What does 1 Samuel 3:10 mean?
ESV: And the Lord came and stood, calling as at other times, "Samuel! Samuel!" And Samuel said, "Speak, for your servant hears."
NIV: The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, "Samuel! Samuel!" Then Samuel said, "Speak, for your servant is listening."
NASB: Then the Lord came and stood, and called as at the other times: 'Samuel! Samuel!' And Samuel said, 'Speak, for Your servant is listening.'
CSB: The Lord came, stood there, and called as before, "Samuel, Samuel!" Samuel responded, "Speak, for your servant is listening."
NLT: And the Lord came and called as before, 'Samuel! Samuel!' And Samuel replied, 'Speak, your servant is listening.'
KJV: And the Lord came, and stood, and called as at other times, Samuel, Samuel. Then Samuel answered, Speak; for thy servant heareth.
NKJV: Now the Lord came and stood and called as at other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel answered, “Speak, for Your servant hears.”
Verse Commentary:
The back-and-forth game of running to Eli after hearing his name called is over (1 Samuel 3:4–8). Eli recognized that it was the Lord calling young Samuel and told Samuel how to respond if it happened again (1 Samuel 3:8–9). Perhaps the Lord allowed Samuel to run to Eli those three times to confirm, for both, that the Lord really had communicated with Samuel.

Scripture is not clear if God appeared in some visible, tangible way this time. The text notes that the Lord "came and stood," though no explicit mention is made that Samuel sees anything. The Lord calls out, "Samuel! Samuel!" We see similar calls to Abraham, Jacob, and Moses (Genesis 22:11; 46:2; Exodus 3:4).

Samuel follows Eli's instruction and answers the Lord by telling Him to speak because His servant is listening. Samuel seems both unafraid and ready and willing to hear whatever God would say to Him. It is interesting to note that Eli instructed Samuel to address God as Yahweh: "speak LORD." Here, Samuel simply says "speak." Perhaps this is a reminder of the fact that this is the first time Samuel has interacted so personally with the Lord (1 Samuel 3:7).
Verse Context:
First Samuel 3:1–14 finds both Samuel and Eli a bit older, though Samuel is still called a boy. Sometime before dawn, Samuel is sleeping in the temple and hears his name called. He runs to Eli, who tells him to go back to bed. When it happens a third time, Eli tells Samuel it is the Lord. The Lord reveals to Samuel that He is going to bring judgment on Eli and his household for Eli's failure to restrain the blasphemy of his sons against the Lord.
Chapter Summary:
Samuel is just a boy when the Lord calls Him to serve as a prophet in Israel. Sleeping in the temple, Samuel hears his name and thinks Eli the priest is calling him. Eli finally tells Samuel it is the Lord. The Lord tells Samuel that He is going to fulfill His judgment against Eli and his household for the sins of Eli's sons and for Eli's failure to restrain them. Samuel delivers the entire message to Eli and begins his lifelong career as an official prophet of the Lord.
Chapter Context:
First Samuel 3 follows the prophecy of judgment against Eli and his household at the end of the previous chapter (1 Samuel 2:27–36) with a repeat of the prophecy through the words of young Samuel. Eli helps the boy to understand the Lord is speaking to him, and Samuel delivers the Lord's harsh message. Eli accepts Samuel's word, passively accepting whatever God will do. The next chapters explain Eli's death and Israel's renewed conflict with the Philistines.
Book Summary:
First Samuel introduces the key figures who led Israel after the era of the judges. The books of 1 and 2 Samuel were originally part of a single text, split in certain translations shortly before the birth of Christ. Some of the Bible’s most famous characters are depicted in this book. These including the prophet Samuel, Israel’s first king, Saul, her greatest king, David, and other famous names such as Goliath and Jonathan. By the end of this book, Saul has fallen; the book of 2 Samuel begins with David’s ascension to the throne.
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