Chapter 1 – Thus far, Israel has been ruled by Judges for over 200 years. Eli and Samuel are the last of those judges. Samuel is born near the end of Eli’s life.
We begin with Elkanah and go through his lineage. His father, Jeroham was of the house of Kohath (one of the sons of Levi). Tohu was Elkanah’s great grandfather and was a Levite. This tells us that Samuel was born into the Tribe of Levi, placing him in line for a priesthood position.
Elkanah has two wives (rut row.) Although polygamy is in the bible many times, this was NEVER God’s perfect plan. (states that in marriage “a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife and they become ONE flesh.”) So WHY do we see polygamy so often in the bible among God’s people? There are many reasons such as producing more offspring to help in the man’s work and to assure the continuation of the man’s family line; numerous children were a sign “back in the day” of great wealth and status; in societies where many young men were killed in battle, polygamy became an accepted way of supporting women who otherwise would have remained unmarried and very likely destitute. Again, keep in mind it was never part of God’s perfect plan … and look at the destruction it always lead to in the few books we have read so far.
Speaking of destruction in a family… LOOK at the way Peninnah (means “jewel”) treated Hannah (means “grace”)!!! Peninnah had children and Hannah did not. Elkanah would take his family to Shiloh, the religious center of the nation (Josh 18:1) to worship and sacrifice to the Lord. During these times, he would give the portions of the meat to his wife Peninnah and all her sons and daughters. BUT he gave a double portion to Hannah because he loved her and the Lord had closed her womb. OK… can you see why polygamy is not such a good idea???
Peninnah apparently was quite jealous in her knowledge that Elkanah loved Hannah. YEAR AFTER YEAR Hannah’s “rival” kept provoking her in order to IRRITATE HER!! OBVIOUSLY Elkanah did not understand because he asked Hannah “why are you crying?” YES, we all know men and women are wired differently because God designed us that way. It is obvious that Elkanah loved her and wanted Hannah to know it was fine with him if she didn’t have children because they had each other.
As sad as this next section is, it is also a scripture of GREAT HOPE, and shows the POWER OF PRAYER (intercession)!!
“In bitterness of soul, Hannah wept much and prayed to the Lord. And she made a VOW saying, “O Lord almighty, if you will ONLY look upon your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for ALL the days of his life, and no razor will EVER be used on his head.” PRAYER is a powerful gift we have from God, it is a form of serving God (Luke 2:36-38) and obeying Him. Philippians 4:6-7 reminds us to be anxious for nothing, but in all things, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God. My two favorite scriptures in regard to prayer are:
- Romans 8:26 – “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself INTERCEDES for us through wordless groans.”
- Hebrews 7:25 – Therefore He is able to save completely those who come to God through Him, because HE always lives to intercede for them.
My reason for sharing about prayer is because if God gave us specific Scripture to tell us that Jesus and the Holy Spirit intercede on our behalf …. HOW important is it that we PRAY for all things, for others, for ourselves?? In a word… VERY.
Hannah made a Nazirite Vow for her son from birth to be separate and set apart for God. Samson’s parents’ made a Nazirite vow for him from birth to be separate and set apart for God. (See Numbers 6 for information on the Nazirite vow.) And in the NT we will see that John the Baptist received the Nazirite vow from birth. Hannah dedicates Samuel to the Lord. Once he was weaned, about 3 years old, she took him to the Tabernacle, and left him in the care of the High Priest, Eli. I KNOW this was a great honor for her. However, I can only imagine that as a human mother, with a young son, it must have tugged on her heart strings. However, she KEPT her promise to God. She took him with a bull, flower, and wine for a sacrifice. She reminded Eli who she was and that she had made a Nazirite vow for Samuel before his birth. Her last verse tells us a lot about Hannah and Samuel. “So now I give him to the Lord. For his whole life he will be given over to the Lord.” And he worshiped the LORD there.
Chapter 2 — Hannah praises God with her prayer. This prayer is later mentioned in Luke 1:46-55 by Mary in her own praise song called the Magnificat.
I will raise up for myself a faithful priest, who will do according to what is in my heart and mind. I will firmly establish his house, and he will minister before my anointed one always. (1 Samuel 2:35)
In this verse a priesthood is promised. Later in 2 Samuel, David is promised an eternal throne. Both of these look forward to the prophecy of the Messiah yet to come. Jesus becomes man’s eternal Priest, King (Judge), and Prophet.
Eli’s sons were “scoundrels; they had not regard for the Lord.” RUT ROW!!! NOT a good thing here!!! In Leviticus we learned that the priests were entitled to share in the offering. However, the Levites were STILL to tithe their best from all the tithes given from the 12 Tribes. Eli’s sons will get their share; however they are wicked men completely taking advantage of their “position”. They took the best part of the animal BEFORE it was offered to the Lord. “They were treating the Lord’s offering with contempt.” And… ummmm …did I forget to mention they also were sleeping with the other workers!
I so enjoyed reading about Hannah and Elkanah going to see Samuel each year during the sacrificial time. As a child, Samuel wore a linen Ephod and his mother made him a little robe and took it to him each year. Eli prayed over Hannah (the same woman he once thought was drunk because she was praying with her lips for a son but not speaking out loud) asking that God would give her more children for the one she gave to HIM. “And the Lord was gracious to Hannah; she gave birth to three sons and two daughters. Meanwhile the boy Samuel grew up in the presence of the Lord.” HOW BEAUTIFUL WAS THAT!!
Eli heard about all his sons had been doing, rebuked them, and he tells them:
If a man sins against another man, God may mediate for him; but if a man sins against the LORD, who will intercede for him?” (1 Sam 2:25)
Unfortunately, the sons could not have cared less. God tells Eli that his strength will be cut short and no one in his priestly house will reach old age. God tells him that Hophni and Phinehas will be a sign unto him and will die on the same day. He tells him:
But now the Lord declares: ‘Far be it from me! Those who honor me I will honor, but those who despise me will be disdained.
God also tells him He would raise up a faithful priest who will do according to what is in MY heart and mind. I will firmly establish his priestly house and they will minister before my anointed one always.
Chapter 3 – I LOVE the first verse: “The boy Samuel ministered before the Lord under Eli.”
Remember how corrupt, disrespectful, rebellious, idolatrous, self-centered the entire nation of Israel had become? Look at the way Eli’s sons had acted (just like everyone else and not like priests). Therefore, in those days the word of the Lord was rare and there were not many visions. So when the Lord spoke to Samuel…not only does Samuel think Eli is calling for him, But it takes Eli, the HIGH PRIEST three times to recognize what was happening to Samuel!!! Verse 7 states: “Now Samuel did not yet now the LORD: The word of the LORD had not yet been revealed to him.”
Once Eli realized what was happening he taught Samuel what to do. I am sure what Samuel heard from the Lord was a bit surprising for him… about the judgment that would fall upon Eli’s family. We learn a little more about Eli … Eli’s sons BLASPHEMED God and Eli FAILED to restrain them. WHOAAAAAAA!!!
A reminder that NONE of us are perfect … EXCEPT the one God sent for us.. JESUS CHRIST so we could have eternal life with him.
And Samuel… he was open and honest with Eli as Eli asked. Then we end today with “The Lord was with Samuel as he grew up. And he let none of Samuel’s words fall to the ground. And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba recognized that Samuel was attested as a prophet of the Lord. The Lord continued to appear at Shiloh, and there he revealed himself to Samuel through HIS word.
The LORD is revealing HIMSELF to HIS people once again… to SAMUEL!!
Sharing HIS love