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Scripture reading – 1 Samuel 2-3

Before she conceived, Hannah promised the LORD she would give her firstborn son to Him. Her prayers were answered, and she gave birth to a son “and called his name Samuel” (1 Samuel 1:20). Faithful to her vow when Samuel was no longer nursing (1 Samuel 1:22-23), Hannah took him to Shiloh and presented him to the high priest (1 Samuel 1:24-27). There she confessed, “I have lent [given, offered] him to the LORD; as long as he liveth he shall be lent to the LORD” (1 Samuel 1:28).

1 Samuel 2

Hannah’s Song and Prayer of Thanksgiving and Praise (1 Samuel 2:1-10)

After dedicating her son to the LORD, Hannah prayed with overflowing joy and thanksgiving. Her prayer was full of imagery and revealed that her knowledge of the LORD was personal and perceptive. The LORD had answered her prayers, and she exulted that He was her strength (“mine horn”) and salvation (1 Samuel 2:1). She declared, the LORD is holy, and there is none like Him; He is a Rock, strong and mighty (1 Samuel 2:2).

Though she had been mocked and scorned by Elkanah’s other wife, she took comfort knowing the LORD was wise and sovereign (1 Samuel 2:3). He was to be praised, for strong men are made weak by Him, and the weak are made strong (1 Samuel 2:4). He is sovereign over death, and life, and chooses whom He will bless, and who will be abased (1 Samuel 2:6-8a). The LORD is the Creator and Sustainer, and “the pillars of the earth are the LORD’s, and he hath set the world upon them” (1 Samuel 2:8).

Elkanah and Hannah’s Departure and Her Devotion to Samuel (1 Samuel 2:11, 18-19)

When Hannah’s prayer of praise concluded, Elkanah and his family made their journey home to Ramah. Samuel was left at Shiloh, where he “did minister unto the LORD before Eli the priest” (1 Samuel 2:11). He had been taught the Scriptures as soon as he could speak (Deuteronomy 6), and although he was a child, he exhibited his parent’s love and passion for the LORD.

Year after year, Hannah returned to Shiloh. There she found Samuel ministering “before the LORD, being a child, girded with a linen ephod” (which was the clothing worn by the priests, 1 Samuel 2:18). As a loving mother, she “made [Samuel] a little coat, and brought it to him from year to year, when she came up with her husband to offer the yearly sacrifice.” (1 Samuel 2:19). Eli, the high priest, prayed Hannah would be blessed, for her sacrifice, and rewarded for giving her son to the LORD. We read, “The LORD visited Hannah, so that she conceived, and bare three sons and two daughters. And the child Samuel grew before the LORD” (1 Samuel 2:21), “and was in favour both with the LORD, and also with men” (1 Samuel 2:26),

The Wickedness of Eli’s Sons (1 Samuel 2:12-17)

Amid the backdrop of Samuel’s innocence, and service to the LORD, we are introduced to the sons of Eli, the high priest, and read of them: “Now the sons of Eli were sons of Belial; they knew not the LORD” (1 Samuel 2:12).

How could this be? They were not only the high priest’s sons; they were by birthright of the priestly order. Tragically, they were illustrative of “the sons of Belial,” godless, wicked, and immoral (1 Samuel 2:12), and “they knew not the LORD” (1 Samuel 2:12).

It has been observed that “familiarity breeds contempt,” and indeed, it did for the sons of Eli. They had grown up in the cloistered life of the priesthood and did not fear and obey the LORD’s Law and Commandments. They profaned the sacrifices and demanded the choice portions of the burnt offerings that belonged to the LORD. Eli’s sons lacked restraint and took portions of fat forbidden in the Law (1 Samuel 2:13-16). Their disdain for the LORD and the sacrifices gave cause for men to abhor “the offering of the LORD” (1 Samuel 2:17).

Eli’s Weak Reproof: His Failure and a Tragic Prophecy (1 Samuel 2:22-26)

The Scriptures do not reveal how many years passed from when Samuel began service in the Tabernacle, and the blatant wickedness perpetuated by the sons of Eli in the priesthood was recorded. Old and weak, Eli heard of his sons’ wicked and immoral deeds, but he did nothing to restrain them (1 Samuel 2:22-24). His feeble attempt to reason with his sons fell woefully short of the rebuke their wickedness demanded (1 Samuel 2:25). Sadly, the sons of Eli had no respect for their father, nor did they fear the LORD. Indeed, their sin was so great that the LORD determined He “would slay them” (1 Samuel 2:25).

A Prophetic Warning (1 Samuel 2:27-34)

The LORD then sent “a man of God,” a prophet, to Eli, who reminded him of his priestly heritage and the LORD’s faithfulness to him and his lineage (1 Samuel 2:27-28). He admonished Eli for overlooking his sons’ sins and putting them above God (1 Samuel 2:29). The prophet foretold the imminent judgment that would befall his sons (1 Samuel 2:30-31). Tragically, Eli’s lineage was cut off, and his sons died in their youth (1 Samuel 2:31-33). We read, “Hophni and Phinehas [Eli’s sons]; [would] in one day die both of them” (1 Samuel 2:34).

A Promised Priest (1 Samuel 2:35-36)

The prophet shared God’s message concerning “a faithful priest” the LORD would raise up that would “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” (1 Samuel 2:35).

1 Samuel 3

The LORD Revealed Himself to Samuel and Called Him to Serve (1 Samuel 3:1-10)

The LORD never leaves His people without His Word, and though Eli’s sons had disgraced the priesthood and caused the people to abhor the offerings of the LORD (1 Samuel 2:17), He was preparing Samuel to be His servant and prophet (1 Samuel 3).

It was a tragic time in Israel, for “the word of the LORD was precious [rare] in those days; there was no open vision [no prophet]” (1 Samuel 3:1), and the “lamp of God” in the Tabernacle was neglected, and “went out…where the ark of God was” (1 Samuel 3:3).

Although he was a child, the LORD was ready to speak directly to Samuel (1 Samuel 3:2-7). Three times, the LORD called to Samuel while he slept, but Samuel did not know it was the voice of the LORD. Eli comprehended that the LORD was calling the young boy and instructed him, “Go, lie down: and it shall be, if he call thee, that thou shalt say, Speak, LORD; for thy servant heareth” (1 Samuel 3:9).

The LORD’s Prophetic Message to Eli and His Submission (1 Samuel 3:11-18)

When the LORD called upon Samuel the fourth time, he answered as he had been instructed, and the LORD revealed the tragedy that would soon befall the house of Eli and his sons (1 Samuel 3:11-14). Samuel was stunned by the revelation and “feared to show Eli the vision” 1 Samuel (3:15). Eli, however, demanded he reveal all the LORD had shown him, and Samuel told him everything “and hid nothing from him” (1 Samuel 3:18a).

Closing thoughts:

Samuel’s Calling to Be God’s Prophet (1 Samuel 3:19-21)

Samuel’s reputation grew throughout Israel, and the people realized there was a prophet among them, and “the LORD was with him… [and] all Israel from Dan even to Beer-sheba knew that Samuel was established to be a prophet of the LORD” (1 Samuel 3:19-20).

Though Eli and his sons had failed the LORD, Israel knew there was a prophet in the land, for “the LORD appeared again in Shiloh: for the LORD revealed himself to Samuel in Shiloh by the word of the LORD” (1 Samuel 3:21).

Could the Spirit of the LORD have departed your church because His people have tolerated sin and wickedness in their midst?

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

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