3082. Here I Am

by on

No. 3082-54:109. A Sermon Delivered On Lord’s Day Evening, April 19, 1874, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

A Sermon Published On Thursday, March 5, 1908.

The LORD called Samuel, and he answered, “Here I am.” {1Sa 3:4}

1. Samuel was a model child. He was the son of a prayerful mother. Hannah is one of the most notable pietists mentioned in the Scriptures. She possessed a truly original mind, but she was even more famous for her piety, — a woman who knew how to take her griefs to the mercy seat, and cast them on her God. So Samuel came from good stock; but “what is born by the flesh is flesh,” and he would have been none the better for his godly parentage unless the Spirit of God had renewed his heart early in life. May our dear children all grow up as Samuel did; and, so that they may do so, may they in their early life be such children as Samuel was!

2. It is to be noticed how obedient Samuel was to his guardian who stood for him in the place of a parent. We do not read of any disobedience or discourtesy to Eli; on the contrary, we see that the greatest respect and attention were paid by the child to the aged man who had the care of him. There is nothing in a child more beautiful than obedience; and a young Christian should be careful to keep his proper place, and the more he knows what his privileges are in being a child of God, the better he should fulfil his duty as a child at home.

3. The child Samuel was consecrated to God from his earliest days. His mother gave him to the Lord, and he himself confirmed the consecration. Happy is the child who is God’s child, and who can say as truly as Paul said, “For to me to live is Christ.” Such grace is seen even in children; may it be seen in all the children of all the families connected with this church!

4. Samuel also had the great privilege of growing up amid holy services. He saw the daily sacrifices offered in the sanctuary, and he was probably not absent from any of the means of grace of that day. Parents do their children grievous wrong when they do not allow them to go with them to the house of prayer. I have noticed, when the showers are falling, that you, who try to keep a few pots of flowers in this smoky London, set them out to get the benefit of the rain; and you not only put out the large plants, but you put out the little ones too, so that the precious drops may fall on them. Let your little children, like the little pots of flowers, be put under the gracious showers of the sanctuary, and who knows how much God my bless them? If children cannot understand all that is said, I think that, where the preaching is what it should be, even a small child will remember something, and perhaps understand it better eventually.

5. Further, Samuel was a child who was not merely dedicated to God, and brought up in God’s house, but he was doing God’s work. He could not offer sacrifices, but he could trim the lamps. He could not speak like Eli, but he could open the doors of the Lord’s house, and it was as necessary that someone should open the doors as that someone else should be inside when the doors were opened, ready to attend to the more important parts of the solemn service. Happy, happy child, whose earliest work is work for God, whose earliest hearing is hearing the voice of God, whose earliest breath is spent in the praise of God! may God grant, by his infinite mercy, that our children may be such children, and he shall have the praise!

6. I am going to apply Samuel’s little speech, “Here I am,” especially to grown-up people, yet I am not going to exclude children from the application. When God called Samuel, he answered, “Here I am.” Now, firstly, what did this show? and, secondly, what did it foretell?

7. I. I must devote the greater part of the time to the question, WHAT DID SAMUEL’S ANSWER, “HERE I AM,” SHOW?

8. It showed, first, a hearing ear. God spoke, and Samuel heard. Do you have a hearing ear, dear brother? Be grateful if you have, for all men do not have that blessing. There are some who have an itching ear, and they come to a place of worship, not to hear to profit, but merely to judge, to criticize, to find fault, to draw comparisons between one speaker and another. If that is the case with you, dear friend, may the Lord cure your ears of itching, and open them to the truth, for they are plugged up. John Bunyan speaks of Ear-gate being plugged up with filth, and it is often so. Men cannot hear the voice of God because there is sin in the way, — some darling sin; and they are not wise enough to realize that what they hear will be the means either of saving them or of damning them. Hearing true gospel sermons is one of the most solemn occupations in which intelligent beings can be engaged in. Hearing ears are by no means common things; happy are you who have them.

