1 Samuel 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.
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(35) A faithful priest.—Who here is alluded to by this faithful priest,” of whom such a noble life was predicted, and to whom such a glorious promise as that “he should walk before mine anointed for ever,” was made? Many of the conditions are fairly fulfilled by Samuel, to whom naturally our thoughts at once turn. He occupies a foremost place in the long Jewish story, and immediately succeeded Eli in most of his important functions as the acknowledged chief of the religious and political life in Israel. He was also eminently and consistently faithful to his master and God during his whole life. Samuel, though a Levite, was not of the sons of Aaron; yet he seems, even in Eli’s days, to have ministered as a priest before the Lord, the circumstances of his early connection with the sanctuary being exceptional. After Eli’s death, when the regular exercise of the Levitical ritual and priesthood was suspended by the separation of the ark from the tabernacle, Samuel evidently occupied a priestly position, and we find him for a long period standing as mediator between Jehovah and His people, in sacrifice, prayer, and intercession, in the performance of which high offices his duty, after the solemn anointing of Saul as king, was to walk before the anointed of the Lord (Saul), while (to use the words of Von Gerlach, quoted by Erdmann), the Aaronic priesthood fell for a long time into such disrepute that it had to beg for honour and support from him (1Samuel 2:36), and became dependent on the new order of things instituted by Samuel. (See Excursus C at the end of this Book.)

The prediction “I will build him a sure house” is satisfied in the strong house and numerous posterity given to Samuel by God. His grandson Heman was “the king’s seer in the words of God,” and was placed by King David over the choir in the house of God. This eminent personage, Heman, had fourteen sons and three daughters (1Chronicles 6:33; 1Chronicles 25:4-5).

Samuel also fulfilled the prophecy “He shall walk before mine anointed for ever” in his close and intimate relation with King Saul, who we find, even after the faithful prophet’s death—although the later acts of Saul had alienated the prophet from his sovereign—summoning the spirit of Samuel as the only one who was able to counsel and strengthen him (1Samuel 28:15).

Of the other interpretations, that of Rashi and Abarbanel, and many of the moderns, which supposes the reference to be Zadok, of the house of Eleazar, who, in the reign of Solomon, superseded Abiathar, of the house of Ithamar (the ancestor of Eli), alone fairly satisfies most of the different predictions, but we are met with this insurmountable difficulty at the outset—Can we assume that the comparatively unknown Zadok, after the lapse of so many years, was pointed out by the magnificent promises contained in the words of the “man of God” to Eli? The words of the “man of God” surely indicate a far greater one than any high priest of the time of Solomon. In the golden days of this magnificent king, the high priest, overshadowed by the splendour and power of the sovereign, was a very subordinate figure indeed in Israel; but the subject of this prophecy was one evidently destined to hold no secondary and inferior position.

Some commentators, with a singular confusion of ideas, see a reference to Christ in the “faithful priest,” forgetting that this “faithful priest” who was to arise in Eli’s place was to walk before the Lord’s Christ, or Anointed One.

On the whole, the reference to Samuel is the most satisfactory, and seems in all points—without in any way unfairly pressing the historical references—to fulfil that portion of the prediction of the “man of God” to Eli respecting the one chosen to replace him in his position of judge and guide of Israel.

