I Samuel 2





1 "And Hannah prayed, and said, My heart rejoiceth in the LORD,

mine horn is exalted in the LORD: my mouth is enlarged over

mine enemies; because I rejoice in thy salvation."

And Hannah prayed and said. Like the Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55), Hannah’s

hymn of thanksgiving begins with the temporal mercies accorded to herself,

but rises immediately into the realms of prophecy, foretelling Christ’s

kingdom and the triumphs of the Church. From this prophetic element,

common more or less to all the hymns of the Bible, most of them have been

used in Christian worship, and still merit a place in it, though we in the

liturgy of the Church of England now use only two, taken both from the

New Testament. In v. 1, in four strophes of equal length, Hannah

declares how, first, her heart, the center with the Hebrews, not merely of

the physical, but also of the moral and intellectual life, rejoices in Jehovah;

while the exaltation of her horn, the symbol of strength and vigor,

signifies that this inward joy is accompanied, or even occasioned, by the

changed circumstances of her outward lot. Her mouth, therefore, is opened

wide over her enemies, yet not for cursing and in bitterness, but for joyful

praise of the God who has answered her prayers. It is His salvation, the

being delivered by Him, that makes her thus burst forth into thanksgiving. It

is a proof too of her faith and spirituality that she thus refers all to Jehovah.


2"There is none holy as the LORD: for there is none beside thee: neither is

there any rock like our God."  In v. 2 she gives her reasons for this holy joy.

The first is God’s absolute holiness; the second His absolute existence, in which

she finds the proof of His holiness. Hannah may have meant to express only the

language of piety, but she also stated a primary philosophical truth, which was early

grasped by the deeply religious instinct of the Hebrews, that outside of God is no

existence. Many necessary deductions follow from this fundamental truth,

that God alone absolutely exists, and that all other existence is secondary

and derived; but no deduction is more certain than Hannah’s own, that

such a Being must be absolutely holy. In calling Him a rock she assigns to

Him strength, calm, immovable, enduring, but a strength which avails for

the safety of His people (compare Deuteronomy 32:4, 15; Psalm 18:2).

For rocks, as being capable of easy defense, formed the nucleus of

most ancient towns, and continued to serve as their citadels.



The Rock of Israel (v. 2)


“Neither is there any rock like our God.” The figurative representations of

God which are given in His word enable us to attain exalted, varied, and

most impressive views of His character. They are derived from objects with

which the lands of the Bible abounded; and no other lands on earth were

equally adapted to be the theatre of a Divine revelation for men universally.

Of these representations, this is one of the most common. It was first

employed by Jacob (Genesis 49:24 — stone, eben, or rock), with

allusion, perhaps, to ibid. ch. 28:11, 22; afterwards by Moses

(Deuteronomy 32:4, 18, etc. — rock, tzur = what is solid, firm,

enduring; a support, foundation, as in the text), who was so familiar with

the rocks and mountains of Sinai; frequently by David (II Samuel 22:3

— rock, sela = height, cliff or crag, resorted to as a refuge) and the

prophets. Notice:




Ø      His power. “To know thy power is the root of immortality.”

Ø      His unchangeableness and faithfulness. “I change not” (Malachi

3:6), with reference to His merciful covenant.

Ø      His eternity. “From everlasting to everlasting.” These attributes are

ascribed to Christ:

o       “all power” (Matthew 28:18);

o       “the same yesterday, and today, and forever” (Hebrews 1:8-12;


o       “That Rock was Christ” (I Corinthians 10:4).

He is the highest and the only perfect manifestation of God.

“Jesus is that Divine Being to whom we can draw near without

pride, and before whom we can be abased without despair”





Ø      Weak. Their very strength is weakness compared with His infinite


Ø      Changeable. “All men are liars,” false, unworthy, and disappointing

objects of trust.

Ø      Transitory. They and their works pass away, whilst the rock endures

for ever.

Ø      Expect not true or lasting satisfaction from any created object. “Cease

ye from man” (Isaiah 2:22). Fear him not (ibid.  ch. 51:12-13).


  • HIS RELATION TO HIS PEOPLE. “Our God.” His people are those

who live in direct fellowship with Him, and show the reality of their

fellowship by walking in the light and keeping His commandments. To them

He has promised to be all that their true welfare requires.


Ø      A support; “the immovable foundation on which they may stand firm,

impregnable, secure.”

Ø      A defence, protecting them against their enemies; “a shadow from the

heat, a refuge from the storm;” bearing on Himself the tempest that would

have fallen on them. “He that believeth shall not make haste,” or be terrified.

Ø      A source of strength, of peace, and of consolation. “Rabbi Maimon has

observed that the word tzur, which we translate rock, signifies, when

applied to Jehovah, fountain, source, spring. There is no source whence

continual help and salvation can arise BUT OUR GOD!




Ø      To trust in Him.

Ø      Abide in Him; not merely fleeing to Him in a time of trouble and danger

(as a traveler may seek shelter in a hovel while the storm lasts, and

immediately afterwards leave it), but making Him our habitation and home.

Ø      To make Him our portion and “exceeding joy.” “Trust ye in the Lord

forever; for the Lord Jehovah is the Rock of Ages” (Isaiah 26:4).


“Rock of Ages, cleft for me;

Let me hide myself in thee.”



3 "Talk no more so exceeding proudly; let not arrogancy come out of your

mouth: for the LORD is a God of knowledge, and by Him actions are weighed."

Here Hannah appeals to God’s omniscience, “for Jehovah is a God of

knowledges,” the plural being intensive, and signifying every kind of

knowledge. As too He weighs and judges human actions, how can men

venture to talk so arrogantly before Him, literally so proudly, proudly. The last

clause is one of those numerous places in which there is a doubt whether

the Hebrew word lo means not, or by Him. If the negative sense be taken,

which the Hebrew spelling favors, the rendering will be “though actions

be not weighed.” Though wicked actions be not immediately punished, yet

Jehovah is cognizant of them, and in due time will requite.



The Divine Judgment of Human Actions (v. 3)


“By Him actions are weighed.” It is customary to determine the worth of

many things by weighing them. For this purpose a fixed standard is used,

and a comparison is made with it by means of a balance and scales or other

instrument. Nothing can be more natural than to speak of determining the

moral worth of actions in the same manner, and Justice is commonly

represented as a woman holding in her hand a pair of scales in which

“actions are weighed.” In this sense the above expression is employed; not,

however, of men, whose judgment is often mistaken or unjust; but of

“God, the Judge of all.” His judgment is:


  • A PRESENT JUDGMENT. They are (now) weighed. According to the

ancient Egyptians, there was erected at the entrance of the unseen world a

balance or scales, over which the Judge of the dead presided, and by it the

character of every man was tested as soon as he died. In one of the scales

the figure or emblem of truth was placed, and in the other the heart of the

deceased; and the result determined his destiny. This is not an unworthy

conception of the judgment to come. But their religion pertained chiefly to

what would be in the future, rather than to what exists in the present. And

there are many at the present day who never think that they have anything

to do with God or His judgment except when they come to die. They forget

that the living and all-seeing God pondereth their goings” (Proverbs 5:21),

judgeth according to every man’s work” (I Peter 1:17), and that to Him they

stand responsible (Hebrews 4:13 — “with whom is the account”).  Some

 men’s sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment; and some men

they follow after.  Likewise also the good works of some are manifest

beforehand; and they that are otherwise cannot be hid.”  (I Timothy 5:24-25)



men form of themselves and others is often false, because it is not formed

by means of such a standard. As “weights and measures” need to be

examined and to be rectified by an imperial standard, so the human

judgment and conscience need to be examined and to be rectified by the

righteousness of God as declared in the Law and the Prophets and the

Gospel of Christ. What is our relation to this standard?


  • ACCORDING TO MOTIVES. The moral worth of actions does not

depend upon their “outward appearance,” but upon the heart. In the sight

of God, who sees hearts as we see faces, the inward motives, principles,

and intentions are in reality the actions which are weighed (Proverbs

16:2; 21:2; 24:11-12; Isaiah 26:7-9). Our ignorance of these necessarily

makes our judgment imperfect, even in relation to ourselves. But “He is a

God of knowledge,” “searches the heart,” and perceives the motives which

underlie all actions, and which are often so different from what they are

thought to be (Psalm 139:23).


  • UNIVERSAL. “The Judge of all the earth.” It pertains to all actions

that have in them a moral element; to the actions of every individual soul

(for each soul stands before Him in its separate personality, bearing its own

burden of responsibility and of sin, and is dealt with by Him as though there

were no other); and to every one of its actions, however apparently

insignificant, though it cannot be really such because of its relation to God,

and its bearing upon character and destiny.  Even “every idle word that men

shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.”

(Matthew 12:36)



ACCORDING TO HIS WORKS. It is not useless and ineffective; but is

attended with important consequences (Jeremiah 17:10). This life is not

simply one of probation; it is also, in part, one of retribution. The

approbation or disapprobation of God is always followed by corresponding

effects in the mind and heart and conscience of men, and often by startling

providential occurrences; as when it was said, “Thou art weighed in the

balances, and art found wanting” (Daniel 5:27, 30); The world’s

history is the world’s judgment; and, “We must all appear before the

judgment seat of Christ” (Romans 14:12; II Corinthians 5:10).


Ø      Let us examine ourselves.  (II Corinthians 13:5)

Ø      Seek forgiveness of the sins that are past.

Ø      “Walk before me, and be thou perfect.”  (Genesis 17:1)


4 "The bows of the mighty men are broken, and they that stumbled

are girded with strength.  5 They that were full have hired out themselves

for bread; and they that were hungry ceased: so that the barren hath born

seven; and she that hath many children is waxed feeble."  6"The LORD

killeth,  and maketh alive: He bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up."

7 "The LORD maketh poor, and maketh rich: He bringeth low, and lifteth up."

8 "He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the

dunghill, to set them among princes, and to make them inherit the throne

of glory: for the pillars of the earth are the LORD’s, and He hath set the

world upon them."


In vs. 4-8 Hannah illustrates the working of this attribute of the Deity by

enumerating the vicissitudes of human events, which are not the result of

chance, but of that omniscience combined with holiness which she has

claimed for Jehovah in vs. 2-3. She begins with the vicissitudes of war;

but these are not more remarkable than those of peace, by which the full,

the rich and wealthy, have to descend to the position of a hireling; while

those previously hungry have ceased, i.e. from labor, and keep holiday.

In a nation of small proprietors, where the land was tilled by the owner and

those “born in his house,” the position of the hireling, the “mean white” of

the southern States of America, was lower than that of the slave, especially

in Judaea, where the slave was more in the position of a vassal than of a

serf or forced laborer. In the next clause the translation may either be,

“She that was long barren hath borne seven,” or, “Until the barren” etc.;

i.e. these vicissitudes may even reach so far as to make a barren woman the

mother of seven, i.e. of a perfect number of children, happily generalized in

Psalm 113:9 into “a joyful mother of children.” But see Ruth 4:15;

Jeremiah 15:9. In this there is also a typical reference to the long

barrenness of the Gentile world, to be followed by a fruitfulness far

exceeding that of the Jewish Church, while it, prolific once in patriarchs,

and prophets, and saints, is now comparatively sterile. In v. 6 “the grave”,

Hebrews Sheol, is “the pit,” the hollow vault underground, which is the

dwelling of the dead - literally, therefore, Hannah’s words might seem to imply

a belief in the resurrection; but her meaning rather was that God brings a

man to the very brink of the grave, and then, when all hope seems past,

raises him up again. In v. 8 beggar is simply needy, but the expressions

dust and dunghill add dishonor to his poverty. To set might more

correctly be translated to make them sit; sitting, especially on a raised seat,

being a mark of honor among Orientals, who generally squat on mats on

the ground. In the next clause the Authorized Version particularizes what in

the Hebrews is quite general. “He will make them possess (or enjoy) a glorious

throne.”  Their seat among the princes is not inherited, but acquired; and though

promoted thus to a place among men of hereditary rank, and given an

honorable position among them, yet it was not necessarily “the throne of

glory,” the highest seat. Still even this was quite possible; for while the

tribal chiefs and heads of fathers’ houses obtained their rank by inheritance,

nevertheless, in early days the judges, and among them Eli and Samuel,

acquired rank and power for themselves. Subsequently, under the kings,

the great officers of state took their place along with the hereditary princes,

but were dependent upon royal favor. In the last clause the word rendered

pillars is rare, being found only here and in ch. 14:4. In both places the ancient

versions are uncertain as to its signification, but in the latter it can only mean a

crag, or mass of rock. If then the rock masses of the earth are Jehovah’s, and He

can lift up and poise upon them the inhabited world (Hebrews rebel), how much

more easily can he raise up a man!


9 "He will keep the feet of His saints, and the wicked shall be silent in

darkness; for by strength shall no man prevail." The feet of His saints.

The Hebrews written text (ch’tib) has His saint, singular; but the word really

means not saint, i.e. one sanctified and holy, but pious, i.e. one lovingly disposed

towards God. The sense, therefore, is not affected by the number, but the singular

is more forcible “He will guard the steps, the earthly course, of each one that loveth

Him;” while over against this watchful providence, ever exerted for the safe keeping

of all who love the light, stands God’s punitive justice, whereby the wicked

are finally brought down to the dark silence of the grave. For they had only

human strength and prowess upon which to depend, and no man can sustain

himself in the manifold conflict of life WITHOUT HELP FROM ABOVE!



God’s Guardianship of His Saints (v. 9)


“He will keep the feet of His saints.” Who are His saints?


1. The term is sometimes used as one of reproach, by persons who are

destitute of religious life, concerning those who bear the Christian name.

(I recommend Genesis 4 - Spurgeon Sermon – TO THOSE WHO ARE

ANGRY WITH THEIR GODLY FRIENDS – this website – CY – 2016)

Pointing to the inconsistency of some of the latter, they would thereby fain

persuade themselves and others that there is no such thing as true godliness

to be found in the world. There are, doubtless, many who “profess to know

God, but in works deny him.” But there would be no counterfeit money

unless there were some genuine coin.


2. The word is also used to designate those who have been “canonized;”

and who, having gone into heaven, are supposed to have influence with

God in the granting of petitions presented on earth. But such a use of it is

unscriptural, and the doctrine is false and injurious.


3. The saints of God are those who have been accepted by Him through

faith in Christ, who do His will and walk in the way to heaven. Their way,

indeed, is often difficult and painful, like the uneven, intricate, and stony

paths of Palestine, and beset by numerous dangers. But, for their

consolation and encouragement, it is promised that “He that keepeth Israel

will “keep their feet” firm and safe, so that they may not fall and perish.

The promise is directly of preservation from temporal calamity, but it may

be regarded as including also preservation from spiritual failure and

destruction. Consider:




Ø      From wandering out of the way. Obscurity may gather over it. Other

ways may appear plainer, easier, and more pleasant, and tempt them to

leave it. Or they may seem more direct and shorter than the circuitous and

wearisome path they have to pursue. But kept by Him they will not go astray.


Ø      From stumbling in the way. “It must needs be that offences (or

occasions of stumbling) come.” Some of them consist of:


o        The difficulties of Divine revelation: “things hard to be understood.”

o        The mysteries of Divine providence, which have led many to say, “As

for me, my feet were almost gone, my steps had well nigh slipped.”

(Psalm 73:2).

o        Direct solicitations to evil.

o        “Afflictions and persecutions that arise for the word, whereby many

are offended.” But “great peace have they that love thy law, and

nothing shall cause them to stumble” (Psalm 119:165)


Ø      From failing to reach the end of the way. Some start with bright hopes

which are not afterwards altogether fulfilled in their experience: storms

gather, enemies threaten, severe conflict must be waged; and they become

weary and desponding, and ready to halt. “But the righteous shall hold on

his way” (Job 17:9; Isaiah 40:31).




Ø      Providing means of help for them:


o        the Word, an instrument of guidance, refreshment, and defense;

o        prayer;

o        the fellowship of those who are traveling in the same way;

o        the ministration of angels (Psalm 91:11; Hebrews 1:14).


Ø      Watching over them at every step. They are not alone; but He is with

them; and they are kept by the power of God (I Peter 1:5).


Ø      Imparting grace and strength to them according to their need. “As thy

days, so shall thy strength be.”  (Deuteronomy 33:25)  It matters not how

great the need if “the supply of the Spirit” (Philippians 1:19) be equal to it.

And, “My grace,” He says, “is sufficient for thee.”  II Corinthians 12:9)




Ø      He has a special interest in them, for they are His saints,” “the portion

of His inheritance.”  (I recommend Deuteronomy ch. 32 v. 9 – God’s

Inheritance by Arthur Pink – this website – CY – 2016)

Ø      He has already done much for them, which is an earnest (down payment)

of continued preservation.

Ø      He has high purposes to accomplish in them and through them. And,

Ø      He has solemnly promised “never to leave them” (Hebrews 13:5),

and “He is faithful that promised (ibid. ch.10:23).

o        Rely upon the promise.

o        Presume not upon your security, nor think that without fulfilling

His commandments that you can receive His promises.

o        Use the appointed means of grace with all diligence.


10 "The adversaries of the LORD shall be broken to pieces; out of

heaven shall He thunder upon them: the LORD shall judge the ends

of the earth; and He shall give strength unto His king, and exalt the

horn of His anointed." The adversaries. In the Hebrew the nouns are again

singular, though the verb is plural, showing that they are to be taken collectively.

Literally, the translation is, “Jehovah they shall be broken in pieces, whoever it be

that contendeth with Him;” the word having reference to contentions in a

court of law, and the whole verse keeping the administration of justice in

view. It proceeds, “Upon him He shall thunder in heaven;” i.e. Jehovah,

seated on His throne in heaven, shall, as the supreme Judge, utter the

sentence; and thunder was to the Hebrew God’s voice. He shall judge the

ends of the earth, i.e. the whole earth up to its remotest quarters. The last

distich is remarkable. It is a distinct prophecy of David’s kingdom, and of

the king as the anointed one, but looking onwards to the Messiah, David’s

greater Son. So distinct a reference to a king before a king existed has

made some regard the whole hymn as an interpolation of later

times. But already Hannah’s thoughts had risen to a higher level than the

fortunes of the literal Israel. In claiming for Jehovah, her covenant God, the

righteous government of the whole world, she prepares our minds for the

corresponding thought of Jehovah being the universal Saviour. Very

probably the whole national mind was set upon having a king to enable

them to make head against the Philistines long before, under Samuel, the

desire became so strong as to be irresistible. The thought of a king was in

no respect alien from the Jewish commonwealth (Deuteronomy 17:14).

