And the Lord called Samuel again the third time. And he arose and went to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” Then Eli perceived that the Lord was calling the young man. Therefore Eli said to Samuel, “Go, lie down, and if He calls you, you shall say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant hears.'” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.
— First Samuel 3:8-9
Eli was clear when he needed to be clear. Though he mistook Hannah for being drunk, when he blessed her, it was a real blessing. In the same way, once he realized that the Lord was calling Samuel, he was very clear about what Samuel should do. He told Samuel to go back and when he heard the speaking again, to reply, “Speak, Lord, for Your servant hears” (v. 9).
Eli might have wondered why the Lord was talking to Samuel instead of himself, for wasn’t he Israel’s judge and God’s anointed priest? The Lord’s speaking to Samuel rather than Eli already signaled God’s judgment upon Eli.
Adapted from David: After God’s Heart, page 24.
Tomorrow: “A Severe Judgment (2)”