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We have in this Chapter, the song of Hannah in her devout thanksgivings to the Lord, for her Samuel. She had dedicated the child to the Lord's service, and then closes the subject with praise. Besides this, the Chapter contains an account of the increase of Elkanah's family: of the sin of Eli's family; a man of God sent to reprove Eli: the threatened death of Eli's two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, in one day: the gracious promise of God's raising up to himself, a faithful Priest, and the degraded state of the house of Eli.
1 Samuel 2:1
(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.
There is a great deal of the spirit of prophecy, as well as the spirit of prayer and praise, in this hymn of Hannah's, and therefore demands our attention the more. Though it is called a prayer, yet it contains subject also of information to the Church. The special mercy Hannah had received, gives occasion to her, to comfort the people of God in all ages with an assurance of the Lord's mercies to others. But principally I would call upon the Reader to observe, how much gospel is contained in it, and how evidently the Holy Ghost must have been shedding his sweet influences upon the mind of Hannah, when speaking as she doth in this verse, of rejoicing in God's salvation. Is not this plainly referring to the Lord Jesus? Did not the dying patriarch say the same? Genesis 49:18 . And is not Jesus expressly called, Jehovah's salvation? Isaiah 49:6 .
(2) There is none holy as the LORD: for there is none beside thee: neither is there any rock like our God.
I pray the Reader not to overlook the great warmth of devotion, expressed in those words. The unspotted holiness of Jehovah, calls forth we are told, the unceasing adoration of the blessed. Hannah first celebrates this glorious perfection of our God, which plainly proves that one, and the same Spirit operated upon her mind, and theirs. And here by the way, Reader, is a plan opened to your heart, to see whether the same Spirit operates upon you. The song of saints and angels, and the spirits of just men made perfect, is of the holiness of Jehovah. None but redeemed souls can rejoice in it. Devils and spirits of darkness know that Jehovah is holy, but cannot love him for it. But his people rejoice in this glorious perfection, because in the holiness of their surety, the Lord Jesus, they see this holiness glorified, and their redemption eternally secured. I would have the Reader also consider, and then, as the blessed Spirit than instruct him, judge for himself, whether Hannah when calling Jehovah a Rock, did not evidently allude to Jesus, who in all the eventful journeys of Israel, through the wilderness, was the Rock that followed them, and whom the Apostle decidedly declares to have been Christ. Compare Exo_33:21-22; Exo_17:6 ; Numbers 20:8 .
(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.
If the Reader looks closely to this, and the past verse, he will perceive, that Hannah is engaged to celebrate several of Jehovah's divine perfections. First his holiness; next his Power; then his wisdom; and next his Justice. Reader! it is delightful to contemplate the astonishing perfections of God, as they are in himself. But it is doubly so, when we contemplate them, as all pledged in covenant engagements, ready upon every occasion, to be brought forward into exercise, for the blessing and security of his people.
(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.
Some have thought, that Hannah is here triumphing over Penninah, who before insulted her. But I conceive, that Hannah's mind was soaring to an higher subject. It is the triumph of the Church of Jesus over all her adversaries, that she had in view. And here is large scope for the illustration of these precious truths. The vows of the carnal, in their own strength, are broken. The full in their own righteousness, are sent empty away. While on the contrary the Lord satisfieth the hungry with good things; and poor barren souls are satiated with the bread of life.
(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.
These are all so many beautiful repetitions of the same important doctrine, in asserting God's sovereignty over all things, both in the kingdoms of providence, and of grace. And it is sweet when the heart finds a cordial assent, in all the circumstances of our own warfare. Reader! what can afford more solid joy, than the contemplation of the Lord Jesus, in the character which John saw him in, and which corresponds to what is here said: He hath the keys of hell and death. Revelation 1:18 .
(9) He will keep the feet of his saints, and the wicked shall be silent in darkness; for by strength shall no man prevail. (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.
