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.
The song of Hannah is a prophetic Psalm. It is poetry. and it is prophecy. It takes its place by the side of the songs of Miriam, Deborah, and the Virgin Mary, as well as those of Moses, David, Hezekiah, and other Psalmists and prophets whose inspired odes have been preserved in the Bible. The special feature which these songs have in common is, that springing from, and in their first conception relating to, incidents in the lives of the individuals who composed them, they branch out into magnificent descriptions of the Kingdom and glory of Christ, and the triumphs of the Church, of which those incidents were providentially designed to be the types. The perception of this is essential to the understanding of Hannah's song. Compare the marginal references throughout.
There is none holy as the LORD: for there is none beside thee: neither is there any rock like our God.
Any rock ... - The term rock as applied to God is first found in the song of Moses (see Deuteronomy 32:4 note), where the juxtaposition of rock and salvation in 1 Samuel 2:15, "he lightly esteemed the rock of his salvation," seems to indicate that Hannah was acquainted with the song of Moses.
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.
The bows of the mighty men are broken, and they that stumbled are girded with strength.
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.
See an instance in 1 Samuel 2:36. See, too, in Ezekiel 13:19, another example of hire paid in bread.
Ceased - i. e. were at rest, did no work. The general sense is expressed by the translation of the Latin Version, "they were filled."
The LORD killeth, and maketh alive: he bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up.
The LORD maketh poor, and maketh rich: he bringeth low, and lifteth up.
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.
He will keep the feet of his saints, and the wicked shall be silent in darkness; for by strength shall no man prevail.
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.
He shall give strength ... - This is a most remarkable passage, containing a clear and distinct prophecy of the Kingdom and glory of the Christ of God. (Compare Luke 1:69-70).
And Elkanah went to Ramah to his house. And the child did minister unto the LORD before Eli the priest.
The word "minister" is used in three senses in Scripture:
(2) of the ministrations of the Levites as rendered to the priests, to aid them in divine Service Numbers 3:6 :
(3) of any service or ministration, especially one rendered to a man of God, as that of Joshua to Moses Numbers 11:28.
The application of it to Samuel as ministering to the Lord before Eli the priest accords "most exactly" with Samuel's condition as a Levite.
Now the sons of Eli were sons of Belial; they knew not the LORD.
Sons of Belial - See the marginal reference note. The phrase is very frequent in the books of Samuel. In the New Testament, Paul contrasts Christ and Belial, as if Belial were the name of an idol or the personification of evil 2 Corinthians 6:15. This probably led to the use of the term "Belial" in the the King James Version, instead of expressing its meaning, which is "mischief, wickedness."
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;
The Law of Moses defined exactly what was to be the priest's portion of every peace offering Leviticus 7:31-35, as it also gave express directions about the burning of the fat Leviticus 7:23-25, Leviticus 7:31. It was therefore a gross act of disobedience and lawlessness on the part of Hophni and Phinehas to take more than the Law gave them. Incidental evidence is afforded by this passage to the existence of the Levitical law at this time.
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.
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.
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.
Wherefore the sin of the young men was very great before the LORD: for men abhorred the offering of the LORD.
The offering of the Lord - Minchah, here in the general sense of "gift or offering" to God (compare Malachi 1:10-11; Malachi 3:3). In its restricted sense, it is used of the meat offerings, the unbloody sacrifices, and is then coupled with bloody sacrifices, sacrifices of slain beasts. (See 1 Samuel 2:29.)
But Samuel ministered before the LORD, being a child, girded with a linen ephod.
Girded with a linen ephod - This was the usual dress of the priests. It does not appear whether Levites wore an ephod properly. Possibly it was a mark of Samuel's special dedication to the Lord's service that he wore one. (See the marginal reference). The ephod was sometimes used as an idolatrous implement Judges 8:27.
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.
A little coat - The robe of the ephod was also one of the garments worn by the High Priest (see Exodus 28:31 note). This pointed mention of the ephod and the robe as worn by the youthful Samuel, seems to point to an extraordinary and irregular priesthood to which he was called by God in an age when the provisions of the Levitical law were not yet in full operation, and in which there was no impropriety in the eyes of his contemporaries, seeing that nonconformity to the whole Law was the rule rather than the exception throughout the days of the Judges.
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.
And the LORD visited Hannah, so that she conceived, and bare three sons and two daughters. And the child Samuel grew before the LORD.
See the marginal references. The words "before the" Lord have special reference to his residence at the tabernacle.
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.
Women that assembled - Or, "Served." See the marginal reference and note. Probably such service as consisted in doing certain work for the fabric of the tabernacle as women are accustomed to do, spinning, knitting, embroidering, mending, washing, and such like.
And he said unto them, Why do ye such things? for I hear of your evil dealings by all this people.
