “These words which I am commanding you today will be on your heart. And, you must teach them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house, and when you walk on the road, when you lie down, and when you get up.” The first thing I do each morning is plan my day. I need to get up each morning asking myself “How can I serve God today?” and plan accordingly.


The Future for Eli — Day 3

Today I am continuing in 1 Samuel Chapter 3 where God tells Samuel about what will happen to Eli and his family at Shiloh. I’ll be following the footnotes as I go.

1 Samuel 3:11-14 (IEB): “Then Yahweh said to Samuel, ‘Listen, I am going to do something in Israel. It will shock those who hear about it! (c) At that time, I will confirm to Eli everything that I stated regarding his family. I will not stop until I have finished! I have told Eli that I will forever punish his family-line. I will do this because Eli knew that his sons were doing evil things. Nevertheless he did not control them. So, to Eli’s family-line, this is what I vow: “Your guilt will never be atoned for by any sacrifice or any offering!”

Following the footnotes:
(c) literally, “at which the two ears of everyone who hears it will tingle!” Compare 2 Kings 21:12; Jer. 19:3. The prophet Jeremiah repeatedly compared the destruction of Jerusalem with the destruction of Shiloh. (Jer. 7:12,14; 26:6-9) Compare also PS. 78:60-64)

2 Kings 21:12 (IEB): “Therefore, this is what Yahweh, the God of Israel, says: ‘Listen, I will bring much trouble upon Jerusalem and Judah. Anyone who hears about it will be shocked’!”

Jeremiah 19:3 (IEB): “Say, ‘O kings of Judah and residents of Jerusalem, Listen to the Word from Yahweh. This is what Yahweh of the armies of heaven, the God of Israel, says: ‘Behold, I will soon bring a disaster upon this place! (Jerusalem) Everyone will be shocked and full of fear!'”

Jeremiah 7:12,14 (IEB): 12″You people of Judah, go now to the town of Shiloh, where I first caused My Name to dwell. Go there and see what I did to it because of the evil things that My people Israel had done” 14 “So, I will destroy this sacred place which is called by My Name in Jerusalem. You trust in this place. I gave it to you and to your ancestors. Nevertheless, I will destroy it, just as I destroyed Shiloh.”

Jeremiah 26:6 (IEB): 6″If you don’t obey Me, then I will destroy My temple in Jerusalem like the town of Shiloh. People all over the world will regard Jerusalem as cursed by God.” In 26:13 Jeremiah says; “So, change your hearts and lives! You must obey Yahweh, your God! If you do that, then Yahweh will change His mind. He will not bring upon you the disaster that He has told you about.”

The world would pick and choose those parts of the Bible they want to accept. I leave my study today clearly understanding that I need to keep a right relationship with God by being obedient to all of His word that was not done away with in the New Covenant. If I read something in His word that goes against what I am doing, I need to change my heart and my life so that I am in line with His will.


Eli’s Reaction — Day 4

Today’s study is about Eli’s reaction to what God told Samuel. This was not an easy conversation for either Samuel or Eli.

1 Samuel 3:15-18 (IEB) “And Samuel remained in bed until morning. Then he opened the doors of the Holy Tent of Yahweh. But Samuel was afraid to tell Eli about the vision. But Eli summoned him and said, “Samuel, my son!”(d) Samuel answered, “Yes, I’m here.” Eli asked, “What did Yahweh say to you? Please, don’t hide it from me! May God punish you terribly if you hide from me anything that He spoke to you!” So Samuel told Eli all the words. Samuel did not hide anything from him. Then Eli said, “He is Yahweh. Let God do what He thinks best!”.”

Following the footnotes:
(d) “My son” was a term of endearment; Eli thought of Samuel as his beloved apprentice.

The whole theme of the story of Samuel is one of total dedication toward God.
Eli was the old priest, judge, and leader of God’s people. He had been a faithful servant to Yahweh until it came to a decision between obeying God and punishing his own grown sons for their disobedience. Eli did talk to them about what they were doing wrong but did nothing to stop them. He could have removed them from their position of power in the temple but because he didn’t, God counted him guilty just like his sons. Eli was to be punished along with his whole family!