They had wished Gideon to hold this office (Judges 8:22); Jotham’s

parable in Judges 9. described the nation as eager to be thus governed, but

the better minds as bent on declining so dangerous a preeminence. There is

very much to prove that the nation had come to regard the appointment of

a king as an eventual necessity, however long delayed. But not here only,

but everywhere, the Jewish mind was constantly brooding upon the future.

Hannah does no more than every patriarch and saint and prophet of the old

dispensation. Prophecies such as that in Genesis 49:10 filled the hearts

of all alike. And though the present longings of the nation for a king make

Hannah’s words not unnatural even in their lower sense, yet the truer

exposition is that which acknowledges in Israel a people raised up for a

special purpose, and the bestowal by God upon its seers for the carrying

out of this purpose of the gift of prophecy. And it was this extraordinary

gift which bent and shaped the mind of the nation, and filled it with future

aspirations; and not a causeless state of the national mind which, excited by

vague hopes, made men from time to time give utterance to anticipations

which by some strange coincidence always came true.



Salvation (vs. 1-10)


The facts implied and indicated in the song are:


1. Hannah’s deliverance from grief and realization of desire are perfected.

2. God is recognized as the author of the great salvation.

3. Under Divine inspiration Hannah sees in her own personal experience a

type of various triumphs which God achieves for His people.

4. She is conscious of an overwhelming joy in her own deliverance, and in

the prevision of future triumphs of the Church.

5. A clear and joyous recognition of Christ’s final triumph as the climax of

all. The burden of this glorious song is the salvation wrought by God, and

this may be considered as:


  • TYPICAL. The term “salvation” is very common in the Old Testament,

and its application is “exceeding broad,” being inclusive of deliverance

from evils and a realization of positive good. It may be applied to an

episode in personal experience, as in the case of Hannah, David, and

others; a soul’s restoration to God through Christ; a nation’s rescue from

calamity and elevation to relative influence, as when Israel was delivered

from the waters of the Red Sea, and later, from the Assyrian hosts; the

deliverance of the Church from persecution, as in apostolic days and

subsequently; and especially the completion of Christ’s triumph over all

enemies and the gathering into one of the redeemed children of God

(Titus 2:13; Hebrews 9:28; Revelation 7:9-17). The episode in

the life of Hannah was typical of all other salvations to be wrought by the

same merciful God. As in the physical world the trained eye can detect

what are called “typical forms,” so in the records of God’s dealings with

the saints the spiritually enlightened can see in the personal experience of

individuals a foreshadowing of numerous instances yet to occur in human

experience. Omnia in Uno (all of them from one and in the one thing all)

will hold true here. The elements of all salvations are found in the blessing

vouchsafed to the “woman of sorrowful spirit.” For there is in her case, as

in all, a deep human need, arising from a pressure of a heavy burden, and the

non-realization of the very end for which life was supposed to be given; utter

despair of human resources for the removal of the evil and the acquisition of

the good; Divine energy graciously acting directly on the hidden forces by

which sorrow or joy are governed and produced; Divine patience in working

 out the processes by which the want and sorrow shall be made to pass away;

completeness of result in the bestowment of the very boon so long desired

and waited for; connection of the result attained with some ulterior issue

of still wider blessing; and employment throughout of visible and invisible

second causes in working out the purposes of mercy. Each item found reality

in Hannah’s experience, and has its counterpart in our deliverance from

trouble; in the restoration of the lost soul; in the rescue of a nation or

Church from destruction; and in the completion of the desire of Him who

from the travail of His soul looked on through the ages, saw, and was

satisfied. Every deliverance of every saint now is a shadowing forth and a

prediction sure and certain of the great salvation, in the bliss of which

Christ, and angels, and men shall share.


  • OCCASION OF JOY. Naturally salvation in every form brings joy. It is

the great event of the life. It means freedom, rest, enrichment, full, sunny

favor of God. Hannah could not but sing. Moses led the joy of Israel on

the shores of the Red Sea. When Saul became Paul the Churches enjoyed

“comfort of the Holy Ghost.” The fatted calf and dance awaited the

restored prodigal son. The very advent of the one true Saviour awoke the

chorus of the skies, and heaven will resound with the joyous acclaim of

innumerable hosts when the woes of earth are past, and all power submits

to Christ (Revelation 19:1). It is noteworthy that the joy awakened by

accomplished salvation is not a mere selfish delight in one’s own

happiness. It is JOY IN GOD!  In “thy salvation” do I rejoice. “In the Lord”

is my “horn exalted.” “The heart” is not set on the bliss of a Samuel’s love, it

rejoiceth in the Lord.” Again, it is joy in God saving through His

Anointed. The “promised seed,” the foreordained Messiah, was the spring

of all inspired Hebrew expectation of blessing. The birth of a son called

forth Hannah’s song. It is curiously sweet to notice how like the echo of

some distant melody is this song, reminding us of a Child more holy than

even Samuel. Surely in the invisible spheres angels recognized here the

substance of that hymn they on a later day sang over the plains of

Bethlehem. In that severe but blessed discipline of years the spirit of

Hannah had been trained to pass over in vision to a salvation more perfect

than what Samuel would effect for Israel, and by a Child more truly given

of God. The songs of faith and of fulfillment find alike their inspiration in

“His King” and “my Saviour.” But the relationship to His chosen One grows

closer and dearer as the ages roll on. What shall it be at last! And what joy

will it awaken! Also, the condition of sharing in this joy is twofold, being

personally a saved one, and cherishing full sympathy with “His King.”

Hannah, blessed with a great deliverance from sorrow and desolation,

could sing and, laying all at the feet of God in holy sympathy with the

coming kingdom, she found inspiration for song beyond the range of her

own experience. A “new song” is learned on earth, in so far as its first notes,

by all who have known in their personal experience the salvation of God;

and it becomes sweeter and more inspired as the freed spirit sees by faith

the blessed day when the ends of the earth shall also see the King in his




God’s acts are revelations. Nature, as we call the beautiful system around

us, is but the shadow of the Eternal Presence. The Eternal Power and

Godhead are clearly seen through the visible creation. (Romans 1:20)  In the

Incarnation of God in Christ we have, therefore, a higher expression of a

general truth; so that in one respect the most stupendous and mysterious

of all supernatural facts is in keeping with Nature. Especially is every

instance of salvation, whether typical or antitypical, individual or national,

a revelation to the universe of the ever blessed One. From Hannah’s

deliverance from sorrow and desolation, on through the ages of mercy,

to Christ’s final victory over death and sin, the same attributes are revealed

in the deeds and processes by which the salvation in each instance is effected.


Ø      Mercy, as seen in compassion shown to the sorrowful and helpless.

Ø      Holiness, inasmuch as the salvation is wrought out against evil powers

and persons, for only good and pure issues, by exacting and nourishing into

maturity holy, unselfish motives, and ordaining suffering and deferred good

only for pure and blissful ends.

Ø      Power, demonstrating that “beside’’ Him “there is none,” as seen in

complete control over the hidden forces of Nature, and full realization of

all that is promised.

Ø      Wisdom, counteracting the devices of the proud, and causing the

bitterest grief and protracted suffering to contribute at last to depth and

fulness of joy.

Ø      Faithfulness, unshaken and firm as a “rock,” insuring that all the

strength and wisdom of the Divine nature shall be exercised for the final

bestowment of the covenanted blessings. The retrospect of a personal

history was to Hannah the means of reading the outlines of the

manifestation of the Divine glory, especially in the salvation of the Church.

She, like us, saw only the beginnings of things. The remote glory shone

through a glass darkly. It was for Paul and John to declare the same

truth in fuller and more precise terms, as the one tells of the “manifold

wisdom of God” being made known “by the Church” unto “principalities

and powers in heavenly places” (Ephesians 3:10), and the other, of Him

who by virtue of what He has wrought out for His redeemed is “worthy”

of all that is due to the only Lord of glory. Men are now intent on studying

the material framework of the universe; the day will come when the best

minds will study with unbounded delight the perfections of God as seen in

the restoration of spiritual order, beauty, and joy out of the chaos of sin and



  • INSTRUCTIVE TO THE WICKED. There was a time when the

jealous and cruel Peninnah was proud in her strength and abundance. Also

Pharaoh, and other oppressors of Israel, could boast of their power and

resources. The infant Church in primitive times was as nothing in

comparison with the numerical and social power of her enemy. The

exceeding proud talk and arrogancy of men who proclaim their vast

superiority in secular knowledge to the mass of Christians, is in keeping

with the conduct of the kings and princes who “take counsel against the

Lord and against his Anointed” (Psalm 2:2).  But as Hannah’s fear and

trembling yielded to confidence and joy, consequent on the casting down of

her proud enemy and the lifting up of the sorrowful spirit, so the same ever

recurring triumphs of the Redeemer, awakening in His people the song of

salvation, reads out in clear and forcible terms the instructive lesson to the

proud to “talk” no more, and to the arrogant to “shut their mouth,” and to

the seemingly prosperous that all “actions are weighed” by Him who is a

“God of knowledge.” It is ever true that no weapon formed against God’s

children can prosper. In what God has effected for the lowly pious in time

past, the proud, the wise, the strong may find instruction; and, if they will,

learn both how vain it is to curse in heart or mouth whom God has blessed,

and how important for themselves that they “kiss the Son,” lest they perish,

“while his wrath is kindled but a little.” (ibid. v. 12)


  • INVOLVING GREAT REVERSIONS. Providence vindicated itself for

former apparently unequal and undesirable distributions of favor by

breaking the bows of the strong and giving strength to the feeble; by

causing the self-satisfied Peninnah to feel the lack of a satisfaction not to be

obtained by the cruel, and the yearning Hannah to want for nothing more.

The once proud mother of many children, from causes in the home life,

fails in her joys, while the unfruitful attains to the perfection of earthly

bliss. In the one case hopes and joys are smitten; in the other, created. The

rich in home delights becomes poor, by possibly erring sons, or enfeebled

health; the poor and sorrowful is enriched with a treasure for the use of all

ages. Thus does Hannah see in outline the reversions ever occurring in the

working out of God’s salvation in the individual, the nation, or the Church.


Ø      In the human soul saved by Christ, forces of evil once strong and self-

satisfied, lacking nothing, and usurping authority, are brought low,

enfeebled, made conscious of their impotence, and finally killed; while the

poor, faint, struggling spirit of love and faith is, when once “made alive,”

girded with strength, satisfied with good, and made finally dominant over

the entire nature. Doubts, fears, and mighty temptations are laid low.

Hopes, joys, and victories of faith are called forth; and, as a final issue, the

once outcast, unhappy soul is enriched with the full bliss of a child of God.

Ø      In national affairs. The strength of Egypt sinks in the sea; the

helplessness of Israel puts on the strength of God. The boastful nations that

in pride of their resources set aside the practice of righteousness, one by

one are brought low by the corruption concealed beneath their material

splendor; while the feeble people who live in the fear of God go from

strength to strength, and “delight themselves in the abundance of peace.”

Ø      In the Church. The wealth, power, and wisdom of Rome and Greece fell

before the rising power and spiritual know]edge of poor fishermen. The

mighty evils of an age are at length brought down, and the despised “things

that are not” are caused to be the most potent and blessed of all agencies.


  • TRACEABLE TO GOD. Well did Hannah know that her deliverance

was of God, and not of man. In all the second causes cooperating towards

the completion of her desire she, with true spiritual instinct, saw the work

of the First Cause. “The Lord” it was who “killed and made alive.” “The

Lord” “brought low” the proud rival, and “lifted up” “the woman of

sorrowful spirit.” He it is who “keeps the feet of his saints,” and causes the

wicked at length “to be silent.” So through the unfolding ages it is “the

Lord” who works to destroy the evils of the soul, and to create and nourish

the good. All the triumphs of the Church over political scheming, pseudo-

learning, violent persecution, and satanic opposition are by the might and

power of Him who raiseth up the wise and good, checks the rage of man,

and in the invisible sphere frustrates the “gates of hell.” All things are of

God, who worketh all and in all. It is not crude anthropomorphism that

refers all the processes of individual, national, and Church salvation to the

energy of God. It is the most penetrating philosophy, born of the inspiring

Spirit of God. There are “pillars”‘ or foundations, or bases, of all terrestrial

things. We may call this a cause, and that an effect. We may clothe matter

with qualities, and point out their uniform and necessary interaction. But

still they are all traceable down to some original constitution inherent in the

elemental forces and materials; and that constitution, that firm and grand

arrangement of invisible “pillars” or bases, is what it is because God made

it so, and for no other reason. Wisely and beautifully, therefore, does the

prophetess anticipate the philosophies of the coming ages by referring all

the agencies and powers involved in the accomplishing of salvation for men

to “the Lord.” Not unto us, but to thy name be the glory.  (Psalm 115:1)



eye looks on through the material disorder of Eli’s day to a typical King in

Zion. The order and prosperity of a David’s reign are but the temporal

shadow of the enduring order and unfading prosperity of the “Anointed,”

who is in the highest spiritual sense to “exalt” His “horn,” and “judge the

ends of the earth.” What though, meanwhile, “adversaries” may combine,

and the occasional “strength” of the wicked threaten to cast down “the

saints;” he that sitteth in the heavens has in reserve His swift and awe

inspiring forces (Psalm 2) to shatter all opposition, and ultimately insure a

peaceful reign over mankind. It was some years before Peninnah s ground

of annoyance to Hannah was removed, and the lowly one was raised to joy

and full satisfaction; so, proportionately to the vaster deliverance to be

wrought out for mankind, it may require many centuries to cast down all

foes and create and perfect the bliss of the redeemed. But the "strength” of

the “King” will bring it to pass by a combination of invisible and visible

forces more subtle and intricate, but not less obedient to His will, than those

which brought a mother’s joy to Hannah. Here we see the beautiful unity

of all Scripture reference to THE FINAL TRIUMPH OF MESSIAH!  The

“serpent’s head” is to be “bruised” was consolation to our weeping ancestors,

bereft of Eden. In Him “all nations shall be blessed” was the grand assurance

that made Abraham’s life one of large sympathy with the future. “To Him

shall the gathering of the people be” was the solace of Jacob’s dying hour.

And thus, aided by Hannah’s joyous song of victory, as though already real,

the holy, blessed succession ran on, telling of the “kingdom” that “shall have

no end,” and the day when to the Name that is “above every name” every

knee shall bow, and every tongue confess that HE IS LORD AND CHRIST!

From this survey of truth concerning “salvation” note a few important

Practical truths:


Ø      See here a beautiful instance of how a single life’s experience, when

under the holy discipline of God, may be rich in instruction and inspiration

for men in all ages. This is brought about not by mere natural genius, but

by a woman’s pure and full consecration to Christ, and passionate desire to

accelerate the advent of His kingdom. Happy they who can live so as to

inspire and help posterity! Let our life become a song of thanksgiving to

our successors. This is possible to ALL in some degree.

Ø      An underlying current of faith in Christ’s complete triumph runs

through the ancient Church, and this should embolden us. True saints live

much in the future, while not careless of present duties. There may be

much inspiration for work from the prospect of what is to be.

Ø      The effect of true faith is to enlarge the vision and broaden the

sympathies. Hannah’s faith in a coming Christ caused her spirit to be open

to those inspirations which carried the vision over the weary ages to the

true golden age, and she felt with all the saints in all time. Religion of this

kind becomes an expansive power in whatever nature it dwells.

Ø      The proper unity of the Church lies in the one faith which holds the life

to Christ, whether to come, or having come; and this will insure sympathy

with His kingdom and with purity of life, as well as consecration of what is

most precious to its realization.




Rejoicing in the Lord (vs. 1-10)


“My heart rejoiceth in the Lord.” The song of Hannah, “the Magnificat of

the Old Testament Church,” was the outburst of her deep and holy joy in

the Lord. Whilst watching over the infant Samuel at Ramah, she had

silently pondered the ways of God, and the condition and prospects of His

people and kingdom. After several years of absence from the central

sanctuary at Shiloh, she appears once more at its entrance; and, standing

on the well remembered spot where she had prayed in her distress, she

fulfils her vow, and gives back to God the sacred treasure entrusted to her

care. The trouble of former years recalled, provocations and inward

conflicts ended, the sunshine of Divine favor experienced, cause her full

heart to “bubble up like a fountain,” and pour itself out in lofty poetic

strains (v. 1). What a contrast does this language indicate between her

condition at the time of the previous visit and her condition now!


1. Then her heart was full of grief; now it rejoiceth in the Lord.”


2. Then her “horn” (strength, a figure taken from animals whose strength is

in their horns, and here first employed. (II Samuel 22:3; Luke 1:69)

was trampled in the dust; now it is “exalted,” and she is endued with

strength and honour “by the Lord.”


3. Then her mouth was shut, in silent endurance, beneath the provocation

of her adversary (ch. 1:6); now it is “enlarged,” or opened in holy

exultation, “above her enemies.”


4. Then she was petitioning for the help of the Lord now she “rejoices in

His salvation,” or the deliverance which He has wrought on her behalf; and

it is “because” of this that she utters aloud her thanksgiving and praise. Her

soul with all its powers, like a harp of many strings, touched by the Divine

Spirit, gives forth exquisite music. The Divinely inspired song of Hannah

is like a golden key for the interpretation of the whole book.  Compare this song

with the song of Miriam (Exodus 15) and of Deborah (Judges 5). Those compositions

are grand, indeed, and elevated, and worthy of that inspiration which produced them;

but they have not that tenderness of spirit, that personality of devotion, and that

eucharistic anticipation of good things to come which characterize the hymn of

Hannah. It is the model after which the song of the Virgin Mary was formed,

though there are notable points of difference between them. Considered in relation

to the circumstances, and in its general nature, her song was a song of:


  1. Gratitude. Her prayer had been answered in the gift of a son; and, unlike

those who look no further than the blessings bestowed upon them, she

looked from the gift to the Giver, and praised him with joyful lips. Her

heart rejoiced not in Samuel, but in the Lord.

  1. Dedication. She had given back her child to God, and with him herself

afresh. The more we give to God, the more our heart is enlarged, by the

shedding abroad of His love therein, and filled with exceeding joy.

  1. Triumph; remembering how she had been delivered from her adversaries

in the past.

  1. Faith in His continued help.
  2. Patriotism. She sympathiszed with her people in their oppression by the

Philistines; and, identifying herself with them, she almost lost sight of what

God had done for her in the contemplation of what He would do for them.