9. Samuel was asleep, yet he heard God’s voice; but I know some people who are awake, yet who have not heard it. They have been sitting here with their eyes wide open, yet they have seen nothing of the truth; and with their ears open too, yet the voice of God has never penetrated the secret chambers of their souls. How long some of you have been hearers only, and therefore not true hearers! How long have the ears of your heart been dull of hearing! You have heard my voice, but you have not heard God’s voice. You have heard the voice of earnest teachers and preachers, but as yet the voice of God has not reached your heart.

10. In Samuel’s case, it was the first time that God had spoken to him, yet he heard him; but, in your case, God has spoken to you many times, yet you have not heard his voice once. How many times has God spoken to some of you? Can you calculate how many gospel sermons you have heard? I heard someone say, the other day, as she opened her Bible, and looked at the texts which she had marked, from which she had heard me preach these many years, “What a responsibly to have heard so many sermons from such texts as these!” And she said more which it is not for me to repeat; but I felt, “Yes, there is truth in that.” If God has sent us to preach his Word, you may depend on it that he will resent it if you do not hear the message that he sends to you through us. It will not merely be a rejection of the ambassador of Christ, but a rejection of the King who sent him to you. Therefore, I pray that God may give to each one of you a hearing ear.

11. I expect that the voice of God to Samuel was only a faint call. It was in the night-watches, and I suppose that the Lord spoke softly, “Samuel, Samuel.” Yet Samuel heard at once; but the voice of God to some of you has been a loud one, he has spoken to you not only in loving exhortations, but with the voice of threatening. You have had Christ set before you in the gentleness of his love, but you have also seen him in the terror of his vengeance. You have heard concerning the wrath to come, the pit without a bottom, and the fire that never shall be quenched. I can say, with Paul, that “I have not shunned to declare to you all the counsel of God.” I have not kept back anything from you, however terrible the truth was. These lips have never tried to make the penalty of sin appear lighter than Scripture makes it, nor to pare down the dread solemnities of eternity to please this evil generation. No; we have let Sinai speak with its pealing thunders as well as Calvary with its gentle wooings; and yet, alas! there are still some here who have not heard God’s voice so as to heed it.

12. God has spoken to you through your conscience; he has made you shake in your beds, and tremble as you walked the streets. He has spoken to you through that dear child who once nestled in your bosom, but who was called away to heaven. He has spoken through that beloved friend with whom you took sweet counsel, who was suddenly struck with a fatal sickness, and taken away from you. It might have been yourself; that funeral might have been your own, and then, where would your soul have been? God has spoken to you by the fever that laid you low, the effects of which are still in you. He has spoken to you through that accident, from which you only escaped as it were by the skin of your teeth. Again and again God has spoken to you so that both your ears have tingled, but there it ended; the avenue from your ears to your heart has still been blocked up by the devil and his demons, and by your sin; and, as yet, you have not responded to the divine call, and said, “Here I am.” If you were deaf, you might be excused for not hearing; but you have ears, yet you do not hear. You could hear God’s voice if you wished to hear it, but you are not willing; your inability lies in your will, and that inability is the real obstruction. It is not so much a subject for pity as for censure, and so you will find it at the last great day. But I pray that there may be many among you who, when the gospel call is sounded, will say, “Here I am. I am a hearer of the Word, and I enjoy hearing it. It is sweet to me, and I lay hold on eternal life through hearing the voice of Jesus in the gospel.” Blessed be the name of the Lord if you can truthfully say this!

13. The next thing I see in this answer of Samuel is a responsive heart. “The Lord called Samuel,” and he not only heard, but responded, saying, “Here I am. I am a hearer of the Word, and call.” Many of you have heard the gospel; be thankful if, in addition to hearing it, you have been able to give a response to it. I remember the first response that I gave to the gospel. It threatened me with punishment for my sin; and when I was able to respond to it, I said, “I deserve that threatening, and I bow my head to the dust”; and, for some years, the only part of the gospel to which I could respond was that part which destroyed my self-righteousness and my carnal hopes, and made me feel that I was lost. Now, if you cannot go any further than that, thank God that you can go that far. If, when the Word that is preached to you says, “You have broken the law of God, and you must pay the penalty for your disobedience,” you say, “Here I am; I cannot complain about the justice of the sentence”; I thank God that you can go as far as that. There is something of the life of God in the soul that yields its assent and consent to the denunciations of divine justice.

