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1 Samuel

Housecleaning at Shiloh
2:11 - 3:21

Psalm 24:3,4
Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? Or who shall stand in his holy place? 4 He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.

God’s servants should lead consecrated, pure lives.

related readings

Proverbs 3:1-15

Luke 2:41-52

Galatians 6:1-9

Ephesians 6:1-20

2 Peter 2:1-19

The daily prayer of faithful Jews all over the world had been, “May it be acceptable to Thee, Eternal God, our God and the God of our fathers, that the sanctuary may be rebuilt speedily in our days and our portion assigned us in Thy law. There will we serve Thee in reverence as of old in bygone days.”

And in 1967—for the first time in 1897 years—the Jews took control of the temple area.

The temple area had been under Muslim control since the 7th century. Jews were allowed to pray at the Wailing Wall during various periods of history past. But when the city of Jerusalem was divided in 1948, access to the Wall was denied once more to the Jews.

Moreover, not one of their 50 synagogues was left standing. They were all destroyed by the Arabs. Thus, between 1948 and 1967, the Jews had neither their synagogues nor the Wall.


God’s House [2:11-26]

Hannah was obedient in faith. Those who should have been obedient desecrated the House of God. It is commendable that Christian parents want to serve the Lord faithfully in the church ministries, but such service should not be at the sacrifice of their home lives. While Eli is the High Priest, his rule displays a “hands off” management style. He is too weak to control his own sons. Hophni and Phinehas steal portions of the sacrifices reserved for God (Lev 3:3-5; 7:31-34). They commit sexual violations upon the women who serve as Temple aides (Exod 38:8). They sin directly against the Lord by disobeying His rules for the proper conduct of His holy priesthood.

book214.gif Hannah describes herself as “worthless” in 1:16 (“a daughter of Beliah”). The same description is used of Eli’s two sons in 2:12. Frequently translated as “sons of Beliah,” the Hebrew phrase literally means “worthless men or women.” What a contrast the application of this phrase makes as Hannah applies it to herself compared to its application to Hophni and Phinehas. Eli failed to sow the seed of the Word in the lives of his sons as is commanded by Scripture (Deut 6:4-9). Such a failure gives the Devil ample time and opportunity to sow his seeds of destruction. Here, the Devils crops grew abundantly.

And note God’s words in verse 2:29:

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?


ole5.gif “I have a higher regard for _________ than for God.”



Judgment [2:27-36]

The announcement of God’s judgment is swift (2:27-36). Not only is judgment given against Hophni and Phinehas, but the entire priesthood of Eli will be judged. The message of this unnamed man of God is tragic and frightening. The judgment is stern and uncompromising. We wait with anticipation as we read on to determine how this judgment is carried out.

book217.gif The priests had a special role in the life of Israel. The Levites were set aside without an inheritance in the land because they were consecrated to God (Num 18:24). The Old Testament story of Aaron’s two sons and the swift judgment upon them for offering strange fire unto the Lord is an indication of how seriously God views the sins of His priests (Lev 10:1-10). The priests were to be the peoples’ voice to God, primarily through the offering of the sacrifices (Num 18:8-32). The failure of Eli and his sons is but a picture of the failure that commenced with Aaron’s creation of the golden calf in the wilderness. The priests’ failure continued throughout the history of Israel (see Malachi 2:1-9).
book218.gif All sin is against God. David writes in Psalm 51:4, “against thee, thee only, have I sinned”. The sins of Hophni and Phinehas produced a particularly strong stench in the nostrils of God for they were cultic sins – sins against and violating the cultic rules established for proper worship in the House of God. But sin dons a variety of faces – worship of idols and other false gods, social abuse, human abuse, hypocrisy, to name but a few.

How would you define sin?

What actions do you identify as sins?

Is there truly an unforgivable sin?

How can the Christian deal with sin?

book219.gif Note that in Eli’s case, 3:14 indicates the sin of the family was beyond repentance. This seems to be verified by Eli’s empty words (3:18) which sound hollow and suggest a life of continuing sin despite a “head” acknowledgment of God’s power and control.

The final fulfillment of God’s prophesy for the removing of Eli’s family from the priesthood was accomplished when Solomon removed Abiathar from the priesthood and replaced him with the line of Zadok (1 Kings 2:26,27). While 1 Samuel 2:35, 36 point to Christ as the perfect Priest, there is a short-term fulfillment of the prophesy with the death of Eli and his sons.

book220.gif Hannah displays the fruit of the Spirit in her life – gentleness, long-suffering, patience, meekness, self-control, despite years of misery in her barrenness. How ironic it is that these traits are lacking in Eli and his sons, the outwardly appearing men of God.

Paul sets the example for us in 2 Corinthians 12:7-12:

bible34.gif And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. 8 For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. 9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

Obedience In Transition [3:1-21]

God’s sovereignty is about to commence a new era in his dealing with the Nation of Israel. The era of the Judges is about to cease. The child Samuel becomes the focal point of this action. His special birth, his consecration to the priesthood and service at the Temple, and his obedience all come together as God makes His special call upon Samuel.


Is it true that all Christians are called by God?

Have you received a special call by God?

If so, how have you responded?

book221.gif It is frequently stated that the Christian is first called to God, a call which involves general obedience to His Word. The Apostles were called to Christ to become followers of Him, just as every born-again believer receives this call to salvation and obedience. Then, the Apostles received a special call to service (Matt 4:19).
ole8.gif Where do you sit with regard to God’s calling upon your life?
The special call of Samuel issues in the new era of the prophet. God’s divine communication will no longer pass through the office of the priesthood nor through the leaders of the Nation. Rather, God’s man will now assume an adversarial position against the Nation. His prophets will preach repentance – the need to turn away from the ways of the world and back to God. The priests and the leaders have failed. A new method of communications has been born. book222.gif
book221.gif That the people fail to heed this new form of communication is apparent, both in First Samuel and in the balance of the history of the Nation. God foresaw all of this. If your time permits, read Deuteronomy 28-30. God sets forth blessings and curses for the Nation. A review of the curses against the backdrop of both biblical and current history shows have accurately God foretold the actions of the Israelite nation and how accurately those curses have been imposed.
book224.gif The voice of the prophets should remind one of John the Baptist. John’s message was no different than any of the other Old Testament prophets. “Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. . . Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance” (Matt 3:2,8). The obvious difference is that the Baptist heralds another era of God’s dealing with people. We live in the age of grace, an era where God deals solely with the individual on the basis of faith – faith such as that displayed by Hannah and Samuel.

Samuel’s response to God’s call is recorded in 3:10: “Speak; for thy servant heareth.” Samuel was ready to respond because he had spent most of his life, to this date, preparing by studying God and God’s Word. While Chapter 2 ends with Samuel as a small child, Chapter 3 probably finds him as an early teenager. The years have flown by. But even after such a long dry spell, when Samuel realized God was calling, he was ready to respond and follow.

book225.gif Compare the commentary on Samuel in 2:26 with the commentary on Christ recorded in Luke 2:52. Both put forth the effort to grow in God. It takes time and effort to become better acquainted with God so that we may be ready to respond when He calls us -–time spent in prayer, devotions, and study of His Word.


book227.gif Isaiah 6:8 records the prophet’s response to God’s call. It sounds similar to Samuel’s:

Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.


Can you respond the same way?

Are you prepared enough that God will call upon you for special service?

If God does call, how will you respond?




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