1 Samuel 2:18
But Samuel ministered before the LORD, being a child, girded with a linen ephod.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(18) Ministered . . . being a child.—A striking contrast is intended to be drawn here between the covetous, self-seeking ministrations of the worldly priests and the quiet service of the boy devoted by his pious mother and father to the sanctuary service.

Girded with a linen ephod.—The ephod was a priestly dress, which Samuel received in very early youth, because he had, with the high priest’s formal sanction, been set apart for a life-long service before the Lord. This ephod was an official garment, and consisted of two pieces, which rested on the shoulders in front and behind, and were joined at the top, and fastened about the body with a girdle.

1 Samuel 2:18. But Samuel ministered before the Lord — Though he was very young, yet he carefully and faithfully performed such offices in God’s tabernacle as he was capable of discharging, and did not follow the bad example of others. Girded with a linen ephod — A garment used in God’s service, and allowed, not only to the inferior priests and Levites, but also to eminent persons of the people, and therefore to Samuel, who, though not a priest, was both a Levite and a Nazarite from his birth.2:11-26 Samuel, being devoted to the Lord in a special manner, was from a child employed about the sanctuary in the services he was capable of. As he did this with a pious disposition of mind, it was called ministering unto the Lord. He received a blessing from the Lord. Those young people who serve God as well as they can, he will enable to improve, that they may serve him better. Eli shunned trouble and exertion. This led him to indulge his children, without using parental authority to restrain and correct them when young. He winked at the abuses in the service of the sanctuary till they became customs, and led to abominations; and his sons, who should have taught those that engaged in the service of the sanctuary what was good, solicited them to wickedness. Their offence was committed even in offering the sacrifices for sins, which typified the atonement of the Saviour! Sins against the remedy, the atonement itself, are most dangerous, they tread under foot the blood of the covenant. Eli's reproof was far too mild and gentle. In general, none are more abandoned than the degenerate children of godly persons, when they break through restraints.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. 1Sa 2:18-26. Samuel's Ministry.

18. But Samuel ministered before the Lord, being a child—This notice of his early services in the outer courts of the tabernacle was made to pave the way for the remarkable prophecy regarding the high priest's family.

girded with a linen ephod—A small shoulder-garment or apron, used in the sacred service by the inferior priests and Levites; sometimes also by judges or eminent persons, and hence allowed to Samuel, who, though not a Levite, was devoted to God from his birth.

Ministered, i.e. performed his ministration carefully and faithfully, not corrupting nor abusing it, as Eli’s sons did.

Before the Lord; in God’s tabernacle; or as in God’s presence, sincerely and regardarly, with God’s approbation.

Compare Genesis 17:1 2 Chronicles 26:4.

A linen ephod; a garment used in God’s service, and allowed not only to the inferior priests and Levites, but also to eminent persons of the people, as 2 Samuel 6:11, and therefore to Samuel, who, though no Levite, was a Nazarite, and that from his birth. But Samuel ministered before the Lord,.... The ministration of Samuel, though a child, is observed both before and after the account of the ill behaviour and wickedness of Eli's sons; partly to the shame and disgrace of them, and as serving to aggravate their sin, and make it appear the more black and heinous; and partly to his honour and reputation, that he was not corrupted and turned aside from God by their evil practices. The phrase here used is different from that in 1 Samuel 2:11 there he is said to minister before Eli, under his direction and guidance, but here before the Lord; being now engaged in higher services, and which he could perform without the assistance of Eli, as in the presence of God more immediately; it seems to have respect to him when more grown in age, stature, knowledge, and experience, though here related: yet still being "a child"; not got out of his childhood, or arrived to manhood:

girded with a linen ephod; such as priests used to wear, but not Levites in common, nor extraordinary persons on extraordinary occasions, see 1 Samuel 22:18. This seems to be a peculiar favour, and a special honour which Eli granted to Samuel when so very young, on account of the grace of God bestowed on him in a wonderful manner; and because brought up in the tabernacle as a holy person, and a Nazarite; and because his birth was foretold, and he asked of God, as his name signified, as Procopius Gazaeus observes.

But Samuel ministered before the LORD, being a child, girded with a linen ephod.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
18–21. Samuel’s ministry in the tabernacle

18. Samuel ministered] The writer dwells upon the contrast between Samuel and the sons of Eli. We see the child attending upon Eli in the sanctuary, growing before the Lord, in favour both with the Lord and with men, chosen to be God’s messenger to Eli, and finally re-establishing the broken intercourse between Jehovah and His people. On the other hand we see Hophni and Phinehas abusing their sacred office, sinking from rapacity and profanity to open profligacy, unchecked by rebuke or warning, and at last perishing miserably by the hands of the Philistines.

a linen ephod] The ephod was a garment covering the shoulders, (Lat. superhumerale), and secured round the waist by a girdle. It was the distinctive dress of priests (1 Samuel 2:28, ch. 1 Samuel 22:18), but was occasionally worn by others engaged in religions ceremonies, e.g. David (2 Samuel 6:14). The High Priest wore a special ephod (Exodus 28:6 ff.).Verse 18. - But Samuel ministered. While the misconduct of Eli's sons was thus bringing religion into contempt, and sapping the nation's morals, Samuel was advancing in years and piety, and was gaining that education which made him fit to retrieve the evil of their doings. He is still styled na'ar, a boy; for the word, according to the Rabbins, may be used up to fifteen years (1 Samuel 1:24). In the sense of servant there is no limit of age; and as it is the word translated "young men" in ver. 17, it probably means there not Eli's sons, but the servants by whose instrumentality their orders were actually carried out. Samuel's dress, an ephod of white linen, was probably that worn by the Levites in their ordinary ministrations; for the ephod of the priests was richer both in material and colour (Exodus 28:6-8). As being thus the simplest ministerial garment, it was apparently worn also by laymen when taking part in any religious service, as by David when he danced before the ark (2 Samuel 6:14). But Eli's sons, Hophni and Phinehas (1 Samuel 2:34), were בליּעל בּני, worthless fellows, and knew not the Lord, sc., as He should be known, i.e., did not fear Him, or trouble themselves about Him (vid., Job 18:21; Hosea 8:2; Hosea 13:4).
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