14. But, beloved, how much better it is when you can go further than this! Some of us can remember when we went further, when the voice of God sounded over the mountains of our guilt, and said, “Look to me, and be saved, all you ends of the earth”; and we replied, “Here I am,” and we looked to him, and were enlightened; and our faces were not ashamed. Christ said, “Where are you, sinner?” and we said, “Here I am.” “Come,” he said, “to my cross. Are you there, sinner?” And we answered, “Here I am.” “I am looking down with love,” he said; “look up with joy if you are there”; and we answered, “Here I am.” Oh, it was a blessed thing for us when we had come to that point where Christ would receive us, where the gospel spoke of pardon, and we accepted it; where the gospel spoke of simple faith, and we exercised the simple faith which God had given to us; where the gospel spoke of putting away sin, and we rejoiced to have it put away; where the gospel spoke of repentance, and we rejoiced to have repentance, and to forsake the world, and to follow Jesus!

15. In addition to having a hearing ear and a responsive heart, it is clear that Samuel had a teachable spirit. When the Lord called Samuel, he said, “Here I am”; that is to say, “I am ready to hear what you have to say to me. Speak, Lord; I only want you to speak, and it shall be enough for me. I am your willing disciple, waiting to learn whatever you will teach me.” I do not know any position that is better for a Christian to occupy than that of sitting with Mary at the Master’s feet, and looking up into his face, saying, “Lord, I love you, and I know something of your truth; but have you not more of it to teach me? Lord, is there any duty which you have given to your followers, but which I have not yet seen to be a duty? Then, show it to me, Lord, for here I am, waiting to know your will. Is there a doctrine that I have kicked against, which is, after all, your doctrine? Then, Lord, instruct me in it. Will it cause me to forsake my former associates if I am true to you? If it must be so, I will give it all up; for, Lord, here I am, waiting to learn from you.”

16. It is the lack of this resolve that makes so may denominations in the world today. Most professors never look in the Bible to see what is right and what is wrong. Their father and mother went to a certain place of worship, so they go to it. They saw things in a certain light, and their children do the same; but they never search the Scriptures to see whether these things are so or not. I am afraid there are many Christians, and some ministers too, who would be afraid to search the Scriptures, lest they should learn too much from them. We should soon end all the divisions in the Church of Christ if we took this blessed Book only, — no book of prayer, no book of sermons, no book of devotions, and no catechism as our rule of life; nothing but this Book, and opened it, saying, “Lord, speak, for your servant hears; whatever you have to say to me, here I am, waiting to know and to do your will.” I ask every Christian here whether he can honestly say that he has surrendered his mind to be moulded by the Holy Spirit; whether, on questions that are in dispute among men, he has really searched the Scriptures, and whether he is prepared at all costs to follow the truth wherever it leads him; for this is both the duty and the honour of the Christian, and in that day when the Lord shall stand on Mount Zion, the hundred and forty-four thousand who shall be especially honoured will be those who “follow the Lamb wherever he goes.” Notice those words, “wherever he goes”; following the Lamb in little things and great things, in doctrinal matters, in the Christian ordinances, — not following man’s custom, nor any church’s regulations, but following the Lamb “wherever he goes.” {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2324, “The Followers of the Lamb” 2325} {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2456, “The Lamb Our Leader” 2457} May God give us grace, then, to reply to the call of Jesus, “Here I am, Lord. Do you ask me to believe this doctrine? Here I am. Do you ask me to be baptized in your name? Here I am. Do you ask me to come to your table? Here I am. Do you ask me to work for you, or suffer for you, or even die for you? Show me what you would have me to do, for here I am, waiting and willing to do it.”

