1Samuel 1-3

Sunday Evening Bible Study

December 30, 2001


The books of 1 & 2 Samuel take their names from the prophet Samuel, who is the first major character in the books. Originally, 1 & 2 Samuel were considered as one book. When the Hebrew was translated into Greek with the Septuagint, the book was divided into two parts.

Author – we don’t know who the author was. Samuel himself may have contributed to some of the material, but not all of it since it continues long after his death.

Date – We aren’t sure when the book was written, but it would seem to have been written before 722 BC, since the author doesn’t seem to know about the fall of the northern kingdom to Assyria. It would seem to have been written after the rule of Solomon since there is a reference to the “kings of Judah” (1Sam. 27:6), hinting that the author knew the kingdom would be divided.

Historical Background – 1 & 2 Samuel covers the transition between the times of the judges and the time of the kings. There history revolves around three main characters, the prophet Samuel, the first king Saul, and the second king, David. The time of the judges was a time of moral and spiritual decline for the nation. There was a brief time of revival when God answers Hannah’s prayer and the baby Samuel is born. When Samuel’s own sons are unqualified to succeed him, the people cry out to have a king. God was not opposed to the people having a king, God had already given Israel laws concerning a king (Deut. 17), but the people’s reasons for having a king were wrong. They were rejecting God as their leader. When the first king Saul doesn’t follow God correctly, a second king comes, David, who will ultimately begin the line of kings that would lead to the Messiah, Jesus.

1Samuel 1

:1-8 Hannah’s problem

:1 Now there was a certain man of Ramathaimzophim, of mount Ephraim, and his name was Elkanah, the son of Jeroham, the son of Elihu, the son of Tohu, the son of Zuph, an Ephrathite:

Elkanah‘Elqanah – “God has possessed” or “God has created”

Ramathaimzophim – The name means “city of Ramah in the land of Zuph”. Located 15 miles south of Shiloh, 5 miles north of Jerusalem. See map

Even though it looks as if Elkanah is from the tribe of Ephraim, he’s not. He’s actually a Levite.

We find this out in 1Chronicles 6:28-38. Elkanah and his son Samuel were from the family of the Kohathites, of the tribe of Levi.

Ephrathite – Ephrath was the ancient name for the city of Bethlehem (Gen. 35:19). See map

Back in Judges, there was another story about a Levite that came from Bethlehem, the one that led the tribe of Dan into idolatry. (Judges 17-19).

Not all Levites from Bethlehem are bad.

:2 And he had two wives; the name of the one was Hannah, and the name of the other Peninnah: and Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children.

Two Wives – though we see polygamy practiced in the Old Testament, and it seems that God tolerated it, keep in mind that this was never God’s original design for marriage. Jesus taught on marriage and used the pattern of Adam and Eve as God’s original design for marriage.

(Gen 2:24 KJV) Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.

In God’s original design, there was one man and one woman. It wasn’t “Adam and Steve”, but “Adam and Eve”. It wasn’t “Adam, Eve, and Jane”.

Why then did God allow people to have more than one wife? Perhaps it was similar to what happened with the divorce law. When asked about this, Jesus responded,

(Mat 19:8 KJV) He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.

HannahChannah – “grace”

PeninnahP@ninnah – “jewel”

:3 And this man went up out of his city yearly to worship and to sacrifice unto the LORD of hosts in Shiloh. And the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, the priests of the LORD, were there.

Shiloh – a city 19 miles north of Jerusalem. This was one of the first semi-permanent locations that the Tabernacle settled. For a time, this was the central place of worship (Deut. 12:11) for the nation of Israel during the times of the Judges, the place where they were to come and worship three times each year. See map

Eli‘Eliy – “ascension”

HophniChophniy – “pugilist”

PhinehasPiyn@chac – “mouth of brass”

:4 he gave to Peninnah his wife, and to all her sons and her daughters, portions:

portions – with some of the sacrifices, such as the “peace offering”, there would be a part of the sacrifice that the family would keep and have a feast with. The idea was something akin to having dinner with God. You would present your offering to the Lord, and God’s part of the sacrifice would be burnt on the altar, while the family would take their part and have a dinner with God.

When Elkanah would bring his sacrifice to Shiloh, he would give each part of his family a part of the meat.

:5 But unto Hannah he gave a worthy portion; for he loved Hannah: but the LORD had shut up her womb.

worthy – better, “a double portion

loved‘ahab – to love; human love for another, includes family, and sexual


Not yet

The Lord had shut her womb
Why doesn’t God give me what I want?
Sometimes we’re not ready.

