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Bible Commentaries

Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible

1 Samuel 2

Verse 1

1 Samuel 2:1. And Hannah prayed This might be rendered with greater propriety, and Hannah sang praise. See Psalms 15:5.

Verse 3

1 Samuel 2:3. For the Lord is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed Houbigant renders this, for the Lord foreknoweth all things: your designed counsels shall not succeed; nearly conformable to the Arabic and Syriac.

Verse 5

1 Samuel 2:5. And they that were hungry, ceased Houbigant renders this, they that were oppressed with famine, shall no longer be so; whilst the barren shall bring forth seven, and she who had many children shall be deprived of strength. All the expressions in this and the other verses are designed to humble the pride of man, and to set forth the greatness, wisdom, and uncontrollable power of God.

Verse 8

1 Samuel 2:8. He—lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, &c.— The author of the Observations remarks, that dried dung being usually burnt in the East, heaps of this sort of turf were commonly laid up in their cottages. Hence he thinks the present expression is elucidated; "He raiseth a beggar from a dunghill, out of a cottage, that is, in which heaps of dried dung are piled up for fuel, as some of the worst accommodated of the poor practise with respect to the turf of this country: or rather, he raiseth up a poor exile, forced to beg his bread in his wanderings, and to lodge in some out-house where dung is laid up, out of the city, in order to set him on the throne of a royal palace, built in the midst of it." When Hannah says, that the pillars of the earth are the Lord's, she urges a strong reason in proof of all she had advanced; namely, that GOD, being the founder, supporter, and upholder of the earth itself, could certainly do with the inhabitants of it as he pleased. The true meaning of the word rendered pillars, מצקי metzukei, is somewhat doubtful. It seems to express those grand instruments, whatever they be, of supporting and retaining in its orbit the globe of the earth. But did it signify pillars, as we have rendered it, every one sees that the word must be understood in a figurative sense.

Verse 10

1 Samuel 2:10. And he shall give strength unto his king By king and anointed in this place, say some, is meant David, of whom Hannah prophesies; though it seems most probable that the reference is to the Messiah. See Psalms 89:24. "Who doth not perceive," saith St. Augustine, "that the spirit which animated this woman, whose name, Hannah, signifies grace, prophesied of the Christian religion, the city of God, whose king and founder is Christ?" See de Civ. Dei, lib. 17: cap. 4. This seems to be the chief aim and object of Hannah's song. She is the first person, as Bishop Patrick observes, who names the Messiah or anointed; there being no such word in all the foregoing books: and when we consider the terms in which this beautiful song is expressed; the perfect resemblance there is between this and that of the Blessed Virgin, Luke 1:46; and the allusion which the father of John the Baptist makes to the latter part of it, Luke 1:69-70. We cannot persuade ourselves but that Hannah had a respect to something higher than to Peninnah her rival, or to the triumphs even of David himself. The expressions are too magnificent and sublime to be confined to such objects. Kimchi was so struck with them, that he ingenuously acknowledges, that the king, of whom Hannah speaks here, is the Messiah; of whom she spake either by prophesy or tradition: "For," continues he, "there was a tradition among the Israelites, that a great king should arise in Israel; and she seals up her song with celebrating this king; who was to deliver them from all their enemies." In short, all the particulars of the 9th and 10th verses especially, perfectly characterize the reign of the Messiah; his protection of his saints; the vain efforts of their enemies; their triumph over them; the extent of his kingdom, and the perpetual increase of his power. See Witsii Miscel. Sacr. tom. 1: lib. 1.

Verse 16

1 Samuel 2:16. And if any man said unto him, let them not fail, &c.— The great sin of these sons of Eli consisted, not only in demanding more than their right; (see Leviticus 7:32.) but in assuming what they chose, before that which belonged to God had been offered to him. See Leviticus 2:16; Leviticus 23:25.

Verse 18

1 Samuel 2:18. Girded with a linen ephod As the birth, appointment, and ministry of Samuel were extraordinary, he was therefore indulged with an extraordinary dress. Schachus conjectures, that from hence was derived the latin clavus among the Romans, which was a vestment peculiar to their senators and presidents. It was brought by Tullus Hostilius from the Etruscans when he conquered them, whose ancient language agrees so much with the Hebrew, that we may easily believe they derived many things from them. See Mirotheca, cap. 3: sect. 43.

Verse 21

1 Samuel 2:21. And the child Samuel grew before the Lord See 1Sa 2:26 and Luke 2:52. As he increased in stature, he increased in wisdom; as parents may be assured will always be the case with those children whom they dedicate early to the Lord, and into whose young minds they carefully instill the divine precepts of religion and truth.

