CHOOSE YOUR BIBLE VERSION

1 Samuel chapter 3

New International Version

1 The boy Samuel ministered before the LORD under Eli. In those days the word of the LORD was rare; there were not many visions.
2 One night Eli, whose eyes were becoming so weak that he could barely see, was lying down in his usual place. 3 The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the house of the LORD, where the ark of God was.
4 Then the LORD called Samuel. Samuel answered, 'Here I am.'
5 And he ran to Eli and said, 'Here I am; you called me.' But Eli said, 'I did not call; go back and lie down.' So he went and lay down.
6 Again the LORD called, 'Samuel!' And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, 'Here I am; you called me.' 'My son,' Eli said, 'I did not call; go back and lie down.'
7 Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD: The word of the LORD had not yet been revealed to him.
8 A third time the LORD called, 'Samuel!' And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, 'Here I am; you called me.' Then Eli realized that the LORD was calling the boy. 9 So Eli told Samuel, 'Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, 'Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.'' So Samuel went and lay down in his place.
10 The LORD came and stood there, calling as at the other times, 'Samuel! Samuel!' Then Samuel said, 'Speak, for your servant is listening.'
11 And the LORD said to Samuel: 'See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears about it tingle. 12 At that time I will carry out against Eli everything I spoke against his family--from beginning to end. 13 For I told him that I would judge his family forever because of the sin he knew about; his sons blasphemed God, and he failed to restrain them. 14 Therefore I swore to the house of Eli, 'The guilt of Eli's house will never be atoned for by sacrifice or offering.''
15 Samuel lay down until morning and then opened the doors of the house of the LORD. He was afraid to tell Eli the vision,
16 but Eli called him and said, 'Samuel, my son.' Samuel answered, 'Here I am.'
17 What was it he said to you?' Eli asked. 'Do not hide it from me. May God deal with you, be it ever so severely, if you hide from me anything he told you.' 18 So Samuel told him everything, hiding nothing from him. Then Eli said, 'He is the LORD; let him do what is good in his eyes.'
19 The LORD was with Samuel as he grew up, and he let none of Samuel's words fall to the ground. 20 And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba recognized that Samuel was attested as a prophet of the LORD. 21 The LORD continued to appear at Shiloh, and there he revealed himself to Samuel through his word.
English Standard Version

1 Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the LORD in the presence of Eli. And the word of the LORD was rare in those days; there was no frequent vision.
2 At that time Eli, whose eyesight had begun to grow dim so that he could not see, was lying down in his own place. 3 The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the LORD, where the ark of God was.
4 Then the LORD called Samuel, and he said, “Here I am!” 5 and ran to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call; lie down again.” So he went and lay down.
6 And the LORD called again, “Samuel!” and Samuel arose and went to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call, my son; lie down again.” 7 Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD, and the word of the LORD had not yet been revealed to him.
8 And the LORD called Samuel again the third time. And he arose and went to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” Then Eli perceived that the LORD was calling the boy. 9 Therefore Eli said to Samuel, “Go, lie down, and if he calls you, you shall say, ‘Speak, LORD, for your servant hears.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.
10 And the LORD came and stood, calling as at other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant hears.” 11 Then the LORD said to Samuel, “Behold, I am about to do a thing in Israel at which the two ears of everyone who hears it will tingle. 12 On that day I will fulfill against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end. 13 And I declare to him that I am about to punish his house forever, for the iniquity that he knew, because his sons were blaspheming God, and he did not restrain them. 14 Therefore I swear to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be atoned for by sacrifice or offering forever.”
15 Samuel lay until morning; then he opened the doors of the house of the LORD. And Samuel was afraid to tell the vision to Eli. 16 But Eli called Samuel and said, “Samuel, my son.” And he said, “Here I am.” 17 And Eli said, “What was it that he told you? Do not hide it from me. May God do so to you and more also if you hide anything from me of all that he told you.” 18 So Samuel told him everything and hid nothing from him. And he said, “It is the LORD. Let him do what seems good to him.”
19 And Samuel grew, and the LORD was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground. 20 And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba knew that Samuel was established as a prophet of the LORD. 21 And the LORD appeared again at Shiloh, for the LORD revealed himself to Samuel at Shiloh by the word of the LORD.
King James Version