From this particular mercy she had received from God she takes occasion,

with an elevated and enlarged heart, to speak of the glorious things of God,

and of his government of the world for the good of the Church. She

discerned in her own individual experience the general laws of the Divine

economy, and its signification in relation to the whole history of the

kingdom of God.

      f.    Prophetic hope. She beheld the dawn of a new day, and was glad. In all

and above all:

      g.   Joy in the Lord. “My heart rejoiceth in the Lord;” not merely before Him

(Deuteronomy 12:12); but in Him, as the Object and Source of its joy;

in communion with and contemplation of Him, and in the admiration,

affection, and delight thereby excited. “My meditation of him shall be

sweet: I will be glad in the Lord” (Psalm 104:34). “When I think of

God,” said Haydn (on being asked the reason why the style of his music

was so cheerful), “my soul is so full of joy that the notes come leaping and

dancing from my pen.” More especially observe that Hannah rejoiced in:



perfections must not, indeed, be thought of as existing in God separate and

distinct from each other; they are essential attributes of His living

personality, and are all really present in His every purpose and act. What is

here declared of God is, that:


Ø      He alone is “holy.”


o        Supremely excellent; whatever excellence exists in any other being falls

infinitely short of his (Isaiah 6:3).

o        Morally perfect; invariably willing what is right and good;

transcendently glorious in the view of conscience (Leviticus 11:44).

o        Absolutely existent, which is the ground of His excellence and

perfection. “For there is none except thee.” “God is the most perfect

Being, and the cause of all other beings.” His moral perfection is a

peculiar distinction of the revelation which He made to His chosen

people, needs to be specially magnified in times of corruption, and

can only be rejoiced in by His saints. The conception which men

form of God is an evidence of their own character, and exerts a

powerful influence upon it (Luke 1:49).


Ø      He alone is strong. “A Rock.”


o        Firm, unchanging, enduring; a sure foundation for confidence.

o        None can be compared unto Him. They may not be trusted in, and they

need not be feared.

o        Happy are those who can say, He is “our God.” That which is a terror

to others is a consolation to them. “The children of a king do not fear what

their father has in his arsenal.” “Let the inhabitant of the rock sing.” But

men often speak proudly and arrogantly (v. 3), as if they were

independent of Him, and could do whatever they pleased. Let them not

boast any more; for:


Ø      He is the All-wise; a “God of knowledge” (literally knowledges) of all

knowledge. “The Lord knoweth the thoughts of man, that they are vanity”

(Psalm 94:11; 138:6). His knowledge is:


o        immediate,

o        perfect, and

o        universal. And,


Ø      He is the Judge of human actions. He determines how far they may go

before they are effectually checked by the manifestation of His power and

wisdom. “By strength shall no man prevail.” He also forms a just

estimate of their moral worth, and gives to every man his due reward. His

righteousness and justice, as well as his strength and wisdom, when

contemplated by the good, fill them with great joy.



operations of Providence are the operations of God in the natural world,

the laws of which are the uniform methods of His activity, and more

especially in human affairs; wherein, whilst there is room for human

freedom and prudence, and the use of means, His will encircles and

overrules all things, and His hand moves in and through those events which

are commonly attributed to chance or accident, and directs and controls

them for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28). In and by

these operations —


Ø      He manifests the perfections of His character: His holiness, power,

wisdom, and justice. “The Lord is righteous in all his ways." (Psalms

97:2; 145:17).


Ø      He apportions the different conditions of men, and accomplishes the

varied changes of their condition.


o        Makes the strong weak and the weak strong (v. 4).

o        The full empty and the empty full (v. 5).

o        Increases the lonely and diminishes the numerous family.

o        Brings into great distress, even to the verge of the grave, and

again restores to health and prosperity (v. 6).

o        Makes poor and makes rich.

o        Brings low and raises up.


Prosperity and adversity alike, when received from the hand of God

and used aright, become occasions of joy; and the changes of life are

morally beneficial (Psalm 55:19; Jeremiah 48:11; James 1:9-10).


Ø      He does great things, especially for the lowly (v. 8). Stooping to them

in their utmost need and shame (Psalm 113:7-8), and raising them to

the highest honor and glory. “God does nothing else,” said an ancient

philosopher, “but humble the proud and exalt the lowly.” “Set thyself in the

lowest place, and the highest shall be given thee; for the more elevated the

building is designed to be, the deeper must the foundations be laid. The

greatest saints in the sight of God are the least in their own esteem; and the

height of their glory is always in proportion to the depth of their humility”

(Thomas a Kempis).


Ø      He supports the earth and all that is upon it. His dominion is supreme;

and He has therefore the power, as He has the right, to do whatever may

please Him. An unfaltering trust in Providence is a cure of undue anxiety

and a cause of abounding peace and joy. “Certainly it is heaven on earth to

have a man’s mind move in charity, rest in Providence, and turn upon the

poles of truth” (Bacon). “The prophets of the Old Testament inculcate with

a remarkable perspicuity and decision the overruling agency of God’s

providence in the affairs of the world. Their whole prophecy is more or less

a commentary on this doctrine What a basis is laid by it of peace and

tranquility to every thoughtful and most feeling mind; and how different

the aspect of the world becomes when we have reason to know that all

things in it, and every combination of them, whether in the fortunes of

kingdoms or in a more private state, are under the control of an intelligent

and gracious Ruler. Were we in the chains of chance, how gloomy would

our case be. Were we in the hands of men, too often how fearful, how

humiliating, how conflicting. But the impression of the scene is changed

when we admit into it the direction of an All-Wise and perfect Being, in

whose rectitude and goodness we may acquiesce through the whole course

of His providential dispensation” (Davison ‘on Prophecy,’ p. 59).


“One adequate support

For the calamities of mortal life

Exists, one only; — an assured belief

That the procession of our fate, howe’er

Sad or disturb’d, is order’d by a Being

Of infinite benevolence and power,

Whose everlasting purposes embrace

All accidents, converting them to good”




moral governor, and directs His providential operations with a view to the

setting up of a kingdom of righteousness upon earth. This kingdom existed

from the first, was more fully exhibited in the theocracy of Israel, and

culminated in the rule of Christ, who “must reign until he hath put all

enemies under his feet.” In every stage of development it involves conflict.



Ø      He will protect, its subjects; His saints (literally, pious, those who love God),

against whom the wicked will contend in vain (v. 9).

Ø      He will overthrow its adversaries (v. 10); their overthrow being:

o        certain,

o        unexpected,

o        complete — “broken to pieces,” — and

o        signally indicative of the interposition of heaven (ch. 7:10).

Ø      He will extend its borders to the ends of the earth, and,

Ø      He will clothe with strength, honor, and majesty the king whom He

appoints and anoints for the accomplishment of His purposes. Hannah

commenced her song with rejoicing on account of the strength and honor

conferred upon herself, and she closes it with rejoicing on account of the

strength and honor which would be conferred on Him who should be

“higher than the kings of the earth.” “Let the children of Zion be joyful in

their king.” “The anointed of the Lord, of whom Hannah prophesies in the

spirit, is not one single king in Israel, either David or Christ, but an ideal

king, though not a mere personification of the throne about to be

established, but the actual king whom Israel received in David and the race,

which culminated in the Messiah. The exaltation of the horn of the

anointed of Jehovah commenced with the victorious and splendid

expansion of the power of David, was repeated with every victory over the

enemies of God and His kingdom gained by the successive kings of David’s

house, goes on in the advancing spread of the kingdom of Christ, and will

eventually attain to its eternal consummation in the judgment of the last

day, through which all the enemies of Christ will be made His footstool!



                        The Prayer Song of Hannah (vs. 1-10)


In her prayer of asking Hannah was intent not merely on having a child, but

on giving to the service of God a priest, and to the government of Israel a

judge, very different from the sons of Eli — a Nazarite, a second and a

better Samson. No wonder, then, that when she brought her son to the

sanctuary, her prayer of thanksgiving took a large scope, and revealed even

a prophetic fervor. What religious poetess has made such an impression

as Hannah with one ode? Reproduced in Psalm 113., and yet again in the

song of the blessed Virgin Mary, commonly called the Magnificat, it may

be said to have continued in devout minds, Hebrew and Gentile, for about

3000 years. The first verse is the introduction, and strikes the key in which

all that follows is pitched — a tone of warm and grateful confidence in

God. Then follow the praises of the Lord, with some anticipation of better

days to come.


  • PRAISE OF JEHOVAH (vs. 2-8).


Ø      Because of His sublime attributes (vs. 2, 3). “There is none holy as

Jehovah.” The root idea of holiness is always that of separateness from

what is evil or profane. The God of Israel was the Holy One, absolutely

unique, immaculate, inviolate, and inviolable. None among the gods of the

nations might be likened to Him. So He called and required Israel to be a

holy nation, i.e. separate from the nations of the world, who are idolatrous

and unclean. So under the New Testament the saints are the separated ones

who touch not the unclean thing. “Neither any rock like our God.”  (I

recommend: Acts 17 - Moody Sermon - The Great Redemption - this website

CY - 2016)  God's protection cannot be invaded. His purpose does not vacillate.

His power does not fail. He is the Rock of Ages. This was what made Israel

unconquerable so long as faithful to God. The “rocks” of the nations, i.e.

the gods in whom they trusted, were not as Israel’s Rock. “Jehovah is a

God of knowledge.” Let not the wicked boast proudly. No word of scorn

cast at the humble, no haughty glance of the eye, is unobserved by the

Lord; and nothing is more certain than that, sooner or later, He will abase

the proud. “And by him actions are weighed.” In His estimate of human

conduct He holds the balances of a perfect equity.


Ø      Because of His mighty works (vs. 4-8). Ruling in holy sovereignty,

God often reverses the conditions of men, lowering the exalted and

exalting the lowly. He even kills and makes alive, leads down into Hades,

and leads up from it again. Sheol or Hades was no mere pit of extinction

from which there could be no uprising. God was able to raise even the

dead. Such being His power, what could the boastful effect against

Jehovah? What might not the humble hope from Him? This is the central

thought of Hannah’s song, and it is still more finely expressed in that of the

blessed Virgin. “He hath showed strength,” etc. (Luke 1:51-53). Of the

elevation of the despised, celebrated here and in Psalm 113., how many

illustrations in sacred story! Joseph, Moses, Gideon, before the time of

Hannah; and afterwards, David, and the great Son of David, the Man

Christ Jesus, and His Galilean apostles. This fact is not to encourage

contempt of, or impatience under, earthly dignities; but it is to cheer those

who are or may be depressed by worldly disadvantage of poverty or

obscurity. God’s grace is no appanage of the rich or powerful. Was not

Martin Luther a poor miner’s son? David Brainerd a small farmer’s son?

John Bunyan a tinker’s son, brought up to follow the same craft? Were not

the good missionaries Carey and Knibb apprentices, the one bound to a

cobbler, the other to a printer? And are not such men among the princes of

God’s people? The house of Elkanah was of no eminence in Israel; but

thence God was raising up this child Samuel, whom Hannah brought to His

courts, to be, if not king, king maker, and to stand at the head of a line of

prophets who should be the guides of the kings and the people so long as

the kingdom stood.



prayer song has a prophetic strain (vs. 9-10). Hannah was confident of

God’s preservation of His saints, and of the correlative truth of the

perdition of ungodly men. Not that He has any pleasure in their death; but

that if men will fight against eternal order and righteousness, THEY MUST


those who contend against Him are broken.” The prophetic element shows

itself in the closing expressions of the song. The government of Israel at the

time may be described as that of a commonwealth, so far as concerns human

administration. It was a theocracy, as it had been from the time of the

exodus; but the actual administration was carried on through leaders, or

judges. The eye of Hannah opened on a new epoch, foresaw a king to

whom Jehovah would give strength as His Anointed. It is the first mention

of a Messiah in Holy Writ. No doubt Hannah’s words are a prediction of

David, whose horn of power the Lord was to exalt, giving him a career of

victory over all his enemies. But whether or not it was clear to Hannah’s

mind, the Spirit who rested on her signified a King greater than David, and

a more illustrious kingdom. It is He of whom the angel said to Mary, “He

shall be great,” etc. (Luke 1:32-33). We see not yet His kingdom. We

see not all things put under Him. But we see Jesus crowned with glory and

honor; and we wait for His appearing and His kingdom. The longings of

many generations, the hopes of many Hannahs, the visions of many seers

and prophets, O may they come to pass speedily!  "Even so, Come. Lord

Jesus!" (Revelation 22:20)



The King Messiah (v. 10)


The last word of the song of Hannah is the first mention of the Lord’s

Anointed, Messiah, Christ.


1. Her language was a direct prediction of the appointment of a theocratic

king, for which Samuel prepared the way, and which, under Divine

direction, he was the chief agent in effecting.


2. It was an indirect prediction of One who had been long expected

(Genesis 3:14-15; 12:1-3; 22:17-18; 49:10; Numbers 24:17-19;

Deuteronomy 18:15-19), and in whom the idea of such a king would

be completely realized.


3. It marks the dawn of a splendid series of prophecies founded on the

reign of David, and ever brightening to the perfect day (II Samuel 7.; 23:1-7;

Psalms 2; 110; Isaiah 9:6-7; Daniel 9:25; Micah 5:2; Malachi 4:2.



  • HIS REGAL OFFICE. Its general purpose was:


Ø      To unite a divided people (Genesis 49:10). Nothing was more

needed in the days of the judges.

Ø      To save them from their enemies. “Thy salvation” (v. 1;

Psalm 18:50; 95:1; Matthew 1:21).

Ø      To rule over them, judge them in righteousness, and establish among

them order peace, and happiness. The regal office of our Saviour

consisteth partly in the ruling, protecting, and rewarding of His people;

partly in the coercing, condemning, and destroying of His enemies.

It was the fatal mistake of Israel in all ages to look for an outward, worldly,

and imposing, rather than an inward, moral, and spiritual fulfillment of this

purpose. The same mistake has, to some extent, pervaded Christendom.

“My kingdom is not of this world.” “The kingdom of God is righteousness,

peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.”  “Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and

myself have founded empires. But upon what did we rest the creations of

our genius? Upon force. Jesus Christ alone founded his empire upon love;

and at this moment millions would die for him” (‘Table Talk and Opinions

of Napoleon Bonaparte’).


  • HIS DIVINE APPOINTMENT. “His King.” “His Anointed”

(Psalm 2:6; 18:50).


Ø      The choice was of God. “Chosen out of the people” (Psalm 89:19).

Even Saul, a man after the people’s heart rather than after God’s heart,

was selected and appointed by Him. The invisible King of Israel did not

relinquish His authority.

Ø      Founded on personal eminence. David. The ancient Persians believed

that their ruler was an incarnation of the eternal light, the object of their

worship, and therefore rendered him Divine honor. This was a reality in


Ø      Confirmed and manifested by the anointing of His Spirit (ch. 10:1; 16:13;

II Samuel 2:4); the outward act being a symbol of the inward endowment

(Matthew 3:16; Luke 4:18). “God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto Him”

(John 3:34; Hebrews 1:9).




Ø      After a state of humiliation; implied in the language here used; also

indicated in v. 8; and typified by the lowly origin of David and his course

to the throne.

Ø      By the right hand of God. “He will give strength;” “All power is given

unto me in heaven and in earth” (Matthew 28:18); exhibited in His

resurrection, ascension, and possession of supreme honor, authority, and


Ø      To a kingdom universal and eternal. “The Lord shall judge the ends of

the earth” (Psalms 2:8; 72:2-5; 132:18; Luke 1:31-33, 69). Whilst

Jesus lives and reigns in heaven, He also lives and reigns on earth. He does

so by the continued and ever increasing power of His example and

teachings, His wondrous life, and still more wondrous death. The truths and

principles which He declared and embodied are, at this moment, accepted

by the loftiest intellects, the purest consciences, and the tenderest hearts

amongst men. Who now reverses a single judgment which He pronounced

upon men or things? Who can conceive any character more worthy of

reverence and affection than His? The lapse of time has only served to

invest His words and character with fresh interest and power. Other kings

and conquerors are fading away amidst the shadows of the past; but He is

ever rising before the view of mankind more distinctly, and living in their

thoughts, their consciences, and their hearts more mightily. Yea, more, He

lives and reigns on earth by His Divine presence, His providential working,

and the power of His Spirit. Just as the sun, shining in mid-heaven, sheds

down his rays upon the earth; so Christ, the Sun of righteousness (though

no longer seen by mortal eye), pours down the beams of His influence upon

us continually, and rules over all things for the complete establishment of

His kingdom.





11 "And Elkanah went to Ramah to his house. And the child did

minister unto the LORD before Eli the priest."

The child did minister. Left by his parents at Shiloh, Samuel

ministered unto the Lord; that is, certain duties were allotted him to

perform suited to his age; but few at first, when he was but three years old,

but increasing in importance as time went on; for the words refer to the

whole period of his service, until Eli’s death. At first Samuel would be but

a scholar, for, as we have mentioned on ch. 1:21, there were, no

doubt, regulations for the training of children devoted to the service of the

sanctuary. The peculiarity about Samuel was that he was devoted for life,

for possibly it was a not uncommon practice for young persons to receive

some training at Shiloh; just as we find that Samuel himself subsequently

gathered youths round him at Naioth in Ramah for educational purposes.

Learning practically was confined to the priesthood, and we can scarcely

imagine that the knowledge which Phinehas and the family of Aaron

brought with them out of Egypt would be allowed to perish. Samuel

certainly had himself received careful instruction (see on ch. 10:25),

and this could scarcely have happened if the training of young

persons had not been part of the priests’ duties at Shiloh. This then

explains why Samuel was brought to Eli at so tender an age, and why the

charge of so young a child was undertaken without a murmur. Before Eli

means under his general superintendence. Everything done at Shiloh was

done before Eli, as being the chief ruler there.



Samuel’s Childhood and Growth (v. 11)


“And the child did minister unto the Lord before Eli the priest.” “And the

child Samuel grew on, and was in favour both with the Lord, and also with

men(v. 26). (ch. 1:24; here, vs.18-19, 21; 3:1.) “Great is the

reverence due to children.” It is said of an eccentric schoolmaster in

Germany, who lived about 300 years ago, John Trebonius, that he never

appeared before his boys without taking off his hat and bowing very

humbly before them. “Who can tell,” said he, “what may not rise up amid

these youths? There may be among them those who shall be learned

doctors, sage legislators, nay, princes of the empire.” Even then there was

among them “the solitary monk that shook the world.” But a much greater

than Luther (with whom he has been compared — Ewald) was the little

Nazarite, who with unshorn locks ministered in the tabernacle at Shiloh;

and at a very early age he gave signs of his future eminence. “Even a child

is known by his doings” (Proverbs 20:11). “The child is father to the

man.” But what he will be depends greatly on his early training; for “the

new vessel takes a lasting tincture from the liquor which is first poured in”

(Horace); “the soft clay is easily fashioned into what form you please”

(Persius); and “the young plant may be bent with a gentle hand, and the

characters engraved on the tender bark grow deeper with the advancing

tree” (Quinctilian). Consider:


  • HIS EDUCATION, or the influences to which he was subject,

consisting of:


Ø      Impressions under the parental roof. He did not leave his home at an

age too early to prevent his receiving deep and permanent impressions

from the example, prayers, and instructions of his parents. His destination

would be explained to him by his mother, and made attractive and

desirable; so that when the time came for the fulfillment of her vow he

might readily make it his own. The memory of those early days must have

been always pleasant to him; and the sacred bond of filial affection would

be renewed and strengthened by the annual visit of his parents, and by the

yearly present which his mother brought to him (v. 19). The making of

the “little coat” was a work of love, and served to keep her absent boy in

mind, whilst the possession of it was to him a constant memorial of her

pure affection. The first impressions which he thus received were a

powerful means of preserving him from evil, and inciting him to good.

