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The Lord Calls Samuel

The boy Samuel was serving the Lord under Eli. In those days a prophecy from the Lord was rare; visions were infrequent. One night Eli was lying down in his room. His eyesight had begun to fail so that he couldn’t see well. The lamp in God’s temple[a] hadn’t gone out yet, and Samuel was asleep in the temple of the Lord where the ark of God was kept.

Then the Lord called Samuel. “Here I am,” Samuel responded. He ran to Eli and said, “Here I am. You called me.”

“I didn’t call you,” Eli replied. “Go back to bed.” So Samuel went back and lay down.

The Lord called Samuel again. Samuel got up, went to Eli, and said, “Here I am. You called me.”

“I didn’t call you, son,” he responded. “Go back to bed.” Samuel had no experience with the Lord, because the Lord’s word had not yet been revealed to him.

The Lord called Samuel a third time. Samuel got up, went to Eli, and said, “Here I am. You called me.”

Then Eli realized that the Lord was calling the boy. “Go, lie down,” Eli told Samuel. “When he calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord. I’m listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his room.

10 The Lord came and stood there. He called as he had called the other times: “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel replied, “Speak. I’m listening.”

11 Then the Lord said to Samuel, “I am going to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears it ring. 12 On that day I am going to do to Eli and his family everything I said from beginning to end. 13 I told him that I would hand down a permanent judgment against his household because he knew about his sons’ sin—that they were cursing God[b]—but he didn’t try to stop them. 14 That is why I have taken an oath concerning Eli’s family line: No offering or sacrifice will ever be able to make peace for the sins that Eli’s family committed.”

15 Samuel remained in bed until morning. Then he opened the doors of the Lord’s house. But Samuel was afraid to tell Eli about the vision.

16 Then Eli called Samuel. “Samuel, my son!” he said.

“Here I am,” he responded.

17 “What did the Lord tell you?” he asked. “Please don’t hide anything from me. May God strike you dead if you hide anything he told you from me.”

18 So Samuel told Eli everything.

Eli replied, “He is the Lord. May he do what he thinks is right.”

19 Samuel grew up. The Lord was with him and didn’t let any of his words go unfulfilled. 20 All Israel from Dan to Beersheba knew Samuel was the Lord’s appointed prophet. 21 The Lord continued to appear in Shiloh, since the Lord revealed himself to Samuel in Shiloh through the Lord’s word. And Samuel spoke to all Israel.[c]


  1. 1 Samuel 3:3 According to Exodus 27:21, each night the priests were to light a lamp in the tent of meeting which was to burn from dusk to dawn.
  2. 1 Samuel 3:13 Ancient scribal tradition, Greek, and Latin; Masoretic Text “cursing themselves.” At times some scribes would alter the text when they thought it was disrespectful to God.
  3. 1 Samuel 3:21 This sentence is the first part of 1 Samuel 4:1 in the Hebrew Bible and most English Bibles.

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