Verse 25

1 Samuel 2:25. If one man sin against another, the judge, &c.— That is, if one neighbour do an injury to another, the business may be adjusted by the judge, who, interposing his authority, sets the matter right; but if one injure the judge himself, as was the present case, who can intercede in his behalf? Houbigant observes, that the word rendered shall judge him, would more properly and more consistently be rendered, shall be entreated; interceded with for the man. The words, because the Lord would slay them, are rendered by Dr. Waterland, wherefore the Lord would slay them; a better translation than the common one; which yet may very well be justified; as the Lord, when people become incorrigible, gives them up to their own hardness of heart, and its consequent destruction.

REFLECTIONS.—The characters of these families, thus contrasted, appear more conspicuous. The negligence of Eli, the high-priest, makes Elkanah's diligence more remarkable; and the piety of Samuel casts a double gloom upon the ungodliness of Eli's sons.

I. Concerning Elkanah and his family, we have,
1. Their return unto Ramah, leaving Samuel behind, with Eli's blessing upon them for the loan they had lent unto the Lord, and the effect of that blessing taking place, in five children given to Hannah in return for Samuel. Note; Nothing returns so surely with interest, as that which is lent unto the Lord, and devoted to his service.

2. Their regular and stated worship of God at Shiloh, and their care of their darling son, providing him with clothes during his noviciate at the tabernacle. Note; (1.) Though we must be in spirit always worshipping, yet regular and stated returns for prayer are carefully to be kept up. (2.) A due provision for children is a parent's duty, and should be their delight, never grudging the expence of it.

3. The progress Samuel made under Eli's care and inspection. Though surrounded with the bad examples of Eli's sons, he carefully attended to Eli's instructions, and ministered before him in any little service in which he was capable of being employed; and Eli, observing, no doubt, his extraordinary delight in the work, and reflecting on the extraordinary circumstances of his birth, took care betimes to train him up to the service of the tabernacle, and put on him a linen ephod, though not a priest, and before he was of the usual age to minister before the Lord. As he increased in stature, his understanding and gracious dispositions, like the expanding rose-bud, disclosed their sweet perfume, and attracted the regard of God and man. Note; (1.) Under careful and pious teachers, we may hope for the blossoms of early piety. (2.) God is pleased with the graces he bestows.

II. Concerning Eli and his house, we are told,
1. Their exceeding bad character. They were sons of Belial. Though born of so godly a man, and, during their youth, brought up under his prayers and instructions, yet they turned out profane and profligate. They knew not the Lord, paid him no regard, made their office a mere benefice, and, though priests, were atheistical perhaps in opinions, certainly in their practice. Note; (1.) The best of parents have often lived to see themselves in Eli's unhappy case. Grace cannot be communicated but from God alone. (2.) It were greatly to be wished, that Eli's sons had been the last of such priests; but there are still too many of their successors, whose profession makes their immoralities and infidelity more infamous and more criminal.

2. The particular acts of their wickedness are recorded to their everlasting shame. They were rapacious, profane, and adulterous. In view of such abominations, it cannot be wondered that the people abhorred the offerings of the Lord where such impiety was practised, and that God with a deep brand stamped their wickedness before him, to be remembered afterwards to their eternal confusion. Note; (1.) A rapacious priest is accursed of God, and abhorred of men. (2.) They who make a god of their belly, only add to their impiety by the mockery of wearing Christ's livery. (3.) To abuse the credit of the sacred office, in order to succeed in the gratification of bestial appetite, is the highest step of human villainy and abandoned wickedness.

3. Their hardened resistance of their father's reproof. He heard of their ill-doings: the injured, no doubt, complained to him; but he was old, and unable therefore himself to inspect the concerns of his office; and his sons were too headstrong to be restrained by him. Yet he remonstrates with them on their evil doings, expostulates on the ill-tendency of their wickedness, in leading God's people to transgress, and warns them of the dreadful danger of it to their own souls, when, without an advocate, they should appear before God, and receive that eternal condemnation which their crimes provoked. But words signified little to them; they needed severer correction; and for Eli's sinful indulgence of them, God will visit him when he takes vengeance on them: for, having resolved to slay them, God had given them up to the blindness and hardness of their own hearts; and therefore they hearkened not to their father, but went on in their iniquities. Note; (1.) There is not a more hopeless character, than a disobedient child. (2.) Parents have often much reason to blame their sinful lenity and indulgence, and not only are chargeable with guilt before God for withholding the rod of correction, but are made here to smart for it by their children's undutifulness and sufferings. (3.) There is a sin unto death, for which there is no entreating: let us tremble at every approach to this unpardonable state.

