The Call of Samuel
3:1 Now the boy Samuel continued serving the Lord under Eli’s supervision. 1 Word from the Lord was rare in those days; revelatory visions were infrequent.
3:2 Eli’s eyes had begun to fail, so that he was unable to see well. At that time he was lying down in his place, 3:3 and the lamp of God had not yet been extinguished. Samuel was lying down in the temple of the Lord as well; the ark of God was also there. 3:4 The Lord called to Samuel, and he replied, “Here I am!” 3:5 Then he ran to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But Eli 2 said, “I didn’t call you. Go back and lie down.” So he went back and lay down. 3:6 The Lord again called, “Samuel!” So Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But Eli 3 said, “I didn’t call you, my son. Go back and lie down.”
3:7 Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord; the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him. 3:8 Then the Lord called Samuel a third time. So he got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me!” Eli then realized that it was the Lord who was calling the boy. 3:9 So Eli said to Samuel, “Go back and lie down. When he calls you, say, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” So Samuel went back and lay down in his place.
3:10 Then the Lord came and stood nearby, calling as he had previously done, “Samuel! Samuel!” Samuel replied, “Speak, for your servant is listening!” 3:11 The Lord said to Samuel, “Look! I am about to do something in Israel; 4 when anyone hears about it, both of his ears will tingle. 3:12 On that day I will carry out 5 against Eli everything that I spoke about his house – from start to finish! 3:13 You 6 should tell him that I am about to judge his house forever because of 7 the sin that he knew about. For his sons were cursing God, 8 and he did not rebuke them. 3:14 Therefore I swore an oath to the house of Eli, ‘The sin of the house of Eli can never be forgiven by sacrifice or by grain offering.’”
3:15 So Samuel lay down until morning. Then he opened the doors of the Lord’s house. But Samuel was afraid to tell Eli about the vision. 3:16 However, Eli called Samuel and said, “Samuel, my son!” He replied, “Here I am.” 3:17 Eli 9 said, “What message did he speak to you? Don’t conceal it from me. God will judge you severely 10 if you conceal from me anything that he said to you!”
3:18 So Samuel told him everything. He did not hold back anything from him. Eli 11 said, “The Lord will do what he pleases.” 12 3:19 Samuel continued to grow, and the Lord was with him. None of his prophecies fell to the ground unfulfilled. 13 3:20 All Israel from Dan to Beer Sheba realized that Samuel was confirmed as a prophet of the Lord. 3:21 Then the Lord again appeared in Shiloh, for it was in Shiloh that the Lord had revealed himself to Samuel 14 through the word of the Lord. 15
4:1 Samuel revealed the word of the Lord 16 to all Israel.
The Ark of the Covenant is Lost to the Philistines
Then the Israelites went out to fight the Philistines. 17 They camped at Ebenezer, 18 and the Philistines camped at Aphek. 4:2 The Philistines arranged their forces to fight 19 Israel. As the battle spread out, 20 Israel was defeated by 21 the Philistines, who 22 killed about four thousand men in the battle line in the field.
4:3 When the army 23 came back to the camp, the elders of Israel said, “Why did the Lord let us be defeated today by 24 the Philistines? Let’s take with us the ark of the covenant of the Lord from Shiloh. When it is with us, it will save us 25 from the hand of our enemies.
4:4 So the army 26 sent to Shiloh, and they took from there the ark of the covenant of the Lord of hosts who sits between the cherubim. Now the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phineas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God. 4:5 When the ark of the covenant of the Lord arrived at the camp, all Israel shouted so loudly 27 that the ground shook.
4:6 When the Philistines heard the sound of the shout, they said, “What is this loud shout in the camp of the Hebrews?” Then they realized that the ark of the Lord had arrived at the camp. 4:7 The Philistines were scared because they thought that gods had come to the camp. 28 They said, “Too bad for 29 us! We’ve never seen anything like this! 4:8 Too bad for us! Who can deliver us from the hand of these mighty gods? These are the gods who struck the Egyptians with all sorts of plagues in the desert! 4:9 Be strong and act like men, you Philistines, or else you will wind up serving the Hebrews the way they have served you! Act like men and fight!”
4:10 So the Philistines fought. Israel was defeated; they all ran home. 30 The slaughter was very great; thirty thousand foot soldiers fell in battle. 4:11 The ark of God was taken, and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phineas, were killed.
4:12 On that day 31 a Benjaminite ran from the battle lines and came to Shiloh. His clothes were torn and dirt was on his head. 4:13 When he arrived in Shiloh, Eli was sitting in his chair watching by the side of 32 the road, for he was very worried 33 about the ark of God. As the man entered the city to give his report, 34 the whole city cried out.
4:14 When Eli heard the outcry, 35 he said, “What is this commotion?” 36 The man quickly came and told Eli. 4:15 Now Eli was ninety-eight years old and his eyes looked straight ahead; 37 he was unable to see.
4:16 The man said to Eli, “I am the one who came from the battle lines! Just today I fled from the battle lines!” Eli 38 asked, “How did things go, my son?” 4:17 The messenger replied, “Israel has fled from 39 the Philistines! The army has suffered a great defeat! Your two sons, Hophni and Phineas, are dead! The ark of God has been captured!”
4:18 When he mentioned the ark of God, Eli 40 fell backward from his chair beside the gate. He broke his neck and died, for he 41 was old and heavy. He had judged Israel for forty years.
4:19 His daughter-in-law, the wife of Phineas, was pregnant and close to giving birth. When she heard that the ark of God was captured and that her father-in-law and her husband were dead, she doubled over and gave birth. But her labor pains were too much for her. 4:20 As she was dying, the women who were there with her said, “Don’t be afraid! You have given birth to a son!” But she did not reply or pay any attention. 42
4:21 She named the boy Ichabod, 43 saying, “The glory has departed from Israel,” referring to the capture of the ark of God and the deaths of her father-in-law and her husband. 4:22 She said, “The glory has departed from Israel, because the ark of God has been captured.”