1 And the child Samuel ministered unto the LORD before Eli. And the word of the LORD was precious in those days; there was no open vision. 2 And it came to pass at that time, when Eli was laid down in his place, and his eyes began to wax dim, that he could not see; 3 And ere the lamp of God went out in the temple of the LORD, where the ark of God was, and Samuel was laid down to sleep; 4 That the LORD called Samuel: and he answered, Here am I. 5 And he ran unto Eli, and said, Here am I; for thou calledst me. And he said, I called not; lie down again. And he went and lay down. 6 And the LORD called yet again, Samuel. And Samuel arose and went to Eli, and said, Here am I; for thou didst call me. And he answered, I called not, my son; lie down again. 7 Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD, neither was the word of the LORD yet revealed unto him. 8 And the LORD called Samuel again the third time. And he arose and went to Eli, and said, Here am I; for thou didst call me. And Eli perceived that the LORD had called the child. 9 Therefore Eli said unto Samuel, Go, lie down: and it shall be, if he call thee, that thou shalt say, Speak, LORD; for thy servant heareth. So Samuel went and lay down in his place. 10 And the LORD came, and stood, and called as at other times, Samuel, Samuel. Then Samuel answered, Speak; for thy servant heareth.
11 And the LORD said to Samuel, Behold, I will do a thing in Israel, at which both the ears of every one that heareth it shall tingle. 12 In that day I will perform against Eli all things which I have spoken concerning his house: when I begin, I will also make an end. 13 For I have told him that I will judge his house for ever for the iniquity which he knoweth; because his sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not. 14 And therefore I have sworn unto the house of Eli, that the iniquity of Eli's house shall not be purged with sacrifice nor offering for ever. 15 And Samuel lay until the morning, and opened the doors of the house of the LORD. And Samuel feared to shew Eli the vision. 16 Then Eli called Samuel, and said, Samuel, my son. And he answered, Here am I. 17 And he said, What is the thing that the LORD hath said unto thee? I pray thee hide it not from me: God do so to thee, and more also, if thou hide any thing from me of all the things that he said unto thee. 18 And Samuel told him every whit, and hid nothing from him. And he said, It is the LORD: let him do what seemeth him good.
19 And Samuel grew, and the LORD was with him, and did let none of his words fall to the ground. 20 And all Israel from Dan even to Beersheba knew that Samuel was established to be a prophet of the LORD. 21 And the LORD appeared again in Shiloh: for the LORD revealed himself to Samuel in Shiloh by the word of the LORD.
New American Standard Bible

1 Now the boy Samuel was attending to the service of the LORD before Eli. And word from the LORD was rare in those days; visions were infrequent.
2 But it happened at that time as Eli was lying down in his place (now his eyesight had begun to be poor and he could not see well), 3 and the lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the LORD where the ark of God was, 4 that the LORD called Samuel; and he said, 'Here I am.' 5 Then he ran to Eli and said, 'Here I am, for you called me.' But he said, 'I did not call, go back and lie down.' So he went and lay down. 6 And the LORD called yet again, 'Samuel!' So Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, 'Here I am, for you called me.' But he said, 'I did not call, my son, go back and lie down.' 7 Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD, nor had the word of the LORD yet been revealed to him. 8 So the LORD called Samuel again for the third time. And he got up and went to Eli and said, 'Here I am, for you called me.' Then Eli realized that the LORD was calling the boy. 9 And Eli said to Samuel, 'Go lie down, and it shall be if He calls you, that you shall say, ‘Speak, LORD, for Your servant is listening.’?' So Samuel went and lay down in his place.
10 Then the LORD came and stood, and called as at the other times: 'Samuel! Samuel!' And Samuel said, 'Speak, for Your servant is listening.' 11 Then the LORD said to Samuel, 'Behold, I am going to do a thing in Israel, and both ears of everyone who hears about it will ring. 12 On that day I will carry out against Eli everything that I have spoken in regard to his house, from beginning to end. 13 For I have told him that I am going to judge his house forever for the wrongdoing that he knew, because his sons were bringing a curse on themselves and he did not rebuke them. 14 Therefore I have sworn to the house of Eli that the wrongdoing of Eli’s house shall never be atoned for by sacrifice or offering.'
15 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. 16 Then Eli called Samuel and said, 'Samuel, my son.' And he said, 'Here I am.' 17 He said, 'What is the word that He spoke to you? Please do not hide it from me. May God do the same to you, and more so, if you hide a single word from me of all the words that He spoke to you!' 18 So Samuel told him everything and hid nothing from him. And he said, 'He is the LORD; let Him do what seems good to Him.'
19 Now Samuel grew, and the LORD was with him, and He let none of his words fail. 20 And all Israel from Dan even to Beersheba knew that Samuel was confirmed as a prophet of the LORD. 21 And the LORD appeared again at Shiloh, because the LORD revealed Himself to Samuel at Shiloh by the word of the LORD.
New Living Translation