:6 And her adversary also provoked her sore, for to make her fret

adversarytsarah – straits, distress, trouble; vexer, rival wife

provokedka‘ac – to be angry, be vexed, be indignant, be wroth, be grieved, provoke to anger and wrath

soreka‘ac – anger, vexation, provocation, grief

to make her fretra‘am – (Hiphil) to thunder, cause thunder; to tremble, cause to tremble (by extension)

It was bad enough that Ruth couldn’t have children, but Peninnah liked to rub it in.

:7 And as he did so year by year, when she went up to the house of the LORD, so she provoked her; therefore she wept, and did not eat.

she provokedka‘ac – to be angry, be vexed, be indignant, be wroth, be grieved, provoke to anger and wrath

It seems that the worst time of the year was at the holidays.

Perhaps it was because at the holidays Elkanah would remind Peninnah that she wasn’t as loved as Hannah because he didn’t give her as great of a portion. So Peninnah takes it out on Hannah. And Hannah can’t enjoy the extra favor she receives from Elkanah.

This is a great example of why polygamy is a bad idea.

:8 Hannah, why weepest thou? and why eatest thou not? and why is thy heart grieved? am not I better to thee than ten sons?

Husbands often don’t know what to say. So we say dumb things like this. Sometimes it would be better if I just shut up and held my wife.

:9-11 Hannah’s vow

:9 Eli the priest sat upon a seat by a post of the temple of the LORD.

templeheykal – palace, temple, nave, sanctuary. This was not the actual “temple” which wouldn’t be built until Solomon’s time. This was the “sanctuary”, the Tabernacle.

:10 And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the LORD, and wept sore.

bitternessmar – bitter, bitterness

prayedpalal – to intervene, interpose, pray

weptbakah – to weep, bewail, cry, shed tears

sorebakah – to weep, bewail, cry, shed tears

Literally, “weeping, she wept

Perhaps you’ve felt this way at times about your life.

:11 And she vowed a vow…if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid … I will give him unto the LORD … there shall no razor come upon his head

affliction‘oniy – affliction, poverty, misery

no razor – She is promising that if she has a child, he will be raised as a Nazirite (Num.6).

A Nazirite was a person who was dedicated to God for a particular length of time. During that time, the person was not to drink wine, eat anything made of grapes, not touch a dead body, and they were to let their hair grow. Samson was probably the one we most often think of as a Nazirite, but Samuel was one, as was also John the Baptist.

The key to a Nazirite was dedication. The Hebrew word nazir means “dedicated”. This was a person dedicated to serve the Lord.

Note: This may have been taking place at the time when Samson was judging Israel, or shortly after.

Samson judged Israel during the time when the Philistines ruled over the Israelites for forty years (Judg. 13:1). Yet Samson judged Israel only twenty of those years (Judg. 14:31). It is thought that the time of the Philistine rule ended with a battle that Samuel would lead, the battle of Mizpeh (1Sam. 7), which would end with
(1 Sam 7:14 KJV) And the cities which the Philistines had taken from Israel were restored to Israel, from Ekron even unto Gath; and the coasts thereof did Israel deliver out of the hands of the Philistines. And there was peace between Israel and the Amorites.


Finding yourself useful

This was a dark time in Israel’s history. There were no men whom God could get a hold of. God used a woman.
God had to get Hannah to the place where He could use her as well.
For her, this involved withholding children. I think it involved even the pain of Peninnah’s ridicule.
Finally Hannah is at the place where God can work. She is desperate for God to work.
He will use a mother who is willing to give her child completely to the Lord.

:12-18 Hannah and Eli

:12 Eli marked her mouth

markedshamar – to keep, guard, observe, give heed. He was watching her mouth move.

:13 Now Hannah, she spake in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard: therefore Eli thought she had been drunken.

I find it interesting that the high priest, Eli, doesn’t recognize that this woman is praying. I find it interesting that the only thing in his experience that he can relate her behavior to is drunkenness.

He hasn’t seen too many people like Hannah lately.


Silent prayer

God doesn’t need to hear you speak audibly to answer your prayers. God can hear the cry of your heart.

:15 I am a woman of a sorrowful spirit …but have poured out my soul before the LORD

sorrowfulqasheh – hard, cruel, severe, obstinate

poured outshaphak – to pour, pour out, spill


Pour out your heart to the Lord

Hannah is a great example of prayer for us.
David wrote,
(Psa 142:1-2 KJV) Maschil of David; A Prayer when he was in the cave. I cried unto the LORD with my voice; with my voice unto the LORD did I make my supplication. {2} I poured out my complaint before him; I showed before him my trouble.
Tell God all that is on your heart.

:16 Count not thine handmaid for a daughter of Belial: for out of the abundance of my complaint and grief have I spoken hitherto.

Belialb@liya‘al – worthlessness. Like saying, “a daughter of Satan”. Wicked men were called “sons of Belial”.

complaintsiyach – meditation, complaint, musing

griefka‘ac – anger, vexation, provocation, grief

:17 the God of Israel grant thee thy petition

(1 Sam 1:17 NLT) “In that case,” Eli said, “cheer up! May the God of Israel grant the request you have asked of him.”

