1Samuel 2:1 ¶ And Hannah prayed, and said, My heart rejoiceth in the LORD, mine horn is exalted in the LORD: my mouth is enlarged over mine enemies; because I rejoice in thy salvation.
This chapter continues the narrative from the previous chapter.
Instead of grieving the loss of her son, Hannah responded with a prayer of rejoicing. Though the Hebrew is clear in defining Hannah’s words as a prayer, it comes across more as a song. She rejoiced that the LORD had heard her prayer, taken away her shame and lifted her up with His blessing by giving her a son. She could now respond to her enemies by sharing how the LORD had blessed her.
JFB offered some interesting insight on the phrase “mine horn is exalted” – “Allusion is here made to a peculiarity in the dress of Eastern women about Lebanon, which seems to have obtained anciently among the Israelite women, that of wearing a tin or silver horn on the forehead, on which their veil is suspended. Wives, who have no children, wear it projecting in an oblique direction, while those who become mothers forthwith raise it a few inches higher, inclining towards the perpendicular, and by this slight but observable change in their headdress, make known, wherever they go, the maternal character which they now bear.”
1Samuel 2:2 There is none holy as the LORD: for there is none beside thee: neither is there any rock like our God.
There are many verses in scripture that echo the words of Hannah.
Psalms 99:9 “Exalt the LORD our God, and worship at his holy hill; for the LORD our God is holy.”
Isaiah 45:5 “I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside me:”
Psalms 18:2 “The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.”
Psalms 99:9 “…for the LORD our God is holy.”
YHWH, the LORD, the self-existent eternal God, is totally unique; there is no other like Him. That He is holy emphasizes His righteousness and moral purity; He is holy in nature. That He is our rock emphasizes His strength and power and that He is a safe refuge. Hannah, as a woman of Israel, rejoiced in the LORD as “our God,” the God of Israel.
1Samuel 2:3 Talk no more so exceeding proudly; let not arrogancy come out of your mouth: for the LORD is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed.
It seems that Hannah’s thoughts turned to those that had acted toward her with such pride and arrogance during the time she was barren. She acknowledges that the LORD is “God of knowledge”; He knows everything about everyone. He will judge each person according to his/her actions.
I believe that Hannah is drawing a contrast between Peninnah and herself, but she begins to broaden the application in the following verses. It was a valid contrast as evidenced by the attitude of Peninnah toward Hannah vs. Hannah’s attitude of humility and submission before the LORD.
1Samuel 2:4 The bows of the mighty men are broken, and they that stumbled are girded with strength.
1Samuel 2:5 They that were full have hired out themselves for bread; and they that were hungry ceased: so that the barren hath born seven; and she that hath many children is waxed feeble.
Hannah goes on to observe that those that appear to be so strong will be broken, and those that were considered weak and cast down will be made strong. Those that were once so well fed will find themselves hungry and those that were hungry will have plenty. The once barren woman will be blessed with “seven” children, while the woman with many children be weak and sickly.
Though these statements can find application in this world, I believe that her observations are primarily a prophetic statement of the LORD’s righteous judgment in connection with eternity.
1Samuel 2:6 The LORD killeth, and maketh alive: he bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up.
1Samuel 2:7 The LORD maketh poor, and maketh rich: he bringeth low, and lifteth up.
1Samuel 2:8 He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory: for the pillars of the earth are the LORD’S, and he hath set the world upon them.
Hannah acknowledges the LORD’s sovereignty over man as the giver and taker of life, the One that makes one man poor and another rich, the One that raises up one man to honor and keeps another in a lowly position. It is the LORD that can choose to raise up a poor man or beggar and put him in a place of honor.
It is the LORD that has laid the foundations of the earth and established planet earth on those foundations.
Isaiah 48:12–13 “Hearken unto me, O Jacob and Israel, my called; I am he; I am the first, I also am the last. Mine hand also hath laid the foundation of the earth, and my right hand hath spanned the heavens….”