These are very precious expressions, and all evidently referring to the mercies of the gospel. Here for the first time, we meet with the title of the Lord Jesus, as the Anointed of the Father: one of the most lovely, and distinguishing characters of the Redeemer; the Messiah, that is, the sent, the Sealed, the Anointed. Reader! it is the peculiar joy, and triumph of the followers of the Lord Jesus, that he is the Christ of God. And what a sweet thought is it, that our Christ is God's Christ. Our chosen is God's chosen. Our Holy One, is God's Holy One. So that Jehovah, and the sinner here join issue, and meet together. Hannah certainly knew this, and under the full triumph of it, positively declares that the Lord will keep the feet of his saints. And if the feet, surely, the heart, the head. And well must they be kept, whom the Lord keeps. Oh! precious assurance, founded in a precious anointed Redeemer. But this is not all. While the Lord keeps his people, his, and their adversaries he will destroy. Jesus is our King, and all enemies shall he put under his feet. So that here is assurance, that the same Anointed Lord, will save his people, and utterly consume his foes. So let all thine enemies perish, O Lord! was the close of Deborah's song, as it is here prophesied in the close of Hannah's song: while them that love him, shall be as the sun, when he goeth forth in his might. Judges 5:31 .
(11) ¶ And Elkanah went to Ramah to his house. And the child did minister unto the LORD before Eli the priest.
While Elkanah returns to his home with his family, the child Samuel is left under the ministry of Eli. It is sweet and interesting to behold the early introduction of children into God's service. This was the commendation of Timothy; 2 Timothy 3:15 .
(12) Now the sons of Eli were sons of Belial; they knew not the LORD.
I beg the Reader not to overlook the expression, they knew not the Lord; that is, they knew not the Lord in a way of communion and fellowship. They knew him in the outward hearsay account of their Maker, but not in a way of grace. And what an awful account doth the Lord himself give of all such ministers, in the day of judgment? See Matthew 7:22-23 .
(13) And the priests' 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.
I include all these verses within one point of view, and a sad view they exhibit of the horrible state of the sons of Eli in their conduct before the Lord. Alas, alas! what a wretched mind must these young men have possessed, by which their sin was not only great before the Lord, but even the minds of the people were led away thereby to abhor the offering of the Lord. I would have the Reader observe, how the Lord speaks of such awful characters, Malachi 2:8-9 .
(18) But Samuel ministered before the LORD, being a child, girded with a linen ephod. (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.
As Rameh was not above ten or eleven miles from Shiloh, probably more frequent communication took place between Samuel and his pa rents. The Holy Ghost only takes occasion in this place to remark how Samuel was annually clothed from the attention of his mother. The linen ephod he wore was the distinction of the Levites.
(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.
How much those gain, who give unto the Lord! Solomon's observation is well founded; He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the Lord: and look what he hath given, he will pay him again. Proverbs 19:17 .
(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. (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.
It doth not appear that Eli himself was concerned in this evil of his house. No doubt, he had educated his sons in the knowledge of the Lord. Perhaps he was too much relaxed in the discipline of his family; and his reproofs were not so sharp as they ought to have been. But Reader! do not fail to recollect, that grace is not hereditary. From what follows in the latter part of this chapter, it should seem that Eli did not enter into the full view of the enormity of his children's transgression. We do not hear of any prayers, or cries, he sent forth to God to reclaim them.
(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.
What a sweet verse is this, abstracted from the family of Eli, and applied to the case of Christians in general. Who shall intreat for the sinner? I answer, Jesus; for so saith John, "If any man sin we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous, and he is the propitiation for our sins." Precious Redeemer! thou art both our Advocate and Propitiation; our Judge and Saviour. Thou art all we stand in need of, for the transgressions of our nature. 1 John 2:1-2 . Observe, how sin hardens the heart, in the case of Eli's sons. The Lord had given them up to a judicial blindness. Oh! for grace to all poor sinners, to offer up continually that prayer of the Church, "From all blindness of heart, good Lord deliver us!"
(26) And the child Samuel grew on, and was in favour both with the LORD, and also with men.