“Every first thing continues forever with the child; the first color, the first

music, the first flower paint the foreground of life; every new educator

affects less than its predecessor, until at last, if we regard all life as an

educational institution, the circumnavigator of the world is less influenced

by all nations he has seen than by his nurse” (Locke).


Ø      Association with holy things. Everything in the tabernacle was to his

childish view beautiful and repressive, and overshadowed by the

mysterious presence of the Lord of hosts. “Heaven lies about us in our

infancy.” And the veil which separates the invisible from the visible is then

very attenuated. When he afterwards saw how much beneath the outward

form was hollow and corrupt, he was strong enough to endure the shock,

and distinguished between “the precious and the vile.” Association with

sacred things either makes men better than others, or else very much



Ø      Occupation in lowly services. Even when very young he could perform

many little services in such a place as the tabernacle, and in personal

attendance on Eli, who was very old and partially blind. A part of his

occupation we know was to open the doors (ch. 3:15). By means

of such things he was trained for a higher ministry.


Ø      Instruction in sacred truth, given by his kind hearted guardian in

explanation of the various objects and services in the tabernacle, and, still

more, gained by the perusal of the religious records stored up therein

(ch. 10:25).


Ø      Familiarity with public life. There at the center of government, he must

early have become conversant with the weightiest concerns of the people.


Ø      Observation of the odious practices of many, especially Hophni and

Phinehas. For this also must be mentioned among the influences that went

to form his character. It as impossible to keep a child altogether from the

sight of vice. External safeguards are no protection without internal purity.

On the other hand, outward circumstances which are naturally perilous

have often no effect on internal purity, except to make it more decided and

robust. “The jarring contrast which he had before his eyes in the evil

example of Eli’s children could but force more strongly upon his mind the

conviction of the great necessity of the age, and impel to still more

unflinching rigor to act up to this conviction” (Ewald). But this could

only take place by:


Ø      The power of Divine grace, which is the greatest and only effectual

teacher (Titus 2:11-12). The atmosphere of prayer which he breathed

from earliest life was the atmosphere of grace. The Holy Spirit rested upon

him in an eminent degree, and he grew up under His influence, “like a tree

planted by the rivers of water,” gradually and surely to perfection.


  • HIS CHARACTER, or the dispositions which he developed under

these influences. He “grew on” not only physically and intellectually, but

also morally and spiritually, manifesting the dispositions which properly

belong to a child, and make him a pattern to men (Matthew 18:3).


Ø      Humble submission.

Ø      Great docility, or readiness to learn what he was taught.

Ø      Ready obedience to what he was told to do. How promptly did he

respond to the voice of Eli, who, as he thought, called him from his

slumber (ch. 3:5). The watchword of childhood and youth should

be “Obey.” And it is only those that learn to obey who will be fit to



Ø      Profound reverence. For “he ministered before the Lord,” as if under His

eye, and with a growing sense of His presence. “He was to receive his

training at the sanctuary, that at the very earliest waking up of his spiritual

susceptibilities he might receive the impression of the sacred presence of

God” (Keil).


Ø      Transparent truthfulness and guilelessness.


Ø      Purity and self-control (I Timothy 4:12; II Timothy 2:22).


Ø      Sincere devotion to the purpose of his dedication to the Lord. In this

manner he gradually grew into the possession of a holy character.  Like

John the Baptist, “he grew and waxed strong in spirit” (Luke 1:80); and

his childhood is described in the very words employed to describe the

childhood of our Lord:. “And Jesus increased in favor with God and man”

(Luke 2:40, 51-52).


  • HIS ACCEPTANCE, or the favor he obtained (Proverbs 3:4).


Ø      With God, who looked down upon him with delight, beholding in him

the effect of His grace, and a reflection of His light and love. For “the Lord

taketh pleasure in his people” (Psalm 149:4).


Ø      With men. The gratification which Eli felt in his presence and service

appears in the benediction he uttered on his parents when they visited the

tabernacle, and in accordance with which they were compensated with

three sons and two daughters for “the gift which they gave unto the Lord”

(vs. 20-21). Even Hophni and Phinehas must have regarded

the young Nazarite with respect. And the people who brought their

offerings to the tabernacle looked upon him with admiration and hope. So

he was prepared for the work that lay before him.


12 "Now the sons of Eli were sons of Belial; they knew not the LORD."

Now the sons of Eli were sons of Belial, i.e. worthless men

(see on ch. 1:16). They knew not Jehovah. He had never been

revealed to their consciences, and so His fear had no influence upon their

lives. The next words, in v. 13, are difficult, but literally mean, “The legal

right of the priests, towards, or as respects, the people.” On this account

the Vulgate and several commentators couple the sentence with what

precedes: “they knew neither Jehovah, nor their own legal rights.” But the

word also in v. 15 is incompatible with this rendering; for if what is

mentioned there be illegal, so must also the practice be which is recorded

here. But neither does custom give the sense; for the Hebrews has not

priest’s (singular) as the Authorized Version, but of the priests, of all priests

generally, and not of Eli merely and his sons. The right translation is that given

by the Septuagint, Syriac, and Chaldee, namely, “the due of the priests from the

people,” on which see Leviticus 7:31-35. In the original this is put

absolutely “And as to the priests’ due from the people, when,” etc., but our

language requires some insertion to make it read more smoothly. “And as

to the due of the priests from the people, the manner of its exaction was as

follows: When,” etc. But besides the due and legal portion, which,

nevertheless, they took in an illegal way, they demanded a part of the flesh

reserved for the feast of the offerer, and to which they had absolutely no

right (see Leviticus 8:31; II Chronicles 35:13). The legal due of the priest was

the right shoulder and the wave breast; but before he took them they were to be

consecrated to God by the burning of the fat upon the altar (Leviticus 3:5; 7:31, 34).

It is worth observing that the people seem well acquainted with the words of the Law,

and are indignant because the priests, its proper guardians, do not abide literally by

them. This contempt of the Law distressed their religious susceptibilites,

while the cupidity of Eli’s sons offended their moral nature. And so men

abhorred the offering of Jehovah. Literally, it is the minchah, the unbloody

sacrifice, or meat offering, but it is put here for every kind of sacrificial offering.


13 "And the priest’s custom with the people was, that, when any man

offered sacrifice, the priest’s servant came, while the flesh was in

seething, with a fleshhook of three teeth in his hand;

14 And he struck it into the pan, or kettle, or caldron, or pot; all that

the fleshhook brought up the priest took for himself. So they did in

Shiloh unto all the Israelites that came thither.

15 Also before they burnt the fat, the priest’s servant came, and said

to the man that sacrificed, Give flesh to roast for the priest; for he

will not have sodden flesh of thee, but raw.

16 And if any man said unto him, Let them not fail to burn the fat

presently, and then take as much as thy soul desireth; then he

would answer him, Nay; but thou shalt give it me now: and if not, I

will take it by force.

17 Wherefore the sin of the young men was very great before the

LORD: for men abhorred the offering of the LORD.



Great Sinners


The sons of Eli were the greatest sinners of their degenerate age. From the

most favored home the worst men came forth. All sin is a great evil. It is

the curse of man, the abomination of God. In its essence it is rebellion

against the All-wise and Holy One. For all lack of conformity to His will

implies a will supposed to be a more desirable guide than His, which is

insult and insubordination. But the Bible represents some sins as of deeper

dye than others. There are beings deserving to be “beaten with many

stripes.”  (Luke 12:47) The tests by which the enormity of sins is estimated are,

after reference of all to the perfect purity of God.


  • THE CHARACTER OF THE DEEDS. The deeds perpetrated by the

sons of Eli were of the vilest kind. In themselves they were calculated to

awaken the most intense disgust and abhorrence of every pure and reverent

mind. It is hard to conceive how men blessed with early privileges could

sink so low, were it not that modern Christian times have produced the

darkest sins in the professedly religious. The sins of open profanation of

the sanctuary, of despite to the solemn sacrifice, of pollution in guiltiest

lust, were but the outward expression of a state of soul foul, reckless,

defiant beyond all description. So, generally, the dark, horrid deeds on

which men look are but the indicators of a very hell of iniquity deep down

in the soul. There are:


  • THE PRIVILEGES ENJOYED. It added guilt to the sin of the young

men that they were the sons of the priest of God. It is a grave responsibility

to be born of parents endued with any degree of piety. Especially are they

under strong obligation to avoid sin who are, by virtue of their connection

with the ordinances of worship, taught out of the law of the Lord, and

surrounded by the hallowed influences of the sanctuary. Every wise book

read, every kind influence exercised, every prayer offered in public, or by

parents at home, gives additional light and power wherewith to avoid the

paths of sin. It requires a long and hard inward struggle to keep down

conscience so as to become a desperate sinner. Men do not sink to lowest

depths of vice suddenly. Every successive step is taken against clear light

and restraining powers, and when the final surrender to guilty deeds is

made, the whole privileges of the past speak out the greatness of the evil.

The poor idolater ignorantly causing his sons to pass through the fire to

Moloch is less’ guilty than the sons of Israel’s high priest, when, crushing

every sacred feeling, they turn from all the light of years to profane the

sanctuary by violence and lust. Sodom was vile, but decorous Capernaum

viler. The sin of despising a holier Sacrifice than of bulls and lambs is often

committed by men blessed with faithful teaching.


  • THE POSITION OCCUPIED. To the eye of the Hebrew the office of

priest was most sacred. The reverence cherished for the office was

transferred in some degree to the person who filled it. Hence, perhaps, the

patience and submission with which the worshippers endured the greed and

violence of the guilty sons of Eli. In itself, being a consecration of life to

the holiest of employments, and considered, also, as a type of the one

perfect Priesthood, there was solid reason for the common sentiment. No

position is morally higher than that of him who stands between man and

God for the performance of most solemn duties. Hence in all ages it has

been recognized that the ministers of the sanctuary, whether priests, as

anciently, or pastors and teachers, do exercise an influence which, while

increasing the force of goodness, also aggravates their guilt when sin is

committed. Power, when used sinfully, means magnified sin. A professed

Christian sinks relatively very low when he does what other men do. A

pastor by one act may come under a condemnation from which on earth he

will never recover. A judge who sells justice is the most despised of men. A

statesman who barters truth and peace for personal greed is worse than a

common forger. Holiness is to be loved and sought for its own sake, yet it

is helpful to ask, “What manner of persons ought we to be” (II Peter 3:11),

who stand out in society as rulers, magistrates, pastors, teachers, parents?

If the ordinary sinner cannot escape the swift judgment of God, where shall

they appear who by virtue of exalted position become intensely and grievously

sinful when they sin?


  • THE NATURE OF THE EFFECTS. Some sins, like the falling of

heavy bodies in still water, produce wider and more violent effects than do

others. The effect is always pernicious, but when prominent men and

professed servants of God sin, the consequences are painfully and

conspicuously injurious. The sons of Eli by their crimes not only debased

their own nature and fell to lower depths of shame, but they brought the

holiest services into disrepute, alienated from the sanctuary the feelings of

the people, caused intense anguish in the minds of the pious Jews, gave

encouragement to wicked men more freely to transgress (like David who

gave “great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme”

II Samuel 12:14), and thus did more than others could do to exterminate

morality and religion from the land. It is a serious question for every one,

and especially ministers and all persons in positions of influence,

how far the neglect of religion by multitudes is the natural effect of their

own short comings. It is a mark of a great sinner when, by reason of his

conduct, the “wicked blaspheme.’’ Also, our Lord has branded those as

great sinners who wantonly cause offence to “one” of His “little ones.”

(Matthew 18:6)  If skepticism and antagonism to Christianity are most

lamentable evils, it is a matter of grave consideration how far the presence

of these evils is due to the formality, the greed, the gross inconsistencies of

those professing to exhibit and love the religion of Christ. It behoves all to

see to it that they lift up “holy hands,” and speak a “pure language.”

Otherwise the terrible woes pronounced by the Saviour over would be

religious men may find an application to modern great sinners. Arising

from this subject we may notice certain:




  • The extreme importance of every one forming, by the aid of Scripture

and of conscience, a proper estimate of the responsibility of his position as

a professed Christian, a parent, a minister of the gospel, a teacher, or civil ruler.


  • The possibility of undergoing a process of spiritual decay by which the

finer sensibilities of earlier days shall become almost annihilated, and

deeds be done with impunity which once were most abhorrent.

  • The need of frequent self-examination, to ascertain whether the

elements of religious degeneracy may be unconsciously at work in the soul;

the more so as it is characteristic of spiritual declension to make us blind to

the fact of declension.

  • The necessity of much prayer, lest, trusting to early privileges and

official services, the elements of decay should enter the spiritual life, and,

consequently, the duties of self-scrutiny and watchfulness be shunned.



Degenerate Sons (vs. 11-17)


1. Eli’s sons manifest their extreme wickedness by profaning the worship of God.

2. As a consequence, a grievous scandal is caused, and Divine worship comes

    into disrepute.

3. In spite of many evil surroundings, Samuel grows up in the blameless

    discharge of religious duties.

4. Hannah continues to visit and take a deep interest in her son’s spiritual

    life. The sorrowful experience of Eli in old age is sometimes repeated in

    modern times. Many a good man is bowed down even to the grave by the

    irreligion of sons of whom better things had been expected. No more

    painful condition can a father be in than when he scarcely dare name his

    children to those who ask after their welfare. The world and the Church

    look on with wonder and pain at the spectacle of vile children issuing from

    a pious home. The feeling of surprise with which men read of the family of

    the high priest of Israel becoming so utterly wicked is attended with the

    conviction that desperately bad youths ought never to issue from Christian

    homes. Such an event is contrary to all just expectations. The presumption

    that the offspring of pious parents would be holy is based on various

    considerations, which for the most part apply to the case of Eli.

5. There are various promises and statements to encourage the belief that

    the children of the pious will share in special mercies (e. g. Deuteronomy

    30:2, 6; Proverbs 22:6; Isaiah 44:7; Malachi 2:15; I Corinthians 7:14).

6. In so far as susceptibility to religious impressions is affected by

    inherited qualities, they have an advantage over others.

7. The means of grace, instruction, example, and prayer are more

    employed for them than for the majority.

8. The power of early habit, which plays so important a part in the

    formation of character, is likely to be on the side of godliness where

    religious influences early operate. The causes which account for the

    ungodliness of the children of the pious are diverse, intricate, and partly

    inscrutable. A broad margin must be left for the mysterious action of a free

    being, even under the most favorable conditions. It is not possible to trace

    the lines and say where parental responsibility ends and the responsibility of

    the child begins. The two factors are to be recognized. Moreover, anterior

    physical causes, operating perniciously through ancestors, may act

    detrimentally on the mental and moral condition. But allowing for these

    and other untraceable elements of the case, there are causes of this sad

    feature of domestic life:


  • IN THE CHILDREN. The natural depravity of the heart is a grave fact.

It is the first foe to be encountered in seeking a child’s salvation. Its subtle

power is beyond all knowledge. There may not be the complications of

wickedness which exist in the full-grown nature of the adult after years of

developed sin, but the power is persistent and insinuating. Eli’s children

shared this tendency in common with others. The special propensities

inherited are sometimes very strong, and seem to partake of the force of

the old habits of the ancestors from whom they were derived. It is also a

fact that where a malformation, or unequal development of the physical

system, supervenes on the inheritance of special evil propensities, these

latter gain immensely in force. A line of pious ancestors, as a rule, would

guarantee freedom from such abnormal developments, because continuous

piety tends to the symmetrical development of the entire man; but

occasionally there are backward leaps in nature, and old elements reappear.

Possibly some of Eli’s blood relatives were not so good as they ought to

have been. No doubt grace can subdue even the worst natures, but the

elements referred to must be considered in connection with other causes.


  • IN THE TRAINING. It cannot be supposed that Eli was perfect in this

respect. Few persons consider how much of care, of wisdom, of

forethought, of yearning sympathy, of specific, well adapted guidance, and

of prayer is involved in the “nurture and admonition” required in training

children for God. There may be a fatal lack of faith in the very possibility of

infant piety; an expectation that, as a matter of course, a child will grow up

in sin till an age for conversion arrives; a cold, cruel casting of the spiritual

welfare of a child on teachers, attendants, official aids — the parent, under

pressure of business, declining to bear his offspring ever on his heart before

God;  (If the parent does not do his work, it is for ever undone!– copied –

CY – 2016); or a lack of discretion in dealing with each soul according to its

temperament. Absence of a mother’s deep and tender interest tells most

prejudicially. An unwise method of instilling religious truth; an assertion of

mere authority in severe tones; a lack of discipline to check wrong

tendencies; a constant appeal to a sense of fear; an avoidance of the

essential truths of the gospel, or a low, groveling representation of them,

may create aversion, awake silent resistance, and finally set the entire

nature against what is falsely supposed to be religion. Perhaps there is no

department of religious obligation so little studied as this. The tender,

susceptible nature of children cannot be safely treated without much

thought and prayer. No wonder if the promise which hangs on a faithful

discharge of most delicate and solemn duties carried on year by year should

sometimes not be fulfilled. Parents have need to pray, “Search me and try



  • IN EXAMPLE. This is part of training, but, as exercising a perpetual

and unconscious influence, it may be regarded as distinct from direct

efforts. Children learn more of religion from what they observe in parents

than by any other means. The life they see lived is their daily book of

lessons. If it is selfish, hard, formal, worldly, no amount of verbal teaching

or professed interest will avail. There is no surer encouragement for a child

to despise all religion than a discovery of insincerity in the professions of a

parent. Real character comes into clear view in the home, and those who,

under influence of public considerations, restrain themselves in the world,

but give freedom to unhallowed feelings in private, cannot wonder if

children do not covet the piety they witness.