1 Samuel 2:35. I will raise me up a faithful priest — Of another line, as is necessarily implied by the total removal of that office from Eli’s line. The person designed is Zadok, one eminent for his faithfulness to God, and to the king, who, when Abiathar, the last of Eli’s line, was deposed by Solomon, was made high-priest in his stead. Build a sure house — That is, give him a numerous posterity, and confirm unto him and his children that sure covenant of an everlasting priesthood made to Phinehas, of Eleazar’s line, Numbers 25:13, and interrupted for a little while by Eli, of the line of Ithamar. The high-priesthood continued in his line till the captivity of Babylon, as appears from Ezekiel 40:16; and a long time after it, as Josephus shows, lib. 4. cap. 4. He shall walk before mine Anointed — That is, Zadok and his descendants shall perform the office of high-priest before that king whom God shall anoint, and before his successors. The high- priest is said to walk before God’s anointed, chiefly because he wore the breast-plate of judgment, which he was to consult, not in common cases, but for the king, in the affairs of state. For ever — A learned writer justly observes, that though this, according to the history, was intended of, and may properly be applied to Zadok, yet in the highest sense it belongs to none but our Lord Jesus Christ, who offered himself to the Father for us, and is our great High-Priest for ever; who in all things did his Father’s will, and for whom God will build a sure house, build it on a rock, so that the gates of hell cannot prevail against it. For he is the main scope and design not only of the New but of the Old Testament, which, in all types and ceremonies, represented him; and the high-priest especially was an eminent type of him, represented by his person, acted in his name and stead, and did mediately what John the Baptist did immediately, namely, go before the face of the Lord Christ; and when Christ came, that officer and the office he sustained were to cease.

2:27-36 Those who allow their children in any evil way, and do not use their authority to restrain and punish them, in effect honour them more than God. Let Eli's example excite parents earnestly to strive against the beginnings of wickedness, and to train up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. In the midst of the sentence against the house of Eli, mercy is promised to Israel. God's work shall never fall to the ground for want of hands to carry it on. Christ is that merciful and faithful High Priest, whom God raised up when the Levitical priesthood was thrown off, who in all things did his Father's mind, and for whom God will build a sure house, build it on a rock, so that hell cannot prevail against it.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).

32. thou shalt see an enemy in my habitation—A successful rival for the office of high priest shall rise out of another family (2Sa 15:35; 1Ch 24:3; 29:22). But the marginal reading, "thou shalt see the affliction of the tabernacle," seems to be a preferable translation. A faithful priest, to wit, of another line, as is necessarily implied by one total removal of that office from Eli’s line, before threatened. The person designed is Zadok, one eminent for his faithfulness to God and to the king, who, when Abiathar, the last of Eli’s line, was deposed by Solomon, was made high priest in his stead, 1 Kings 2:27,35 1 Chronicles 29:22.

That shall do according to that which is in mine heart; and shall not dishonour or disobey me to gratify his sons, as thou hast done.

I will build him a sure house, i.e. give him a numerous posterity, as that phrase is used, Exodus 1:21 2 Samuel 7:11 1 Kings 11:38, and confirm that sure covenant of an everlasting priesthood made to Phinehas, of Eleazar’s line, Numbers 25:13, and interrupted for a little while by Eli, and his, of the line of Ithamar, unto him and his children for ever. And this was manifestly verified until the Babylonish captivity, Ezekiel 44:15; and there is no reason to doubt of its continuance in the same line till Christ came.

He shall walk, i.e. minister as high priest.

Before mine anointed; either, first, Before king Solomon, who was anointed king, 1 Kings 1:39, and before the succeeding kings, who are commonly called anointed, or the Lord’s anointed, as 1 Samuel 12:3,5 24:6,10 Psa 89:38,51 La 4:20. Or rather, secondly, Before Jesus Christ; first, Because this title of Anointed, or Christ, or Messias, (both which words signify only the Anointed,) is most frequently and eminently ascribed to Christ, both in the Old and New Testament, and therefore it is most reasonable to understand it of him, when there is nothing in the text or context which determines it to any other. Secondly, Christ is the main scope and design, not only of the New, but of the Old Testament, which in all its types and ceremonies represented Christ; and particularly, the high priest was an eminent type of Christ, and did represent his person, and act in his name and stead, and did mediately what John Baptist did immediately, go before the face of the Lord Christ; and when Christ did come, that office and officer was to cease. Thirdly, The high priest is seldom or never said to walk or minister before the kings of Israel or Judah, but constantly before the Lord, and consequently before Christ, who as he was God blessed for ever, Romans 9:5, was present with, and the Builder and Governor of, the ancient church of Israel, as is manifest from Acts 7:35 1 Corinthians 10:4 Hebrews 3:3-6, and many other places; and their temple is particularly called his temple, Malachi 3:1, because all the temple worship was performed in his presence, and had a special respect unto him, and therefore the high priest is most properly said to walk before him.

