…  Again the LORD called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”

“My son,” Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.”

Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD: The word of the LORD had not yet been revealed to him. The LORD called Samuel a third time, and Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”

Then Eli realized that the LORD was calling the boy. So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place … . . – 1 Samuel 3:1-11 and 19 (NIV)

*   *   *

So we go from precious to classic, invoking the Universal Three of storytelling. A Priest, a Rabbi, and a Preacher, for instance, as the joke begins. Or something happens for a third time, as we encounter here.

This time, the plot gets serious – the child is about to undertake grownup business.

While the spotlight remains on Samuel, we could instead follow Eli, who is no doubt stretched out, attentive. What would the story be from his perspective? As if we can really be sure who’s recording these events in the first place.

*   *   *

Howbeit when Calamity overtakes you, then shall you know that you had a Time, you had a Season, you had a Day of Visitation, in which you might have obtained Mercy; would you have turned unto God, he would have turned unto you, and put his Fear in your Hearts, and blotted out your Transgressions for his own Name’s Sake, and become a Father to you, and you should have become the Sons and Daughters of the Almighty. (Elizabeth Bathurst, 1655?-1685)


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