1 Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the LORD before Eli. And word from the LORD was rare in those days, visions were infrequent . 2 It happened at that time as Eli was lying down in his place (now his eyesight had begun to grow dim and he could not see well), 3 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, 4 that the LORD called Samuel ; and he said, "Here I am." 5 Then he ran to Eli and said, "Here I am, for you called me." But he said, "I did not call, lie down again." So he went and lay down. 6 The LORD called yet again, "Samuel !" So Samuel arose and went to Eli and said, "Here I am, for you called me." But he answered, "I did not call, my son, lie down again." 7 Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD, nor had the word of the LORD yet been revealed to him. 8 So the LORD called Samuel again for the third time. And he arose and went to Eli and said, "Here I am, for you called me." Then Eli discerned that the LORD was calling the boy. 9 And Eli said to Samuel, "Go lie down, and it shall be if He calls you, that you shall say, 'Speak, LORD, for Your servant is listening.' " So Samuel went and lay down in his place. 10 Then the LORD came and stood and called as at other times, "Samuel ! Samuel !" And Samuel said, "Speak, for Your servant is listening." 11 The LORD said to Samuel, "Behold, I am about to do a thing in Israel at which both ears of everyone who hears it will tingle. .... 19 Thus Samuel grew and the LORD was with him and let none of his words fail . 20 All Israel from Dan even to Beersheba knew that Samuel was confirmed as a prophet of the LORD. 21 And the LORD appeared again at Shiloh, because the LORD revealed Himself to Samuel at Shiloh by the word of the LORD."The word of the LORD was rare in those days, visions were infrequent."
Think about all the interesting things that sentence tells us. Can you think of them?
God talked to people. Sometimes more than others. This time in Israel not very many people heard from God. But it also tells us that this wasn't always the case. In other times people heard from God more often.
People had visions. God talked to His people through visions. At least, some people, and they told the others what they saw and heard.
But right now, not many people heard from God. Until Samuel. Samuel was a prophet. God chose him to speak to the people for him. Remember when Moses spoke to the people for God? God was still finding ways to speak to the people. He called Judges to free the people, and he called prophets to speak to the people for him.
Samuel was also a child given to a woman who couldn't have children, after she prayed to God. God seems to like to do that doesn't He? He likes to give women who ask him the children they haven't been able to have. In Samuel's case, his mother dedicated him to God's service out of gratitude, and God calls him as a prophet when he is very small. He is a very important part of Israel's story at this point. The blessing that is to come through Israel has much to do with what Samuel hears from God and how he obeys.
More on that tomorrow.