Day 97: Samuel's Prophecy

1 Samuel 3:1-21 Samuel’s prompt answer to the Lord’s call reveals his attentiveness and readiness to serve. God was calling Samuel to be his prophet. He would inspire Samuel with his messages, which in turn would be transmitted to others. God’s call to Samuel was personal; in a like manner, he calls every one of us by name. (CCC 2158, 2167)


Ch 3:9-10 Samuel, no doubt, learned how to pray from his devout mother, Hannah; from the priest Eli he learned how to listen for God’s voice. Our primary access to the Word of God is through reading Scripture; the prayerful reading of Sacred Scripture, called lectio divina, forms the subject matter for prayer and meditation directed to God usually through the life of Christ. (CCC 2221, 2226-2227, 2578, 2653)


Ch 4:1-22 The sins of Eli’s sons led to their own deaths; the death of their father; the defeat of Israel by the Philistines; and, worst of all, the Philistine’s capture of the Ark of the Covenant. For Israel this was a devastating turn of events; more than a vessel for sacred objects, the Ark was the very presence of God among his people and the sign of God’s special predilection for the Jewish people. (CCC 2594)


Psalm 150 This final hymn of the Psalter comprises a joyful outpouring of praise in three distinct stages. First, there is focus on God, his sanctuary, and his perfections; then the Temple musicians break into song accompanied by dancing to enhance the prayer of praise; finally, creation itself rises up and praises its Creator. Thus, this song of praise goes from the sanctuary, representing the PERFECT LITURGY celebrated in Heaven, to our praise, and then to all living creatures represented by the human person. As St. John Paul II noted, “The highest music is what comes from our hearts. In our liturgies this is the harmony God wants to hear.” (Cf. St. John Paul II, General Audience, February 26, 2003) (CCC 1191)

(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)


  • During her prayer, we meet Eli the priest sitting on his seat (literally, “throne”).

  • Eli is not a king; he is a priest and a judge (1 Sam 4:18).

  • Yet his “throne” is a reminder of the Levites’ influential role in the period of the Judges.

  • The portrayal of Eli is intentionally unimpressive.

  • In those days, priests stood to offer sacrifice and lead the prayers of the people, sitting down when their work was completed.

  • But both here and at his death (1 Sam 4:13), we find Eli sitting as though his priestly task is completed, even though Israel is being consumed by religious and political chaos.

  • Moreover, his rebuke of Hannah, whom he suspects to be drunk when she is in fact fervently praying, reveals a man inclined to rash judgments.

  • In Eli, we find evidence that everyone lived by what was right in his own eyes, rather than by the ways of the living God.

  • God remembers Hannah.

  • Samuel is born and dedicated to the Lord’s service.

  • Hannah’s song of joy celebrates not only a mother’s redemption from barrenness, but God’s forthcoming redemption of Israel.

  • The hymn anticipates the imminent reversal of Israel’s fortunes, as the bow of Israel’s pagan oppressors (“the mighty”) will soon be broken while Israel (“the feeble”) girds on strength; the hungry in the land will soon be satisfied, the poor exalted, and the needy given “a seat [literally, “throne”] of honor” (1 Sam 2:8).

  • This last “reversal” is a prophetic utterance concerning the rise of an Israelite king, as confirmed by the conclusion of Hannah’s song: “The Lord will judge the ends of the earth; he will give strength to his king, and exalt the power of his anointed” (1 Sam 2:10).

  • As the New Testament will record, after the Holy Spirit came upon Mary and she conceived the King of kings, Mary’s own song of praise, the Magnificat (Lk 1:46-55), will echo many themes of Hannah’s song.


Eli and His Sons

  • Several scenes follow that contrast the depravity of Eli’s household, whose sons greedily steal from the sacrifices offered to God, with the fidelity of Elkanah, Hannah, and Samuel, who faithfully make the yearly pilgrimage to Shiloh.

  • While Samuel’s parents encourage their son to faithful service of the Lord, Eli’s sons continue unhindered sexual intercourse with women serving at the Lord’s shrine and receive only a weak rebuke from their father.

  • As Samuel grows “both in stature and in favor with the Lord and with men” (1 Sam 2:26), an unnamed prophet pronounces judgment on Eli and his sons, a judgment confirmed when Samuel receives a vision that the days of Eli and his sons are numbered.