1 Meanwhile, the boy Samuel served the LORD by assisting Eli. Now in those days messages from the LORD were very rare, and visions were quite uncommon.
2 One night Eli, who was almost blind by now, had gone to bed. 3 The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was sleeping in the Tabernacle near the Ark of God.
4 Suddenly the LORD called out, 'Samuel!' 'Yes?' Samuel replied. 'What is it?'
5 He got up and ran to Eli. 'Here I am. Did you call me?' 'I didn't call you,' Eli replied. 'Go back to bed.' So he did.
6 Then the LORD called out again, 'Samuel!' Again Samuel got up and went to Eli. 'Here I am. Did you call me?' 'I didn't call you, my son,' Eli said. 'Go back to bed.'
7 Samuel did not yet know the LORD because he had never had a message from the LORD before.
8 So the LORD called a third time, and once more Samuel got up and went to Eli. 'Here I am. Did you call me?' Then Eli realized it was the LORD who was calling the boy. 9 So he said to Samuel, 'Go and lie down again, and if someone calls again, say, 'Speak, LORD, your servant is listening.'' So Samuel went back to bed.
10 And the LORD came and called as before, 'Samuel! Samuel!' And Samuel replied, 'Speak, your servant is listening.'
11 Then the LORD said to Samuel, 'I am about to do a shocking thing in Israel. 12 I am going to carry out all my threats against Eli and his family, from beginning to end. 13 I have warned him that judgment is coming upon his family forever, because his sons are blaspheming God and he hasn't disciplined them. 14 So I have vowed that the sins of Eli and his sons will never be forgiven by sacrifices or offerings.'
15 Samuel stayed in bed until morning, then got up and opened the doors of the Tabernacle as usual. He was afraid to tell Eli what the LORD had said to him.
16 But Eli called out to him, 'Samuel, my son.' 'Here I am,' Samuel replied.
17 'What did the LORD say to you? Tell me everything. And may God strike you and even kill you if you hide anything from me!' 18 So Samuel told Eli everything; he didn't hold anything back. 'It is the LORD's will,' Eli replied. 'Let him do what he thinks best.'
19 As Samuel grew up, the LORD was with him, and everything Samuel said proved to be reliable. 20 And all Israel, from Dan in the north to Beersheba in the south, knew that Samuel was confirmed as a prophet of the LORD. 21 The LORD continued to appear at Shiloh and gave messages to Samuel there at the Tabernacle.
Christian Standard Bible

