Series: Thru the Bible
Message – The birth of Samuel
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Thru the Bible: 1 Samuel 1-3
Chapter 1: The Birth of Samuel
“(1)There was a man from Ramathaim-zophim in the hill country of Ephraim. His name was Elkanah son of Jeroham, son of Elihu, son of Tohu, son of Zuph, an Ephraimite. (2) He had two wives, the first named Hannah and the second Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah was childless. (3) This man would go up from his town every year to worship and to sacrifice to the LORD of Hosts at Shiloh, where Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, were the LORD’s priests. (4) Whenever Elkanah offered a sacrifice, he always gave portions of the meat to his wife Peninnah and to each of her sons and daughters. (5) But he gave a double portion to Hannah, for he loved her even though the LORD had kept her from conceiving. (6) Her rival would taunt her severely just to provoke her, because the LORD had kept Hannah from conceiving. (7) Whenever she went up to the LORD’s house, her rival taunted her in this way every year. Hannah wept and would not eat. (8) “Hannah, why are you crying?” her husband Elkanah asked. “Why won’t you eat? Why are you troubled? Am I not better to you than 10 sons?” (9) Hannah got up after they ate and drank at Shiloh. Eli the priest was sitting on a chair by the doorpost of the LORD’s tabernacle. (10) Deeply hurt, Hannah prayed to the LORD and wept with many tears. (11) Making a vow, she pleaded, “LORD of Hosts, if You will take notice of Your servant’s affliction, remember and not forget me, and give Your servant a son, I will give him to the LORD all the days of his life, and his hair will never be cut.”
“(12) While she was praying in the LORD’s presence, Eli watched her lips. (13) Hannah was speaking to herself, and although her lips were moving, her voice could not be heard. Eli thought she was drunk (14) and scolded her, “How long are you going to be drunk? Get rid of your wine!”
“(15) “No, my lord,”” Hannah replied. “I am a woman with a broken heart. I haven’t had any wine or beer; I’ve been pouring out my heart before the LORD. (16) Don’t think of me as a wicked woman; I’ve been praying from the depth of my anguish and resentment.”
“(17) Eli responded, “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant the petition you’ve requested from Him.” (18) “May your servant find favor with you,” she replied. Then Hannah went on her way; she ate and no longer appeared downcast.”
“(19) The next morning Elkanah and Hannah got up early to bow and to worship the LORD. Afterwards, they returned home to Ramah. Then Elkanah was intimate with his wife Hannah, and the LORD remembered her. (20) After some time, Hannah conceived and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, because she said, “I requested him from the LORD.” (21) When Elkanah and all his household went up to make the annual sacrifice and his vow offering to the LORD, (22) Hannah did not go and explained to her husband, “After the child is weaned, I’ll take him to appear in the LORD’s presence and to stay there permanently.”
“(23) Her husband Elkanah replied, “Do what you think is best, and stay here until you’ve weaned him. May the LORD confirm your word.” So Hannah stayed there and nursed her son until she weaned him.”
“(24) When she had weaned him, she took him with her to Shiloh, as well as a three-year-old bull, two and one-half gallons of flour, and a jar of wine. Though the boy was still young, she took him to the LORD’s house at Shiloh. (25) Then they slaughtered the bull and brought the boy to Eli. (26) “Please, my lord,” she said, “as sure as you live, my lord, I am the woman who stood here beside you praying to the LORD. (27) I prayed for this boy, and since the LORD gave me what I asked Him for, (28) I now give the boy to the LORD. For as long as he lives, he is given to the LORD.” Then he bowed and worshiped the LORD there.”
Children then and even now in many parts of the world are not force weaned, they are self-weaned. This typically occurs sometime around 2-4 years of age.