And I will raise up a faithful priest,.... Not Samuel, as some, for he was not of the seed of Aaron, and of the priestly race; nor had he a sure house, for his sons declined from the ways of truth and justice; but Zadok, as it is commonly interpreted, who was put into the office of the high priest by Solomon when he came to the throne, in the room of Abiathar, of the line of Eli; who was an upright man, and faithfully discharged his office, and answered to his name, which signifies righteous, see Ezekiel 44:15 that shall do according to that which is in my heart, and in my mind: according to the secret will and pleasure of God, as revealed in his word; do everything relating to the office of an high priest, according to the laws of God respecting it; so the Targum,"that shall do according to my word, and according to my will:"

and I will build him a sure house; which some understand of a numerous family and posterity he should have to succeed him, so that there should never be wanting one of his seed to fill up that high office; or rather it may design the establishment of the high priesthood in his family, which was an everlasting one, as promised to Phinehas his ancestor, and which continued unto the times of the Messiah, who put an end to it, by fulfilling it; unless it can be thought that this may refer to the temple built by Solomon, which was a firm house, in comparison of the tabernacle, which was a movable one; it was built for Zadok and his posterity, who was the first that officiated in it as a legal priest. There is one writer, who says (m),"this agrees with no man, only with our Lord Jesus, who is called our high priest, that offered up a sacrifice to the Father for us therefore to Christ properly this prophecy belongs; but, according to the history; to Zadok:''and Christ is said indeed to be a faithful, as well as a merciful high priest, faithful to him that appointed him, and faithful to those for whom he officiated; he always did the things which pleased his Father, was obedient to his will and commands in all respects; and a sure house is built by him, his church, against which the gates of hell can never prevail: however, the next clause is by others interpreted of him:

and he shall walk before mine anointed for ever; or "before my Messiah", as the high priests did; they were types of Christ, and represented him, and acted under him, and in his stead, and prefigured and pointed at what he was to do, when he came in the flesh, and now does in the most holy place in heaven. Though it is more commonly understood of Zadok and his posterity, walking or ministering, as the Targum, before Solomon the Lord's anointed, and before the kings of the house of David, as they did until the Babylonish captivity.

(m) Procopius Gazaeus in loc.

And I will raise me up a {z} 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.

(z) Meaning Zadok, who succeeded Abiathar, and was the figure of Christ.

35. This verse forms no part of the sign, but is to be connected with 1 Samuel 2:33.

a faithful priest] The prophecy is commonly supposed to have been fulfilled in Zadok, whose descendants retained the High-priesthood till the end of the monarchy (1 Chronicles 6:8-15). But that Samuel is meant seems clear on the following grounds.

(a) The faithful priest is obviously contrasted with the unfaithful sons of Eli. This points to Samuel not Zadok. The account of his call is given immediately in ch. 3 and it concludes by saying (1 Samuel 2:20), “all Israel knew that Samuel was established to be a prophet of the Lord,” a connecting link with the present passage, for it is the same Heb. word which is rendered “faithful,” “sure,” and “established.” This is followed by the death of Hophni and Phinehas (ch. 4).

(b) The “sure house” which is promised does not necessarily imply succession to the priesthood. But if it had originally done so, might not the privilege have been forfeited by the sin of Samuel’s sons (ch. 1 Samuel 8:3), as in the case of the exactly similar promise to Jeroboam (1 Kings 11:38)? That Samuel’s descendants flourished is clear, for his grandson Heman (1 Chronicles 6:33) was David’s chief musician, and father of fourteen sons and three daughters (1 Chronicles 25:1; 1 Chronicles 25:4-5).