  • IN ASSOCIATIONS. Associations out of the home circle, both in

youth and early manhood, exercise much influence over character. It is not

every youth that is solely formative on others. Most young people receive

more from companions than they impart. The good of home may be largely

neutralized by the tone of society outside the home. (Thus the danger to

American culture by the indulgent secular influence! – CY – 2016)

Eli’s sons were not strong enough to counteract the evil tendencies of the age,

and their father erred in not taking precautions adequate to the occasion.

Probably one reason why the sons of good and eminent men sometimes

become notoriously godless is, that the utter absorption of the parent in public

affairs, albeit religious, gradually issues in alienation of sons from home

interests and committal to friendships evil in tendency. The charm of

novelty is powerful where home life is rendered dull through inattention to

the tastes and enjoyments of the young, and hence consent is given to

enticing sinners. If, in any instance, there are in operation causes, either

singly or combined, of the nature referred to, it is inevitable that a home,

though in some degree pious, should be distressed by the presence of

ungodly sons. So far as man’s conduct determines religion or irreligion in

offspring, it would be contrary to the action of natural laws for pious sons

to be the product of efforts inadequate to the end in view. If sons are godly

in spite of errors and bad influence at home, it is because God in His mercy

has brought other and more blessed influences to bear. Even defective

training may be ultimately remedied by a more true use of prayer for mercy.



A Degenerate Priesthood (vs. 12-17)


“The best things when corrupted become the worst.” It is thus with official

positions such as were held by the priests of old. Their positions were an

hereditary right, and their duties consisted largely of a prescribed routine of

services. It was required, however, that their personal character should

accord with their sacred work (Malachi 2:7); and their influence was

great for good or evil. Whilst they reflected in their character and conduct

the moral condition of the times, they also contributed in no small degree

to produce it. The sons of Eli employed their high office not for the welfare

of men and the glory of God, but  for their own selfish and corrupt

purposes, and afford an example of “great and instructive wickedness.”

Concerning them the following things are recorded:


  • CULPABLE IGNORANCE OF GOD (v. 12). They had no proper

conception of Him as holy and just, and they did not consider that He

observed and hated sin by whomsoever it was committed, and would surely

punish it. They had no communion with Him, no sympathy with His

purposes, and no sense of their own obligations to Him. They were

unspiritual men, and practically infidel. And they were such

notwithstanding the instructions they received, the opportunities they

possessed, and the services they rendered. Although the servants of God,

they knew not God,” and were “without excuse.” Amidst a blaze of light

men may be dark within. “And if the light within thee be darkness, how

great is that darkness!”  (Matthew 6:23)


  • OFFICIAL ROBBERY OF MEN (vs. 13-14). Not satisfied with the

liberal portions of the peace offerings which were legally assigned to them

(the breast and shoulder), they claimed other and larger portions, to which

they were not entitled, and robbed the people for the gratification of their

own appetites. What they would have fiercely denounced in others they

deemed venial offences in privileged men like themselves. How often do

official positions and selfish indulgences blind men to the injustice of their

conduct, and harden them in iniquity.


  • WILFUL VIOLATION OF THE LAW (v. 15). It was required by

the Levitical law that the fat should be burnt on the altar before the offering

was divided between the priest and the offerer; but instead of doing this,

the priest sent his servant beforehand to demand his portion with the fat,

that it might be better fitted for roasting than boiling, which was not to his

taste. He thus appropriated to his private use what belonged to the Lord,

and “robbed God” of his due. It was a gross act of disobedience, sacrilege,

and profanity, prompted by the same pampered appetite as his dishonesty

toward men; and, in addition, it hindered the people from fulfilling their

religious purposes, and made his own servant a partner in his sin.



people gently remonstrated, and promised to give up their own portion if

the fat were first burnt on the altar, it was said to them, “Nay, but thou

shalt give it me now, or else I will come and take it by force.” Reason as

well as right was overridden. Instead of regarding himself as a servant of

God for the good of men, the priest made himself a “lord over God’s

heritage (I Peter 5:3). Having cast aside the authority of God, he

made his own arbitrary dictum the law of others, and urged obedience to it

by the threatening of force. By the same means, backed by spiritual terrors,

he has often sought to accomplish his wishes in every age.



abstained from presenting as many offerings as they would have given, or

even from presenting them at all, being repelled from the service of God by

the evil conduct of His ministers. “Ye make the Lord’s people to

transgress(v. 24). One unworthy priest has often made many

unbelievers. Instead of strengthening what is noblest and best in men, he

has destroyed it, and made its restoration impossible. And, generally,

ungodly conduct on the part of professed servants of God is a great

hindrance to the spread of truth and righteousness, and a powerful

influence in extending error and evil in the world. “One sinner destroyeth

much good.”  (Ecclesiastes 9:18)  To complete the picture, two other things

must be added, viz.:



nothing of self-control, gave the rein to their lusts, and indulged in vices

which the heathen commonly associated with their idol worship, and which

made that worship so terrible a temptation to Israel. The idol feasts at

Shiloh were doubtless scenes of gross sensuality; and the sons of Eli

scarcely cared to disguise their participation in similar indulgences, and

made the tabernacle of the Lord like a heathen temple.


  • SUPERSTITIOUS USE OF SACRED THINGS (ch. 4:11). Having become

insensible to the presence of the invisible King, they treated His services as a

mere outward ritual, which may be performed without any felt inconsistency

between it and any amount of immorality.  Why should they observe it at all?

From self-interest and from superstition, they still supposed that there was

some mysterious benefit inseparably connected with the ark, and enjoyed

by those who possessed it, apart from their moral and spiritual state. Their

religion had become a superstition, like that of the heathen. And hence they

took the ark into the battle field, in sure confidence of their safety, and were

deprived of it by the heathen, and THEY THEMSELVES DESTROYED!


Ø      It is possible for men to possess the highest privileges, and yet sink into


Ø      The patience of Heaven toward sinners, is wonderful, and designed to

lead them to REPENTANCE!

Ø      When men despise the goodness of God, and persist in transgression,

they are certain to meet with SIGNAL PUNISHMENT!


18 But Samuel ministered before the LORD, being a child, girded with a

linen ephod."  But Samuel ministered. While the misconduct of Eli’s sons

was thus bringing religion into contempt, and sapping the nation’s morals,

Samuel was advancing in years and piety, and was gaining that education

which made him fit to retrieve the evil of their doings. He is still styled

na’ar, a boy; for the word, according to the Rabbins, may be used up to

fifteen years (ch. 1:24). In the sense of servant there is no limit of

age; and as it is the word translated “young men” in v. 17, it probably

means there not Eli’s sons, but the servants by whose instrumentality their

orders were actually carried out. Samuel’s dress, an ephod of white linen,

was probably that worn by the Levites in their ordinary ministrations; for

the ephod of the priests was richer both in material and color (Exodus

28:6-8). As being thus the simplest ministerial garment, it was apparently

worn also by laymen when taking part in any religious service, as by David

when he danced before the ark (II Samuel 6:14).



Youthful Piety (v. 18)


It is not without significance that the sacred historian breaks the thread of

his ordinary narrative by frequent references to the child Samuel (vs. 11,

18, 21, 26; compare ch. 3:1, 18). The contrast with ungodly priests is striking. “But

Samuel ministered before the Lord, being a child.” “The child was young.”

“The child grew before the Lord.” Beautiful progression! “Following on”

to “know the Lord.” “The path of the just” grows brighter. Here in face of

evil is the “perseverance of the saints.” The case of Samuel may be

regarded as a typical instance of youthful piety. The frequent allusions to

him, combined with the tenor of his subsequent life, go to prove that he

was a religious child from earliest days. Humanly his piety was the product

of his mother’s intense earnestness. Hannah had faith to believe that a child

may be God’s from the very dawn of life. In essential features his piety was

the same as that of all God’s people. There were special reasons for its

assuming the form it did in that entire and early separation from home.


1. A mother’s prevision had respect to a new and higher office to be

    created and duly authenticated.

2. Extraordinary preparation was needful for the great work to be finally

    entered on, and such as separation to the hallowed service of the sanctuary

    would secure.

3. The mother could thus evince her freedom from mere selfish

    gratification in seeking a child from the Lord, and at the same time do all

    within her power to advance the coming kingdom.

4. There was a secret providence in this preparing the way for the first

great step in the reformation of the people, namely, the authoritative

announcement of national disaster (ch. 3:11, 20). Taking, then,

Samuel’s as an instance of typical youthful piety, we may notice:


  • That YOUTHFUL PIETY IS A POSSIBILITY. Evidently it was in

Samuel’s case. Since all children are psychologically alike; are born under

the same covenanted mercies; and are, therefore, open to the same Divine

regenerating influence, the position might be considered as established. But

the Church has been slow to believe the truth; and much of the nurture of

families seems to proceed on the supposition that, as a rule, at least early

manhood must be reached ere piety be regarded as trustworthy. The causes

of this unfortunate distrust of child piety are varied. They may be indicated



Ø      The habit of estimating all piety by the forms and manifestations

appropriate to adult life, which habit is based on:

Ø      A misconception of what constitutes the essence of all true religion.

Ø      The long continued neglect of the Church, as a consequence of this

            misconception, issuing in a scarcity of youthful piety.


But the possibility of it is seen in:


Ø      The nature of a child being capable of the essentials of true piety. In

Samuel, and so in every child, there was a capability of:

o        recognizing the Great Unseen and Holy One;

o        cherishing pure love for the living, ever present Friend;

o        trusting on Almighty care with an unusual absoluteness;

o        learning the truth concerning the works and ways of God,

both by witnessing and sharing in acts of worship,

o        listening to special instruction; and of

o        obedience to a sovereign Will.

Indeed, in some respects the nature of a child, being free from the

burdensome cares of life and the unhappy suspicions of mature years,

is much more susceptible of holy, elevating influences than is that of men.


Ø      The remarkable welcome to children given by Christ. The child Samuel

was welcome in the house of Jehovah. He “grew up before the Lord,” and

was in favour with God.” Thus in his case we see a beautiful congruity

with, and may we not say prophetic of, the loving welcome given later on

by the blessed Saviour Himself, in terms never to be forgotten. Possibly

some officious priests might deem the presence of the child clad in sacred

ephod an innovation and a nuisance in the tabernacle, just as some in

excessive but erring zeal would not have Christ troubled with little ones

who could not be supposed to understand His profound teaching. The only

recorded instance of Christ being much displeased” is when it was

supposed that He was indifferent to the spiritual condition of little children.

(Matthew 10:14)


Ø      The harmony of Hannah’s conduct and Samuel’s piety with the general

tone of Scripture. Hannah both consecrated and nurtured her son for the

Lord, thus exemplifying the precepts, “Train up a child in the way he

should go,” “Bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord,”

and also illustrating the just expectation of the apostle, who seemed to take

for granted that pious parents rightly conforming to all their covenanted

duties and privileges would have “holy” children (I Corinthians 7:14).



NURTURE. All religion needs culture. It is the most delicate as also the

most precious of our treasures. The production of piety in children, though

of God, as the Source of all grace, is intimately connected with the prayers

and faith of parents. Hannah travailed in spirit for a holy child long before

Samuel was born, and the succeeding nurture was only an expression of

the same earnestness. There is no warrant to think that the world would

have been blessed with a pious Samuel apart from the deep piety of a

Hannah; and so the presence and growth of piety in our children rests with

the Church of God. The very condition of children in a sinful world

suggests a care on their behalf most wise, tender, and constant. The

elements of true nurture are seen in Hannah’s care of Samuel. There was:


Ø      The one and perpetual devotement of the child to the Lord — the

absolute giving up to the grace of God with a faith that would take no

denial. This act was repeated in spirit day by day for years:

o        when leaving him in Shiloh;

o        when silently bowing before God at home;

o        when engaged in making the little ephod;

o        when refitting it, as year by year he grew:

o        when with joyous heart visiting Shiloh at the annual festivals —

the mother carried Samuel on her heart before God, and gave him up to be

blessed.  This is what mothers can ever do for their loved ones, and they

sorely need such care in this sinful world.


Ø      The impressive teaching imparted. Surely Samuel was not placed in the

house of the Lord without much teaching suited to his capacity as to the

holy life he was to live. It is something to make a child believe that he is the

Lord’s, to see the beauty and joy of being given up to His service. With

exquisite delicacy did Hannah teach her son that he must forever be holy.

The girding with the ephod meant to him, “Thou art a servant of God, a

child of the sanctuary, thou canst not do any unworthy deeds or speak

unholy words. Remember thou belongest to the Lord, my son.” Happy

they who know the art of showing their sons the beauty of holiness, and

the manner of persons they ought ever to be.


Ø      Association with the sanctuary. The hallowed associations of the house

of God exercised power over the tender child; and so the principle is set

forth that in our nurture of youthful piety we must seek to encourage a

love for the worship of the Lord and of all pertaining to His service. It is a

great gain when our youth can rejoice in the Sabbath services, feel that in

the sanctuary they have a much loved spiritual home.


4. Engagement in useful religious work. It was a wise choice of this

mother to divert the child’s attention from the evil habits of the age by

absorption in works suited to his little powers, and under the immediate

eye of a venerable man of God. Whatever love to God may dwell in the

heart of a child is strengthened and guarded by being exercised in deeds

pertaining to His service. And the service of God is very wide and varied.

There are many ways in which youthful piety may be exercised. Let

children be caused to feel that they by life, by simple prayers, and by

sympathy can bless the sorrowing world, and their piety will grow and the

world will be enriched. The momentous interests involved in the presence

or absence of youthful piety should awaken deep concern on several:


Practical questions:


Ø      To what extent does it prevail in Church and home?

Ø      How far the lack of early piety is due to parental neglect, erroneous

views, defective Church organizations, or unhealthy literature?

Ø      In what form can the existing piety of children be more utilized for their

      own benefit and for the good of the world?

Ø      How is it possible to render the services of the sanctuary more

interesting and helpful to the young?

Ø      How can the missing link between the youthful and more mature piety of

the Church be restored?

Ø      By what means can Christian parents be led to manifest an all-absorbing

concern for the development of piety in their offspring?

Ø      What would be the effect on the ultimate conversion of the world if the

Church could be so wrought upon to exercise faith in the possibility of

early piety as to save the need of employing agencies to convert in adult

age any who have passed through its hands?


19 "Moreover his mother made him a little coat, and brought it to him

from year to year, when she came up with her husband to offer the

yearly sacrifice."  His mother made him a little coat. The coat, meil, was

worn by priests (Leviticus 8:7), by kings and their sons (ch.18:4),

by prophets (ibid. 28:14), and even by women (II Samuel 13:18). It

was an under garment of wool, woven throughout without seam, with

holes for the head and arms, and reaching nearly to the ground: when used

by women it had sleeves (ibid.). Under it they had a tunic or shirt fitting so

closely that a man simply so clad was considered naked (ch. 19:24),

and over it priests and Levites wore the ephod, and so also David

on the occasion mentioned above (I Chronicles 15:27). The meil

seems, moreover, to have often been a handsome dress, as that of the

priests was of purple blue, with embroidery of pomegranates in three

colors, and golden bells (Exodus 28:31-34); and when made of

delicate materials for the use of the rich, it and the tunic are the soft

luxurious clothing spoken of in Matthew 11:8. As the meil was the

ordinary dress of all classes of people, it was made for Samuel at home,

and can have no special meaning; but the ephod shows that he was brought

up in the daffy practice of holy duties. This annual present, however, of

clothing made by the mother’s hands proves that the dedication of her son

to God was not allowed to interfere with home affections, and both parents

and child must have looked forward with joy to happy meetings at each

recurrence of the family visit to the sanctuary.



Faith’s Symbols


Judged by the customs of the age, it was a daring thing for Hannah to

clothe her child with the ephod, the every day robe of the priest, seeing

that her son was only a Levite (I Chronicles 6:19, 23; compare Exodus

39:27; ch. 22:18). She clearly intended him to be invested with

the prerogatives of the priest. The holy daring went further in her making

for him the “little coat,” which properly was part of the dress of the high

priest, and sometimes of princes and nobles. The act is in perfect keeping

with the first deed of consecration, and with the tenor of the inspired song.

To her prophetic vision this child was from birth ordained to be an

extraordinary servant of God, for the reformation of that age and the

advancement of that kingdom the glories of which she saw afar. It is not

likely that a woman of such strong and exalted hope would be ready to

speak out in detail what was in her heart, and yet the force of her faith

would demand adequate expression. Some natures are not demonstrative

by words, but prefer silent acts to both indicate their thoughts and to

nourish their faith and hope. Therefore the clothing of Samuel with the

pure “ephod” and the “little coat” was the creation of permanent symbols

of faith for his instruction and impressment, and her own satisfaction and

support. It is not for mere notice of casual incident that the sacred writer

refers to the event, but evidently to set forth valuable truth.



WOULD SEE NOTHING. It is probable that neighbors reflected on the

eccentric conduct of the mother who so unnecessarily parted with her

child. To them he was as other children. The spiritual travail of his birth

was hidden from them. But Hannah, being in sympathy with God’s

merciful purposes to mankind, saw in her son the man of the future, the

defender of the faith, the restorer of pure worship, the consecrated spirit

which has spiritual right to do priestly work, and it was rest to her soul to

express this faith not by words which might be contradicted, but by a

solemn act full of instruction to the child, and a permanent record of what

she knew would be. So is it ever. The eye of faith sees in the infant Church

of God the promise of a “glorious Church.” Simeon saw in a babe the

“Salvation” of God. A few poor men saw in the “Man of sorrows” the

coming “King of glory.” The true believer now sees in the occasional

triumphs of the gospel the earnest of a world’s subjugation to Christ.



was no one to whom Hannah could unfold in words all that was grasped by

her faith. To her the presence of this holy child in the house of God,

serving Him in the minor details of daily routine, was virtually the

realization of the prophet’s office, and the enhancement of Messiah’s glory.

“Faith is the substance of things hoped for.”  (Hebrews 11:1)  The essential

reality of the remote is already in the heart. The future is as though it were

present.  Prevision and accomplishment become subjectively one. This holy

mysticism of the highest spiritual life is foolishness to the unspiritual, but, is

a profound and blessed fact in the experience of the true children of God.

God s word given is as good as fulfilled, and the soul finds more in the

consciousness of this truth than can ever be indicated in language. There is

always a vast reserve of religious feeling that can never find expression.