Chapter 2: Hannah’s Prayer
“(1) Hannah prayed: My heart rejoices in the LORD; my horn is lifted up by the LORD.My mouth boasts over my enemies, because I rejoice in Your salvation. (2) There is no one holy like the LORD. There is no one besides You! And there is no rock like our God. (3) Do not boast so proudly, or let arrogant words come out of your mouth, for the LORD is a God of knowledge, and actions are weighed by Him. (4) The bows of the warriors are broken, but the feeble are clothed with strength. (5) Those who are full hire themselves out for food, but those who are starving hunger no more. The barren woman gives birth to seven, but the woman with many sons pines away. (6) The LORD brings death and gives life; He sends some to Sheol, and He raises others up. (7) The LORD brings poverty and gives wealth; He humbles and He exalts. (8) He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the garbage pile. He seats them with noblemen and gives them a throne of honor. For the foundations of the earth are the LORD’s; He has set the world on them. (9) He guards the steps of His faithful ones, but the wicked are silenced in darkness, for a man does not prevail by his own strength. (10) Those who oppose the LORD will be shattered; He will thunder in the heavens against them. The LORD will judge the ends of the earth. He will give power to His king; He will lift up the horn of His anointed.”
“(11) Elkanah went home to Ramah, but the boy served the LORD in the presence of Eli the priest.”
Eli’s Worthless Sons
“ (12) Eli’s sons were wicked men; they had no regard for the LORD (13) or for the priests’ share of the sacrifices from the people. When any man offered a sacrifice, the priest’s servant would come with a three-pronged meat fork while the meat was boiling (14) and plunge it into the container or kettle or caldron or cooking pot. The priest would claim for himself whatever the meat fork brought up. This is the way they treated all the Israelites who came there to Shiloh. (15) Even before the fat was burned, the priest’s servant would come and say to the man who was sacrificing, “Give the priest some meat to roast, because he won’t accept boiled meat from you–only raw.” (16) If that man said to him, “The fat must be burned first; then you can take whatever you want for yourself,” the servant would reply, “No, I insist that you hand it over right now. If you don’t, I’ll take it by force!” (17) So the servants’ sin was very severe in the presence of the LORD, because they treated the LORD’s offering with contempt.”
“(18) The boy Samuel served in the LORD’s presence and wore a linen ephod. (19) Each year his mother made him a little robe and took it to him when she went with her husband to offer the annual sacrifice. (20) Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife: “May the LORD give you children by this woman in place of the one she has given to the LORD.” Then they would go home.”
“(21) The LORD paid attention to Hannah’s need, and she conceived and gave birth to three sons and two daughters. Meanwhile, the boy Samuel grew up in the presence of the LORD.”
“(22) Now Eli was very old. He heard about everything his sons were doing to all Israel and how they were sleeping with the women who served at the entrance to the tent of meeting.”
Eli Rebukes His Sons
“(23) He said to them, “Why are you doing these things? I have heard about your evil actions from all these people. (24) No, my sons, the report I hear from the LORD’s people is not good. (25) If a man sins against another man, God can intercede for him, but if a man sins against the LORD, who can intercede for him?”
“But they would not listen to their father, since the LORD intended to kill them.”
Now this phrase is important. We already know enough about this subject to know what is happening here. Who wants to tell me?
We always turn to Romans 1 & 9 for our understanding of these things.
- The condition of each heart is not determined by determination and actions alone. That only sets its course.
- God alone shapes the heart.
- Psalms 33:13-15, “The LORD looks down from heaven; he sees all the children of man; (14) from where he sits enthroned he looks out on all the inhabitants of the earth, (15) he who fashions the hearts of them all and observes all their deeds.”
- God does not soften nor harden people’s hearts for no reason.
These men had known what was right from their youth, but set their course opposite of it. They had NO regard for God. Without question God came to them several times. Like with Cain, God will plead with and intercede with a man to turn him from the ways of death, but in the end, they choose their course. Once this is set and remains with determination, God agrees with their decision and shapes their hearts accordingly.