1Samuel 2:9 He will keep the feet of his saints, and the wicked shall be silent in darkness; for by strength shall no man prevail.
The LORD will “keep” (hedge about, guard, protect) the feet of His saints. What a precious truth!
Psalms 34:9 “O fear the LORD, ye his saints: for there is no want to them that fear him.”
Psalms 97:10 “Ye that love the LORD, hate evil: he preserveth the souls of his saints; he delivereth them out of the hand of the wicked.”
The wicked, however, will be astonished to silence (from the Hebrew) in eternal “darkness” (misery, destruction, death, sorrow). No man will be able to stand in victory before God in his own strength.
1Samuel 2:10 The adversaries of the LORD shall be broken to pieces; out of heaven shall he thunder upon them: the LORD shall judge the ends of the earth; and he shall give strength unto his king, and exalt the horn of his anointed.
Hannah basically continues to preach in this prayer as she declares the truth about God. She declares that the enemies of the LORD will be brought prostrate in fear before the LORD. The LORD will make His anger known from heaven, and He will judge everyone on earth. He will establish and strengthen His king, His anointed one—His only begotten Son, Jesus the Christ.
Luke 1:31–33 “And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.”
1Samuel 2:11 ¶ And Elkanah went to Ramah to his house. And the child did minister unto the LORD before Eli the priest.
Elkanah and his family returned home to Ramah and left the child Samuel with Eli to serve the LORD in the tabernacle.
1Samuel 2:12 Now the sons of Eli were sons of Belial; they knew not the LORD.
1Samuel 2:13 And the priests’ custom with the people was, that, when any man offered sacrifice, the priest’s servant came, while the flesh was in seething, with a fleshhook of three teeth in his hand;
1Samuel 2:14 And he struck it into the pan, or kettle, or caldron, or pot; all that the fleshhook brought up the priest took for himself. So they did in Shiloh unto all the Israelites that came thither.
1Samuel 2:15 Also before they burnt the fat, the priest’s servant came, and said to the man that sacrificed, Give flesh to roast for the priest; for he will not have sodden flesh of thee, but raw.
1Samuel 2:16 And if any man said unto him, Let them not fail to burn the fat presently, and then take as much as thy soul desireth; then he would answer him, Nay; but thou shalt give it me now: and if not, I will take it by force.
1Samuel 2:17 Wherefore the sin of the young men was very great before the LORD: for men abhorred the offering of the LORD.
Although Eli’s sons occupied positions as priests in the tabernacle, they were very wicked and did not know the LORD. They participated in religious activities as a means to an end and not because they honored God. Sadly, they remind me of many “pastors” that evidence the same attitude as these sons of Eli.
It was understood that when a man offered a sacrifice, the priest’s servant came with a three-pronged utensil to remove some of the meat from the pot while it was still cooking. Whatever came up on the utensil was given to the priest. Although this was the common practice at the tabernacle in Shiloh, it was not in accordance with the law as revealed by God to Moses.
It was also true that before making an offering in which they burned the fat, the priest’s servant came and asked for some of the raw meat before it was cooked. If the man stated that he wanted the fat be burned first, the servant threatened to take the raw meat by force if he did not cooperate.
Guzik adds the following: “The fat was thought to be the most luxurious, best part of the animal, so they gave it to God. The idea was that God should always get the best, and God should get His portion first. But in their pride the sons of Eli took their portion before they burned the fat.”
The actions of Eli’s sons before the LORD were very sinful because they did not honor the sacrifices brought to the LORD, nor did they honor the LORD.
1Samuel 2:18 But Samuel ministered before the LORD, being a child, girded with a linen ephod.
1Samuel 2:19 Moreover his mother made him a little coat, and brought it to him from year to year, when she came up with her husband to offer the yearly sacrifice.
Samuel wore a little linen garment similar to that of the priests while he served at the tabernacle. Hannah, his mother, made him a new coat every year and brought it to him when they came up for the yearly sacrifice.