This could be looked at in two ways, either as a prayer of Eli’s that God would grant her request, or prophetically, that God would grant her request. I think that when you see Hannah’s reaction to Eli, that perhaps he was saying that her request would be granted.

:18 Let thine handmaid find grace in thy sight… her countenance was no more sad.

gracechen – favour, grace, charm

countenancepaniym – face; presence, person

Hannah seemed to have found hope that God would answer her request.

:19-23 Hannah gets pregnant

:19 they rose up in the morning early, and worshipped before the LORD

worshippedshachah – (Hithpael) to bow down, prostrate oneself; before superior in homage; before God in worship

:20 she bare a son, and called his name Samuel

SamuelSh@muw’el – “heard of God”, it’s a compound word from shema (to hear, listen to) and el (God).

:21 went up to offer unto the LORD the yearly sacrifice, and his vow

When a woman made a vow, a husband could nullify it if he wanted to (Num. 30:6-8). If the husband didn’t say anything, then the vow would stand. It is possible that this “vow” the Elkanah is going to fulfill has to do with Hannah’s promise to dedicate this child to the Lord.

:22 until the child be weaned

She is going to wait until she is done nursing her baby, then she will let him grow up at the Tabernacle. Weaning in this culture would have been somewhere from 3-5 years.

:23 only the LORD establish his word

(NLT) “may the LORD help you keep your promise.”

:24-28 Samuel is dedicated to the Lord

:24 she took him up with her, with three bullocks …

three bullocks – the Septuagint says “a three-year-old bullock”.

Hannah is taking the one thing that is most precious to her, her son, and is going to literally give him to the Lord.

:26 I am the woman that stood by thee here, praying unto the LORD.

Hannah reminds Eli who she is and the prayer she prayed.

:27 the LORD hath given me my petition

my petitionsh@’elah – request, thing asked for, demand

:28 Therefore also I have lent him to the LORD … he worshipped the LORD there.

I have lentsha’al – to ask, enquire, borrow, beg; (Hiphil) to be given on request; to grant, make over to, let (one) ask (successfully) or give or lend on request (then) grant or make over to

(1 Sam 1:28 NLT)  Now I am giving him to the LORD

(1 Sam 1:28 ICB)  Now I give him back to the Lord.

(1 Sam 1:28 NASB)  "So I have also dedicated him to the LORD;

I have to admit, I like the idea of the KJV best.


Lent to the Lord

She asked God for a baby, and God gave her a baby.  Now she is “lending” the baby back to the Lord, for the Lord to use as long as the child is alive.
“Lending” something means you still have an interest in the item.  Hannah still has her eye on this baby, but for now, the baby is going to be used by the Lord.
In a way, there is nothing we can really “give” to the Lord.  Everything we have has been given to us by Him in the first place.  What can you give to the One who owns everything?
God always keeps us His payment on His leases.
Pr 19:17  He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the LORD; and that which he hath given will he pay him again.
Is there something (or someone) that you ought to be “lending” to the Lord?

he worshippedshachah – to bow down; (Hithpael) to bow down, prostrate oneself; before superior in homage; before God in worship

Who worshipped? Perhaps they all did. Perhaps Samuel did.

1Samuel 2

:1-10 Hannah’s song

:1 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.

rejoiceth‘alats – to rejoice, exult

mine horn is exalted in the LORD – a “horn” was a symbol of strength, and it could be that Hannah is simply saying “my power is great in the Lord”.

There is possibly another idea as well – one commentary mentioned that there was a custom among some people for a woman to wear a tin or silver “horn” on her forehead and this was where the woman’s veil was suspended from. A woman who had born children would move the horn higher on her head, to show that she had children, while a woman without children would have the horn pointing more out front. Interesting idea.

mine enemies – who was Hannah’s enemy? Peninnah.

I rejoicesamach – to rejoice, be glad

:3 Talk no more so exceeding proudly; let not arrogancy come out of your mouth

proudlygaboahh – high, exalted proud, haughty

arrogancy‘athaq – forward, bold, arrogant

This seems to be aimed at Peninnah.


Watch out for pride

For Peninnah, her pride was demonstrated in how she made life difficult for Hannah.
Don’t put others down. Don’t be a Peninnah.
(1 Pet 5:5-6 KJV) Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. {6} Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:
Hannah is a beautiful example how God gives grace to the humble.

:4 The bows of the mighty men are broken, and they that stumbled are girded with strength.


Circumstances and hearts

It is more important that we watch over our hearts than that our circumstances be pleasant.
God can change our circumstances at any time.

We need to be careful that our hearts stay in the right place before the Lord.