  • This twofold witness, according to Joseph’s maxim (Gn 41:32), seals the end of Eli’s household as fixed by God.

  • Judgment falls when Eli’s sons, Hophni and Phinehas, carry the Ark of the Covenant into battle with the Philistines.

  • The Ark, which is the footstool of the Lord of hosts who is “enthroned on the cherubim,” is captured, Hophni and Phinehas are slain, and Israel is crushed.

  • When Eli receives word, he falls from his seat (throne) and breaks his neck.

  • The Hebrew text here offers a revealing word play: Eli died from the fall because he was old and “heavy” (kaved).

  • This plays on kavod, the Hebrew word for “glory,” which also means “heaviness” or “weightiness.” Eli, who robbed God of kavod by making himself kaved on the sacrificial meat, is killed by his own sins.

  • The Ark wreaks havoc wherever it goes, causing the Philistine cities to pass it off to one another like a hot potato.

  • Among the afflictions caused by this throne of Israel’s God is the destruction of an idol of the god Dagon and the outbreak of rats and tumors among the Philistines.

  • These chastisements show clearly God’s presence with the Ark.

  • Why, then, was Israel defeated when she carried the Ark into battle?

  • Israel cannot ignore the covenant and then presume to force God’s action according to Israel’s desires.

  • Rather, God’s power is poured out by grace on those who are faithful and repent of any sin, as Samuel is keen to point out (1 Sam 7:3).

  • Only when God’s people turn away from their idols and place their trust in God alone can victory be attained.

(*Walking With God: A Journey Through The Bible by Tim Gray and Jeff Cavins)




  • I fell asleep early last night, but I sometimes wish I had half of Fr. Mike’s enthusiasm and vigor after he reads the passages in the Bible. Usually, I just scratch my head and wonder if maybe I’m illiterate ;)

  • Here we go

  • Not only do we have this story of the Ark of the Covenant falling into the hands of the Philistines, which is absolutely tragic

  • There is a reason for that

  • We also have the beginning of Ch 3 where God calls Samuel

  • One of the things you may know is this call where Samuel is sleeping and hears God’s call

  • Back in those days, the voice of The Lord was VERY RARE

  • People RARELY heard from God

  • But where is Samuel sleeping?

  • He is sleeping BEFORE THE ARK OF THE COVENANT, THE ARK OF THE LORD

  • One of the things we realize is that while others are going about their business doing whatever they were doing, Samuel had camped himself IN THE VERY PRESENCE OF THE LORD

  • That’s what we are doing here!

  • When we are listening to the Bible in the Year, we are saying, “Speak, Lord your servant is listening.”

  • We are placing ourselves under the WATERFALL OF GOD’S GRACE

  • We are placing ourselves under the WATERFALL OF HIS WORD

  • We are giving God permission to speak to us

  • We are putting ourselves in a position where we can HEAR GOD

  • This is what Samuel did even as a young man

  • Here is Samuel in the presence of The Lord saying, “This is where I’m going to park myself because if God is going to speak, I’m going to make it as easy for Him to speak. If God is going to speak and I want to hear, I am going to make it as easy for me to hear as possible.”

  • That’s why we are doing the Bible in a Year

  • But also, we are PURIFYING SOME OF THE AREAS OF OUR LIVES

  • So many of our lives have SO MUCH NOISE

  • We go WHEREVER WE WANT TO GO

  • AND YET...😉

  • If we eliminated some of the EXCESS NOISE and placed ourselves where we knew WE ARE CALLED TO BE then what would change?

  • What would transform us?

  • We would be able to HEAR THE LORD BETTER

  • That’s what Samuel did

  • Here is Eli who says, “Samuel, the next time you hear the voice of God say ‘Speak Lord, your servant hears’ “

  • The thing Samuel hears is a PROPHECY, the WORD OF GOD saying that everything that the anonymous prophet had said regarding Eli’s family is coming true now

  • The light and glory will be taken from Eli’s family

  • Hophni and Phinehas will die

  • Eli will die

  • THAT IS WHAT HAPPENS

  • The Ark of God is captured

  • Why is it captured?

