Today: [1 Samuel Chapter Two]: Hannah’s Choice. In this chapter Hannah makes good on her promise to give Samuel over to the service of God. In the midst of this situation she finds that the family of Eli is corrupt and evil yet she holds fast to her commitment to leave Samuel in their care. She could have easily objected and changed her mind after seeing the corruption in the house of Eli. Her fidelity to God was so pronounced that her testimony became a part of the sacred narrative. She is a rare example to us of seeking first the kingdom of God even in the fact of great sacrifice and tender sentiments regarding family and personal relationships.
[1Sa 2:1-36 KJV] 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. 2 [There is] none holy as the LORD: for [there is] none beside thee: neither [is there] any rock like our God. 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. 4 The bows of the mighty men [are] broken, and they that stumbled are girded with strength. 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. 6 The LORD killeth, and maketh alive: he bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up. 7 The LORD maketh poor, and maketh rich: he bringeth low, and lifteth up. 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. 9 He will keep the feet of his saints, and the wicked shall be silent in darkness; for by strength shall no man prevail. 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. 11 And Elkanah went to Ramah to his house. And the child did minister unto the LORD before Eli the priest.
In this chapter Hannah has travelled to Shiloh to give her weaned child Samuel to the priest Eli. She does so in appreciation to the Lord for giving her a child after being barren many years. When she hands Samuel over instead of mourning she praises the Lord in such a pronounced manner that her words become prophecy and are included in the biblical record. Her song is considered by some as the “Magnificat” of the Old Testament corresponding to the words of Mary in Luke 1:46-55 that she sang upon arrival to visit Elizabeth the mother of John the Baptist.
Hannah was apparently an educated woman who was familiar even with the history of recent centuries of the nation of Israel. In promises that no razor shall come upon Samuel’s head she invokes the memory of Samson. In promising in a vow to dedicate her firstborn to God she emulates Jephthah who in returning from successful battle swore to dedicate the first thing he saw at home to the Lord which turned out to be his daughter. His daughter therefore was like Samuel set aside for the service of God at Shiloh and the daughters of Israel would celebrate her each year in a festival. Hannah no doubt was familiar with this festival and participated in it. So in Hannah we see the synthesis of many generations of sacred history coming to a tipping point in this woman’s very personal trial of longing for a son. She leaned on what she understood about God from a contemporary viewpoint and seeing breakthrough come because of her faith.
12 Now the sons of Eli [were] sons of Belial; they knew not the LORD. 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; 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. 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. 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. 17 Wherefore the sin of the young men was very great before the LORD: for men abhorred the offering of the LORD. 18 But Samuel ministered before the LORD, [being] a child, girded with a linen ephod. 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. 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.
From the beginning on the priesthood the Levites struggled to pass their values on to their sons. Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu offered strange fire on the altar and lost their lives as a result. Eli’s sons Hophni and Phineas perverted the offerings by refusing to burn the best parts of the sacrifice rather reserving it raw for their own use. There were complaints about this from the worshippers and they were threatened by force if they resisted. Thus they created a compulsory and objectionable atmosphere for the celebrants who made the effort to stand before God in His chosen place of veneration.
This perverted and corrupt environment is where Hannah brought Samuel to serve as a tender lad. She could have objected and refused to expose her son to such corruption but she did not. She refused to allow her words of devotion regarding Samuel to fall to the ground. Hannah is a rare woman of faith who because of her resolute and determined devotion she stands beside Mary the mother of Jesus, Sarah the wife of Abraham and other unique and godly women. She deserves our respect and we are wise to ponder all the ramifications of the choices she made and the conditions in which she stood firm in her faith regarding her son Samuel. She stood her ground regarding Samuel and although she loved him and he was her much longed for answer to prayer she did not coddle him as many mothers have done regarding lesser sons to their own destruction. Of mothers and sons we see many examples of either extreme devotion or extreme and blinding compromise. In Hannah we see the former and are awed by the quality and integrity of this woman’s walk with God.
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. 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. 23 And he said unto them, Why do ye such things? for I hear of your evil dealings by all this people. 24 Nay, my sons; for [it is] no good report that I hear: ye make the LORD’S people to transgress. 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. 26 And the child Samuel grew on, and was in favour both with the LORD, and also with men.
Here we see the Matt. 6:33 dynamic. Hannah sought FIRST the kingdom and ALL things were added. Learn to seek the kingdom FIRST. Many times I’ve seen people say “God give me what I want and I will serve you…” God is does not bargain with those of tepid faith. Seek FIRST the kingdom and the degree to which you seek the kingdom established the character of God’s response in turn. The quantity, quality and haste with which you act in faith toward the promise of God determines the quantity, quality and haste with which God responds. Your response time to God is a measure of His response to you. The quantitative nature of your response to God determines the quality of His response to you. Tepid faith garners only anemic answers. Audacious faith brings breakthrough and blessing on an unprecedented scale. Thus Hannah reproves by her fidelity to God the corruption that she saw at Shiloh yet still maintaining her obedience regarding Samuel.
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? 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? 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? 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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.
A man of God comes to visit the High Priest with a pronouncement against the abuses committed by his sons. The term “man of God” in the Old Testament is often used for an anonymous prophet who shows up to bring the word of the Lord. Notice that the prophet rebukes Eli for the sins of his sons. He could easily have defended himself as being innocent but no doubt the attitude of his sons arose from his own laxness regarding the things of God. Perhaps Eli was not as flagrant as his sons but what he allowed in moderation his children took to excess. We can bewail the lack of spirituality of our children and the younger generation but remember that their attitudes were developed at a tender age when we may well have set a casual and insincere tone regarding spiritual things. There is always a tipping point past which God’s patience will not extend. Because Eli refused to put honor of God over family considerations there will be an affect not only upon his personal destiny but that of all generations that come after him. Let us take the example of Eli and look at our own lives and the influence we have been on our children regarding the things of God. Have we fostered criticism toward the church or the spiritual leadership? Have our children learned from us to put themselves first and only pay a token fidelity to the Lord? If our children are lax in their faith is it because of manners and customs they learned from us? Before we correct them let us repent for ourselves and endeavor from this time forward no matter how late the day to set a different example.
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