Summary: Samuel’s call was timely because the priesthood of Eli’s family line had been defiled and compromised by his sons Hophni and Phineas.
Samuel was faithful. Consider First Samuel 2:35: "And I will raise me up a faithful priest, that shall do according to that which is in mine heart and in my mind: and I will build him a sure house; and he shall walk before mine anointed for ever" (KJV). It would seem that God predestined Samuel to be faithful. God has also predestined our faithfulness and success but we have to choose to live and move and have our being in God and walk according to His ways or else we will fail. Unless we walk with God and follow His will, we will end up spending a lot of our energy in the wrong direction.
"When Napoleon’s armies swept across Europe, one of his generals was preparing to attack the little town of Feldkirch on the Austrian border. It was Easter and the citizens gathered to decide whether to resist or surrender. The pastor told the people that they had been continuing on their own strength, and that would fail. This was the day of the Lord’s resurrection. He decided to ring the bells and have service as usual and leave the matter in God’s hands. Napoleon’s army misunderstood the meaning of the joyful bells. Assuming that the bells announced the arrival of the Austrian army, Napoleon’s army broke camp and retreated. Believers do not always receive in such dramatic ways, but Jesus was right: God moves with those who move in his direction". (Herb. Miller. Actions Speak Louder Than Verbs. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1989, pp. 60-61). Are we doing what God would have us to do? Are we putting our faith in God as we move?
Faithfulness to God never happens by default. Faithfulness to God is a matter of choice. Eli chose not to discipline his sons Hophni and Phineas very well because, as the Bible implies, Eli was far too lenient with his boys. Hophni and Phineas chose to gratify their own desires rather than be faithful to what God required of priests. They (Hophni and Phineas) seemed to think that righteousness and piety came automatically with the office of the priests. They paid no attention to doing what was right as if to believe that their faithfulness would happen by default.
It has been said that "Men expect too much of the religious life. In every other realm they are ready to train themselves in order to gain insights. They know they will not understand great music unless they prepare themselves for it. They are ready to study literature to understand it. They would rarely dream of practicing medicine without understanding anatomy and pathology and all the rest. They would not build a bridge without some knowledge of engineering. But they expect religious insights to come with no effort on their part. …" (George A. Buttrick. Ed. The Interpreter’s Bible. Volume 2. 33rd Printing. John C. Schroeder. "Exposition I Samuel." Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1987, p. 892). Are we in tune with God?
Have you ever seen someone singing along with their favorite songs while they were driving? "No doubt you’ve had this experience yourself. You’re driving in the car going on a trip, listening to your favorite tunes, beboppin’ and singing to the music, when suddenly the music stops. Depression sets in. "Now what am I going to do?" you wonder aloud. "This is going to be any fun now. It’s just static." (John D. Schroeder and Shane M. Groth. Dear Lord. They Want Me To Give The Devotion Again. Nashville: Dimensions For Living, 2001, p. 105). How about our spiritual lives? Are we experiencing any "static"? Are we in tune with God and His will? Prayer helps us to stay in tune with God and helps with the "static". That is why spending time in prayer and devotion with God on a daily basis is so important.