This chapter opens with the song of Hannah; and by its noble and elevated strains, it abundantly shows that although “there was no open vision” of the Divine will at the moment, the Holy Spirit’s wondrous influence had not ceased from among the faithful individuals in Israel. From her own personal rejoicings, the mother of Samuel rose with true prophetic insight to the contemplation of the broader and deeper blessings by which Jehovah would be exalted in the midst of His people, and glorified in the ends of the earth – when David His king, and David’s greater Son, would be lifted up on high! Hannah’s heart did not rejoice in Samuel as much as she did in the Lord! She looked beyond the gift and praised the Giver. She rejoiced in the salvation of the Lord, and in the expectation of the coming of Him Who is the salvation of His people. Hannah’s song also speaks of how the strong are soon weakened, and the weak are soon strengthened, when God pleases. He does not respect man’s wisdom or imagined excellences; but rather, He chooses those whom the world views as foolish – teaching them to feel their guilt, and to value His free and precious salvation.
The song of Hannah concludes by looking forward to the Kingdom of Christ’s grace – of which Hannah sings, after having spoken largely of the Kingdom of the Lord’s Providence. And here is the first time in the Bible that we meet with the name Messiah, or “his Anointed” (verse 10) – a reference which looks far beyond David, and speaks glorious things of the Kingdom of Christ the Mediator. Concerning that Kingdom, we are assured (verses 9, 10) that all its loyal subjects of will be safe, and that the enemies which are gathered against it shall be ruined; for the Anointed One – that is, the Lord Jesus – is able to save His people and destroy His enemies.
As for Samuel himself, since he was devoted to the Lord in a special manner, he was employed from childhood around the Tabernacle, doing the services which he was capable of. He served God, and he received God’s blessing.
The loan which Elkanah and Hannah gave to the Lord, when they left Samuel at Shiloh, was paid back to them with a blessed recompense! Eli breathed upon them his blessing, and solemnly invoked God’s favor upon them. Hannah had her home gladdened by the birth of three more sons and two daughters, and thus her dedication of Samuel was amply rewarded. God is never in debt to His people; He has graciously promised a recompense – which may not be always given in this life, but it shall certainly be given at the resurrection! What an encouragement to sacrifice for the Lord’s cause! But Elkanah and Hannah’s best reward was Samuel’s youthful piety; for “the child Samuel grew on, and was in favour both with the Lord, and also with men.” Young as he was, his growth in grace outshone his years. As a plant loving the light and heat of the sun, Samuel grew up in the house of God.
These times in Israel, generally speaking, were not good. Even the sacred things of Jehovah’s worship were defiled. Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, were both greedy and immoral. They caused the people of Israel to despise the offerings of the Lord; for instead of taking the portions of the sacrifices that the law of Moses allotted to them, they demanded to be given servings of the best parts of the meat before the Lord’s share of it was offered. This caused the Israelites to despise the Lord’s offerings. In addition, Hophni and Phinehas were also guilty of committing gross immorality with the worshipers who gathered at the Tabernacle. But Eli, their father, indulged his children and failed to use his parental authority to restrain and correct them when they were young. His feeble remonstrances did nothing to stop their wickedness. And their offences that were committed in offering the sacrifices for sins were especially sinful – for those sacrifices foreshadowed the atoning sacrifice of the Savior Himself! Sins like those, which are committed against the remedy – the atonement itself – are the most dangerous, because they tread underfoot the blood of the Covenant!
An unnamed prophet was sent to Eli with words of solemn and alarming denunciation! He was reprimanded for despising the Lord’s sacrifices, and for honoring his sons above the Lord Himself. Eli’s family would be cut off, and the priesthood would be diverted into another branch of Aaron’s descendants; and this was fulfilled in the days of King Solomon, when Zadok replaced Abiathar in the priest’s office (1 Kings 2:27, 35). As for the wicked Hophni and Phine-has, they were both doomed to fall by the stroke of death on the same day. All these terrible pronouncements against Eli’s household were set up in contrast against the family of the pious Elkanah and Hannah, who were blessed with an increased and numerous offspring! Let Eli’s example stir up parents to earnestly train up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord!
But in the midst of the sentence against the house of Eli, mercy was promised to Israel! “A faithful priest” (verse 35) would be raised up, who would do according to the Lord’s heart and mind. God’s work shall never fall to the ground for lack of hands to carry it on! And ultimately, Christ is that merciful and faithful High Priest Whom God raised up when the Levitical priesthood was thrown off! In all things, Christ did his Father’s mind; and for Him, God will build a sure house – built upon a rock, so that hell itself cannot prevail against it!
Lord, we give thanks that our Jesus is unlike those human priests who fell so far short of accurately representing our Great High Priest; for He is holy, undefiled, and made higher than the heavens! Amen.
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