1 Samuel 3 Commentary
In those days the word of the LORD was rare, probably because there was no one to listen. Samuel is living during the time of the Judges. Israel’s spirituality is at its lowest; not just amongst the people but importantly at the House of God itself. But in Samuel is a young man able to listen. So the LORD does speak and the message is that of judgment on the house of Eli.
We can take great interest in the fact that the LORD calls Samuel by name. Indeed He knows my name.
But why does the LORD want Samuel to know what the LORD is about to do? For your information purposes? No. Samuel is taking over from Eli. The LORD explains why this is going to happen. The reason is not that sin happened but importantly, because when sin happened, Eli did nothing. This is really very important. The biggest scandal is not that we fall but that we do nothing when we fall. Therefore, the message to the young leader is that there is a need for action to restore the fear of the LORD in the community. Then events such as the one about to happen can be avoided.
The judgment on the house of Eli would have been avoided had Eli taken action. Judgment on the sinner can be avoided if the sinner takes action. This seems to be the main point of the message from the LORD.
Eli’s response is that of general resignation and defeat. At this stage, there is very little that can be done. But there was a time when the possibility existed for action. It was never taken. Really? The Bible does record that Eli did call his sons and rebuked them over their sin. 1 Samuel chapter 2 verses 22 to 25. Wasn’t this action good enough? There is one important lesson here. Mere acknowledgment of sin without an attempt to resolve it is not good enough. The saint must be ruthless about sin. Mere talk of repentance without actual repentance would not stand in defense of anyone.
Leaders carry an extra responsibility. Eli was undoubtedly a good man. And as a person, he would pass for a god-fearing man. But it is his leadership that can be questioned. Church leaders must know they are accountable. Sin without must be hated as much as sin within. Eli’s responsibility was to protect the glory of God at all times. He failed. This may be speaking to the saint living in a world that regards sin as nothing. Our reaction must be of righteous anger and constant inner discomfort. Truce with sin isn’t an option. Judgment awaits. The LORD has spoken.