17. Now, in the fourth place, this answer of Samuel showed that he was in the right position. Adam was not in his right position when God called him in the garden of Eden, but Samuel was in bed, and that was the place where he ought to have been, for it was bedtime; so, when the Lord called Samuel, he was not ashamed to answer, “Here I am.” I wonder whether some professing Christians would be willing to say to God, “Here I am,” when they are in certain positions and conditions. They can hardly justify themselves to themselves; then, how can they justify themselves to their Lord? I pray, brothers and sisters in Christ, that we may all live in such a position that, whenever the Lord calls to us, we may be able to answer without shame, “Here I am.” We should never be where we should be ashamed to meet our Master.

18. For example, the Lord Jesus calls all his servants to come out from the world, and be separate, set apart for him, — to go outside the camp, bearing his reproach. Suppose he were to come here tonight, and begin to speak to us about being separate from sinners, could each one of you answer, “Lord, here I am; by your grace, I have taken up my cross, and come right away from everything of which you would disapprove, to the best of my knowledge; and in my life I have endeavoured not to be conformed to the world, but to be transformed by the renewing of my mind”?

19. Further, the Lord Jesus Christ asks his children to join in fellowship with each other by uniting in Christian churches. Suppose he were to come tonight, and to ask us who profess to be his, “Are you all joined together in the bonds of Christian union that I ordained for you?” — are there not some Christians here, who never made a scriptural profession of their faith, and who, therefore, could not reply, “Here I am”? Where are you, then? “Oh, I am sneaking away somewhere in the background for fear anyone should find me. I am afraid I would be jeered at if I were known to be a Christian.” Oh, you coward, have you never read that solemn message of Christ, “Whoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, the Son of man shall be ashamed of him when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father’s, and with the holy angels”? When the muster-roll of the visible church is called, it is a great comfort for anyone to be able to answer, “Here I am.”

20. Besides that, the Lord Jesus would have his people meet together for prayer. On the next prayer meeting night, will each one of you be able to answer, “Here I am”? I hope so; yet there are some of you whom I do not see very often at the prayer meeting. I have no fault to find with most of you, for you love the house of God, and you love to meet with the saints for prayer and praise and worship; but there are some who forsake the assembling of themselves together. A brother prayed, recently, for those who were detained on beds of sickness and armchairs of laziness; and I am afraid there are a good many of the second kind. Do not be one of them; but when the roll of those who meet together for prayer is read, may you be able to reply when your name is called, “Here I am.”

21. Christ would also have his people work for him. When the great Captain of our salvation orders the sergeant to call the roll of his soldiers, I like to hear the answer, whether it is from the pulpit, or from the Sunday School, or from the Tract Society, “Lord, here I am; here I am; here I am.” But what has become of that man who was so zealous five years ago? I do not hear him say, “Here I am.” “No,” he says, “I cannot come that far now.” Yet it is no further than it was five years ago; it is not that the distance is too far for him to walk, it is his distance from Christ that accounts for his absence. But when the roll was read just now, where was that man who used to teach in the Sunday School ten years ago? He has given it up, he says, to let the young people have a turn now. Yes, but he would not like the Lord to stop blessing him, and to give the young people all his presence and grace. Suppose the sun were to say, “I have shone long enough, and I shall put out my flames,” and the air were to say, “I have supplied breath long enough,” and the sea were to say, “I have pulsed long enough as the life-blood of the world,” and the earth were to say, “I have yielded food long enough,” where would we all be? When we need to receive no more, then we may say that we will do no more; but as long as we are receiving the grace of God, we must come into the ranks of the workers for him, and each one reply, when our name is called, “Lord, here I am.” I ask every believer, — where are you in Christ’s field of service? What are you doing for the Lord Jesus Christ? Are any of you compelled to reply that you are doing nothing for him?