We see this process mentioned also in the book of Job chapter 33,
Job 33:8-29, “(8) Surely you have spoken in my hearing, and I have heard these very words: (9) “I am pure, without transgression; I am clean and have no guilt. (10) But He finds reasons to oppose me; He regards me as his enemy. (11) He puts my feet in the stocks; He stands watch over all my paths.” (12) But I tell you that you are wrong in this matter, since God is greater than man. (13) Why do you take Him to court for not answering anything a person asks? (14) For God speaks time and again, but a person may not notice it. (15) In a dream, a vision in the night, when deep sleep falls on people as they slumber on their beds, (16) He uncovers their ears at that time and terrifies them with warnings, (17) in order to turn a person from his actions and suppress his pride. (18) God spares his soul from the Pit, his life from crossing the river of death. (19) A person may be disciplined on his bed with pain and constant distress in his bones, (20) so that he detests bread, and his soul despises his favorite food. (21) His flesh wastes away to nothing, and his unseen bones stick out. (22) He draws near the Pit, and his life to the executioners. (23) If there is an angel on his side, one mediator out of a thousand, to tell a person what is right for him (24) and to be gracious to him and say, “Spare him from going down to the Pit; I have found a ransom,” (25) then his flesh will be healthier than in his youth, and he will return to the days of his youthful vigor. (26) He will pray to God, and God will delight in him. That man will behold His face with a shout of joy, and God will restore his righteousness to him. (27) He will look at men and say, “I have sinned and perverted what was right; yet I did not get what I deserved. (28) He redeemed my soul from going down to the Pit, and I will continue to see the light.” (29) God certainly does all these things two or three times to a man.”
“(26) By contrast, the boy Samuel grew in stature and in favor with the LORD and with men.”
What could Samuel have done that was different than Eli’s sons that placed him in the position to be favored by God?
He was humble!
- Micah 6:8, “He has told you men what is good and what it is the LORD requires of you: Only to act justly, to love faithfulness, and to walk humbly with your God.”
- James 4:6 , “[God]…resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
The Lord Rejects Eli’s Household
“(27) A man of God came to Eli and said to him, “This is what the LORD says: ‘Didn’t I reveal Myself to your ancestral house when it was in Egypt and belonged to Pharaoh’s palace? (28) I selected your house from the tribes of Israel to be priests, to offer sacrifices on My altar, to burn incense, and to wear an ephod in My presence. I also gave your house all the Israelite fire offerings. (29) Why, then, do all of you despise My sacrifices and offerings that I require at the place of worship? You have honored your sons more than Me, by making yourselves fat with the best part of all of the offerings of My people Israel.’”
God has a problem with the sons so He comes to the father. We learned about what should have happened to these boys long ago in the Pentateuch. Who can tell me what Eli should have done?
His honoring his sons MORE than God, resulted in all of their destruction! This is what Jesus was referring to when He said, “whoever comes to me and does not love his father or mother, his wife or his children less than me, cannot be My disciple.” ~ Luke 14:2
“(30) “Therefore, the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘Although I said your family and your ancestral house would walk before Me forever, the LORD now says, “No longer!” I will honor those who honor Me, but those who despise Me will be disgraced.”
“(31) ‘Look, the days are coming when I will cut off your strength and the strength of your ancestral family, so that none in your family will reach old age. (32) You will see distress in the place of worship, in spite of all that is good in Israel, and no one in your family will ever again reach old age. (33) Any man from your family I do not cut off from My altar will bring grief and sadness to you. All your descendants will die violently. (34) This will be the sign that will come to you concerning your two sons Hophni and Phinehas: both of them will die on the same day.”
Prophecy of Christ Jesus and His priestly/earthly reign on earth
“(35)’Then I will raise up a faithful priest for Myself. He will do whatever is in My heart and mind. I will establish a lasting dynasty for him, and he will walk before My anointed for all time. (36) Anyone who is left in your family will come and bow down to him for a piece of silver or a loaf of bread. He will say: Please appoint me to some priestly office so I can have a piece of bread to eat.'”
Like nearly all Old Testament prophecy, this had at least a dual-fulfillment. There was a way in which this was fulfilled in that time, in that Samuel, wound up being a godly priest, replacing Eli’s wicked sons.
Later in the days of Solomon, the entire house of Eli was replaced by Zadok’s house.
Finally, this promise like all prophecies in one way or another was ultimately fulfilled in Jesus Himself! He is a priest forever according to the order of Melchezedek (1Sam. 2:1-36 :Heb. 7:12-17).
Now this is something you will have to get used to in scripture and it is something which causes more than a little confusion.