People who seem to have it made can be brought down. People who are struggling can be delivered.

(Psa 37:1-11 KJV) A Psalm of David. Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity. {2} For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb. {3} Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. {4} Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. {5} Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. {6} And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday. {7} Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass. {8} Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil. {9} For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the LORD, they shall inherit the earth. {10} For yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be: yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it shall not be. {11} But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.

:5 the barren hath born seven

hath born seven – Hannah may be simply making a general statement, but she would go on to have more children. She would have three more sons and two daughters (1Sam. 2:21).

:9 He will keep the feet of his saints

keep the feet – keep them from stumbling

:9 for by strength shall no man prevail.

(Zec 4:6 KJV) Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.

:10 he shall give strength unto his king, and exalt the horn of his anointed.

anointedmashiyach – anointed, anointed one; of the Messiah, Messianic prince; of the king of Israel; of the high priest of Israel

This is the first time that the word mashiyach occurs in a place where it can refer to the Messiah.

king … anointed – There was not yet a king in Israel. Hannah is speaking prophetically. Not just about the kings like Saul and David, but even in looking to Jesus.

Hannah’s song is interestingly very parallel to the song of Mary.

(Luke 1:46-55 KJV) And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, {47} And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. {48} For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. {49} For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name. {50} And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation. {51} He hath showed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. {52} He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree. {53} He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away. {54} He hath holpen his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy; {55} As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever.
I wonder if Mary wasn’t aware of Hannah’s song and sang something very similar because her circumstance was similar. Both had unusual pregnancies in unusual circumstances. Both would give birth to children that the Lord would use mightily.

:11-17 Eli’s wicked sons

:11 the child did minister unto the LORD before Eli the priest

ministersharath – (Piel) to minister, serve, minister to

While his parents go home, Samuel stays at Shiloh and is given jobs to do around the tabernacle.

The Septuagint uses the word leitourgeo here, which carries the idea of the service or work that the priests and Levites would do in the sacred rites in the temple or tabernacle.

It’s possible that Samuel was given little things to do like light lamps, sweep the floors, clean the bowls, etc.


Even children can serve

I think it’s important that we teach our children to be servants. I think it’s important that we teach them to serve the Lord.

:12 Now the sons of Eli were sons of Belial; they knew not the LORD.

Eli is the High Priest of Israel. His sons are also priests. The priesthood ran in the family, it was passed on from father to son.

Eli has passed on the profession, but he has not passed on the knowledge of the Lord.

His sons are godless, wicked men.

:13-16 And the priests’ custom …

seething – boiling. While God’s portion of a sacrifice was to be burned on the altar, the part that the priests and the people would eat from was often boiled.

fleshhook of three teeth – a big old fork

God gave the Israelites some very specific instructions as to how He was to be worshipped. Included in God’s instructions were instructions to make sure that the priests who helped with the sacrifice would be paid for their work. The part of the sacrifice that the priests were to receive as payment for their work was the shoulder and the breast of the animal (Ex 29:27 Le 7:31,32).

But Eli’s sons weren’t satisfied with what God said was to be theirs. Instead, they sent their servants to the people who were making their sacrifices and basically took whatever they wanted.


If you’re going to do something, do it right

God is concerned that we pay attention to how He wants things done.  He has reasons for why things ought to be done in a certain way.
For example
The Bible gives us an idea of how a husband ought to treat his wife.

(Eph 5:25-28 KJV)  Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; {26} That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, {27} That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. {28} So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.

Does it matter to God how a husband treats his wife?  It sure does!  God wants each wife growing in beauty under their husband’s love.

The Bible gives us an idea of how we are to behave at work.

(Col 3:22-25 NLT)  You slaves must obey your earthly masters in everything you do. Try to please them all the time, not just when they are watching you. Obey them willingly because of your reverent fear of the Lord. {23} Work hard and cheerfully at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. {24} Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and the Master you are serving is Christ. {25} But if you do what is wrong, you will be paid back for the wrong you have done. For God has no favorites who can get away with evil.

God wants Christian employees to be a witness to those they work with and work for.  God wants you to honor Him by how you behave at work.

Mike had gotten a part time job at the Post Office and the supervisor there had been warned that he was somewhat of a dullard, but the supervisor took a liking to him and agreed to let Mike help him. If nothing else, he would be an extra set of hands. The supervisor gives Mike the job of sorting, and much to everyone’s surprise, Mike separated the letters so fast that his motions were literally a blur. Extremely pleased by this, the supervisor approached Mike at the end of the day. “I just want you to know,” he said, “that we’re all very proud of you. You’re one of the fastest workers we have ever had.” “Thank you,” said Mike, “and tomorrow I’ll try to do even better.” “Better?” the supervisor asked with astonishment. “How can you possibly do better?” Mike replied, “Tomorrow I am going to read the addresses.”