22. Perhaps one says, “My family requires my care.” Then, give it your care; you cannot do better than serve the Lord at home. I have known fathers to go out preaching who ought to have stayed at home to teach their own children; and good women, who have been very busy at sewing meetings, who would have been better employed at home. But I am not now speaking about those who are doing good works at home. If that is your sphere, fill it, and may God bless you in it! But I am speaking to others, young people especially, on whom there is a claim for service for Christ. What are you doing for Jesus, my young brother? “Nothing at present, but I have been thinking of doing something eventually.” Ah! but it is good for a man that he should bear this yoke in his youth. There is no worker for Christ like the young worker. I bless God that I was preaching the gospel at sixteen years of age; I could never have found such pleasure and ease in doing my Master’s work if I had not begun to do it early, and you Christian young people cannot serve the Master too soon. Samuel said, “Here I am,” and I want you, John, and Thomas, and William, and you, Mary, and Jane, and Elizabeth, each one to reply distinctly, “Here I am; here I am, here I am.” Come into Christ’s’ Church, engage in Christ’s work, and adorn the doctrine of God your Saviour in all things.

23. Once more, I think that Samuel’s answer implied a submissive spirit. He said, “Here I am,” as much as to say, “What am I to do, Lord? I am ready for any service that is appointed to me. Here I am.” That was a grand answer of the prophet Isaiah to the Lord’s question, “Whom shall I send?” — “Here I am; send me.” Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, are all of us up to that mark in the matter of service for the Saviour? Several of our Sunday School classes are short of teachers, will you not say, “Here I am”? It is a very delightful Christian work, and Christians ought to spring forward to fill every gap in the ranks. There are thousands of workers needed in this great city, — workers to go into the lodging-houses, workers to visit poverty-stricken districts, workers to get at the rich in their drawing-rooms, and workers to get at the poor in their slums. Oh Christians, will you not answer with alacrity, “Here we are, Lord; what department of service can we take?” Suppose the Lord were to place you, my sister, to work among the extreme poor, would you say, “Here I am?” Suppose, my brother, you had to go on working, and everyone sneered at you, could you still say, “Here I am”? It is easy, when there is a good berth to be had in the church, to say, “Here I am.” If there is a pastorate to be given away, you can find a self-denying minister who says, “Here I am”; but if it is only a poor living, we should not get the response so readily, “Here I am.” Yet, if our hearts were in a proper state, we should be willing to do anything that the Master gave us to do. If two angels were sent out of heaven, and one was to preach in this pulpit and the other to sweep a muddy crossing, they would not care which they did. So long as God gave them their work, they would feel an equal pleasure and an equal honour in doing it whatever it might be. Are you ready to say, for service, “Here I am”?

24. Can each Christian here say the same with regard to suffering? Here I come to heart-searching work. If Christ wants one who can bear reproach for him, can you say, “Here I am”? If he wants one who can suffer the loss of prosperity, and become poor, can you say, “If it is for your glory, Lord, here I am,” and can you endure it if you do say so? If God should lay a heavy affliction on you, and rack you with pain from day to day, can you say, “Here I am”? In the dreary night-watches, I confess that I have not found it easy, I have wanted to be able to say, “Lord, here I am,” but I have caught myself saying, “I do not want to be here much longer; I want to be up, preaching the gospel again, for I do not like lying here, going without my necessary rest, and feeling countless depressions of spirit and grievous pains of body.” But I know some Christians, who are more accustomed to pain, who have learned to say, with old Eli, “It is the Lord: let him do what seems good to him.” I daresay some of you remember Dr. Hamilton’s story of poor Betty, who said, “The Lord said to me, ‘Betty, look after your husband and your house,’ and I did it; and then he said, ‘Betty, go and talk to your neighbours about Jesus,’ and I did that; and then he said, ‘Betty, go and lie on the bed, and cough,’ and I am doing it, blessed be his holy name!” Ah, but it needs a great deal of grace to lie and cough for God’s glory; yet it is being done, and the groans of sick, yet submissive, saints are as musical to God’s ear as the hallelujahs of archangels.

25. II. Now my time has fled, so I can only give you the outline of what I was going to say in answer to my second question, WHAT DID THIS UTTERANCE OF THE CHILD SAMUEL FORETELL FOR HIM?

26. Why, it foretold, first, further communications from God. Those who reply to God’s call shall hear his voice again. If you are faithful to what you do know, you shall know more. If you can truly say, “Here I am,” God will call you again, and keep on calling you as long as he has messages to give you.