God established His covenant which led to Messiah through Israel. In doing this He made several promises to Israel – all of which have their greatest fulfillment in their Messiah. IF Israel had recognized and surrendered to their Messiah when He came not only would the Bible (both old and new testaments) read differently, history itself would be different! However, God knew what Israel would do and knew He would have to lay Israel aside for a time and turn to the Gentiles and by them, provoke Israel to jealousy.
In the end, we know Jesus will come and rule the earth from the temple in Jerusalem and Israel will for all intents and purposes be the center of the world. Until then, we are in what is called, “the time of the Gentiles”.
But what we have here is God’s word to Israel and it skips over the pause in the middle where the time of the Gentiles fits in. This goes right from Jesus coming as Messiah, to His being the priest and ruler over all Israel and fulfilling ALL of God’s desires and purposes.
Chapter 3: The Lord Calls Samuel
“(1) The boy Samuel served the LORD in Eli’s presence. In those days the word of the LORD was rare and prophetic visions were not widespread. (2) One day Eli, whose eyesight was failing, was lying in his room. (3) Before the lamp of God had gone out, Samuel was lying down in the tabernacle of the LORD where the ark of God was located. (4) Then the LORD called Samuel, and he answered, “Here I am.” (5) He ran to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” “I didn’t call,” Eli replied. “Go and lie down.” So he went and lay down. (6) Once again the LORD called, “Samuel!” Samuel got up, went to Eli, and said, “Here I am; you called me.” “I didn’t call, my son,” he replied. “Go and lie down.” (7) Now Samuel had not yet experienced the LORD, because the word of the LORD had not yet been revealed to him. (8) Once again, for the third time, the LORD called Samuel. He got up, went to Eli, and said, “Here I am; you called me.” Then Eli understood that the LORD was calling the boy. (9) He told Samuel, “Go and lie down. If He calls you, say, ‘Speak, LORD, for Your servant is listening.'” So Samuel went and lay down in his place. (10) The LORD came, stood there, and called as before, “Samuel, Samuel!” Samuel responded, “Speak, for Your servant is listening.” (11) The LORD said to Samuel, “I am about to do something in Israel that everyone who hears about it will shudder. (12) On that day I will carry out against Eli everything I said about his family, from beginning to end. (13) I told him that I am going to judge his family forever because of the iniquity he knows about: his sons are defiling the sanctuary, and he has not stopped them. (14) Therefore, I have sworn to Eli’s family: The iniquity of Eli’s family will never be wiped out by either sacrifice or offering.” (15) Samuel lay down until the morning; then he opened the doors of the LORD’s house. He was afraid to tell Eli the vision, (16) but Eli called him and said, “Samuel, my son.” “Here I am,” answered Samuel. (17) “What was the message He gave you?” Eli asked. “Don’t hide it from me. May God punish you and do so severely if you hide anything from me that He told you.” (18) So Samuel told him everything and did not hide anything from him. Eli responded, “He is the LORD. He will do what He thinks is good.”
This is an amazing response. There can be no doubt that Eli has “a” respect for the Lord, but he treasured a love that was greater and so was breaking the greatest command. Love the Lord your God with ALL of your heart.
This love of Eli was ultimately NOT for his sons – for if he truly loved them he would have rebuked them long ago, hoping to turn them from their wicked ways.
No, Eli’s love was for self. Either…
- For pride’s sake in not wanting to publicly own the sinfulness of his sons and so share, at least in part, with their sin, since he was priest.
- For the sake of laziness – in not wanting to bother dealing with his sons and the mess they had made, which can almost be detected in his almost laissez faire response to this news.
- Fear of his sons. Though it sounds fantastic to imagine, there are parents who are actually afraid of their children..afraid of losing their affections or incurring their anger. Neither are warranted for if they will not hear you as their parent you have already lost them.
“(19) Samuel grew, and the LORD was with him and let nothing he said prove false. (20) All Israel from Dan to Beer-sheba knew that Samuel was a confirmed prophet of the LORD. (21) The LORD continued to appear in Shiloh, because there He revealed Himself to Samuel by His word.”