Life is more than the forms of life. The “ephod” and “little robe,” and the

annual visits to the child, were outward signs — symbolical forms — of a

something which was too great for utterance. They were the shadows of a

great reality too sacred, too rich, too varied in its issues to be set forth in

ordinary terms. So likewise our faith holds a Christ more glorious and

precious than any terms can utter. He is “formed in the heart.” He is the

unspeakable gift.” Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor heart conceived

what is grasped by the Christian’s faith as an ever present treasure. Human

speech, in prose or song, falls below the soul’s sense of blessedness in




EXPRESSING ITSELF. Holding converse with realities which lie beyond

the ordinary mind, it deviates from routine, and carves out new and rare

modes of indicating its existence. Hannah could not rest content with

telling Elkanah, Eli, and Samuel, in casual conversation and fleeting words,

what she knew this ministering child was to be in days to come, and what

she knew of the coming kingdom. Jacob made a coat of many colors to

gratify a questionable feeling of partiality. Jochebed made a covering of

bulrushes to save a precious life, possibly with a trust in a wise Providence.

But Hannah had a faith in God, in the revival of religion, in the Messiah’s

glory, which not only sought vent for itself, but dared to create new and, to

the eye of man, questionable forms of expression. Persistently, year by

year, as the sacred ephod required readjustment to varying stature, did the

faith reassert itself in every stitch and every trial of approval. Innovation it

might be, but it was true to faith, and faith loves reality, and seeks

congruity between itself and its outward forms. The apostle writing to the

Hebrews on the triumphs of faith recognizes its heroism, its superiority to

conventional forms, its intense energy in asserting itself (Hebrews 11.).

There are modern instances of the same holy daring. Symbolism may, like

other things, sometimes be the resort of weak minds and superstitious

tendencies, yet it may be a legitimate outgrowth of strong faith. The stately

sanctuary; the hushed feeling in listening to the word of God; the surrender

of fortune to the propagation of the gospel; the adoption of righteous

usages against the current of opinion and custom, are only some of the

symbols of a faith that longs and dares to indicate its presence. As feelings

grow in power when exercised, so faith nourishes itself by fit permanent

expressions, especially when in some bold and truthful deed.


  • Practical considerations:


Ø      How far the faith of these times is a reality as distinguished from a

formal consent to what is commonly believed.


Ø      Whether the Church of Christ sufficiently lays hold of the fruition of all

future toil in the acquired results of present toil.


Ø      To what extent the individuality of a powerful religious life proves itself by

deeds of daring devotion.


Ø      The distinction to be drawn between a safe or unsafe symbolism in

stated forms of worship, and the natural spontaneous symbolism of an

energetic personal faith.


Ø      The possibility of a masterful FAITH in degenerate times, rightfully

deviating from established practices, and being used by God as preliminary

to great reformations.


20"And Eli blessed Elkanah and his wife, and said, The LORD give

thee seed of this woman for the loan which is lent to the LORD.

And they went unto their own home.  21 And the LORD visited Hannah,

so that she conceived, and bare three sons and two daughters. And the

child Samuel grew before the LORD."  The Lord give thee seed, etc.

The manner in which Eli blesses Elkanah shows that this surrender of a very

young child to religious service was not looked upon as imposing a burden upon

the sanctuary, but as the bestowal of a valued gift. Loan and lent by no means give

the whole sense, which is in fact beyond the power of our language to express; for

the Hebrew is remarkable for its manner of saying a great deal in a few

words, by using them indefinitely. Besides the sense, then, of lending the

child to God, the Hebrews also conveys the idea of Samuel having been

obtained by prayer, but by prayer for Jehovah. Hannah had not asked

simply for a son, but for a son whom she might dedicate to God. And now

Eli prays that Jehovah will give her children to be her own (see on ch. 1:28).



Solid Character (vs. 20-21)


The facts are:


1. Eli forms a favorable estimate of the conduct and character of Elkanah

    and Hannah.

2. God enriches them with several children.

3. Samuel advances in years and gains in repute.

4. The sons of Eli, becoming more dissolute, are rebuked by their father.


Time had gradually brought out to the view of Eli the solid character of

Elkanah and his wife. Their regular attendance on worship at the appointed

seasons, and their reverent spirit, were in striking contrast with the

degenerate habits with which Eli was too familiar. Their quiet, unassuming

conduct harmonized with Hannah’s early professions of piety, and the child

which they had presented to assist Eli in his ministrations had fully

answered his expectations. Here, then, we have solid character:


  • APPRECIATED BY MAN. The opportunities given through a

succession of years had enabled Eli to form a favorable estimate of these

obscure dwellers on Mount Ephraim. He was the more glad to give them

his priestly benediction because of the rash words with which he once

(ch. 1:13-14) wounded a “sorrowful spirit.” It is a blessed thing

to enjoy the approval of the good. A good name is a precious treasure.

There is a sweet reward for years of toil, and possibly under

misapprehension and neglect, in being at last fairly appreciated for what

one is and has done. Although there are proud ungodly men who will

despise the godly poor, yet the conditions of character being appreciated

by the better sections of society are within the reach of the most lowly.

These conditions are:


Ø      Constancy in the discharge of religious duties. Observance year by year

of public worship and of all the ordinances of God is a good sign of a

religious spirit. Eli was not wrong in supposing that there must be solid

worth in a family that kept to the ways of the Lord when so many

neglected religious duties. A man cannot claim a reputation by asking for

it. The testimony of faithfulness in religious worship is admitted by all.

Fluctuations in religious zeal always awaken distrust. Constancy is an

element always honored.


Ø      Manifestation of an unostentatious spirit. This must have impressed Eli

very strongly. The quiet, unpretending spirit of the Levite and his wife

gained on the venerable man year by year. And so always the quiet, even

tenor of life tells an irresistible story. All sensible men shrink from the

egotism and ostentation which sometimes assume the garb of religion. The

proper thing for all is an earnest, lowly mind, more concerned with quietly

doing what is right and pleasing to God than with making an impression on

man. Those who think much of what men will say and think, and make

corresponding demonstrations of zeal, are sure to fall into the snare of “eye

service.” Like the steady influence of light and dew, quiet goodness at

home and in the Church and world is a real power. There are thousands of

such lives in Christian homes.  (“The Lord knoweth them that are His:

(II Timothy 2:19)


Ø      Self-denial in God’s service. Though Hannah’s joy in giving her heart to

God took off the edge of self-denial, yet Eli could not but be deeply

impressed with the unusual self-sacrifice of both husband and wife. The

true religious spirit of a man comes out in spontaneous offerings to the

efficiency of the services of the sanctuary and the advancement of Christ’s

kingdom. Character expressed in free, unconstrained surrender of money,

or time, or sons for religious purposes cannot but be appreciated. It is in

the power of all to perform some acts of self-denial for God, and apart

from such acts, no professions will establish a reputation in the true Church

of God. The intrinsic value of self-denial lies much in its freeness, its

timeliness, its form. The surrender of a Samuel at such a time, in such a

spirit, is an example to all ages. Are there no other Hannahs? Is all the

“precious ointment” of the Christian Church exhausted?


  • HONORED BY GOD. God does not save by virtue of human merit,

but through Christ; yet He honors fidelity by His special favor and greater

blessing. Hannah had been honored variously; e.g. in being heard, in

having a son according to promise, in being permitted to consecrate him to

the special service of God, in receiving grace to part with him from home if

not from heart, and in being enabled to enjoy a blessed vision of One

greater and more holy than Samuel. But the fidelity wherewith she and her

husband had, during the period covered, served God in home and in public

life, as also by the general tenor of their lives, was crowned with a great

increase of domestic joy. The home of Hannah emptied for God became

full. The surrendered child was returned in fivefold form. The long, pining

years of early life were followed by old age of blessed satisfaction. Thus do

all ages show that “there is that scattereth and yet increaseth.” (Proverbs

11:24) “I sent you forth;” “lacked ye anything’?”  (Luke 22:35) There is a

promise of a “hundredfold” for all that has been forsaken for Christ (Mark

10:30). In one way or another God will prove that He is not unrighteous to

forget the work of faith and labor of love. “Them that honour me I will





Ø      Let the lowly be patient in their endeavor to follow out the light they

enjoy in worship and in service.


Ø      Many individuals and families can win for themselves the precious

treasure of human and Divine favor, even though the wealth and fame

coveted in the world fall not to their lot.


Ø      The multiplication of quiet, unostentatious religious characters is an end

earnestly to be sought, as adding in every sense to the WELFARE OF



Ø      The severity of our trials in the cause of Christ, if entered into rightly, is

sure to be crowned with blessing.  (“....be thou faithful unto death, and

I will give thee a crown of life.”  Revelation 2:10)





22 "Now Eli was very old, and heard all that his sons did unto all Israel; and

how they lay with the women that assembled at the door of the tabernacle of

the congregation." Eli… heard all that his sons did. To the profanity and greed

described in vs. 12-17 the sons of Eli added unchastity; and their sin was

the greater because the women whom they corrupted were those dedicated

to religious service (see Exodus 38:8). The order of ministering women

instituted by Moses probably lasted down to the destruction of the temple,

and Anna may have belonged to it (Luke 2:37); afterwards it appeared

again in a more spiritual form in the widows and deaconesses of the

Christian Church. The word rendered assembled means “arranged in

bands,” and shows not merely that they were numerous, but that they had

regular duties assigned them, and each one her proper place and office. The

frequent sacrifices, with the feasts which followed, must have provided

occupation for a large number of hands in the cleaning of the utensils and

the cooking of the food. But though Eli heard of the depraved conduct of

his sons in thus defiling those who ministered in the tabernacle, he gives

them but the faintest rebuke, and that apparently only because their

misdeeds were in everybody’s mouth; for the last clause of v. 23 really is,

“For I hear of your evil doings from all this people.” Eli’s old age may have

increased his indifference, but his religious character could never have had

much depth or earnestness, to allow him to regard such heinous sins so

lightly. It seems even as if he chiefly felt the annoyance occasioned to

himself by the expostulations urged upon him “from all this people.” Still

all that he says is wise and thoughtful. The sins of men in high station do

not end with themselves; they make others also to transgress. And as Eli’s

sons were Jehovah’s ministers, and they had led into wickedness those who

also were bound to holy service, their misconduct was a sin against

Jehovah Himself.


23 "And he said unto them, Why do ye such things? for I hear of your

evil dealings by all this people.  24 Nay, my sons; for it is no good report that

I hear: ye make the LORD’s people to transgress. 25 If one man sin against

another, the judge shall judge him: but if a man sin against the LORD, who

shall intreat for him? Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto the voice of

their father, because the LORD would slay them.  26 And the child Samuel

grew on, and was in favor both with the LORD, and also with men."

Eli’s words are very obscure, but “Ye make Jehovah’s people to transgress”

is upon the whole the best rendering of the clause. Both the Septuagint and Syriac

have a different reading: “Ye make Jehovah’s people cease to worship Him”

In the next verse there is no sufficient reason for supposing that Elohim, God, here

means a judge.  Elohim was the head of the theocracy, the ruler of Israel in all

things, and He would set to rights these delinquencies of “one man against another”

by the ordinary exercise of His judicial functions. So far all is easy, and we

must translate, “If one man sin against another, God shall judge him.” But

in the last clause there is one of those plays upon words to which the

Hebrew language, with its numerous conjugations, so readily lends itself

(see on ch. 1:28); and it is rarely possible to transfer to another

language the force of passages in which the sense depends upon the terms

in the original having a double meaning. The verb rendered shall judge in

the first clause is used again by Eli in the second, but in a different

conjugation, in which its usual meaning is to pray. According to the

lexicon, therefore, we must translate: “If a man sin against Jehovah, who

shall pray for him?” But surely it was just the occasion in which the only

remedy left was intercessory prayer. Bearing then in remembrance the use

made by Eli of the verb in the first clause, we must translate: “Who shall

act as judge for him?” “Who shall interpose as arbitrator between him and

Jehovah to settle the quarrel?” The verb itself, moreover, is a rare and old-

fashioned one, and apparently means to settle a dispute. So it is used of

Phinehas, who by his righteous zeal put an end to the rebellion against

God’s laws (Numbers 25:7-8; and accordingly in Psalm 106:30, where our

version renders “executed judgment,” the, Vulgate has placavit, appeased

Jehovah’s anger.  The sense then is, In case of wrong done between man and man,

God as the supreme Arbitrator settles the dispute; but where the two parties are

God and man, what third power is there which can interfere? The quarrel

must go on to the bitter end, and God, who is your opponent, will also

punish you. The same idea is found in Job 9:33. Naturally to so mild a

remonstrance, and founded upon so low a view of the Divine nature, the

sons of Eli paid but slight attention, and by thus hardening themselves in

sin they made their punishment inevitable, “because it pleased Jehovah to

slay them.” Man can bring upon himself neither good nor evil except by the

working of God’s will, and the punishment of sin is as thoroughly a part of

God’s will as the rewarding of righteousness. An intense conviction of the

personality of God was the very foundation of the religious life of the

Israelites, and lies at the root of the words of Eli here and of those of Job;

and it was this which made them ascribe to God that hardening of the

wicked in sin which is the sure means of their punishment. We ascribe it to

the working of natural laws, which after all is but saying the same thing in a

round about way; for the laws of nature, in things moral as well as in the

physical world, are the laws of God. In v. 26, in contrast with Eli’s sons

ripening for punishment, and daily more abhorred to God and man, we

have Samuel set before us advancing in age and “in favor with Jehovah

and also with men,” like Him of whom in so many respects he was a type

(Luke 2:52), our blessed Lord.



Ineffective Reproof (vs. 22-25)


A man may possess many amiable qualities, and be, on the whole, a good

man, and yet be marked by some defect which mars his character, prevents

his usefulness, and makes him the unintentional cause of much mischief.

Such a man was Eli. Of his early life nothing is recorded. He was a

descendant of Ithamar, the youngest son of Aaron, and held the office of

high priest, which formerly belonged to the elder branch of the Aaronic

family, that of Eleazar (Numbers 20:26), but which was now

transferred to the younger, from some unknown cause, and which

continued therein until the time of Solomon. At the age of fifty-eight he

became judge, and “judged Israel forty years” (ch. 4:18). When

first mentioned he must have been at least seventy years old. His sons were

children of his old age; for some time afterwards they were spoken of as

young men (v. 17), and, as is not uncommon in such cases, he

treated them with undue indulgence. He was hasty and severe in reproving

Hannah, but slow and mild in reproving them. The inefficiency of his

reproof appears in that:



go wrong generally appears at an early age; and it must have been seen by

him in his sons long before the rumor of their flagrant transgressions

reached him, if he had not been blind to their faults. But he had no

adequate sense of his parental responsibility, was old and weak, of a gentle

and easy going temperament, and omitted to reprove them (I Kings 1:6)

until they had become too strongly devoted to their evil ways to be

amenable to expostulation. A little plant may be easily rooted up, but when

it has grown into a tree it can only be removed by extraordinary efforts. If

some children are “discouraged” (Colossians 3:21) by too much

strictness, far more are spoiled by too much indulgence. “Indulgence never

produces gratitude or love in the heart of a child.”



Gentle reproof may sometimes be most effective, but here it was out of place.


Ø      It was not sufficiently pointed in its application; being given to them

collectively rather than individually, in indefinite terms, by way of

question, and concerning things which he had heard, but into the certainty

of which he had not troubled himself to inquire.


Ø      It exhibited no sufficient sense of the evil of sin (v. 25). He spoke of

the consequences rather than of the nature, the “exceeding sinfulness” of

sin, and spoke of them in a way which indicated little deep personal



Ø      It showed no sufficient determination to correct it. He did not say that

he would judge them for their injustice toward men; and with reference to

their sin against the Lord, which was their chief offence, he simply

confessed that he could do nothing but leave them to the judgment of a

higher tribunal. “In the case where the rebuke should have descended like a

bolt from heaven we hear nothing but low and feeble murmurings, coming,

as it were, out of the dust. Cruel indeed are the tenderest mercies of

parental weakness and indulgence. And the fate of Eli shows that by such

tender mercies the father may become the minister of vengeance unto his

whole house.



The law of Moses in the case of disobedient children was very severe

(Deuteronomy 21:18-21). But Eli neither observed this law “when they

hearkened not to his voice” (v. 25), nor took any further steps to prevent

the continuance of the evil which he reproved. He had none of the zeal for

which Phinehas the son of Eleazar was approved (Numbers 25:11-13);

but as a father, a high priest, and a judge he was guilty of culpable infirmity

and wilful disobedience (ch. 3:13).



contempt of reproof showed that they were already infatuated, hardened,

and abandoned to destruction; or (reading for — therefore), it filled up the

measure of their iniquities, and exposed them to inevitable judgment. “He

that hateth reproof shall die” (Proverbs 15:10).


Ø      Reproof is often a solemn obligation.

Ø      It should be given in an effective manner.

Ø      When not so given it does more harm than good.

Ø      When justly given it should be humbly and obediently received.



Abandoned (vs. 22-26)


The facts are:


1. Eli in advancing years hears of the abominable deeds of his sons.

2. He remonstrates with them, pointing out the con sequences of their conduct.

3. Heedless of the warning, they persist in sin, being abandoned by God.

The narrative of the sacred historian seems to take in two extremes — two

elements working on in moral antagonism till the one passes away and the

other becomes ascendant. The abominations and profanations of Eli’s sons,

and Samuel’s purity and entire devotion to God, are placed in striking

contrast. The history of the former is sketched as explaining the course of

Providence in the deliverance wrought by Samuel’s subsequent conduct.

The stage in the course of the dissolute priests here indicated brings into



  • THE FEARFUL PROGRESSION IN SIN. The iniquity of years culminates

in the most abominable crimes men could commit. The descent to

shamelessness and utter corruption becomes very rapid. (It is very

troublesome to see how quickly the United States has declined! CY - 2016)

One can hardly imagine these vile sons of Belial as once having been gentle

youths taught to revere Jehovah’s name, and to tread His courts with awe.

The momentum gained by evil desires when once let loose is among the most

fearful features of human experience. It is the same sad story as often told

now to the hearts of wailing parents:


Ø      disobedience,

Ø      aversion to holy things,

Ø      formal observances,

Ø      secret associations of evil,

Ø      seared conscience,

Ø      loss of self-respect,

Ø      profanation of sacred places,

Ø      contempt for religion,

Ø      self-abandonment to lust, and

Ø      defiance of God.