27. It foretold, secondly, higher service for Samuel. The little boy who, on his bed, said to God, “Here I am,” would grow up to be a prophet who would speak God’s words so faithfully that God would not let one of his words fall to the ground. The child who promptly answers to God’s voice becomes the echo of God’s voice before long. “He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much.” He who uses one talent well shall have ten talents entrusted to him.

28. It foretold, next, that Samuel would have prevalence in prayer. God spoke, and Samuel heard; so he might be sure that the Lord would, as we say, “return the compliment.” Very often God will not hear us because we will not hear him. If he speaks, and we are deaf to his voice, we must not wonder if we find him deaf when we speak to him. Our success in prayer will often depend on our obedience to precept; you cannot have the promise torn away from the precept. That would be like cutting a living child in two.

29. And, lastly, I am sure that this reply of Samuel’s foretold that he would have more pleasant calls afterwards. He who was called to hear a simple or menial message in the dead of night, and yet said, “Here I am,” should afterwards be called to lead the Lord’s chosen people, to speak powerfully to them in Jehovah’s name, and to anoint Saul to reign over them when they clamoured for a king. Oh, dear brother or sister in Christ, the Lord Jesus has called, and you have answered, “Here I am.” He has called for you to suffer, and you have said, “Here I am.” He has called you, my sister, to give up your husband and your children, and you have yielded to his will, and answered, “Here I am”; so let me tell you what he will do eventually. When the pitcher is broken at the fountain, and the wheel is broken at the cistern, he will say to you, “Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away”; and that message will be so welcome to you that you will gladly answer, “Lord, here I am.” Have I not seen many Christians, propped up in their bed with their pillows, speaking joyfully to all who were around, and telling them that the chariot had come to bear them to their Beloved? Have I not seen them step into that chariot, to be borne away to dwell at God’s right hand for ever? That was their way of saying to the Lord, “Here I am.” Their bodies slumber in the dust, as yours and mine shall do before long, unless the Lord shall first come; and one of these days, when we are lying beneath the sod, and the daisies are blooming above us, there will come the sound of the archangel’s trumpet, but the Lord’s voice will be in it, and he will call, “Samuel! Samuel!” and you will recognise his voice, and know your own name, and you will answer, “Here I am,” and your very dust shall rise again to be re-animated in a nobler image, and made like your Lord. Then will come the judgment, and the great white throne shall be set, and the books shall be opened; and the King will say to those on his right hand, “Come, you blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” What a joy it will be for each one of his saints then to answer, “Here I am, Lord, by your sovereign grace, at your right hand, numbered among your sheep, and welcomed with them to everlasting glory!”

30. Perhaps some of you think that only a great and eminent saint will be able, in that day, to answer, “Here I am”; but I can tell you one name that will be read out then, — “Mrs. Much-Afraid,” and she will answer, “Here I am.” There will be something strange in her voice, for she never used to speak like that when she was down here; but now she speaks up as boldly as Paul himself does, “Here I am, Lord.” And Ready-to-Halt, without his crutches, will answer as bravely as any of the apostles; and poor members of the church, who were not much noticed on earth, will each one answer, “Here I am”; and that feeble one, who was always doubting, trembling, fearing, fretting, and worrying, and yet for all that somehow rested in the Lord, will answer, “Here I am”; I think the music of heaven would lose it sweetest note if there were not many a little one there to answer, “Here I am.” If, on Christmas night, when you were gathered around the blazing fire, and the big log was burning on the hearth, and you were ready to sing for joy, someone were to ask, “Where is the baby?” there would be only one answer, “What, is she not here?” Mother does not know where she is, does father not know? No, he thought the little one was all right; but do her brothers and sisters not know where the little one is? Suppose someone should say, “Do not worry yourselves about her, you be merry among yourselves.” But mother cannot be merry without her baby, and father cannot rest, and brothers and sisters cannot rejoice as long as the little one is not there to share their joy; and I can tell you that God himself, and Christ himself, and the Holy Spirit himself, and the holy angels, and all the host of the redeemed could not be happy in heaven if one dear child of God, who had trusted in Jesus, should be missing at the last great day. They would stop the angelic harps to find that lost one, and empty out heaven, and send every angel and every saint out as a scout to find this poor little lost one who cannot be lost. If you are trusting in Jesus, answer to your name now, and say to Christ, “Lord, here I am”; and then you will be able to say to him, before the throne, “Here I am, Lord, and here I will adore you for ever and for ever.” May God bless you, for Christ’s sake! Amen.