1 The boy Samuel served the Lord in Eli's presence. In those days the word of the Lord was rare and prophetic visions were not widespread.
2 One day Eli, whose eyesight was failing, was lying in his usual place. 3 Before the lamp of God had gone out, Samuel was lying down in the temple of the Lord, where the ark of God was located.
4 Then the Lord called Samuel, and he answered, "Here I am."
5 He ran to Eli and said, "Here I am; you called me.""I didn't call," Eli replied. "Go back and lie down." So he went and lay down.
6 Once again the Lord called, "Samuel! "Samuel got up, went to Eli, and said, "Here I am; you called me.""I didn't call, my son," he replied. "Go back and lie down."
7 Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, because the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him.
8 Once again, for the third time, the Lord called Samuel. He got up, went to Eli, and said, "Here I am; you called me."Then Eli understood that the Lord was calling the boy. 9 He told Samuel, "Go and lie down. If he calls you, say, 'Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.' " So Samuel went and lay down in his place.
10 The Lord came, stood there, and called as before, "Samuel, Samuel! "Samuel responded, "Speak, for your servant is listening."
11 The Lord said to Samuel, "I am about to do something in Israel that will cause everyone who hears about it to shudder. 12 On that day I will carry out against Eli everything I said about his family, from beginning to end. 13 I told him that I am going to judge his family forever because of the iniquity he knows about: his sons are cursing God, and he has not stopped them. 14 Therefore, I have sworn to Eli's family: The iniquity of Eli's family will never be wiped out by either sacrifice or offering."
15 Samuel lay down until the morning; then he opened the doors of the Lord's house. He was afraid to tell Eli the vision,
16 but Eli called him and said, "Samuel, my son.""Here I am," answered Samuel.
17 "What was the message he gave you? " Eli asked. "Don't hide it from me. May God punish you and do so severely if you hide anything from me that he told you." 18 So Samuel told him everything and did not hide anything from him. Eli responded, "He is the Lord. Let him do what he thinks is good."
19 Samuel grew. The Lord was with him, and he fulfilled everything Samuel prophesied. 20 All Israel from Dan to Beer-sheba knew that Samuel was a confirmed prophet of the Lord. 21 The Lord continued to appear in Shiloh, because there he revealed himself to Samuel by his word.

What does 1 Samuel chapter 3 mean?

This chapter tells the story of Samuel's first experience as a prophet of the Lord. Still just a boy, Samuel continued to carry out his duties in service to the Lord under the care and leadership of Eli, the priest of the tabernacle at Shiloh.

God had been mostly silent in Israel for a time, not giving many visions or prophecies to His people. His word was rare and infrequent (1 Samuel 3:1), but that is about to change as God begins to deliver messages to the people through this boy Samuel.

Eli the priest had grown very old (1 Samuel 2:22), and his eyesight was failing. One night, he was lying down in his bed, not far from the temple. Young Samuel was sleeping in the temple, not far from the ark of the covenant behind its veil, where God allowed His presence to rest on earth (1 Samuel 3:2–3).

Suddenly, Samuel hears someone call his name. He does not know it is the Lord and runs to Eli's bed to announce that he has come because Eli called him. Eli says he did not call Samuel and tells him to go back to bed. Samuel does so, but soon hears the Lord call his name again. Again, he runs to present himself to Eli, and again Eli insists to Samuel, "my son," that he did not call (1 Samuel 3:4–6).

The teller of the story pauses to remind his readers that Samuel did not yet know the Lord personally and had not received any messages from God before this. That's why the boy didn't understand who was calling him (1 Samuel 3:7).

When it happens a third time, Eli realizes the boy standing by his bed is hearing the voice of the Lord. He tells Samuel what to do if it happens again. The boy should say, "Speak, LORD, for your servant hears" (1 Samuel 3:9). This time, the Lord comes and stands before Samuel and says his name twice: "Samuel! Samuel!" Samuel responds, "Speak, for your servant hears" (1 Samuel 3:10), and the Lord begins to speak (1 Samuel 3:8–10).

The Lord's message is not easy one. God tells young Samuel that He's about to do something that will shock people, using an expression that evokes ringing ears, or shaking in terror. He is going to bring about everything He had previously said He would do against Eli and his house, including his descendants (1 Samuel 2:27–36). Eli's sons have blasphemed God by abusing their power as priests to unlawfully take parts of the offerings for themselves (1 Samuel 2:12–17). Eli is guilty of not restraining them, either as their father or as the high priest, and the Lord will punish Eli's house forever. The Lord swears to never allow the sins of Eli and his sons to be atoned for by sacrifice or offering forever (1 Samuel 3:11–14).

Samuel stays in bed until morning and then gets up to carry out his duty of opening the doors to the house of the Lord. Eli calls Samuel, "my son," to come to him. When Samuel arrives, Eli explains to Samuel that it his duty to deliver the message the Lord gave to him and not to leave anything out. Samuel describes the Lord's message of judgment against Eli, and the old prophet responds almost with a shrug: let the Lord do what seems good to Him (1 Samuel 3:15–18).

Samuel continues to grow up and continues to receive messages from the Lord for His people. The Lord does not allow any of Samuel's prophetic words to "fall to the ground:" they are never untrue or unfulfilled. Everyone in Israel comes to know that Samuel is a true prophet of the Lord (1 Samuel 3:19–21).