The story of Hannah and her son Samuel continues to be told in this second section, and it shows the stark contrast between the priests who do not honor God or even believe in him and Samuel who is worshipping God. Hannah makes Samuel a linen robe each year for and gives it to him when they come to make their sacrifices. Eli blesses Hannah and she has five more children, three boys and two girls. Samuel grows in stature and favor with the Lord and with those who come to make sacrifices.
The second story that we see unfold is that of Eli and his sons. The sons of Eli do not know God and take advantage of their role as priests to get the best meat and to sleep with the women who served at the entrance to the tent of meeting. They were taking advantage of the people who came to make offerings to God and also were contemptuous of the offerings, not following God’s commands about the offerings, but instead doing as they pleased. Eli talks to them, but they do not care to listen. So a man of God comes to Eli and tells him that because of the way Eli and his family were showing the Lord how they despised him, they would die. Both of Eli’s sons would die on the same day as a sign that this was all true, and God would raise someone else up to be the priest, and Eli’s family would have to beg for their positions just to eat a bite of bread.
Hannah, Samuel, Elkanah, Eli’s sons: Hophni and Phinehas, the priest’s servant, the Israelites who came to Shiloh to give offerings, Hannah’s three sons and two daughters, the women serving at the entrance to the tent of meeting, a man of God, and Eli’s family: Aaron’s lineage.
The Key Verse is how the cross references are chosen and then the conclusion is often my summary based on everything above that. So, with so much to unpack here I am going to go through the steps several times instead of listing every cross reference all together for my two key verses.
Key Verse #1
Verse 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.”
This verse was talked about in my Bible’s introduction to 1 & 2 Samuel as being key to the both books. It provides a framework not just to look at Eli’s life and parenting by, but also for the characters who are coming soon. “For Saul, God does not appear to be a major concern, perhaps not a reality at all. For David, God is his ultimate concern. For David, God is the ultimate reality. And he carries ultimate weight. This is what it means to “honor” God. By the criteria established early in the books—”those who honor me I will honor, and those who despise me shall be lightly esteemed” (1 Sam. 2:30)—Saul is destined to fall and David to rise.”* This is the same for Eli’s sons, they do not seem to consider God a reality at all. It is sometimes difficult when reading the Bible to determine what it all means to us. Reading about Eli and his sons is an indirect method of teaching from God until the man of God comes and speaks directly into Eli’s life. When we read the verses about the offerings and when we read about Eli’s correction of his sons, we do not necessarily know what is good or bad or wrong or right. But, the man of God comes and states quite clearly that the three of them are despising God with their actions. Eli merely talking to his sons is not enough to correct the sins they were committing. And as we continue to read, these direct truths should be applied to help us understand the discipline of God.
Exodus 27:21 “In the tent of meeting, outside the veil that is before the testimony, Aaron and his sons shall tend it from evening to morning before the Lord. It shall be a statute forever to be observed throughout their generations by the people of Israel.”
Exodus 29:9 “and you shall gird Aaron and his sons with sashes and bind caps on them. And the priesthood shall be theirs by a statute forever. Thus you shall ordain Aaron and his sons.”
Jeremiah 18:9-10 “And if at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom that I will build and plant it, and if it does evil in my sight, not listening to my voice, then I will relent of the good that I had intended to do to it.”
Eli is of the line of Aaron, and yet he did not follow through with his position to minister to the Lord and guide others into their devotion to God. He does not even guide his own sons in devotion to God. This is an occurrence that happens throughout the Bible, where God is forgotten in several generations because the parents do not train their children in the ways of the Lord and they fall away.
Key Verse #2
Verse 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. And I will build him a sure house, and he shall go in and out before my anointed forever.”
Finally, God is telling Eli about the replacement he is going to raise up, and it is a beautiful beginning for the anointings we know are coming soon in the story. Samuel and also David are going to be raised up, and through David’s line Jesus will be the one to intercede for us forever.
1 Samuel 2:35
1 Kings 2:27,35 “So Solomon expelled Abiathar from being priest to the Lord, thus fulfilling the word of the Lord that he had spoken concerning the house of Eli in Shiloh…The king put Benaiah son of Jehoiada over the army in place of Joab, and the king put Zadok the priest in the place of Abiathar.”
1 Chronicles 29:22 “And they ate and drank before the Lord on that day with great gladness. And they made Solomon the son of David king the second time, and they anointed him as prince for the Lord, and Zadok as priest.”
1 Samuel 25:28 “Please forgive the trespass of your servant. For the Lord will certainly make my lord a sure house, because my lord is fighting the battles of the Lord, and evil shall not be found in you so long as you live.”