:15-16 Also before they burnt the fat …

Another part of the sacrifice was to be sure to offer to God all the fat that was on the animal. The fat was always to be considered God’s portion.

If the priest’s servant came before this part of the sacrifice had been complete, and the person offering the sacrifice complained that things weren’t being done properly, the servant would just take what they wanted anyway. They were bullies.

They were only interested in what they could get from God’s people.

This is very similar to what was going on in Ezekiel’s day. Priests were to be like shepherds and care for God’s people, but Eli’s sons only cared for themselves.

(Ezek 34:2-4 KJV) Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD unto the shepherds; Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the flocks? {3} Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed: but ye feed not the flock. {4} The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost; but with force and with cruelty have ye ruled them.

:17 Wherefore the sin of the young men was very great before the LORD: for men abhorred the offering of the LORD.

abhorredna’ats – to spurn, contemn, despise, abhor

It may be that this means that Eli’s sons abhorred the offering of the Lord, but I wonder if it doesn’t mean that the rest of the men in Israel abhorred the offerings.


Ministry abuse drives people away

We need to be careful to keep our hearts in the right place, doing things God’s way.
Test of Faith
There was a story on the radio years ago which will bring a lot of comfort to those who are taunted with the “if you had more faith...” issue. There was a lady who called a radio pastor. The pastor was a wise, grandfatherly gentleman who has that calm reassuring voice that can melt all fear. The lady, who was obviously crying, said, “Pastor, I was born blind, and I’ve been blind all my life. I don’t mind being blind but I have some well meaning friends who tell me that if I had more faith I could be healed.” The pastor asked her, “Tell me, do you carry one of those white canes?” “Yes I do,” she replied. “Then the next time someone says that hit them over the head with the cane,” He said. “Then tell them ‘ If you had more faith that wouldn’t hurt!’”

:18-21 Hannah is blessed

:18 But Samuel ministered before the LORD, being a child, girded with a linen ephod.

ministeredsharath – (Piel) to minister, serve, minister to

linen ephod – An ephod was a tunic or apron worn by priests or Levites. The idea is that little Samuel had his own little priest’s outfit.

:19 his mother made him a little coat, and brought it to him from year to year

Hannah visited her son every year. She made him new clothes each year.

:20 And Eli blessed Elkanah and his wife

I get the feeling that Eli had become partial to little Samuel. He didn’t curse them for leaving the kid with him, he blessed them. he asks God to give them more children to take the place of the one they have given to the Lord.

:21 And the LORD visited Hannah, so that she conceived, and bare three sons and two daughters


You can’t out give the Lord

You might think that God is certainly going to be in Hannah’s debt for giving her child to Him.  Not so.  God always gives us more than we could ever give to Him.

:22-26 Eli rebukes his sons

:22 they lay with the women

Not only were Hophni and Phinehas greedy with the sacrifices, but they were seducing the women who helped out at the Tabernacle.

:25 If one man sin against another, the judge shall judge him: but if a man sin against the LORD, who shall entreat for him?

(1 Sam 2:25 NLT) If someone sins against another person, God can mediate for the guilty party. But if someone sins against the LORD, who can intercede?”

I think what Eli is saying is good and correct. But he needs to be doing more than just speaking to his sons. He ought to be taking action.

Perhaps as their father, Eli is too old to do anything serious like spanking them.

But Eli is also the High Priest. And as the High Priest, he ought to be removing his sons from serving.

:26 was in favour both with the LORD, and also with men.

Even though the people couldn’t stand Hophni and Phinehas, everybody seems to love Samuel.

:27-36 Prophecy against Eli

: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?

a man of God – we don’t know his name. Just a prophet.

thy father – Aaron, the first high priest. All priests were to be descendants of Aaron.

:28 did I give unto the house of thy father all the offerings made by fire of the children of Israel?

God allowed the priests to take a portion of the offerings as their payment for work.

:29 Wherefore kick ye at my sacrifice … and honourest thy sons above me, to make yourselves fat …

kick ye at my sacrifice – Eli and his sons were abusing the sacrifices made to God.

honourest thy sons above me


God or others?

Eli was more concerned about what his sons thought than what God thought.
(John 12:42-43 KJV) Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: {43} For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.

to make yourselves fat – Eli is included in this. Eli must have also taken from the things that his sons had ripped off of the people.

Eli had a weight problem – later, when the judgment came on Eli’s family,

(1 Sam 4:18 NLT) When the messenger mentioned what had happened to the Ark, Eli fell backward from his seat beside the gate. He broke his neck and died, for he was old and very fat. He had led Israel for forty years.

:30 for them that honour me I will honour, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed.

Even though God had promised that the descendants of Aaron would always be priests, there is another principle that is coming into play.