How the mind of the Reader is relieved again and again in this melancholy account of Eli's sons, in the relation that is given by the Holy Ghost, of the progressive state of Samuel in the ways of the Lord. Reader! doth not this bring to your recollection what is said here of Samuel's Lord. See Luke 2:52 .
(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?
Observe with what a solemn introduction the man of God is here mentioned; and what a most awful message he brought. Probably the revelation here spoken of, of the Lord's appearance to his father's house, referred to the general deliverance of Israel from the bondage of Egypt; or if anything more personal or particular was alluded to, it might have been the Lord's appearance to Aaron, the great Father of the Levites. Exodus 4:27 .
(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?
Aaron was very eminently chosen and set apart to the priestly office; and hence became the object of envy. See Numbers 16:8-11 .
(29) Wherefore kick ye at my sacrifice and at mine offering, which I have commanded in my habitation; and honourest thy sons above me, to make yourselves fat with the chiefest of all the offerings of Israel my people?
It should seem to be more than probable from hence, that though Eli did not himself commit the sin of profanation here charged upon his sons, yet he winked at it, and partook in the plunder. For otherwise he could not be said to have made himself fat with the chiefest offerings of the people. Be this, however, as it may, certain it is, from the severity of the reproof the man of God had in commission to deliver to Eli, the hoary priest was not so zealous as he ought to have been for the honor of God; but, instead of disgracing his children, and removing them from their office, he contented himself with merely making a mild expostulation. Alas! how doth nature and natural feelings blind the eye to the steady regard of God's glory and honor.
(30) Wherefore the LORD God of Israel saith, I said indeed that thy house, and the house of thy father, should walk before me forever: but now the LORD saith, Be it far from me; for them that honour me I will honour, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed.
Certain it is, that in the first grant of the priesthood to Aaron the grant was conditional. And it is remarkable, that Eli was descended from Aaron's youngest son, Ithamar, and not Eleazar his eldest. But no notice is taken in the sacred history, how it had been transferred from the family of Eleazar to that of Ithamar's family, as in the case of Eli it must have been done. But I conceive that an infinitely higher object the Holy Ghost hath in view, in the expression contained in this verse, and that it is meant to convey the total abolition of the Levitical dispensation, by the introduction of the gospel in the Lord Jesus. He is indeed the great High Priest, who hath duly honored his Father's righteous law, and as such, Jehovah is engaged to honor him. And all his sons are thereby made kings and priests to God and the Father. Sweetest Jesus! thou art a priest forever, and of an everlasting priesthood. And thou makest the offerings of thy people precious, in thy salvation; for thou art both the priest, and the offering, and the altar, which sanctifieth the gift.
(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. (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 forever. (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.
These are awful denunciations, and are accompanied both with an awful signs and commencement of the threatened visitation. To lose both sons in one day; and that Eli himself should be the witness of this visitation, is a proof that all the other threatened evils would in their season surely come. See 1 Samuel 4:17 . And what a sad catalogue was to follow? None of the race of Eli should be long lived; there shall not be an old man in thine house forever: that the family of Eli should see an enemy in God's habitation: perhaps unhallowed men exercising the priestly office: those of Eli's family, which were permitted to live, should be but for a reproach; perhaps by living in a scandalous manner: and that so far from being in the exercise of the priesthood, which had it been well conducted, would have been perpetuated in Eli's family, the lowest offices of the servants to the priests, should be eagerly sought after by his posterity to keep them from starving. Behold, Reader! the awful consequences of sin. See in the sad examples of Hophni and Phinehas, that when the kindliest gifts of the people would not satisfy them; their posterity shall want a morsel of bread. See that awful scripture thus strikingly fulfilled, in visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children. Exodus 20:5 . Perhaps this visitation on Eli's family was, beside lesser instances, more strikingly shown in the days of Solomon, when Abiathar, who was among the descendants of Eli, was turned out of the Priest's office. 1 Kings 1:49; 1 Kings 1:49 .