1 Kings 11:38 “And if you will listen to all that I command you, and will walk in my ways, and do what is right in my eyes by keeping my statutes and my commandments, as David my servant did, I will be with you and will build you a sure house, as I built for David, and I will give Israel to you.”
2 Samuel 7:11, 27 “from that time that I appointed judges over my people Israel. And I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover, the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house…For you, O Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, have made this revelation to your servant, saying, ‘I will build you a house.'”
2 Samuel 22:51 “Great salvation he brings to his king, and shows steadfast love to his anointed, to David and his offspring forever.”
Psalm 18:50 “Great salvation he brings to his king, and shows steadfast love to his anointed, to David and his offspring forever.”
Psalm 89:20 “I have found David, my servant; with my holy oil I have anointed him.”
The completion of God’s Word did not all happen at once. Through the man of God who came to Eli we learn that God is going to remove Eli’s family from the office of priest, and that he will raise up his own anointed. David is anointed by God as king, and then Solomon is anointed by God as king, but ultimately He raises up Jesus as His anointed as king and priest. We see in the 1 Kings reference Zadok, who is a priest in the line of Aaron, and that Solomon’s replacement of priests, many years later, continues to fulfill the Word of the Lord. In conclusion, I believe we must listen to God, trust Him, and follow Him even if all the details aren’t what we thought they would be in a situation. We are blessed to be able to see how throughout the Bible there is a plan, a greater story that is told. We don’t have to wait through the years that the people in the Bible had to wait. God’s promises to people often were not fulfilled in that person’s lifetime. When God told Noah to restart the world it may have seemed impossible, when God told Abraham he would make him a great nation when his wife was barren and they were old, it seemed impossible. But we know the end of the story, so we know that it will all turn out just as God said it would. Now we must have that same faith in our own lives. As we pray and ask God, and hear from God, we must believe that He will handle things far better than we ever could imagine or dream.
Jesus in the Old Testament
Seeing Hannah and Samuel alongside Eli’s sons is quite the contrast. “Their lot is judgment (v. 25). Eli, too, is judged, for though he rebuked his sons (vv. 22-25) he did not restrain them (3:13)—something he, as high priest, could and should have done. Specifically, Eli is charged with honoring his sons above the Lord (2:29).”*
In the introduction to 1 & 2 Samuel the indirect method with which stories teach lessons was discussed. When we read what happens in a story we cannot always judge the right and the wrong easily. So, we may not have even seen this lack of honor that Eli is giving God. Family is an idol with which it is easy to replace God because it seems like we are doing right taking care of our family. If you have children you have had to deal with choosing if the child gets a treat or not, how you are going to discipline, and what the child will get away with. Spoiling our children does not raise them up to be Godly men and women because it makes them the most important in life, a being that everyone must revolve around. It sets them up for failure. But beyond spoiling our kids, giving them preference to our own Quiet Time, favoring them over God, and thinking of them more than God, these are all ways that they gain honor and God loses honor in your heart. Idolatry is a root issue running in many of us, and this is a great opportunity to pray and ask God what you hold in higher esteem than him. You may be surprised at the answer. Our idols are often not big golden calves like Aaron created. Instead the height we place things above God might be hidden from us.
Dear Lord, I know that my relationship with You is not perfect. I know that there are times I do not turn to You, times when I live in my flesh and even forget You. I want to be in right relationship with You, pursuing You with all my heart. I want You to hold the highest place of honor in my life and in the lives of my family. Please show me where I am spending my time, money, and energy on things that are not of You. Show me what I am placing on the throne instead of You. I love You Lord, and I want to destroy any idols in my life for You to be the one and only Lord of my life. Amen.
“God’s desire to be honored, or glorified, may on a shallow reading seem vainglorious. But that God should require his creatures to honor him, to give him weight, is no more vainglorious than that the law of gravity requires to be acknowledged. Simply put, God has weight! To neglect this fact is to lose one’s own center of gravity. Giving God the center is at the heart of accepting the gospel. Every line of the prayer Jesus taught his followers to pray manifestly gives weight and centrality to God (Matt. 6:9-13). As our hearts are gripped with the magnitude of what God has done for his people in the gospel of grace, we are compelled to gladly ascribe all honor and glory to God alone.”*
Matthew 6:9-13 “”And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”
*Note: I am using the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible for the Jesus in the Old Testament section, so these are paraphrases and quotes from the commentary with my own ideas sprinkled in.
Thank you for reading. I am excited to hear your key verses, observations, and thoughts! Please take a moment to leave a comment to share with us.
Next Week: 1 Samuel 3
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