What does 1 Samuel 3:3 mean?
ESV: 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.
NIV: 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.
NASB: 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,
CSB: 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.
NLT: The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was sleeping in the Tabernacle near the Ark of God.
KJV: 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;
Verse Commentary:
Joshua 18:1 describes how the tent of meeting between the Lord and His people was set up in Shiloh. Over time, it had likely become a semi-permanent tabernacle to the Lord. The ark of the covenant, upon which God's presence rested, may have been moved to Bethel for a time (Judges 20:26–28), but it was now in Shiloh.

Inside the tent of meeting, which is here called the temple of the Lord, was an area called the Most Holy Place or the Holy of Holies. This was where the ark of the covenant was kept behind a veil. Outside of that veil stood a lamp. The Lord had commanded that the lamp be kept lit from evening to morning by Aaron and the priests to follow him (Exodus 27:20–21; Leviticus 24:1–3). Samuel was lying down in that room, outside the Most Holy Place where the ark was kept. The boy (or young man) may have slept there regularly or may have been there to be available to help with various duties.

Since this verse says that the lamp of God had not yet gone out, it was likely near dawn when these events happened.
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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