Now, something that is going to come up is that Samuel is given two differing ancestral ties. One is to Ephraim which is the one we read about here and the other is mentioned in 1 Chronicles where he is listed as coming from the tribe of Levi.
This problem is compounded by some translations making a mistranslation of our passage of his tribal ancestry here in 1 Samuel. You see there is a single word with multiple spellings which can have one of two meanings. This word can be translated as an Ephraimite (meaning of the tribe of Ephraim) or Ephrathite (meaning someone who lived in a province of Ephraim – in particular Bethlehem), but not necessarily belonging to the tribe of Ephraim. So those translations (like the KJV and ESV) which often make this mistake do so with partial integrity and partially to make a problem go away.
To avoid a long and drawn out explanation, 1 Samuel’s account of Samuel being of the tribe of Ephraim is correct. This is kind of obvious since his father had to travel to offer sacrifice yearly. Nothing hints at his time in priestly service and secondly, Samuel is dedicated to the priest for service like a Nazarite. This would be unnecessary of Samuel had been born a priest. Finally, Samuel is said to be serving Eli in the temple from the time he was weaned. Priests do not begin their service until they are 25 as we learned in Numbers 8:23-25. So the BULK of the evidence points to Samuel being an Ephramite.
So what is he doing wearing an ephod and why is he sleeping in the tabernacle?
The ephod is an easy one – it was NOT an official one, just like the linen ephod David wore when he danced in praise to God (2Sam. 6:14).
As for his sleeping in the tabernacle of meeting – I have no idea. David is said to have entered and taken bread from the showbread table for he and his men to eat and was not judged for it, so we place this in the hands of God. One possibility was that because Samuel was dedicated for life to the service of the priest and the tabernacle, he may have been viewed as adopted by Eli who was essentially his father and Eli called him “son” in this very chapter – though that word “can” be used for a natural born son, an adopted son or even a general term used for children of either gender…so it’s not a solid answer.
One thing that is important in understanding this though is that genealogies did not serve the same purpose they do today. We think of the genealogies we find in scripture as being only interested in establishing a clear line of descent, and there are times when that is in fact the case. However, when one reads the account of the genealogy offered in 1Chronicles 6 which seems to contradict the lineage of Samuel mentioned in 1 Samuel, you find that EVERY person in that lineage is mentioned as the “son of” someone else in the line – except Samuel! His position in the lineage is not mentioned through his father – he simply appears there out of thin air.
This agrees with an observation mentioned in the commentary 1 & 2 Chronicles (Understanding the Bible Commentary Series), pg 30. Which states,
“Anthropological studies show that these genealogies do not normally have a historical intention, but rather serve social, judicial, or religious purposes, legitimating certain claims concerning these spheres of society.”
This certainly seems to affirm what we find in 1 Chronicles 6.
An example which is part of our expectation as Christian to be counted as citizens of Zion, even though we are naturally born gentiles. We read about that in Psalm 87:3-6,
“(3) Glorious things are said about you, city of God. Selah (4) “I will mention those who know Me: Rahab, Babylon, Philistia, Tyre, and Cush–each one was born there.” (5) And it will be said of Zion, “This one and that one were born in her.” The Most High Himself will establish her. (6) When He registers the peoples, the LORD will record, “This one was born there.” Selah
And again in Paul’s writings,
Romans 9:3-8,25,26, “(3) For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from the Messiah for the benefit of my brothers, my countrymen by physical descent. (4) They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the temple service, and the promises. (5) The forefathers are theirs, and from them, by physical descent, came the Messiah, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen. (6) But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel. (7) Neither are they all children because they are Abraham’s descendants. On the contrary, in Isaac your seed will be called. (8) That is, it is not the children by physical descent who are God’s children, but the children of the promise are considered seed.
“(25) As He also says in Hosea: I will call “Not-My-People,” “My-People,” and she who is “Unloved,” “Beloved.” (26) And it will be in the place where they were told, you are not My people, there they will be called sons of the living God.”
So it is God to Who alone in His sovereignty decides who goes in what genealogy, and He does it according to His Own rules!
I hope this teaching will challenge you and encourage you to place your trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.
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