1 Samuel 3:19-21 (IEB): “The Always-Present One continued to be with Samuel as he grew up. Yahweh did not let any of Samuel’s messages fail to come true. Then all Israel, from Dan to Beer-Sheba, knew that Samuel was confirmed as a true prophet of Yahweh. And Yahweh continued to appear to Samuel at Shiloh. He also revealed Himself to Samuel through His Word.”

Eli put his love of his sons above his love for Yahweh, and was punished for it. Samuel was faithful to Yahweh and Yahweh blessed him. He appeared to Samuel and revealed Himself to Samuel through His Word.

As I leave my study today, I think about all that I see wrong in this world. I realize that it isn’t enough just to know that these things are wrong. God clearly expect me to actually do something about the things I have control over! I’m not in a position of power like Eli, but I do have control over my own choices. I am also free to write to the leaders in this country to remind them of what God’s word says, and encourage them to stand firm on His word so that we will continue to be blessed.


The Holy Chest of the Covenant is not a good luck charm! — Day 5

Today I am continuing in 1 Samuel, starting in chapter 4. The Israelites are fighting the Philistines. At this time Samuel spoke to all Israel.

1 Samuel 4:2-3 (IEB): “The Philistines organized themselves to engage the Israelites. And, as the battle spread, the Philistines defeated the Israelites. They killed about 4,000 Israelite soldiers on the battlefield. Then, the Israelite army went back to their camp. The elders of Israel asked, ‘Why did Yahweh allow the Philistines to beat us so badly today!? (c) Let us bring here to us the Holy Chest of the Covenant of Yahweh (d) from Shiloh, so that it may go with us and save us from the hand of our enemies!’ ”
Following the footnotes:
(c) “These military leaders of the army reached the wrong logical conclusion: The real reason why the Israelites lost the battle to the Philistines was because God’s people had fallen away from Him.”
(d) = “The Holy Chest of God” in 1 Samuel 3:3. This was the most sacred of items from the tabernacle. (See Exodus 25:10-22). These so-called leaders were superstitiously treating this sacred object as a talisman or a fetish ( a good luck charm) to guarantee a quick victory over the Philistines and to counteract their god (Dagon) with its “magical” weapons.”
Exodus 25:10-20 (IEB): “They are to make the Holy Chest from acacia wood. It will be 3 3/4 feet long ( = 45 inches; literally 2 1/2 cubits), 2 1/4 feet wide ( = 27 inches; literally “a cubit and a half). You must cover it over with pure gold, inside and out. Cast four gold rings for it and put them on its four legs. Two rings are to be on the one side and two rings on its other side. Also, make poles of acacia wood, covering them over with gold. Put the poles through the rings on the sides of the Holy Chest for carrying it (It was designed never to be touched by human hands). The poles must stay in the rings of the Holy Chest; they must never be removed. Put the Covenant (the two stone plaques) into the Holy Chest. (I will give the Covenant to you soon.) Then you must make the Forgiveness Cover (or “The Mercy Seat) from pure gold: It will be 3 3/4 feet long and 2 1/4 feet wide. Also make two angel-like figures of gold which have been hammered out. Put them at the two ends of the Forgiveness Cover. They will spread out their wings above, covering the forgiveness Cover with their wings. They are to face each other. The faces of these angel-like figures must look downward toward the Forgiveness Cover.”
Exodus 25:22 (IEB): Yahweh says: “I will meet you there. I will talk with you from above the Forgiveness Cover (from between the two angel-like figures which are on top of the Holy Chest of the Covenant). I will talk with you about everything that I will give you as commands for the sons of Israel.”

The fact that the elders wanted the Holy Chest of the Covenant with them at the battle showed their ignorance of its significance. They were unwilling to listen to God but wanted the place where He would speak to them with them. That’s like carrying the bible everywhere I go but refusing to read it.


The Philistines Capture the Holy Chest of God — Day 6

The army had sent men to Shiloh to get the Holy Chest of God. When the Holy Chest of the Covenant came into the camp the Israelites gave a great shout and the Philistines wondered what had happened. Eli’s two sons Hophni and Phinehas were there in the camp with the chest.

