What does 1 Samuel 3:15 mean?
ESV: 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.
NIV: Samuel lay down until morning and then opened the doors of the house of the LORD. He was afraid to tell Eli the vision,
NASB: 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.
CSB: Samuel lay down until the morning; then he opened the doors of the Lord's house. He was afraid to tell Eli the vision,
NLT: 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.
KJV: And Samuel lay until the morning, and opened the doors of the house of the LORD. And Samuel feared to shew Eli the vision.
Verse Commentary:
The Lord has initiated Samuel, still just a boy, as a prophet (1 Samuel 3:1, 7, 10). He has appeared to Samuel in the night with a prophecy against Samuel's mentor and guardian, Eli the priest of Israel (1 Samuel 3:10–14). The Lord made clear in His words to young Samuel that this message of judgment was for Eli (1 Samuel 3:13).

After receiving the message from the Lord, Samuel stayed in bed until morning, likely thinking through everything he had heard. When morning came, the boy got up and opened the doors of the house of the Lord, perhaps one of his daily duties in the temple.

Instead of taking the prophecy directly to his mentor, Samuel apparently hesitated. It's little wonder that he was afraid to tell the vision to Eli. The Lord had described the forever punishment of Eli's household for his failure to stop his own sons from blaspheming the Lord in their role as priests (1 Samuel 2:23–25, 29; 3:13). Even worse, the Lord had said that no sacrifices would be enough to atone for those sins (1 Samuel 3:14).

Surprisingly, perhaps, Eli will be the one to prompt Samuel to share what God had said (1 Samuel 3:16–17).
Verse Context:
First Samuel 3:15–21 indicates Samuel was reluctant to share his first prophetic word from God. The Lord's message was dire: that Eli, the current priest, would suffer consequences for his sin. His sons and family were abusing their power and profaning God. With some prompting, Samuel delivers this message to Eli, who accepts it. Samuel continues to grow and is recognized by all of Israel as a prophet of 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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