Nay, my sons; for it is no good report that I hear: ye make the LORD'S people to transgress.
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.
The sense seems to be, If one man sin against another, the judge shall amerce him in the due penalty, and then he shall be free; but if he sin against the Lord, who shall act the part of judge and arbiter for him? His guilt must remain to the great day of judgment.
Because the Lord would slay them - There is a sense in which whatever comes to pass is the accomplishment of God's sovereign will and pleasure, and all the previous steps, even when they involve moral causes, by which this will and pleasure are brought about, are in this sense also brought about by God. How this truth, which reason and revelation alike acknowledge, consists with man's free will on the one hand; or, when the evil deeds and punishment of a sinner are some of the previous steps, with God's infinite mercy and love on the other, is what cannot possibly be explained. We can only firmly believe both statements,
(1) that God hath no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, and that He willeth not the death of a sinner, but rather that he should be converted and live;
(2) that the sins and the punishments of sin are accomplishments of God's eternal purpose (compare the marginal references, and Isaiah 6:9-10; Mark 4:12; Romans 9:15). It may be explained by saying that in the case of Hophni and Phinehas God's will to kill them was founded upon His foreknowledge of their impenitence; while from another point of view, in which God's will is the fixed point, that impenitence may be viewed in its relation to that fixed point, and so dependent upon it, and a necessary step to it.
And the child Samuel grew on, and was in favour both with the LORD, and also with men.
And the child Samuel ... - The account of our Lord's growth Luke 2:52 is very similar; "And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man." The literal version of the passage before us is, "The child Samuel advanced and grew and was good (or acceptable), both with the Lord, and also with men."
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 - See Judges 13:6 note. The sudden appearance of the only prophet of whom mention is made since Deborah, without name, or any notice of his country, is remarkable.
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?
An ephod - The High Priest's ephod, in which was Urim and Thummim.
Did I give ... - The bountiful provision made by God for His priests is mentioned as the great aggravation of the covetousness of Eli's sons (compare 2 Samuel 12:7-9).
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?
Wherefore kick ye - See the marginal reference. The well-fed beast becomes unmanageable and refractory, and refuses the yoke, and bursts the bonds Jeremiah 5:5. So the priests, instead of being grateful for the provision made for them, in their pampered pride became dissatisfied, wantonly broke the laws of God which regulated their share of the offerings, and gave themselves up to an unbridled indulgence of their passions and their covetousness.
Honourest thy sons above me - What restrained Eli from taking vigorous action to vindicate God's honor, was his unwillingness to lose for his sons the lucrative office of the priesthood. He was willing to rebuke them, he was grieved at their misdeeds, but he was not willing to give up the wealth and plenty which flowed into his house from the offerings of Israel.
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.
Be it far from me - The phrase so rendered is a favorite one in the Books of Samuel, where it occurs ten or eleven times. It is variously rendered in the King James Version, "God forbid," and "Be it far from me, thee, etc." Literally, "Be it an abomination to me."
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.
I will cut off thine arm ... - A strong phrase for breaking down the strength and power, of which the arm is the instrument in man (compare Zechariah 11:17). See 1 Samuel 2:33.
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.
The original text is rather obscure and difficult of construction, but the King James Version probably gives the sense of it. The margin gives another meaning.
In all the wealth ... - The allusion is particularly to Solomon's reign, when Zadok was made priest instead of Abiathar, 1 Kings 2:26-27. (See 1 Kings 4:20 ff) The enormous number of sacrifices then offered must have been a great source of wealth to the priests 1 Kings 8:63-66.
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 meaning is explained by 1 Samuel 2:36. Those who are not cut off in the flower of their youth shall be worse off than those who are, for they shall have to beg their bread. (Compare Jeremiah 22:10.)
Thine eyes ... thine heart - For a similar personification of the tribe or family see Judges 1:2-4.
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.
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.
Zadok is meant rather than Samuel. The High Priesthood continued in the direct descendants of Zadok as long as the monarchy lasted (see 1 Chronicles 6:8-15).
Mine anointed - in its first sense obviously means the kings of Israel and Judah Psalm 89:20; Zechariah 4:14. But doubtless the use of the term MESSIAH (Χριστὸς Christos) here and in 1 Samuel 2:10, is significant, and points to the Lord's Christ, in whom the royal and priestly offices are united (Zechariah 6:11-15 : see the marginal references). In this connection the substitution of the priesthood after the order of Melchisedec for the Levitical may be foreshadowed under 1 Samuel 2:35 (see Hebrews 7).
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 piece - The word is only found here; but is thought to be connected in etymology and in meaning with the "Gerah," the smallest Hebrew coin, being the twentieth part of the shekel. The smallness of the sum asked for shows the poverty of the asker.