1 And the child Samuel ministered unto Yahweh before Eli. And the word of Yahweh was precious in those days; there was no open vision.

Sure word of prophecy

After the death of Samson, Israel remained for a time in subjection to the Philistines, Eli being high priest at Shiloh and judging the people according to the law. The corruptions of the priesthood were great and grave, and there was a hiding of the divine countenance. We are told (1 Samuel 3: 1) that

"the word of the Lord was precious in those days: there was NO OPEN VISION,"

or, as it is worded in connection with another time,

"there was no answer from God."

The record of such a fact brings very important inferences with it for those who have any doubt of the divinity of the Bible record. Why should it be stated "there was no open vision"?

There was no object to be served by such a record. It is a record of that kind that could only come to be made because it was true: and if made because true in this case, would it not have been made in all other cases where true? The theory of unbelief is that there never was open vision; that revelation is a thing that never took place: and if this theory is true, how is it to be explained that the Bible writers discriminate between times when there was no open vision and times when there was?

The recognition and acknowledgment of times when revelation was non-occurrent afford a strong guarantee that the same testimony speaks truly when it records revelation as active. Not that genuineness of revelation depends upon this argument, because we have the things revealed and the many involved circumstances, spread over a great length of time, to which they stand related, and we know that no other view than the genuineness of the revelation will suit or explain the whole case.

Nevertheless, it is important to note the powerful significance of a little circumstance like this, that the writer should say, "there was no open vision" at a certain time in Israel's history.

It has its companion in another circumstance of like significance, that the prophets who prophesied foretold a time when there should be no prophecy: a time when men should search in vain the earth around for the word of active revelation (Micah 3: 6-7; Amos 8: 11-12).

Such a prophecy is inexplicable on any principle, except that the prophets prophesied by the Spirit of God. If the prophets prophesied by enthusiasm, fanaticism, rant, or natural gift, their prediction of the cessation of their own office is the most wonderful and unintelligible of all their prophecies; still more, in view of the fact that it has come true, as all their other prophecies have, in so far as they belong to the past. The idea is inconsistent with all experience. It is excluded by all the facts of the case. It is the wild and absurd attempt of unbelief to get rid of incorrigible truth.

Visible hand of God Ch 22

2 And it came to pass at that time, when Eli was laid down in his place, and his eyes began to wax dim, that he could not see;

3 And ere the lamp of Elohim went out in the temple of Yahweh, where the ark of Elohim was, and Samuel was laid down to sleep;

4 That Yahweh called Samuel: and he answered, Here am I.

...the time was at hand for the word of revelation again to be heard. Samuel was to be the channel of utterance. He was at present a child, who "knew not the Lord"; who had, by providential circumstances, been placed under the care of Eli, to whom he ministered in little offices connected with the tabernacle in Shiloh.

"The child Samuel grew on, and was in favour both with Yahweh and also with men"

(1 Samuel 2: 26).

By and by there came from God an intimation of Samuel's coming elevation, by a man of God with heavy message to Eli:

"Thou honourest thy sons above me. . . . I said indeed that thy house, and the house of thy father, should walk before me for ever: but now Yahweh saith, Be it far from me, for them that honour me I will honour, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed. . . . Thou shalt see an enemy in my habitation in all the wealth which God shall give Israel, and there shalt not be an old man in thine house for ever. And I will raise me up a faithful priest"

(1 Samuel 2: 30).

Visible hand of God Ch 22

5 And he ran unto Eli, and said, Here am I; for thou calledst me. And he said, I called not; lie down again. And he went and lay down.

6 And Yahweh called yet again, Samuel. And Samuel arose and went to Eli, and said, Here am I; for thou didst call me. And he answered, I called not, my son; lie down again.

7 Now Samuel did not yet know Yahweh, neither was the word of Yahweh yet revealed unto him.

8 And Yahweh called Samuel again the third time. And he arose and went to Eli, and said, Here am I; for thou didst call me. And Eli perceived that Yahweh had called the child.

9 Therefore Eli said unto Samuel, Go, lie down: and it shall be, if he call thee, that thou shalt say, Speak, Yahweh; for thy servant heareth. So Samuel went and lay down in his place.

10 And Yahweh came, and stood, and called as at other times, Samuel, Samuel. Then Samuel answered, Speak; for thy servant heareth.

11 And Yahweh said to Samuel, Behold, I will do a thing in Israel, at which both the ears of every one that heareth it shall tingle.

12 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.

13 For I have told him that I will judge his house for ever for the iniquity which he knoweth; because his sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not.

He restrained them not.

Eli, the immediate precursor of Samuel, judged Israel forty years. While faithful in his judgeship after a fashion, his zeal for the ark and the service, and for the welfare of Israel, seems to have been merely of the patriotic order; it was dedicated to these things with the sort of proximate human interest that every man feels in his people and his surroundings. It was not an enlightened zeal for the supremacy and honour of Yahweh. He had a liking for the right thing, but not of the enlightened, decided, and energetic and uncompromising type that pleases God.

While he remonstrated with his sons who prostituted the functions of the priesthood,... He honoured his sons above Yahweh (1 Samuel 2:29).

Ways of Providence Ch 14.

14 And therefore I have sworn unto the house of Eli, that the iniquity of Eli's house shall not be purged with sacrifice nor offering for ever.

15 And Samuel lay until the morning, and opened the doors of the house of Yahweh. And Samuel feared to shew Eli the vision.

16 Then Eli called Samuel, and said, Samuel, my son. And he answered, Here am I.

17 And he said, What is the thing that Yahweh hath said unto thee? I pray thee hide it not from me: Elohim do so to thee, and more also, if thou hide any thing from me of all the things that he said unto thee.

18 And Samuel told him every whit, and hid nothing from him. And he said, It is Yahweh: let him do what seemeth him good.

19 And Samuel grew, and Yahweh was with him, and did let none of his words fall to the ground.

When the appointed disaster befell the house of Eli, Samuel was ready to take Eli's place, and was duly manifested as the faithful priest raised up according to the promise: a divine work gradually performed step by step, and apparently all by natural means except where revelation comes in.

Ways of providence Ch 14.

20 And all Israel from Dan even to Beersheba knew that Samuel was established to be a prophet of Yahweh.

Thus was the hand of God made visible again in the midst of Israel after an interval.

It was the visible hand in the form of direct revelation, both by angelic message and the inspiration of the Spirit

Visible hand of God Ch 22 

21 And Yahweh appeared again in Shiloh: for Yahweh revealed himself to Samuel in Shiloh by the word of Yahweh.