  • Because at this point the People of Israel were treating the Ark not as THE PRESENCE OF GOD HIMSELF, but as a toy...a weapon

  • One of the things we are tempted to do is that we are TEMPTED TO USE GOD

  • God has revealed to us that He is BEYOND OUR MANIPULATION

  • WE CANNOT USE GOD

  • AND YET...😉

  • Here are the Israelites who have been defeated by the Philistines who say that the story was when the Ark of God went into battle, the Israelites would win

  • Remember Jericho?

  • The Israelites were willing to use God to win

  • But that is not how God should be treated

  • God is not our TOY

  • God is not our WEAPON

  • God is not our TRINKET

  • God is not our “IDOL”

  • GOD IS GOD

  • The People of Israel, in treating God like this, they lost THE ARK OF THE COVENANT

  • It is FASCINATING then, that the Philistines placed the Ark of the Covenant in the SAME TEMPLE AS THEIR GOD

  • That night, the statue of Dagon falls on its face

  • The next day, the statue of Dagon falls on its face AGAIN and its hands and head are cut off

  • There are also a lot of uncomfortable situations going on around Ashdod and people die, boils and tumors and rats show up

  • No matter where the Ark of the Covenant goes, bad things happen to the Philistines

  • It turns out that God can FIGHT HIS OWN BATTLES

  • God is PRETTY TOUGH

  • AND YET...😉

  • The battle that God fights TODAY, is that He fights for YOU AND FOR ME

  • The battle that God fights TODAY, is he continues to say, “COME INTO MY PRESENCE, LIKE SAMUEL DID.”

  • “Come into my presence, and park yourself there.”

  • “Come into my presence, and don’t run away.”

  • “Come into my presence and abide there, and let me fight for you.”

  • The Lord God has revealed that He hears the cry of the poor

  • If your heart is wounded or hurt

  • If you are poor or have a poverty of spirit

  • KNOW THAT THE LORD FIGHTS FOR YOU

  • If you’ve been wounded by life

  • If you’ve been wounded by others

  • KNOW THAT THE LORD GOD FIGHTS FOR YOU

  • He reveals that HE LOVES YOU

  • HE LOVES YOU!!

  • God also calls us to REPENTANCE

  • If Eli had actually CORRECTED Hophni and Phinehas, the story COULD HAVE BEEN DIFFERENT

  • The same is true FOR US

  • The same is true FOR THE CHURCH

  • We have priests who have ABUSED like Hophni and Phinehas

  • We have bishops who DID NOT PAY ATTENTION like Eli

  • THERE ARE CONSEQUENCES TO THAT

  • So we need to, as a Church, whether that’s the Catholic Church, or all Christians throughout the world, we need to be VERY VERY AWARE of the fact that those who minister among us are CALLED TO A HIGH STANDARD

  • Those who oversee THEM are called to an EVEN HIGHER STANDARD

  • Because of that, WE NEED PRAYERS

  • EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US NEEDS PRAYERS

  • WE ARE ALL SO BROKEN

  • WE NEED GOD’S GRACE

  • GOD WANTS TO FIGHT FOR US

  • BUT…

  • We have to be WILLING TO BE FOUGHT FOR

  • GOD WANTS TO FIGHT FOR US

  • We have to be willing to BE WON BY GOD

  • We have to be willing to LET THE LORD HAVE VICTORY OVER US

  • PRAY FOR FR. MIKE

  • PRAY FOR EACH OTHER

  • WE NEED EACH OTHER

  • AND THOSE PRAYERS ARE MAKING A DIFFERENCE!!


Prayer by Fr. Mike: “Lord God, we do give you praise. Father in Heaven, we thank you so much for your Word. We thank you for revealing yourself to us. We thank you for calling us to be part of this community that prays for each other, that walks together, that listens to your Word and lets it shape our minds and our hearts. We ask that you please help us to allow your Word to do exactly that, to be a lens shaper for us, to be a heart shaper for us, that your Word changes us. Not that we just learn new things or hear new stories, or be reminded of old stories, but that your Word actually makes a difference. We know, Lord God, that your Word does not go forth from you and return to you empty. But it always accomplishes the purpose for which you sent it. And so we give you permission whatever it is, Lord God. Whatever mission you have for your Word in our lives today, we give you permission to accomplish your Will. We give you permission in our lives, not that we need to, but you are so good that you are very humble and you will not force yourself, but you are patient with us. Thank you, God. Please receive our thanks and praise this day. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.”