Exposition By C. H. Spurgeon {1Sa 2:12-3:13}

2:12. Now the sons of Eli were sons of Belial; they did not know the LORD.

What a very dreadful thing it was that these sons of a man of God, the sons of God’s high priest, were not themselves sons of God, but sons of Belial, foul-hearted, foul-mouthed, foul-living men, who did not know the very God at whose altar they served, and in whose house they lived!

13, 14. And the priest’s custom with the people was, that, when any man offered a sacrifice, the priest’s servant came, while the meat was boiling, with a fleshhook of three teeth in his hand; and he struck it into the pan, or kettle, or caldron, or pot; all that the fleshhook brought up the priest took for himself. So they did in Shiloh to all the Israelites who came there.

God had appointed a proper portion for his priests, so that those who ministered at the altar might live by the altar. But these wicked men were not content with the divine allowance, so they needed to rob the altars of God, and show such greed as to make the appointed sacrifices to be obnoxious to the people.

15, 16. Also before they burned the fat, the priest’s servant came, and said to the man who sacrificed, “Give meat to roast for the priest; for he will not have boiled meat from you, but raw.” And if any man said to him, “Do not let them fail to burn the fat presently and then take as much as your soul desires”; then he would answer him, “No; but you shall give it to me now: and if not, I will take it by force.”

It is a terrible thing when God’s servants are domineering and oppressive towards the people of God. Those who should be the gentlest of all, and the most self-denying of all, must not talk as this priest’s servant did, and he no doubt talked like the young men whom he served told him to talk.

17. Therefore the sin of the young men was very great before the LORD: for men abhorred the offering of the LORD.

It is horrible when those who should make God great among men cause his service to be despised and abhorred. When those who should be the friends and servants of God act like his enemies, it is indeed terrible.

18-24. But Samuel ministered before the LORD, being a child, girded with a linen ephod. Moreover his mother made him a little coat, and brought it to him from year to year, when she came up with her husband to offer the yearly sacrifice. And Eli blessed Elkanah and his wife, and said, “May the LORD give you seed from this woman for the loan that is lent to the LORD.” And they went to their own home. And the LORD visited Hannah, so that she conceived, and gave birth to three sons and two daughters. And the child Samuel grew before the LORD. Now Eli was very old, and heard all that his sons did to all Israel; and how they lay with the women who assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. And he said to them, “Why do you do such things? for I hear of your bad dealings from all this people. No, my sons; for it is no good report that I hear: you make the LORD’S people to transgress.

That is all that the godly old man said to his wicked sons. He was far too gentle in his way of reproving them. He was evidently afraid of his own sons, — not the only man who has been in the same predicament.

25. If one man sins against another, the judge shall judge him: but if a man sins against the LORD, who shall entreat for him?” Notwithstanding they did not listen to the voice of their father, because the LORD would slay them.

They had gone so far in vice and sin that the Lord did not intend to forgive them. They had transgressed so foully that he would permit them to go on in sin until they perished in it.

26-30. And the child Samuel grew on, and was in favour both with the LORD, and also with men. And there came a man of God to Eli, and said to him, “Thus says the LORD, ‘Did I plainly appear to the house of your father, when they were in Egypt in Pharaoh’s house? And did I choose him out of all the tribes of Israel to be my priest, to offer on my altar, to burn incense, to wear an ephod before me? And did I give to the house of your father all the offerings made by fire from the children of Israel? Why do you kick at my sacrifice and at my offering, which I have commanded in my habitation; and honour your sons more than me, to make yourselves fat with the best of all the offerings of Israel my people?’ Therefore the LORD God of Israel says, ‘I said indeed that your house, and the house of your father, should walk before me for ever’;

“But I said it conditionally on your good behaviour. I installed you into the priest’s office for life, and your sons might have continued in it after you if they had kept my commandments.”

