3 Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the Lord in the presence of Eli. And the word of the Lord was rare in those days; there was no frequent vision. 2 At that time Eli, whose eyesight had begun to grow dim so that he could not see, was lying down in his own place. 3 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 Then the Lord called Samuel, and he said, “Here I am!” (1 Samuel 3:1-4)
Almost the first thing a child learns in school is her ABC‘s. From their first day of kindergarten, and probably before that, we teach our children that B comes before C.
God’s word teaches the same thing: before we can see, we first have to be.
Throughout Scripture, there’s a strong poetic connection between the eyes and the soul. In Matthew 6:22, Jesus taught,
22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, 23 but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!
We just finished the book of Judges, where Samson first got into trouble when he saw a Philistine woman and told his parents, “She is right in my eyes; get her for me” (Judges 14:3). This was just one of many connections between Samson and the eyes (see Samson, Part 1: The Eyes Have It).
And the entire book can be summed up with Judges 21:25: “In those days there was no king. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”
So at the beginning of Samuel’s ministry, the metaphor continues:
- Verse 1: And the word of the Lord was rare in those days; there was no frequent vision. This tells us that we are still in the time of the judges. But there’s hope: the boy Samuel is ministering before the Lord.
- Verse 2: At that time Eli, whose eyesight had begun to grow dim so that he could not see, was lying down in his own place. While Eli’s vision is fading, Samuel’s vision is getting clearer. He is ministering before the Lord. He’s where he needs to be to hear a word (and see a vision) from God.
- Verse 3: 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. While Eli is lying down in his place (verse 2); Samuel is lying down in God’s place.
This is the difference between one whose vision is fading and one whose vision is growing. You can’t expect to see what God wants to show you if you aren’t where He is.
Beloved, notice the phrase “The lamp of the Lord had not gone out.” The plain meaning is that the fire God commanded to burn continually before Him (see generations of apostasy on the part of the people, He is faithful to provide vision to every new generation. This is the promise He gave to the prophet Joel (who was quoted by Peter on the day of Pentecost):
28 “And it shall come to pass afterward,
that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh;
your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
your old men shall dream dreams,
and your young men shall see visions. (Joel 2:25)
Samuel, the young man, sees a vision. Well, to be precise, he hears a voice. And how does he respond? “Here I am.” This is the only proper response to God’s calling.
But there is a crucial step before this one: In order to see what God has for you to see, you must be where God wants you to be.
Is God speaking to you? Are you seeing what He wants to show you? If not, check your GPS. It could be you aren’t where you’re supposed to be.