The Lord Speaks to Samuel
1-2Samuel served the Lord by helping Eli the priest, who was by that time almost blind. In those days, the Lord hardly ever spoke directly to people, and he did not appear to them in dreams very often. But one night, Eli was asleep in his room, 3and Samuel was sleeping on a mat near the sacred chest in the Lord's house. They had not been asleep very long#3.3 They … long: The Hebrew text has “The lamp of God was still burning.” An olive oil lamp would go out after a few hours if the wick was not adjusted. 4when the Lord called out Samuel's name.
“Here I am!” Samuel answered. 5Then he ran to Eli and said, “Here I am. What do you want?”
“I didn't call you,” Eli answered. “Go back to bed.”
Samuel went back.
6Again the Lord called out Samuel's name. Samuel got up and went to Eli. “Here I am,” he said. “What do you want?”
Eli told him, “Son, I didn't call you. Go back to sleep.”
7The Lord had not spoken to Samuel before, and Samuel did not recognize the voice. 8When the Lord called out his name for the third time, Samuel went to Eli again and said, “Here I am. What do you want?”
Eli finally realized that it was the Lord who was speaking to Samuel. 9So he said, “Go back and lie down! If someone speaks to you again, answer, ‘I'm listening, Lord. What do you want me to do?’ ”
Once again Samuel went back and lay down.
10The Lord then stood beside Samuel and called out as he had done before, “Samuel! Samuel!”
“I'm listening,” Samuel answered. “What do you want me to do?”
11The Lord said:
Samuel, I am going to do something in Israel that will shock everyone who hears about it! 12I will punish Eli and his family, just as I promised. 13He knew that his sons refused to respect me,#3.13 refused … me: Or “were insulting everyone.” and he let them get away with it, even though I said I would punish his family forever. 14I warned Eli that sacrifices or offerings could never make things right! His family has done too many disgusting things.
15The next morning, Samuel got up and opened the doors to the Lord's house. He was afraid to tell Eli what the Lord had said. 16But Eli told him, “Samuel, my boy, come here!”
“Yes, sir!” Samuel answered.
17Eli said, “What did God say to you? Tell me everything. I'll ask God to punish you terribly if you don't tell me every word he said!”
18Samuel told Eli everything. Then Eli said, “He is the Lord, and he will do what's right.”
The Lord Helps Samuel
19As Samuel grew up, the Lord helped him and made everything Samuel said come true. 20From the town of Dan in the north to the town of Beersheba in the south, everyone in the country knew that Samuel was truly the Lord's prophet. 21The Lord often appeared to Samuel at Shiloh and told him what to say.