(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. (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 forever.
Amidst all the dreadful denunciations, on the family, and posterity of Eli, what a precious scripture, what a precious promise, comes in here, to give comfort to the mind? I cannot think as some have thought, that this scripture had its accomplishment in the person of Zadok, and that the anointed, before whom this faithful Priest is said to walk, meant David king of Israel. Surely, Reader, none but the ever blessed Jesus could merit the title of faithful Priest. Neither could any be considered as the truly anointed of God, but He to whom the Spirit was given without measure, and who was indeed anointed to be, at one and the same time, the Prophet, the Priest, and the King, of his peopled. If any difficulty should seem to arise in the Reader's mind, how Jesus could be this faithful Priest, and yet walk before himself, as it were, in his other character, as the anointed of Jehovah; this objection is at once done away, by only considering how impossible it would be to prefigure him who fills all offices, unless by such means. Hence Joseph, who in all the grand events of his going down into Egypt; being cast into prison, exalted at the right hand of Pharaoh, and made Governor over the whole land; in all these, and numberless other features of character, he most strongly typified the Lord Jesus: yet Judah, who as strikingly pointed to the Lord Jesus, in his sweet office of Intercessor, is, in that same history, represented as interceding with Joseph. We must never, therefore, stretch any part of the sacred word so far, as not to remember the impossibility of representing divine things, by human, otherwise than in part. No doubt, in all the holy volume, Jesus is the sum, and substance. To him every type refers; every sacrifice points: in him all the promises are completed: and every prophecy is explained, Jesus is the Alpha, and Omega, of all; or, as Paul speaks, Christ is all, and in all. Colossians 3:11 .
READER! Stand still, and fully contemplate the character of Hannah, and observe, how the harp which was before hung on the willow, is now strung and sounded to the praise of Jehovah. See, how her note is changed. And the countenance which was before sad, is now lighted up in praise, and thanksgiving. And in remarking the blessed effects of grace, in this woman's experience; do not overlook the principal feature of it, in that her song of joy is not merely directed to praise God for his gift, but to praise the great Giver. She doth not dwell upon the loveliness of her Samuel, and celebrate, as a fond parent might be supposed to do, the features of his body, or the promising features of his mind. But her whole soul seems to be swallowed up in adoring the God and giver of her Samuel. Oh! how delightfully doth she hold forth the holiness, the faithfulness, the goodness and wisdom of a prayer-hearing and a prayer-answering God: and how sweetly she triumphs in the assurance of having this God for her Rock, and as the horn of her salvation. Reader! do not overlook that this precious covenant God is the believer's God in Jesus, in all generations. He is the same yesterday, and today, and forever. And why should not you and I find the same confidence? Oh! for grace to adopt the same assurance of faith, and in the contemplation of all his rich mercies in Jesus, to cry out, with one of old, For this God is our God, forever, and ever; he will be our guide even unto death.
While the sad contrast to Hannah's song, in the awful example of Eli's family, should fill our minds with suitable reflections, and call forth prayer to be kept from all presumptuous transgressions; let us, from lamenting the wretched and corrupt state of all Levitical and Priestly ministrations, direct our thoughts, and call forth our warmest affections to Jesus, that faithful priest of God our Father, the Mediator of a better covenant, founded upon better promises. Yes! thou clear Redeemer, thou art indeed the faithful priest our God promised to raise up. Thou hast done all, according to what was in thine and our Father's heart, and in his mind. And God our Father hath built thee a sure house forever. Oh! grant, thou great Melchisedeck, that we, whom thou past made kings and priests to God and thy Father, may walk before thee, the Lord's anointed, forever. And give us to rejoice that we have such an High Priest, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens. And while, as in the instance of Eli, we perceive that none among the sons of Aaron, whose race is mortal, and whose stock corrupt, can be exempt from sin: though the law maketh men high priests which have infirmity; the word of the oath, which was since the law, maketh the Son, who is consecrated forevermore.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 2". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 8 / Ordinary 13