What does 1 Samuel 3:16 mean?
ESV: But Eli called Samuel and said, “Samuel, my son.” And he said, “Here I am.”
NIV: but Eli called him and said, 'Samuel, my son.' Samuel answered, 'Here I am.'
NASB: Then Eli called Samuel and said, 'Samuel, my son.' And he said, 'Here I am.'
CSB: but Eli called him and said, "Samuel, my son.""Here I am," answered Samuel.
NLT: But Eli called out to him, 'Samuel, my son.' 'Here I am,' Samuel replied.
KJV: Then Eli called Samuel, and said, Samuel, my son. And he answered, Here am I.
NKJV: Then Eli called Samuel and said, “Samuel, my son!” He answered, “Here I am.”
Verse Commentary:
Commentators point out that Eli appears to have been waiting for Samuel to get up so that he could ask the boy about the visit from the Lord. The old priest is the one who realized that the Lord was calling Samuel after the boy ran to him three times claiming that Eli had called him (1 Samuel 3:4–9). He had to be curious what the Lord would say to this boy.

So as soon as Eli hears Samuel open the doors to the Lord's house (1 Samuel 3:15), he calls out "Samuel, my son." Samuel responds by saying "here I am," just as he had done the night before when Eli was not calling him. Referring to Samuel as his son is a hint to how the old priest felt about the boy. That relationship likely made it even more difficult for Samuel to deliver the Lord's message to his mentor (1 Samuel 3:15).
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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