1Samuel 2:20 And Eli blessed Elkanah and his wife, and said, The LORD give thee seed of this woman for the loan which is lent to the LORD. And they went unto their own home.
1Samuel 2:21 And the LORD visited Hannah, so that she conceived, and bare three sons and two daughters. And the child Samuel grew before the LORD.
Eli pronounced a blessing upon Elkanah and his wife asking the LORD to bless Hannah with more children since she had willingly given her first child to full time service to the LORD. The LORD blessed Hannah and Elkanah with three more sons and two daughters.
It is noted that Samuel continued to grow before the LORD. I would assume this meant both physically and spiritually.
1Samuel 2:22 Now Eli was very old, and heard all that his sons did unto all Israel; and how they lay with the women that assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.
1Samuel 2:23 And he said unto them, Why do ye such things? for I hear of your evil dealings by all this people.
1Samuel 2:24 Nay, my sons; for it is no good report that I hear: ye make the LORD’S people to transgress.
1Samuel 2:25 If one man sin against another, the judge shall judge him: but if a man sin against the LORD, who shall intreat for him? Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto the voice of their father, because the LORD would slay them.
Eli was quite old and distressed at how his sons were acting. They were even committing sexual sin with the women who served at the entrance to the tabernacle. He let his sons know that he was aware of their actions and questioned them as to how they could act so wickedly. He lamented that they were leading others to sin as well.
Eli’s sons refused to heed the plea of their father, and the LORD determined to kill them.
I thought the NIV translation was better for the first part of verse 25: “If a man sins against another man, God may mediate for him; but if a man sins against the LORD, who will intercede for him?”
We are so blessed as followers of Jesus to know that He is always interceding for us before the Father.
Hebrews 7:22–25 “By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament….But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.”
1 John 2:1–2 “….And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.”
I liked Guzik’s application of this section of scripture: “Eli did about the worst thing a parent can do in trying to correct their children: just talk. All he did was whine about what they did wrong, but he never took the necessary actions to correct the problem. Parents would be better off to yell less, lecture less, and to take sensible action more often, letting the children see the consequences for their disobedience.”
Though a valid application, I don’t believe Eli was capable of doing more than rebuking them by this time. It seems that, as with other notable men of God throughout scripture, Eli had been a poor parent. Maybe, as has been the case with many children of preachers and other full-time Christian workers, he had been so intent on his service before the LORD that he neglected to be diligent in the training of his own sons.
1Samuel 2:26 And the child Samuel grew on, and was in favour both with the LORD, and also with men.
Again, it is noted that Samuel continued to grow in favor with both God and man—spiritually and physically. What a stark contrast to Eli’s sons!
1Samuel 2:27 ¶ And there came a man of God unto Eli, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Did I plainly appear unto the house of thy father, when they were in Egypt in Pharaoh’s house?
1Samuel 2:28 And did I choose him out of all the tribes of Israel to be my priest, to offer upon mine altar, to burn incense, to wear an ephod before me? and did I give unto the house of thy father all the offerings made by fire of the children of Israel?
1Samuel 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?
An unnamed “man of God” came to Eli to deliver a message from the LORD. He noted that the LORD had appeared to Aaron’s family specifically when they were in bondage in Egypt. He had chosen the descendants of Aaron to serve as priests before Him to make the required sacrifices and offerings and burn incense before Him as His priests. They had even been given distinctive garments to signify their standing before God, and the High Priest was in possession of the ephod that the LORD used to reveal His will to the people. He had even given them the meat from the burnt offerings of the children of Israel. He rebuked Eli for basically showing more honor to his sons than he did to God by partaking of God’s portion to the point of obesity.
1Samuel 2:30 Wherefore the LORD God of Israel saith, I said indeed that thy house, and the house of thy father, should walk before me for ever: but now the LORD saith, Be it far from me; for them that honour me I will honour, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed.
