We see Samuel in the service of Eli, the Head Priest, at the tabernacle at Shiloh. This is the place where the ark of the Lord was, before it was lost to the Philistines. So the ark of the Lord, which represents the Presence of the Lord has been at Shiloh, but now, the Lord has reappeared. The people had been going through the religious trappings of life, but God had not been making an appearance during this time.
We know God had still been answering prayers, but Eli and his sons were so wicked that the presence of the Lord hadn’t made an appearance as when Moses or Joshua were around. The people had been following other gods and had turned their back on God again.
Now we have Samuel. In service to the Lord because he was an answer from the Lord. Eli and his sons were the priests of the tabernacle, but we see God revealing Himself to Samuel by the word of the Lord. It is this “word” that made me stop.
When I see the word of the Lord, I think the written word. The Bible. That is not the case here. Here the Hebrew is dabar. This is an interactive word between God and Samuel.
Look at these verses:
Gen 15:1 After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.
1 Samuel 15:26 And Samuel said to Saul, “I will not return with you. For you have rejected the word of the LORD, and the LORD has rejected you from being king over Israel.”
1 Kings 2:27 So Solomon expelled Abiathar from being priest to the LORD, thus fulfilling the word of the LORD that he had spoken concerning the house of Eli in Shiloh.
These are all prophetic occurrences that are being referenced. God had a direct message for a person and it wasn’t written.
We see with Abram, that an aspect of God was directly speaking to him. The same is true with Samuel. It made me think, how many times do we read to see God or seek teaching to see Him revealed, when He wants to reveal Himself to us. It is that intimate relationship that is critical for us to truly know God.