What tears fall to earth nightly over erring ones! What blasted hopes lie on

life’s pathway! What cruel triumphs of sin over all that is fair and strong in

human nature! Holy Saviour, many of thy followers share in thy tears once

shed over sin finished in righteous doom! (James 1:15). When, when shall

the mighty power come in answer to the cry of try Church to turn back the

tide of woe, and drive the curse from the heart and home of man? “How long,

 O Lord, how long?”  (Revelation 6:10)


  • DEFECTIVE DISCIPLINE. No doubt Eli, as a good man, deplored

the vices of the age, and above all the crimes of his sons, and he performed

a father’s part in remonstrating with them on account of their deeds,

warning them of the dangers to which they were exposed at the hand of the

invisible Judge. But the day for warning and remonstrance was past, and

the day for swift, unsparing punishment HAD COME!  As judge in civil

capacity, and as high priest in spiritual capacity, the course of Eli was clear

immediate banishment from office and capital punishment

(Leviticus 18:6, 20, 29; 20:10; 21:6-7, 17, 23). We see how a man

good in many respects, may recognize duty and not perform it. Eli knew

that the sin of contempt for the ordinance of sacrifice, utter disregard of

the honor due to God, prostitution of the holiest office to the vilest uses,

was past condoning, past covering even by sacrifice. For God, as Eli puts

it, makes no provision to pardon and save those who wantonly scorn the

means of pardon and salvation. No sacrifice! no intercessor! Yet the

appointed judge in Israel is content with a bare declaration of truth,

refraining from an exercise of the powers wherewith he is invested for the

vindication of justice and the maintenance of order. Moral weakness was

the sin of Eli. The imperious claims of God, of public welfare, of religious

purity, appealed to the sense of duty in vain, because of some personal

sentiment or lack of resolution. Cases often arise in national affairs, Church

discipline, home life, where duty comes into collision with private

sentiments and personal affection. Sometimes, as with Nathan in accusing

David, and Ambrose in placing Theodosius under the ban, moral strength is

conspicuous. Often, as with Eli, Jonah, and David in one instance, sense of

duty yields to inferior impulses. True moral courage is a quality of high

order. It confers great honor on those in whom it appears, and is a most

important element in securing the welfare of the individual, the home, and

the public. Its presence in most perfect Christian form may be ascribed to

the combination of various elements.


Ø      A natural sense of justice — a psychological condition in which moral

perceptions have more prompt influence than transitory emotions.

Ø      A careful culture of the conscience through early years, and in relation

to the minutiae of life.

Ø      Intelligent faith in the inviolability of moral law.

Ø      Formation of the habit of immediate submission to moral dictates, on

the general principle that in morals first thoughts are truest.

Ø      Strength of will to endure present suffering, as not being the worst of


Ø      A nature brought fully under the quickening influence of practical

Christianity, as consisting in radical renewal, obedience to the precepts of

Christ, fellowship with a holy God, and perpetual aspiration after holiness.


There are instances still in which failure in moral courage is the one great

blot on an otherwise excellent life. Where such occur sin flourishes, and the

righteous mourn. The severe hand of justice is frequently the hand of true

kindness. Favoritism and subordination of righteousness to personal ends,

in public and domestic life, cause iniquity to abound, and sooner or later

these will be visited by THE JUDGMENT OF GOD!


  • DIVINE ABANDONMENT. The sons of Eli were given up by God

to their deserved doom. They heeded not remonstrance, for they had gone

so far into sin as to be left destitute of that gracious influence from God,

without which the soul is held fast in the cords of its iniquity. The outward

fact of despising the father’s warning was evidence to the historian that

God had judicially abandoned them. “They hearkened not, because the

Lord would slay. them.” The solemn truth is clear that men may persist in

sin so utterly as TO BE GIVEN UP BY GOD WITHOUT MERCY  to all its



Ø      The evidence of this is full.


o        Men are sometimes smitten with death as a consequence of persistent

sin, as in case of Sodom, and the rebellion of Korah, all means of

repentance being judicially cut off.  (Genesis 19; Numbers 16)

o        The New Testament references to the sin against the Holy Ghost, and

the apostasy of counting the blood of Christ an “unclean thing.”

(Hebrews 10:29)

o        The fact that at the end of life the impenitent are given over to look for

“tribulation and anguish.”  (Romans 2:9)


Ø      The rationale of this is partly discoverable. It is not mere arbitrariness,

nor is it the effect of imperfect benevolence.


o        It is consonant with the working of natural law. Physiology and

psychology prove that there is a tendency to permanence of character

in all. This is especially true of those who persist in strong

unhallowed desires.

o        There are transgressions even in society which admit of no

restoration to society.

o        In a wise and endlessly ramified moral government which rests on an

eternal right, there can be no proof that a moral Ruler, whose existence

is bound up with right and order, is obliged to cover the past of free

beings who have deliberately persisted in evil, by giving them a new

power which shall make them different from what they prefer to be.

o        The judicial abandonment of the intensely sinful acts as a wholesome

deterrent on the moral universe, by vindicating the holiness of God,

and the claim of universal society on the pure, loving life of each of

its constituents, and this too while giving to free beings only what

they prefer.




Ø      The importance of guarding against first tendencies to deviate from the

path of purity and truth.

Ø      The value of early habits of devotion, regard for right and purity, as a

preventive of habits of a reverse character.

Ø      The extreme danger to the Church of a professional religion in alliance

with a tendency to sensual indulgence, and the need of watching closely

against such a possible combination.

Ø      The value of an early training of. the moral sense, and its constant

culture, as against the inferior elements of our life.

Ø      The use of the lessons of history, as illustrating the terrible power of sin,

and the damage done to society and the Church by defective discipline.





27 "And there came a man of God unto Eli, and said unto him, Thus

saith the LORD, Did I plainly appear unto the house of thy father,

when they were in Egypt in Pharaoh’s house?  28  And did I choose him

out of all the tribes of Israel to be my priest, to offer upon mine altar,

to burn incense, to wear an ephod before me? and did I give unto the

house of thy father all the offerings made by fire of the children of Israel?

29 "Wherefore kick ye at my sacrifice and at mine offering, which I

have commanded in my habitation; and honorest thy sons above

me, to make yourselves fat with the chiefest of all the offerings of

Israel my people?"  There came a man of God. The title man of God is the

usual appellation of a prophet in the books of Judges, Samuel, and Kings, and

as such is applied by Manoah to the angel who appeared to him (Judges 13:6, 8).

Though the recorded interpositions of the Deity in those times

were generally by angels, still the readiness with which Manoah gave his

visitant this title makes it probable that prophets did appear from time to

time; and the mission of one, though, as here, without a name, is recorded

in Judges 6:8. As regards the date of this visitation of the man of God,

we find that Eli was ninety-eight years of age when the ark was captured

(ch. 4:15). At that time Samuel was not merely a man, but one whose reputation

was established throughout the whole land, and who was probably regarded not

merely as a prophet, but as Eli’s successor in the office of judge (ch. 3:19-20).

But Eli was “very old” (v. 22) when he rebuked his sons, probably between seventy

and eighty, for Samuel is then called a child (v. 26); whereas he can scarcely

have been much less than thirty years of age when the Philistines destroyed

Shiloh. In ch. 8:1-3, when the misconduct of Samuel’s own sons

led to the revival of the agitation for a king, he is himself described as

already “old;” but as he lived on till nearly the end of Saul’s reign, he could

not at that time have been much more than sixty. Even when God spake by

him to Eli he is still described as a boy, na’ar (ch. 3:1), though

the higher position to which he had attained, as is proved by his duties,

would lead to the conclusion that he was then verging on manhood. As

some time would naturally elapse between two such solemn warnings, we

may feel sure that the visit of the man of God occurred shortly after

Samuel s dedication. Then, as Eli neglected the warning, and the

wickedness of his sons grew more inveterate, some eight or ten years

afterwards the warning was repeated in sharper tones by the voice of his

own youthful attendant. Meanwhile Eli seems himself to have grown in

personal piety, but he could do nothing now for his sons. Past eighty years

of age, the time of activity had gone by, and resignation was the sole virtue

that was left for him to practice. And so the warning given by the mouth of

Samuel is stern and final. Ten or fifteen more years must elapse before the

ruin came. But the gloom was deepening; the Philistines were increasing in

power, and the valor of Israel was decaying as its morality declined; then

there was a short violent crash, and the house of Eli met its doom.

The prophet begins by enumerating Jehovah’s mercies to “the house of thy

father,” that is, the whole family of Aaron, in selecting them for the

priesthood (on the choice of the house of Aaron, see Exodus 28. and 29.), and

in richly endowing the office with so large a portion of every sacrifice.

These portions are termed literally firings, or fire sacrifices, but the term

soon became general, and in Leviticus 24:7, 9 is applied even to the

shew bread. Added then to the tithes, and to the cities with their suburbs

given them to inhabit, this share of every sacrifice gave the house of Aaron

great wealth, and with it they had also high rank. There was no one above

them in Israel except the kings. In Sparta we find that one of the

endowments of the kings was the skins of animals offered in sacrifice

(Herod., 6:56). Why then do Eli and his sons, who benefit so greatly by

them, “kick at Jehovah’s sacrifices and offerings?” The word is taken from

Deuteronomy 32:15, and refers to the efforts of a pampered steer

violently to shake off the yoke. Eli’s sons treat the ordinances which have

raised them to rank, and given them wealth and power, as if they were an

injury and wrong. And Eli, instead of removing them from the office which

they disgraced, preferred the ties of relationship to his duty to God and the

moral welfare of the people.


30 "Wherefore the LORD God of Israel saith, I said indeed that thy

house, and the house of thy father, should walk before me for ever:

but now the LORD saith, Be it far from me; for them that honor

me I will honor, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed."

I said indeed. By thus acting Eli became an accomplice in the

irreligion of his sons, and God therefore revokes His grant of a perpetual

priesthood. The promise had been made to Aaron’s family as a whole

(Exodus 29:9), and had then been renewed to the house of Eleazar

(Numbers 25:13). But the house of Ithamar was now in the ascendant,

probably owing to Eli’s own ability, who during the anarchical times of the

Judges had won for himself, first, the civil power, and then, upon some

fitting opportunity, the high priesthood also, though I suppose the heads of

the houses of Eleazar and Ithamar were always persons of great

importance, and high priests in a certain sense. Eli had now the priority,

and had he and his family proved worthy, the possession of this high

station might have been confirmed to them. Like Saul in the kingdom, they

proved unworthy of it, and so THEY LOST IT FOR EVER!  Their names,

as we have seen above, do not even occur in the genealogies.

I said .... but now Jehovah saith. Can then a promise of God be

withdrawn? Yes, assuredly. Not from mankind as a whole, nor from the

Church as a whole, but from each particular nation, or Church, or

individual. To each separate person God’s promises are conditional, and

human action everywhere is a coworker with the Divine volition, though

only within a limited sphere, and so as that the Divine purposes MUST

FINALLY BE ACCOMPLISHED!   Eli then and his sons may suffer forfeit

of the promise by not fulfilling the obligations which, whether expressed or

implied, are an essential condition of every promise made by God to man.

But the high priesthood will continue, and will perform its allotted task of

preparing for the priesthood of Christ. “Them that honor me I will honour,”

states one of these conditions essential on man’s part to secure the fulfillment

of God’s promises.



A Message of Approaching Judgment (vs. 27-30)


1. This message came from God, who observed, as He ever does, the sins

of His people, and especially His ministers, with much displeasure, and after

long forbearance resolved to punish them (Amos 3:2; I Peter. 4:17).


2. It came through a man whose name has not been recorded, and who was

probably unknown to him to whom he was sent. When God sends a

message it matters little by whom it is brought. He often makes His most

important communications in a way the world does not expect, and by men

who are unknown to fame. The authority of the Lord invests His

messengers with dignity and power. And their best credentials are that they

commend themselves to the conscience” (II Corinthians 4:2).


3. It came through a “man of God,” a seer, a prophet, and not directly from

God to Eli, the high priest. He chooses for special service men who live

near to him, and are in sympathy with His purposes, in preference to those

who occupy official positions, but are possessed of little personal worth.

For a long season no prophet had spoken (Judges 4:4; 6:8; 13:6); and

when the silence of heaven is suddenly broken, it is an intimation that great

changes are impending.


4. It came some time before the events which it announced actually

transpired. “The Lord is slow to anger” (Nahum 1:3), and executes

judgment only after repeated warnings. Predictions which are absolute in

form must often be understood as in their fulfillment conditioned by the

moral state of those whom they concern (Jeremiah 18:7-10; Jonah 3:4, 9-10).

The purpose for which this message was sent was to lead to

repentance, and it was not until all hope of it had disappeared that the blow

fell. (America and the world's nations and peoples need to ponder this!

CY - 2016)In substance the message contains:


  • A REMINDER OF SPECIAL PRIVILEGES bestowed by the favor of

God, and shown:


Ø      By the revelation of Himself to those who were in a condition of abject

servitude (v. 27).

Ø      By His selection of some, in preference to others, for exalted and

honorable service (v. 28).

Ø      By His liberal provision for them out of the offerings made by the people

to Himself. Religious privileges always involve responsibilities, and should

be faithfully used out of gratitude for their bestowment.



for which the priests were endowed with these privileges was not the

promotion of their own honor and interest, but the honor of God and the

welfare of His people. But they acted in opposition to that purpose.


Ø      By irreverence and self-will in His service. “Wherefore do ye trample

under foot my sacrifice?”

Ø      By disobedience to His will. “Which I have commanded.”

Ø      By pleasing others in preference to Him. “And honorest thy sons above

me.” Eli’s toleration of the conduct of his sons, from regard to their

interest and his own ease, involved him in their guilt.

Ø      By self-enrichment out of the religious offerings of the people. The idol

which man in sin sets up in the place of God can be none other than

HIMSELF!   He makes self and self-satisfaction the highest aim of life. To

self his efforts ultimately tend, however the modes and directions of sin may

vary. The innermost essence of sin, the ruling and penetrating principle, in

all its forms, is selfishness. When men use the gifts of God for selfish ends

they render themselves liable to be deprived of those gifts, and to be

punished for their misuse.



which God acts in His procedure with men (v. 30). They have been apt to

suppose that privileges bestowed upon themselves or inherited from their

ancestors were absolutely their own, and would be certainly continued. But

it is far otherwise; for:


Ø      The fulfilment of the promises of God and the continuance of religious

privileges depend on the ethical relation in which men stand toward Him.

His covenant with Levi was “for the fear with which he feared me”

(Malachi 2:6-7); but when his descendants lost that fear they

corrupted the covenant,” and ceased to have any claim upon its promised

blessings. It was the same with the Jews who in after ages vainly boasted

that they were “the children of Abraham.” In the sight of the Holy One

righteousness is everything, hereditary descent nothing, except in so far as

it is promotive of righteousness.

Ø      Faithful service is rewarded. HONOR FOR HONOR. “Them that

honor me I will honor.” Consider:


o        The ground: not merely His relationship as moral Governor, but His

beneficence in bestowing the gifts of nature, providence, and grace.

o        The method: in thought, word, and deed.

o        The reward: his approbation, continued service, extended usefulness,


Ø      Unfaithful conduct is punished. Promises and threatenings are made to

individuals because they are in a particular state of character; but they

belong to all who are in that state, for "God is no respecter of persons.”

“He will give to every man according to his works.”



of Eli (vs. 31-34). Consisting of:


Ø      The deprivation of strength, which had been abused. Their power would

be broken (Zechariah 11:17).

Ø      The shortening of life, the prolonging of which in the case of Eli had

been an occasion of evil rather than of good. “There shall not be an old

man in thine house forever;” the result of weakness; repeated in v. 32.

Ø      The loss of prosperity; the temporal benefits that would otherwise have

been received. “Thou shalt see distress of dwelling in all that brings

prosperity to Israel.”

Ø      The infliction of misery on those who continue, for a while, to minister

at the altar, and of violent death (v. 33; 22:18).

Ø      Although these things would not take place at once, their

commencement, as a sign of what would follow, would be witnessed by Eli

himself in the sudden death of the two chief offenders “in one day” (ch. 4:11)

If anything could rouse the house of Eli to “flee from the

wrath to come,” surely such a fearful message as this was adapted to do so.

Fear of coming wrath, although it never makes men truly religious, may,

and often does, arouse and restrain them, and bring them under the

influence of other and higher motives. The closing sentences contain:



that which had proved faithless (vs. 35-36). “I will raise up a faithful

priest,” etc., i.e. a line of faithful men to accomplish the work for which the

priesthood has been appointed, and to enjoy the privileges which the house

of Eli has forfeited. In contrast with that house, it will do my will, and I

will cause it to endure; and it will continue to live in intimate fellowship

and cooperation with the anointed kings of Israel. It will also be so exalted,

that the surviving members of the fallen house will be entirely dependent

upon it for a “piece of bread.” The prediction was first of all fulfilled in

Samuel, who by express commission from God acted habitually as a priest;

and afterwards in Zadok, in whom the line of Eleazar was restored; but the

true underlying idea of a priest, like that of a king, has its full realization in

JESUS CHRIST ALONE! The gloomiest of prophetic messages generally

conclude with words of promise and hope.



Honor and Dishonor (v. 30)


Concerning the moral attitude assumed by men toward God, which is here

described, observe:



Our relation to others is a light thing compared with what it is to Him. This

is everything; and knowledge, power, riches, reputation, etc. nothing.


Ø      Because of His nature (“There is none holy as the Lord”), His

government (moral, supreme, universal), and His claims. It is the

effectual test of our character, what we are really and essentially.

Ø      It is the principal means of forming and strengthening it. What are we in

His sight? What does He think of me?



Honor me.” “Despise me.”


Ø      Honor; by reverence (the fundamental principle of the religious life),

trust, prayer, obedience, fidelity, living to His glory.

Ø      Despise; by forgetfulnesss, unbelief, self-will, pride, selfishness,

disobedience, sin of every kind.

Ø      There is no other alternative. “For me or against me” (Exodus

32:26; Jeremiah 8:1; Matthew 6:24; 7:13-14; 12:30).



CONSEQUENCES. “I will honor.” “Shall be lightly esteemed.”


Ø      Honor; by His friendship, appointment to honorable service, giving

success therein, open acknowledgment before men here and hereafter.

“Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”

Ø      Lightly esteemed; by Himself, men, angels, despised even by themselves,

and cast away among the vile. “He that sayeth his life shall lose it.”

(Luke 9:24)

Ø      There is a strict correspondence between character and consequences,

both generally and particularly, in kind and measure. And the joy and

misery of the future will be the consummation and the ripened fruit of

WHAT EXISTS NOW!  (Galatians 6:7).



ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN. Men often think otherwise. But “be not

deceived.” Consider:


Ø      The natural constitution and tendencies of things, as ordained by Him

who is “above all, and in all, and through all.”  (Ephesians 4:6)

Ø      The recorded and observed facts of life.

Ø      The express declarations of Him “who cannot lie.” (Titus 1:2)

I will honor.” “They shall be lightly esteemed.”



