From 1 Samuel 1-3
First Samuel records the establishment of Israel’s monarchy, about 1050 B.C. Samuel led Israel for many years in the combined roles of prophet, priest, and judge. After the people demanded a king like those of the other nations (ch. 8), God directed Samuel to anoint Saul as Israel’s first king. When Saul turned from God, David was anointed by Samuel to succeed him. After David killed the giant Goliath, he was brought to Saul’s court, eventually becoming the leader of Saul’s armies. Saul’s subsequent violent jealousy forced David to flee. The book closes with Saul’s death in battle, and looks forward to David’s reign. First Samuel’s author is unknown, but Samuel himself may have written portions of the book (see 1 Chron. 29:29). (The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (1 Sam). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.)
This post is part of my bible in a year series.
Passage and Comments
Samuel was given to the service of the LORD as a result of Hannah’s vow. Like some other famous women in the scriptures, Hannah was barren. She made a vow before the LORD, that if the LORD gave her a son, she would devote him to the LORD’s service. The LORD was kind and Samuel was born. Hannah honoured her promise and Samuel was given to the LORD (1 Sam 1.1-28).
There are a series of verses which indicate Samuel’s growth in maturity and favour of the LORD.
And the boy was ministering to the LORD in the presence of Eli the priest. (1 Sam 2:11)
And the boy Samuel grew in the presence of the LORD. (1 Sam 2:21)
Now the boy Samuel continued to grow both in stature and in favor with the LORD and also with man. (1 Sam 2:26)
These are in stark contrast to the description of Eli’s sons, who minister in the tent of meeting.
17 Thus the sin of the young men was very great in the sight of the LORD, for the men treated the offering of the LORD with contempt. (1 Sam 2:17)
22 Now Eli was very old, and he kept hearing all that his sons were doing to all Israel, and how they lay with the women who were serving at the entrance to the tent of meeting. 23 And he said to them, “Why do you do such things? For I hear of your evil dealings from all these people. (1 Sam 2:22–23)
The LORD is about to raise up one servant and put down some others.
27 And there came a man of God to Eli and said to him, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Did I indeed reveal myself to the house of your father when they were in Egypt subject to the house of Pharaoh? 28 Did I choose him out of all the tribes of Israel to be my priest, to go up to my altar, to burn incense, to wear an ephod before me? I gave to the house of your father all my offerings by fire from the people of Israel. 29 Why then do you scorn my sacrifices and my offerings that I commanded for my dwelling, and honor your sons above me by fattening yourselves on the choicest parts of every offering of my people Israel?’ (1 Sam 2.27-29)
Eli has failed to raise his children up to respect the LORD. Now he is suffering the consequences. They and his family line will perish.
30 Therefore the Lord, the God of Israel, declares: ‘I promised that your house and the house of your father should go in and out before me forever,’ but now the Lord declares: ‘Far be it from me, for those who honor me I will honor, and those who despise me shall be lightly esteemed. (1 Sam 2.30)
This particular statement caught my attention. The LORD made a promise and normally we view the LORD’s promises as very one sided. Here we see what can happen when the covenant member the LORD deals with is unfaithful. He honours those who honour him. Those who despise him, He ‘lightly esteems’. The underlying Hebrew word is קָלַל transliterated ‘ye·qal’·lû’. It can mean abated(2), accursed(1), brought a curse(1), contempt(1), contemptible(1), curse(15), cursed(16), curses(8) (Thomas, R. L. (1998). New American Standard Hebrew-Aramaic and Greek dictionaries : updated edition. Anaheim: Foundation Publications, Inc.). Cursed seems a definite possibility for covenant members who despise the LORD like this. What is the nature of the curse?
31 Behold, the days are coming when I will cut off your strength and the strength of your father’s house, so that there will not be an old man in your house. 32 Then in distress you will look with envious eye on all the prosperity that shall be bestowed on Israel, and there shall not be an old man in your house forever. 33 The only one of you whom I shall not cut off from my altar shall be spared to weep his eyes out to grieve his heart, and all the descendants of your house shall die by the sword of men. 34 And this that shall come upon your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, shall be the sign to you: both of them shall die on the same day. (1 Sam 2.31-34)
All his house will be killed. If that were not bad enough, the last one would be spared for a time to grieve the non existence of his house. The sign that the LORD will do this is Eli’s two sons will die. Really tough news or Eli. I’m not sure his sons would believe or care.
35 And I will raise up for myself a faithful priest, who shall do according to what is in my heart and in my mind. 36 And I will build him a sure house, and he shall go in and out before my anointed forever. And everyone who is left in your house shall come to implore him for a piece of silver or a loaf of bread and shall say, “Please put me in one of the priests’ places, that I may eat a morsel of bread.” ’ ” (1 Sam 2.35-36)
What follows is the calling of Samuel. He is the faithful priest the man of God was predicting that would replace Eli’s unfaithful sons. For a time those who remain in Eli’s household will be dependent on this priest and his house. They will serve them. The final few verses of chapter three establish Samuel as the replacement of Eli’s house.
19 And Samuel grew, and the LORD was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground. 20 And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba knew that Samuel was established as a prophet of the LORD. 21 And the LORD appeared again at Shiloh, for the LORD revealed himself to Samuel at Shiloh by the word of the LORD. (1 Sam 3:19–21)
The promise of the LORD reflects what happens a little further in the future between Saul and David. Saul was initially chosen by God to be King, but he grieved the LORD. The LORD then raises up David as his intended king. The promise the LORD makes David is of an eternal kingdom (2 Sam 7). We will have a look at this when the times comes.
Story of Jesus
The same pattern reveals itself after the death and resurrection of Jesus. The LORD initially chose Israel, but as Paul says not all descended from Israel belong to Israel (Rom 9.6). As a result of Israel’s disobedience some were cut of and the result of this was that Gentiles could be grafted in. The believed that Jesus died and rose again. He is the promised king of David’s line and will come again. To these believing Gentiles Paul instructs.
17 But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree, 18 do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you. 19 Then you will say, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” 20 That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but fear. 21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you. 22 Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off. (Rom 11:17–22)
Paul gives these Gentiles a warning that still applies to us today. The sons of Eli were disobedient and their house was cut off as a result. Let us learn from their example and heed Paul’s instructions not to be proud, but to fear and continue in the LORD’s kindness.
Copyright © Joshua Washington and thescripturesays, 2014. All Rights Reserved.