God honors those who honor Him

Jesus said,
(Mat 10:32-33 KJV)  Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. {33} But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.

:32 And thou shalt see an enemy in my habitation


(1 Sam 2:32 NIV) and you will see distress in my dwelling

:33 there shall not be an old man in thine house for ever.

God would be cutting off Eli’s branch of the priestly family. The priesthood would fall to another part of the family.

:33 all the increase of thine house shall die in the flower of their age.

Eli’s sons would die very soon, before they became old men.

:34 in one day they shall die both of them.

This is coming in 1Samuel 4.

:35-36 a faithful priest …before mine anointed

anointedmashiyach – anointed, anointed one; of the Messiah, Messianic prince; of the king of Israel; of the high priest of Israel

There will be two ways in which this will be fulfilled.

First, in the immediate future

There were two lines of priests coming from Aaron, one line from his son Eleazar, the other from his son Ithamar.
Eli was from Ithamar. This is the line that would be cut off. It would happen when Solomon was king, and he removed the priest Abiathar from being priest because Abiathar had been a part of the conspiracy to have Adonijah become king instead of Solomon.

(1 Ki 2:27 KJV) 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.

At this point, the High Priesthood stopped bouncing back and forth from Eleazar’s and Ithamar’s lines and stayed with Eleazar, with Zadok being named the High Priest.

Second, there was an ultimate fulfillment in Jesus.

Jesus would be King and High Priest.
(Psa 110:4 KJV) The LORD hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.
(Heb 5:6 KJV) As he saith also in another place, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.
(Rev 19:16 KJV) And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.

1Samuel 3

:1-10 The Lord speaks

:1 And the child Samuel ministered unto the LORD before Eli. And the word of the LORD was precious in those days; there was no open vision.

childna‘ar – a boy, lad, servant, youth, retainer. Jewish tradition has it that Samuel was 12 years old at this time.

ministeredsharath – (Piel) to minister, serve, minister to. Samuel was doing his little training, priestly, duties.

preciousyaqar – valuable, prized, weighty, precious, rare, splendid

In the time of the Judges, there only seems to be two times that God used a prophet.

Jud 4:4 And Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, she judged Israel at that time.
The prophet who spoke during the time of Gideon.
Jud 6:8 That the LORD sent a prophet unto the children of Israel, which said unto them, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, I brought you up from Egypt, and brought you forth out of the house of bondage;

no openparats – (Niphal) to be broken through

visionchazown – vision; oracle, prophecy (divine communication)

God’s visions were unable to “break through” to people. Perhaps it isn’t just a matter of God not speaking, but the real issue is, is anyone listening?


How rare is God’s Word?

Is God able to speak today?
Is God able to get your attention?
Are you listening?

Even as we sit here today, there are hundreds of voices flying through the air, all around us. We can sit here quietly, but still can’t hear them. But if we turn on a radio and flip through the dial, we can begin to hear what’s being said.

I don’t think the issue is really that God isn’t speaking. The issue is whether or not anyone is listening.

To be listening, you need the right equipment. You need to be tuned in.

:2 And it came to pass at that time, when Eli was laid down in his place, and his eyes began to wax dim, that he could not see;

when Eli was laid down – this story takes place during the night, and Eli is in bed.

his eyes … dim – Eli had been going blind

not seera’ah – (Qal) to see; perceive; have vision; to look at, see, regard, look after, see after, learn about, observe, watch, look upon, look out, find out

Why does the author take the time to tell us that Eli was going blind?

There’s no relevance to the story. It doesn’t seem to have any impact. On the other hand, maybe it does.


Should you be a person who sees?

If anyone should have been seeing visions, it should have been Eli. He was the High Priest. But he was going blind.
What has blinded Eli? Why isn’t he a person who “sees” visions? Just prior to this account, a prophet visited Eli and warned him of judgment.
(1 Sam 2:29 KJV) 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?
He put his family above God.

His sons were wicked. They were abusing their authority as priests and were causing the people to hate coming to the tabernacle. They were even seducing the women who served at the tabernacle.

Rather than disciplining them correctly, he just scolded them.

Jesus said,

(Luke 14:26-27 KJV) If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. {27} And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.

Don’t misunderstand me. God wants us to love our family and take care of them. But our family should never take a place higher in our hearts than where the Lord is.

He has become self-centered.

He has become fat on the things that his sons have stolen from the people of God. Rather than disturb his own comfort, he has chosen to let things stay as they are.

Jesus said,

(Mat 16:24-25 KJV) Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. {25} For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.

Eli is blinded because his priorities are in the wrong place.

:3 ere the lamp of God went out in the temple of the LORD

Every night the priests would light the seven-branched candlestick, the Menorah. It would burn all night, and at daybreak, the priests would enter into the tabernacle to put the lamps out. That places this event somewhere before dawn.