Office Nothing without Character (v. 30)


The worthlessness of rank or hereditary position without corresponding

wisdom or virtue is a commonplace of moral reflection. But it is startling

to find how strongly it is affirmed in Holy Writ of those who hold high

office in the house of God. The priesthood in Israel was hereditary, though

in point of fact the regularity of the succession was often broken; but such

hereditary office was never meant to protect unworthy men like the sons of

Eli. Their position was forfeited by their misconduct, and their priestly

functions were transferred to other hands. The principle is for all time, and

for general application. Does one reach and occupy a high station in the

Church? No matter what his line of “holy orders” may be, or who laid

hands of ordination on his head, or what functions he is held competent to

perform, he must be judged by this test — Does he honor God in his

office, or honor and serve himself? Does he so live and act as to

commend and glorify Christ? And the same test must be applied to the man

professing himself a Christian who occupies a throne on the earth, or who

holds high dignity in the state, or who has power as a writer or an orator

over the minds of men, or who as a capitalist has great means and

opportunities of usefulness. Does he in his station glorify God? If not, his

rank, or office, or grand position avails him nothing.


  • THE PIOUS DIVINELY HONOURED. To honor God; think what

this implies. To know Him truly, to reverence and love Him. In vain any

verbal or formal homage without the honor rendered by the heart (see

Matthew 15:8). He whose heart cleaves to God will show it in his daily

conduct. He will be careful to consult God’s word for direction, and

observe His statutes. He will openly respect God’s ordinances, and give

cheerfully for their maintenance, and for the furtherance of righteous and

charitable objects. He will honor the Lord with his substance, and with

the first fruits of all his increase. He will worship God with his family, and

teach his children “the fear of the Lord.” In his place or station he will

make it his aim, and hold it his chief end, to glorify God. And, without any

vaunting or ostentation, he will show his colors — avow his faith and

hope openly. The boy king, Edward VI., showed his colors when he sat

alas! for how short a time — on the English throne. So did Sir

Matthew Hale on the bench, and Robert Boyle in the Royal Society, and

William Wilberforce in the highest circles of political life. So did Dr.

Arnold among the boys at Rugby, and Dr. Abercrombie and Sir James

Simpson among their patients in Edinburgh; Samuel Budgett in his

counting house at Bristol, and General Havelock among his troops in India.

These men were not in what are called religious offices; but, in such offices

or positions as Providence assigned to them, they bore themselves as

religious, God fearing men. And others there are in places and callings

more obscure who are quite as worthy of esteem; those who, in houses of

business among scoffing companions, in servants’ halls, in workshops, in

barrack rooms, in ships’ forecastles, meekly but firmly honor the Lord,

and ennoble a lowly calling by fidelity to conscience and to God. The Lord

sees and remembers all who honor Him. (II Timothy 2:19)  Nay, He honors

them; but after His own manner, not after the fashion of the world. He honors

faithful servants in this world by giving them more work to do. He honors

true witnesses by extending the range for their testimony. Sometimes He

honors those with whom He is well pleased by appointing them to suffer

for His cause. Paul evidently deemed this a high honor. Witness his

words to the Philippians: “Unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not

only to believe in his name, but also to suffer for his sake.” Some He calls

away in early years out of the world, but they leave behind a fragrant

honored name, and they go to “glory, honour, and immortality” (Romans

2:7) in a better land. It is right to value the good opinion of our fellow men;

but there are always drawbacks and dangers in connection with honor which

comes from man. In seeking it one is tempted to tarnish his simplicity of

character, and weaken his self-respect. There is a risk of envying more

successful, or exulting over less successful competitors for distinction. But it

need never be so in seeking “the honor which comes from God only.”

(John 5:44)  We seek it best not when we push ourselves forward, but when

we deny ourselves, honor Him, and by love serve the brethren. And then in

our utmost success we have no ground of self-glorying, for all is of grace.

Nor is there room for grudging or envying. With the Lord there is grace

enough to help all who would serve him, and glory enough to reward

all who serve him faithfully.


  • THE IMPIOUS DESPISED. “And they that despise me shall be lightly

esteemed.” Despise the Lord God Almighty! Amazing insolence of the

human heart, yet not infrequent. The sons of Eli openly slighted Jehovah by

their rapacity in the priest’s office, and their profaning the precincts of His

house with their debauchery. Long after this, priests of Judah are reproved

by the prophet Malachi for despising the name of the Lord of hosts,

making His table contemptible by laying on it polluted bread, and

dishonoring His altar by offering maimed animals in sacrifice. The warning

then, in the first instance, is to those who bear themselves profanely or

carelessly in sacred offices, and in familiar contact with religious service.

But the sin is one which soon spreads among the people.  Ezekiel charged

the people of Jerusalem with having “despised God’s holy things, and

profaned His sabbaths (Ezekiel 22:8). This sin is a common thing in

Christendom. Men do not in terms deny God’s existence, but make light of

Him; never read His word with any seriousness; never pray unless they are

ill or afraid; count Church service and instruction a weariness. The base

gods of the heathen receive more respect and consideration from their

votaries. Allah has far more reverence from the Moslem than the great God

of heaven and earth obtains from multitudes who pass as Christians. They

live as if He had no right to command them, and no power to judge them.

They lift their own will and pleasure to the throne, and despise the Lord of

hosts. With what result? They shall be lightly esteemed. Even in this world,

and this life, the ungodly miss the best distinctions. They are not the men

who gather about them the highest confidence or most lasting influence

and esteem. After they leave the world, a few are remembered who had

rare force of character or an unusually eventful career; but how the rest are

forgotten! A few natural tears from their nearest kindred, a few inquiries

among friends about the amount and disposal of their property, a decorous

silence about themselves on the principle that nothing but what is good

should be said of the dead, and so their memory perishes. But all is not

over. A TERRIBLE HEREAFTER AWAITS the despisers of the Lord.

“As a dream when one awaketh; so, O Lord, when thou awakest, thou shalt

despise their image.”  (Psalm 73:20)  The clear alternative in this text is one

that cannot be evaded.  One may try to assume a negative attitude, and allege

that he remains in a state of suspense, and does not find the recognition of a

Divine Being to be an imperative necessity; but this is practically to despise

the Lord — making light of his word, and pronouncing his very existence to

be a matter of doubtful truth and of secondary importance. Reject not

wisdom’s counsel; despise not her reproof. “Today, if ye will hear the

voice of the Lord, harden not your hearts.” (Hebrews 3:7-8)


31 "Behold, the days come, that I will cut off thine arm, and the arm of

thy father’s house, that there shall not be an old man in thine house."

I will cut off thine arm. The arm is the usual metaphor for

strength. As Eli had preferred the exaltation of his sons to God’s honor,

he is condemned to see the strength of his house broken. Nay, more; there

is not to be an “old man in his house.” The young men full of energy and

vigor perish by the sword; the Survivors fade away by disease. The Jews

say that the house of Ithamar was peculiarly short-lived, but the prophecy

was amply fulfilled in the slaughter of Eli’s house, first at Shiloh, and then

at Nob by Doeg the Edomite at the command of Saul.  (ch. 22) There is nothing

to warrant an abiding curse upon his family. The third or fourth generation is

the limit of the visitation of the sins of the fathers upon the children.


32 "And thou shalt see an enemy in my habitation, in all the wealth

which God shall give Israel: and there shall not be an old man in thine

house for ever."  Thou shalt see an enemy. The translation of v. 32 is very

difficult, but is probably as follows: “And thou shalt behold, i.e. see with

wonder and astonishment, narrowness of habitation in all the wealth which

shall be given unto Israel.” The word translated narrowness often means an

“enemy,” but as that for habitation is the most general term in the Hebrews

language for a dwelling, being used even of the dens of wild beasts

(Jeremiah 9:10; Nahum 2:12), the rendering an “enemy of dwelling”

gives no sense. Hence the violent insertion of the pronoun my, for which

no valid excuse can be given. But narrowness of dwelling, means distress,

especially in a man’s domestic relations, and this is the sense required. In

the growing public and national prosperity which was to be Israel’s lot

under Samuel, Saul, David, and Solomon, Eli was to see, not in person, but

prophetically, calamity attaching itself to his own family. His house was to

decay in the midst of the progress of all the rest. Upon this denunciation of

private distress naturally follows the repetition of the threat that the house

of Ithamar should be left without an old man to guide its course onward to

renewed prosperity.


33 "And the man of thine, whom I shall not cut off from mine altar,

shall be to consume thine eyes, and to grieve thine heart: and all

the increase of thine house shall die in the flower of their age."

The man of thine, etc. The meaning of the Hebrews is here

again changed by the insertion of words not in the original. Translated

literally the sense is good, but merciful, and this the Authorized Version

has so rendered as to make it the most bitter of all denunciations. The Hebrews

is, “Yet I will not cut off every one of thine from my altar, to consume thine eyes

and to grieve thy soul;” that is, thy punishment shall not be so utter as to leave

thee with no consolation; for thy descendants, though diminished in

numbers, and deprived of the highest rank, shall still minister as priests at

mine altar. “But the majority of try house — literally,  the multitude of thy house

— shall die as men.” This is very well rendered in the Authorized Version “in the

flower of their age,” only we must not explain this of dying of disease. They were

to die in their vigor, not, like children and old men, in their beds, but by

violent deaths, such as actually befell them at Shiloh and at Nob.


34 "And this shall be a sign unto thee, that shall come upon thy two

sons, on Hophni and Phinehas; in one day they shall die both of them."

With this the sign here given exactly agrees. Hophni and

Phinehas died fighting valiantly in battle, and then came the sacking of

Shiloh, and the slaughter of the ministering priests (Psalm 78:64). Upon

this followed a long delay. For first Eli’s grandson, Ahitub, the son of

Phinehas, was high priest, and then his two sons, Ahiah and Ahimelech,

and then Abiathar, the son of Ahimelech. It was in Ahimelech’s days that

the slaughter took place at Nob, from which the house of Ithamar seems

never to have fully recovered.


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."

I will raise me up a faithful priest. This prophecy is explained in three several ways,

of Samuel, of Zadok, and of Christ. St. Augustine, who considers the whole passage

at length in his ‘De Civ. Dei,’ 17:5, argues that it cannot be reasonably said that a

change in the priesthood foretold with so great circumstance was fulfilled in Samuel.

But while we grant that it was an essential characteristic of Jewish prophecy to

be ever larger than the immediate fulfillment, yet its primary meaning must

never be slurred over, as if it were a question of slight importance. By the

largeness of its terms, the grandeur of the hopes it inspired, and the

incompleteness of their immediate accomplishment, the Jews were taught

to look ever onward, and so became a Messianic people. Granting then

that Christ and His Church are the object and end of this and of all

prophecy, the question narrows itself to this — In whom was this

prediction of a faithful priest primarily fulfilled? We answer, Not in Zadok,

but in Samuel. Zadok was a commonplace personage, of whom little or

nothing is said after the time that he joined David with a powerful

contingent (I Chronicles 12:28). Samuel is the one person in Jewish

history who approaches the high rank of Moses, Israel’s founder

(Jeremiah 15:1). The argument that he was a Levite, and not a priest,

takes too narrow and technical a view of the matter; for the essence of the

priesthood lies not in the offering of sacrifice, but in mediation. Sacrifice is

but an accident, being the appointed method by which the priest was to

mediate between God and man. As a matter of fact, Samuel often did

discharge priestly functions (ch. 7:9, 17; 13:8, where we find Saul reproved for

invading Samuel’s office; ch. 16:2), and it is a point to be kept in mind that the

regular priests disappear from Jewish history for about fifty years after the

slaughter of themselves, their wives, and families at Shiloh; for it is not until

Saul’s time that Ahiah, the great-grandson of Eli, appears, as once again ministering

at the altar (ch. 14:3). The calamity that overtook the nation at the end of Eli’s reign

was so terrible that all ordinary ministrations seem to have been in abeyance. We are

even expressly told that after the recovery of the ark it was placed in the house

of Abinadab at Kirjath-jearim in Judaea, and that for twenty years his son

Eleazar, though a Levite only, ministered there before it by no regular

consecration, but by the appointment of the men of that town. During this

time, though Ahitub, Ahiah’s father, was probably high priest nominally,

yet nothing is said of him, and all the higher functions of the office were

exercised by Samuel. Instead of the Urim and Thummim, he as prophet

was the direct representative of the theocratic king. Subsequently this great

duty was once again discharged by Abiathar as priest, and then a mighty

change was made, and the prophets with the living voice of inspiration

took the place of the priest with the ephod. For this is a far more important

matter than even the fact that Samuel performed the higher functions of the

priesthood. With him a new order of things began. Prophecy, from being

spasmodic and irregular, became an established institution, and took its

place side by side with the priesthood in preparing for Christ’s advent, and

in forming the Jewish nation to be the evangelizers of the world. The

prediction of this organic change followed the rule of all prophecy in taking

its verbal form and expression from what was then existent. Just as the

gospel dispensation is always described under figures taken from the

Jewish Church and commonwealth, so Samuel, as the founder of the

prophetic schools, and of the new order of things which resulted from

them, is described to Eli under terms taken from his priestly office. He was

a “faithful priest,” and much more, just as our Lord was a “prophet like

unto Moses” (Deuteronomy 18:15), and a “King set upon the holy hill

of Zion (Psalm 2:6), but in a far higher sense than any would have supposed

at the time when these prophecies were spoken.  As regards the specific terms

of the prophecy, “the building of a sure house” (ch. 25:28; II Samuel 7:11;

I Kings 2:24, 11:38; Isaiah 32:18) is a metaphor expressive of assured prosperity.

The mass of the Israelites dwelt in tents (II Samuel 11:11; 20:1, etc.; I Kings

12:16), and to have a fixed and permanent dwelling was a mark of

greatness. From such passages as I Kings 2:24; 11:38, it is plain that

the idea of founding a family is not contained in the expression. As a matter

of fact, Samuel’s family was prosperous, and his grandson Heman had high

rank in David’s court and numerous issue (I Chronicles 25:5).

Probably too the men of Ramah, who with the men of the Levite town of

Gaba made up a total of 621 persons (Nehemiah 7:30), represented the

descendants of Samuel at the return from Babylon. Nevertheless, the

contrast is between the migratory, life in tents and the ease and security of

a solid and firm abode, and the terms of the promise are abundantly

fulfilled in Samuel’s personal greatness.


In the promise, “he shall walk before mine anointed forever,” there is the

same outlook upon the office of king, as if already in existence, which we

observed in Hannah’s hymn (ch. 2:10). Apparently the expectation that Jehovah

was about to anoint, i.e. consecrate, for them some one to represent Him in civil

matters and war, as the high priest represented Him in things spiritual, had taken

possession of the minds of the people. It had been clearly promised them, and

regulations for the office made (Deuteronomy 17:14-20); and it was to be Samuel’s

office to fulfill this wish, and all his life through he held a post of high dignity in

the kingdom.


But the promise has also a definite meaning as regards the prophets, in

whom Samuel lived on. For St. Augnstine’s error was in taking Samuel

simply in his personal relations, whereas he is the representative of the

whole prophetic order (Acts 3:24). They were his successors in his

work, and continued to be the recognized mediators to declare to king and

people the will of Jehovah, who was the supreme authority in both Church

and state; and in political matters they were the appointed check upon the

otherwise absolute power of the kings, with whose appointment their own

formal organization exactly coincided. From Samuel’s time prophet and

king walked together till the waiting period began which immediately

preceded the nativity of Christ.



A Faithful Priest (v. 35)


In the strictest sense Christ alone is now a Priest. In Himself assuming the

office, He has forever abolished it in others. Hence none are called priests in

the New Testament, except in the modified sense in which all who believe

in Him are so called (I Peter 2:9; Revelation 1:6). But taking the

expression as equivalent to “a faithful ministry,” consisting of men

appointed by Christ to a special service for Him (Malachi 2:6-7;

Acts 6:4; Ephesians 4:11; Colossians 1:7; II Timothy 2:2), and faithfully

fulfilling the purpose of their appointment, it leads us to notice:


  • WHENCE IT IS DERIVED. “I will raise up.”


Ø      HE ALONE can do it. From Him come natural gifts and, still more, spiritual

graces, eminent faith and patience, humility, courage, meekness, tender

compassion “on the ignorant and on them that are out of the way,”

(Hebrews 5:2)


Ø      He has promised and made provision for it (Jeremiah 3:15). “I will

build him a sure (enduring) house.” The death of Christ hath a great

influence unto this gift of the ministry. It is a branch that grew out of the

grave of Christ; let it be esteemed as lightly as men please, had not Christ

died for it we had not had a ministry in the world. He “will be inquired of”

for it. If Churches would have “good ministers of Jesus Christ,” they must

seek them from God (Matthew 9:38).


  • WHEREIN IT APPEARS. “Shall do according to that which is in my

heart and in my mind.”


Ø      Supreme regard to His will as the rule of character and labor.

Ø      Clear insight into His mind in relation to the special requirements of the

time, place, and circumstances.

Ø      Practical, earnest, and constant devotion to it in all things, the least as

well as the greatest. Even as “Christ himself.” “I have given you an



  • WHEREBY IT IS HONORED. “And He shall walk before mine

anointed forever.”


Ø      Enjoyment of the King’s favor (Proverbs 16:15).

Ø      Employment in the King’s service; in continued, honorable, beneficent,

and increasing cooperation with Him.

Ø      Participation in the King’s glory forever. “Be thou faithful unto death,”

(Revelation 2:10). “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me

in my throne” (Revelation 3:21).


36 "And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left in thine house

shall come and crouch to him for a piece of silver and a morsel of

bread, and shall say, Put me, I pray thee, into one of the priests’

offices, that I may eat a piece of bread." Piece of silver is literally a small

silver coin got by begging and the word marks the extreme penury into which

the race of Eli fell.  Gathered round the sanctuary at Shiloh, they were the chief

sufferers by its ruin, and we have noticed how for a time they fall entirely out of

view. During the miserable period of Philistine domination which followed,

Samuel became to the oppressed nation a center of hope, and by wise government

he first reformed the people internally, and then gave them freedom from foreign

rule. During this period we may be sure that he did much to raise from

their misery the descendants of Eli, and finally Ahiah, Eli’s grandson,

ministers as high priest before Saul. Though his grandson, Abiathar, was

deposed from the office by Solomon, there is no reason for imagining that

the family ever again fell into distress, nor do the terms of the prophecy

warrant such a supposition.



Impending Retribution (vs. 27-36)


The facts in this section are:


1. A Divine message declares to Eli the coming doom of his house.

2. The justice of the judgment is brought home to him by a reference to

    past privileges enjoyed and sins committed.

3. A painful sign of the certainty of the whole prediction being ultimately

    fulfilled is given in a reference to the sudden death of his