1Samuel 2:31 Behold, the days come, that I will cut off thine arm, and the arm of thy father’s house, that there shall not be an old man in thine house.
1Samuel 2:32 And thou shalt see an enemy in my habitation, in all the wealth which God shall give Israel: and there shall not be an old man in thine house for ever.
1Samuel 2:33 And the man of thine, whom I shall not cut off from mine altar, shall be to consume thine eyes, and to grieve thine heart: and all the increase of thine house shall die in the flower of their age.
The man of God went on to declare that “the LORD God of Israel” had said that the sons of Aaron should serve as priests before Him forever. However, He would not honor those who refuse to honor Him. Though He would not break His covenant with Aaron, He told Eli that his line of descent would be ended. In fact, those yet to come would die young. When Israel is blessed with prosperity, the house of Eli will have no mature descendant to enjoy it.
Guzik adds this insight regarding the phrase “I will cut off thine arm”: “Not literally, but since the arm was a picture of strength and might in Hebrew thinking (Psalms 10:15, 77:15, and 89:10), this said the house of Eli would be left powerless and without strength.”
Once more, I prefer the NIV translation for verse 33: “Every one of you that I do not cut off from my altar will be spared only to blind your eyes with tears and to grieve your heart, and all your descendants will die in the prime of life.”
1Samuel 2:34 And this shall be a sign unto thee, that shall come upon thy two sons, on Hophni and Phinehas; in one day they shall die both of them.
1Samuel 2:35 And I will raise me up a faithful priest, that shall do according to that which is in mine heart and in my mind: and I will build him a sure house; and he shall walk before mine anointed for ever.
1Samuel 2:36 And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left in thine house shall come and crouch to him for a piece of silver and a morsel of bread, and shall say, Put me, I pray thee, into one of the priests’ offices, that I may eat a piece of bread.
Eli is told that God is going to give him a sign to testify to the truth of this message. His two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, will die on the same day. God was going to raise up a faithful priest that had the heart and mind of God. God intended to bless this priest and his family, and they would serve Him faithfully forever.
The family of Zadok, descendants of Eleazar, eventually assumed the priesthood when Solomon became king. Eli was a descendant of Ithamar.
1 Kings 2:26–27 “And unto Abiathar the priest said the king, Get thee to Anathoth, unto thine own fields; for thou art worthy of death: but I will not at this time put thee to death, because thou barest the ark of the Lord GOD before David my father, and because thou hast been afflicted in all wherein my father was afflicted. So Solomon thrust out Abiathar from being priest unto the LORD; that he might fulfil the word of the LORD, which he spake concerning the house of Eli in Shiloh.”
I also remember from my study of Ezekiel that the line of Zadok will hold the place of privilege at the millennial temple.
Ezekiel 44:15–16 “But the priests the Levites, the sons of Zadok, that kept the charge of my sanctuary when the children of Israel went astray from me, they shall come near to me to minister unto me, and they shall stand before me to offer unto me the fat and the blood, saith the Lord GOD: They shall enter into my sanctuary, and they shall come near to my table, to minister unto me, and they shall keep my charge.”
There is an important principle revealed here that every parent should soberly consider. The actions of Eli and his sons and the sons of Zadok directly affected their progeny. So…..how do think your actions before the LORD will affect your descendants? I am convinced that I have reaped blessings that are mine due to those of my ancestry that have faithfully served the LORD and prayed for me. Though I am far from perfect, I pray that my ministry and prayer before the LORD will result in the same for my descendants.
The eternal nature of this promise tells me that the ultimate fulfillment of this prophecy will come in the person of the Messiah, Jesus, God’s only Son, who will assume the position of High Priest and His family of saints that the scripture describes as a royal priesthood.
Hebrews 4:14 “Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.”
1 Peter 2:9 “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light….”
The man of God declares that Eli’s descendants will end up begging for work in order just to get food.