:5 And he ran unto Eli

Samuel doesn’t know what is happening. He thinks that the voice he heard was Eli.

:7 Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD, neither was the word of the LORD yet revealed unto him.

knowyada‘– to know; to perceive; find out and discern; to discriminate, distinguish; to know by experience; to recognize, admit, acknowledge, confess

revealedgalah – (Niphal) to be uncovered; to be disclosed, be discovered; to be revealed


You can hear the Lord without knowing Him

God speaks to all kinds of people who have never come to trust in Him.
You say you will never forget where you were when you heard the news On September 11, 2001. Neither will I. I was on the 110th floor in a smoke filled room with a man who called his wife to say “Good-Bye.” I held his fingers steady as he dialed. I gave him the peace to say, “Honey, I am not going to make it, but it is OK...I am ready to go.” I was with his wife when he called as she fed breakfast to their children. I held her up as she tried to understand his words and as she realized he wasn’t coming home that night. I was in the stairwell of the 23rd floor when a woman cried out to Me for help. “I have been knocking on the door of your heart for 50 years!” I said. Of course I will show you the way home - only believe in Me now.” I was at the base of the building with the Priest ministering to the injured and devastated souls. I took him home to tend to his Flock in Heaven. He heard my voice and answered. I was on all four of those planes, in every seat, with every prayer, with the crew as they were overtaken. I was in the very hearts of the believers there, comforting and assuring them that their faith has saved them. I was in Texas, Kansas, and London. I was standing next to you when you heard the terrible news. Did you sense Me? I want you to know that I saw every face. I knew every name - though not all know Me. Some met Me for the first time on the 86th floor. Some sought Me with their last breath. Some couldn’t hear Me calling to them through the smoke and flames; “Come to Me... this way... take my hand.” Some chose, for the final time, to ignore Me. But, I was there. I did not place you in the Tower that day. You may not know why, but I do. However, if you were there in that explosive moment in time, would you have reached for Me? September 11, 2001 was not the end of the journey for you. But someday your journey will end. And I will be there for you as well. Seek Me now while I may be found. Then, at any moment, you know you are “ready to go.” I will be in the stairwell of your final moments.
God speaks to us, but will we listen? Will we pay attention? Will we respond?

:8 And the LORD called Samuel again the third time. And he arose and went to Eli, and said, Here am I; for thou didst call me. And Eli perceived that the LORD had called the child.

the third time – Aren’t you glad that God doesn’t stop after the first two times?

(Isa 55:6 KJV) Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:

If you are still alive, God may still be speaking to you.

perceivedbiyn – (Qal) to perceive, discern; to understand, know (with the mind); to observe, mark, give heed to, distinguish, consider; to have discernment, insight, understanding

You have to give Eli a little credit here. He finally realizes that God must be speaking to the boy.

:9 Go, lie down: and it shall be, if he call thee, that thou shalt say, Speak, LORD; for thy servant heareth

lie downshakab – to lie down; to rest, relax (fig)

servant‘ebed – slave, servant

heareth shama‘– to hear, listen to, obey. This is the first part of Samuel’s name, “hearing”. In a sense, Samuel’s name would be prophetic because he, Samuel, would “hear” (shama) from God (el)

:10 And the LORD came, and stood, and called as at other times, Samuel, Samuel. Then Samuel answered, Speak; for thy servant heareth.


God wants to speak to you

(John 16:13-14 KJV) Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come. {14} He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you.
shall show it unto youanaggello = (ana) into the midst + (aggello) a messenger, an angel; it means to announce, make known. Of the ways it’s used in the New Testament it seems to carry the idea of not just sending a message or shouting at someone, but coming into their presence and giving the message.

When Paul came back from one of his missionary journeys around the world, preaching the gospel, and arrived back home in Antioch ...

Ac 14:27 And when they were come, and had gathered the church together, they rehearsed all that God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles. (AV)

I kind of get the idea that everyone was gathered together, maybe at a church potluck, with Paul and Barnabas in the middle, telling the stories of all the people they met and ministered to.

The work of the Holy Spirit is a very personal work.
He doesn’t:

... send you junk-mail, addressed to “occupant”.

... send you a cold, lifeless e-mail, duplicated to thousands of people at a time.

... take out space in the newspaper and print an open letter addressed “to the whole world”.

... use a computer to send you the same message he sent everyone else, except with your name typed onto the top of the message, and the front of the credit card.

He wants to come right into the middle of your life, and personally tell you things from Jesus and about Jesus.
I find it fascinating to hear what you get out of our Bible Studies. I know what things speak to me, but it’s amazing to hear what the Lord speaks to you. Sometimes it’s just a little side comment that I make, not even a main point, and the Lord uses it to speak right into the midst of your heart.


