The Lord may not have been speaking directly to Eli, but He still spoke. Even in times when we may not be hearing from the Lord, He is gracious enough to still speak to us, but it may be through others or even from unlikely sources, as in this case it was the child Samuel.
Perhaps God stops speaking to us personally because actually we are waiting for a different message. So He will use others to reinforce the original message.
Now God sent a child with a severe message to this aged, seasoned leader and priest. God will use many different ways to get our attention. He even used a donkey to speak in one situation.
The best thing is to listen the first time that the Lord speaks to us. The Lord does not keep changing the message until we get one that suits us. He speaks and He is not confused. He knows the plans He has for us and they are plans for our good and not for evil.
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