1 Samuel 4:7-11 (IEB): “So, the Philistines were afraid. They said, ‘A god has come into the Hebrew camp! We are in trouble! This has never happened before! We are in big trouble! Who can save us from these powerful gods!? They are the gods who struck down the Egyptians with all kinds of disasters in the desert! Be brave, you Philistines! Be men! In the past, they’ve been our slaves. So fight like men, or else you will become their slaves!’
So the Philistines fought hard and beat the Israelites. Every Israelite soldier ran away to his own home. It was a huge defeat for Israel, because 30,000 Israelite foot soldiers were killed. And the Holy Chest of God was captured by the Philistines! And, Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, were killed.”
(Just as it was prophesied in 1 Samuel 2:34)

I think it is interesting that Hophni and Phinehas were the ones to remove the Holy Chest of the Covenant out of the Holy Tent-temple and take it to the battle site.

Exodus 25:9 (IEB): “You must make it (the Holy Tent-temple) according to everything that I will show you, after the pattern of the Holy Tent and the pattern of all of its furniture.”

They were so entrenched in their sinful practices that they ignored God’s instruction to keep exactly to His pattern which was to keep the Holy Chest of the Covenant in the Holy Tent.

The Holy Chest of the Covenant was where God spoke to the Israelites. Since they had stopped listening to God, they treated the Holy Chest as merely a “good luck” charm, and God did not protect them from consequences of the choice they made.

I leave my study today examining my reverence for; God, the sacrifice that Christ made so that my sins could be forgiven, and the gift of God’s word. Do I long to be His servant, to be obedient to all of His commands, or am I treating my baptism as a “good luck” charm, and God as someone to be call on only when I want or need something?


The Death of Eli — Day 7

The Philistines had defeated the Israelites and captured the Holy Chest of the Covenant.

1 Samuel 4:12-18 (IEB): “That same day, a man from the tribe of Benjamin ran away from the battle-line. (a) He came to Shiloh. He tore his clothes and put dust on his head. (b) When the Benjaminite man arrived at Shiloh, look Eli was there, sitting on his chair, facing the road. He was worried about the Holy Chest of the one true God. When the Benjaminite man entered Shiloh, he reported the bad news. Then, all the people in town cried out.
Eli heard the noise of the outcry and asked, ‘What does all this noise mean?’ (c)
The Benjaminite man hurried to Eli and reported to him what had happened. Eli was now 98 years old and he was blind. Eli could not see at all. The Benjaminite man told him, ‘I have just come from the battle-line. I ran away today.’
Eli asked, ‘Well, what happened, my son?’
The man who brought the news answered, ‘Israel has run away from the Philistines! The Israelite army has suffered heavy losses! Your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, are both dead! And the Philistines have captured the Holy Chest of the one true God!’
When the man mentioned the Holy Chest of the one true God, Eli fell off his chair backward. (d) He fell down beside the gate and broke his neck, because he was old and fat. Eli died. He had been the leader of Israel for 40 years.”

Following the footnotes:
(a) “Only about 18 miles from Shiloh”
(b) “Showing his great sadness because of the rout. These symbolic acts represented a spirit of lamentation.” (Josh. 7:6; 2 Sam. 1;2, 11, 12; 3:31; 15:32; 2 Chr. 34:27; Joel 2:12-13)
(c) “Because of Eli’s blindness, he could not observe the messenger’s torn clothes and the dust that was upon his head, which were direct signs that the battle with the Philistines had been lost.”
(d) “Eli believed that God had abolished His covenant with Israel because of the heinous sins of his two sons and the loss of the Ark of the Covenant which contained the Ten Commandments.”

I leave my Bible study today trying to imagine the despair Eli must have felt – after 40 years of leading the Israelites to have it end in such dishonor and disaster! God had already told him that no sacrifice he could make would cleanse his sin against God.

I am thankful to God for sending His Son to die as the only perfect sacrifice for sin, once and for all. I am grateful for the opportunity to accept the gospel and be baptized into Jesus Christ, and for His written word which guides me in a right relationship with Him. But most of all I am thankful for the opportunity to repent and to be forgiven with the promise of eternal life with God.

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