How can I hear God speak?

1. Be quiet.
Psalm 62:1 Truly my soul waiteth upon God: from him cometh my salvation.

waiteth - duwmiyah - silence, still, repose, still waiting

NAS Psalm 62:1 My soul waits in silence for God only; From Him is my salvation.


Have you ever called someone’s house (like mine), where the TV was so loud, that the person couldn’t hear you, and you couldn’t hear them?

What needs to happen if you want to talk on the phone? You need to turn the volume down in the room!

Elijah was running for his life, and hid out in a cave, he was trying desperately to get some answers from God about his situation. (1Ki.19)

As he was in this cave, first he was met with a strong wind, then an earthquake, and then a fire, but in all these things, God didn’t speak to him.

But then came a gentle blowing, or, as the King James puts it a “still small voice” (1Ki.19:12).

It was with the still, small, voice, that God began to speak to him.

I wonder if sometimes we simply have too much going on, too much noise from TV or radio, too many things to worry about in our brains.

If we could just be quiet for a little while.

God says,

(Psa 46:10 KJV) Be still, and know that I am God

Did you notice that Samuel had to go back to his bed and “lie down”?
2. Wait.
A partner to learning to be quiet is learning to wait for the Lord to speak.

Ps 27:14 Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.

Ps 130:5 I wait for the LORD, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope.

Don’t just be quiet for a second, and then rush off without waiting on Him.
Samuel was to wait until he heard the voice again.
3. Listen.
Eli told Samuel,

…thou shalt say, Speak, LORD; for thy servant heareth.

When Moses was faced with a tough question, and needed an answer from God, he said:

Numbers 9:8 And Moses said unto them, Stand still, and I will hear what the LORD will command concerning you.

Isaiah 55:3 Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David.

4. Surrender
Samuel was to tell the Lord that he was the Lord’s servant.
The person who surrenders to the Lord and is willing to listen will always learn God’s will.
5. Know His voice
Samuel would soon learn to know the Lord’s voice.
When someone familiar calls you on the phone, they don’t have to identify themselves, because you know the sound of their voice.
The sheep know the sound of their master’s voice:

John 10:2-5 “But he who enters by the door is a shepherd of the sheep. 3 “To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name, and leads them out. 4 “When he puts forth all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5 “And a stranger they simply will not follow, but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers.”

John 10:27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:

How do we become familiar with the sound of His voice?

Spend time listening to what He’s already said.

Spending time in the word.

That way we’ll be able to tell whether it’s the Lord, or the pizza we had the night before.

:11-14 God’s Word against Eli

:13 For I have told him that I will judge his house for ever

God is reminding Eli of the word that came earlier through the “man of God” (1Sam. 2:27-36).

This judgment was coming because Eli did not do his part as a father and as a priest to correct his sons.

:14 the iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be purged with sacrifice nor offering for ever.

(1 Sam 3:14 NIV) Therefore, I swore to the house of Eli, ‘The guilt of Eli’s house will never be atoned for by sacrifice or offering.’”

This offence had brought such repercussions that it would not be able to be atoned for with a sacrifice. Eli would not be able to simply offer up a bull and everything would be okay.



I think that Eli and his sons are an example of how a person can disqualify themselves for ministry. I think that this is what Paul may have been talking about when he wrote,
(1 Cor 9:24-27 NLT) Remember that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize. You also must run in such a way that you will win. {25} All athletes practice strict self-control. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. {26} So I run straight to the goal with purpose in every step. I am not like a boxer who misses his punches. {27} I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.

I don’t think Paul is talking about losing your salvation. I think he is talking about being disqualified in ministry.

When other people begin to look to you as an example of how to follow Jesus, it is VERY important that you don’t lead them down the wrong path.

Eli’s sons led many down the wrong path.

:15-21 Samuel tells Eli the message

:15 Samuel feared to show Eli the vision.

Little Samuel stayed in bed the rest of the night. He wasn’t very anxious to tell Eli what God had said.

:17 God do so to thee, and more also, if thou hide any thing from me

(1 Sam 3:17 NIV) "What was it he said to you?" Eli asked. "Do not hide it from me. May God deal with you, be it ever so severely, if you hide from me anything he told you."

:19 And Samuel grew, and the LORD was with him, and did let none of his words fall to the ground.

Everything that Samuel said was from the Lord came to pass.

:20 And all Israel from Dan even to Beersheba knew that Samuel was established to be a prophet of the LORD.

Dan to Beersheba – all of Israel, from the very northern part to the very southern part.

prophetnabiy’ – spokesman, speaker, prophet

:21 And the LORD appeared again in Shiloh: for the LORD revealed himself to Samuel in Shiloh by the word of the LORD.

God was able to work again at Shiloh because somebody was there to listen to Him.