30-36. But now the LORD says, ‘Be it far from me; for those who honour me I will honour, and those who despise me shall be lightly esteemed. Behold, the days come, that I will cut off your arm, and the arm of your father’s house, so that there shall not be an old man in your house. And you shall see an enemy in my habitation, in all the wealth which God shall give Israel: and there shall not be an old man in your house for ever. And the man of yours, whom I shall not cut of from my altar, shall be to consume your eyes, and to grieve your heart: and all the increase of your house shall die in the flower of their age. And this shall be a sign to you, that shall happen to your two sons, on Hophni and Phinehas; in one day both of them shall die. And I will raise up a faithful priest for myself who shall do according to what is in my heart and in my mind: and I will build a sure house for him; and he shall walk before my anointed for ever. And it shall come to pass, that everyone who is left in your house shall come and crouch to him for a piece of silver and a morsel of bread, and shall say, "Please, put me into one of the priests’ offices that I may eat a piece of bread."’”

The same sad prophecy that the Lord communicated to old Eli was also revealed in a very special way to young Samuel.

3:1-13. And the child Samuel ministered to the LORD before Eli. And the word of the LORD was precious in those days; there was no public vision. And it came to pass at that time, when Eli had laid down in his place, and his eyes began to grow dim, that he could not see; and before the lamp of God went out in the tabernacle of the LORD, where the ark of God was, and Samuel had laid down to sleep; that the LORD called Samuel: and he answered, “Here I am.” And he ran to Eli, and said, “Here I am; for you called me.” And he said, “I did not call; lie down again.” And he went and lay down. And the LORD called yet again, “Samuel.” And Samuel arose and went to Eli, and said, “Here I am; for you did call me.” And he answered, “I did not call, my son, lie down again.” Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD, neither was the word of the LORD yet revealed to him. And the LORD called Samuel again the third time. And he arose and went to Eli, and said, “Here I am; for you did call me.” And Eli perceived that the LORD had called the child. Therefore Eli said to Samuel, “Go, lie down: and it shall be, if he calls you, that you shall say, ‘Speak, LORD; for your servant hears.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place. And the LORD came, and stood, and called as at other times, “Samuel, Samuel.” Then Samuel answered, “Speak; for your servant hears.” And the LORD said to Samuel, “Behold, I will do a thing in Israel, at which both the ears of everyone who hears it shall tingle. In that day I will perform against Eli all things which I have spoken concerning his house: when I begin I will also make an end. For I have told him that I will judge his house for ever for the iniquity which he knows; because his sons made themselves vile, and he did not restrain them.” Mr. Spurgeon preached two sermons on verse 9 and 10: —  {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 586, “The Child Samuel’s Prayer” 577} {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2526, “Speak Lord!” 2527}

Take warning, fathers and mothers, by this experience of old Eli.

Spurgeon Sermons

These sermons from Charles Spurgeon are a series that is for reference and not necessarily a position of Answers in Genesis. Spurgeon did not entirely agree with six days of creation and dives into subjects that are beyond the AiG focus (e.g., Calvinism vs. Arminianism, modes of baptism, and so on).

Terms of Use

Modernized Edition of Spurgeon’s Sermons. Copyright © 2010, Larry and Marion Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario, Canada. Used by Answers in Genesis by permission of the copyright owner. The modernized edition of the material published in these sermons may not be reproduced or distributed by any electronic means without express written permission of the copyright owner. A limited license is hereby granted for the non-commercial printing and distribution of the material in hard copy form, provided this is done without charge to the recipient and the copyright information remains intact. Any charge or cost for distribution of the material is expressly forbidden under the terms of this limited license and automatically voids such permission. You may not prepare, manufacture, copy, use, promote, distribute, or sell a derivative work of the copyrighted work without the express written permission of the copyright owner.

Spurgeon Sermon Updates

Email me when new sermons are posted:

Privacy Policy

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Answers in Genesis is an apologetics ministry, dedicated to helping Christians defend their faith and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Learn more

  • Customer Service 800.778.3390