III. Samuel's character closes the narrative. His piety served to remove that disgust which Eli's sons had given, and his behaviour the more conciliated the regard of God's people, as it appeared more eminent and exemplary in the midst of such bad company. Note; It is some comfort, when great impiety and wickedness have crept into the church of God, that some burning and shining lights continue to be raised up in it, that we may not be as Sodom, nor become like unto Gomorrah.

Verse 30

1 Samuel 2:30. Wherefore the Lord God of Israel saith, I said, &c.— The office of the high-priesthood was first settled upon Eleazar the eldest son of Aaron, and upon his posterity; for the very same promise is made to Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, Num 25:13 which is here said to be made to Eli, who was descended from Ithamar, the youngest son of Aaron. The high-priesthood was translated to him from the family of Eleazar, for some sin or other, as now it was resolved it should be translated back again, from the family of Ithamar to that of Eleazar, because of the horrid sins of the sons of Eli. We frequently read of God's conditional decrees in Scripture; see particularly Jer 7:9-10 and Selden de Success. in Pontif. lib. 1: cap. 2. We cannot too carefully attend to the solemn declaration at the close of this verse, which, while it highly magnifies the goodness of God to us, warns us at the same time, in the strongest manner, to be active in the performance of our duties.

Verse 31

1 Samuel 2:31. I will cut off—the arm of thy father's house i.e. The power and authority; of which the arm in Scripture is the emblem. The Chaldee renders it, I will cut off the strength of thy seed.

Verse 32

1 Samuel 2:32. And thou shalt see an enemy in my habitation The rendering in the margin of our Bibles seems most agreeable to the history; thou shalt see the affliction of thy tabernacle. See chap. 1 Samuel 4:4; 1 Samuel 4:11. Calmet, Saurin, and others, suppose the meaning to be, that Eli should see a rival in the sanctuary; but in that case, the sacred writer must be understood to speak not of Eli, when he says thou, but of his posterity, as Eli died so soon after; and therefore the former seems the preferable interpretation.

Verse 35

1 Samuel 2:35. And I will raise me up a faithful priest i.e. Zadok, as it is generally supposed, who was anointed in the room of Abiathar, the last descendant of Eli in the pontificate. See 1 Kings 2:27; 1 Kings 2:35. I will build him a sure house: i.e. "I will give him a numerous posterity, and I will renew with him the promise which I made to Phinehas the son of Eleazar:" a prediction which was fully justified by the event. See Eze 40:16 and Josephus Antiquit. lib. 10: cap. 4. He shall walk before mine anointed: i.e. "Zadok and his descendants shall continually perform the office of high-priest: before that king whom God shall anoint, and before his successors." Procopius Gazaeus well remarks, that though, according to the history, this is meant of, and may properly be applied to Zadok, who was put into the priesthood by Solomon; yet it belongs to none in its sublimest sense, but to our Lord Jesus Christ, the anointed of the Father, and the faithful high-priest, who offered up the great sacrifice of himself for the sins of mankind.

Verse 36

1 Samuel 2:36. Put me, I pray thee, &c.— See 1 Kings 2:27. From a review of this useful and instructive chapter, we may draw several reflections of importance. The song of Hannah the mother of Samuel, and her public and solemn thanksgiving to God, are a new proof of her piety, and teach us to express our gratitude, and bless the Lord when he grants us any signal favour. We learn particularly in this song, that Providence overrules all things; that God confounds the proud; that he takes care of the weak and afflicted who fear him; that he protects them, and hears their prayers. This is a doctrine full of comfort and consolation to good men, supporting them in their trials, and leading them to holiness, and trust in God. The account of the horrid impiety and sacrilege of the sons of Eli should convince us, that the loose and evil life of the ministers of religion is the greatest of all scandals; and that nothing corrupts the people more, nor more certainly exposes them to the judgments of God. The conduct of Eli demands our serious attention; instead of punishing his sons as they deserved, he only gently reproved them; and therefore God by his prophet declared, that for this very thing his children and his posterity should be destroyed. This very remarkable example should teach parents, that indulging their children is a very great sin; that God punishes such over-tender and indulgent parents by the children themselves; and that it often occasions the ruin and destruction of families. But this indulgence is particularly sinful in persons of a public character, and especially in church-governors and magistrates, when they do not suppress vice and irregularity by opposing it with becoming steadiness and resolution to the utmost of their power. God's sharp reproof of Eli by the prophet, and the miseries which soon after befel his children and all the people, prove, that great misfortunes are owing to this indulgence; and that not only private persons, but the public likewise, are thereby exposed to the divine vengeance. See Ostervald.

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Bibliographical Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 2". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/tcc/1-samuel-2.html. 1801-1803.