(c) “He shall walk before mine anointed (not, for ever, but) all the days of his life” (cp. 1 Samuel 1:22). This is most naturally referred to Samuel, who was God’s instrument for establishing the kingdom, and occupied a unique position as the authorised adviser of Saul.

(d) But it will be said, Samuel was no priest, only a prophet-judge. True he was not a priest by descent, and is nowhere expressly so called. But the expression I will raise up’ (used so commonly of the judges) implies an extraordinary office. And during his lifetime Samuel filled the place of High-priest. The prerogative of the line of Aaron was in abeyance for a time, as a punishment for the corruption of Eli’s sons. Ahitub the son of Phinehas never appears in the history. Ahiah is not mentioned till after Saul’s first rejection in Samuel’s extreme old age (1 Samuel 14:3). Samuel exercised priestly functions by intercession (1 Samuel 7:9), by offering sacrifice (1 Samuel 7:9-10), by benediction (1 Samuel 9:12-13), by anointing Saul and David (1 Samuel 10:1, 1 Samuel 16:13, cp. 1 Kings 1:34). He may be compared with Moses who though not strictly a priest was sometimes regarded as such (Psalm 99:6).

mine anointed] See notes on 1 Samuel 2:10, 1 Samuel 10:1, 1 Samuel 12:3.

Verse 35. - I will raise me up a faithful priest. This prophecy is explained in three several ways, of Samuel, of Zadok, and of Christ. St. Augustine, who considers the whole passage at length in his 'De Civ. Dei,' 17:5, argues that it cannot be reasonably said that a change in the priesthood foretold with so great circumstance was fulfilled in Samuel. But while we grant that it was an essential characteristic of Jewish prophecy to be ever larger than the immediate fulfilment, yet its primary meaning must never be slurred over, as if it were a question of slight importance. By the largeness of its terms, the grandeur of the hopes it inspired, and the incompleteness of their immediate accomplishment, the Jews were taught to look ever onward, and so became a Messianic people. Granting then that Christ and his Church are the object and end of this and of all prophecy, the question narrows itself to this - In whom was this prediction of a faithful priest primarily fulfilled? We answer, Not in Zadok, but in Samuel. Zadok was a commonplace personage, of whom little or nothing is said after the time that he joined David with a powerful contingent (1 Chronicles 12:28). Samuel is the one person in Jewish history who approaches the high rank of Moses, Israel's founder (Jeremiah 15:1). The argument that he was a Levite, and not a priest, takes too narrow and technical a view of the matter; for the essence of the priesthood lies not in the offering of sacrifice, but in mediation. Sacrifice is but an accident, being the appointed method by which the priest was to mediate between God and man. As a matter of fact, Samuel often did discharge priestly functions (1 Samuel 7:9, 17; 1 Samuel 13:8, where we find Saul reproved for invading Samuel's office; 1 Samuel 16:2), and it is a point to be kept in mind that the regular priests disappear from Jewish history for about fifty years after the slaughter of themselves, their wives, and families at Shiloh; for it is not until Saul's time that Ahiah, the great-grandson of Eli, appears, as once again ministering at the altar (1 Samuel 14:3). The calamity that overtook the nation at the end of Eli's reign was so terrible that all ordinary ministrations seem to have been in abeyance. We are even expressly told that after the recovery of the ark it was placed in the house of Abinadab at Kirjath-jearim in Judaea, and that for twenty years his son Eleazar, though a Levite only, ministered there before it by no regular consecration, but by the appointment of the men of that town. During this time, though Ahitub, Ahiah's father, was probably high priest nominally, yet nothing is said of him, and all the higher functions of the office were exercised by Samuel. Instead of the Urim and Thummim, he as prophet was the direct representative of the theocratic king. Subsequently this great duty was once again discharged by Abiathar as priest, and then a mighty change was made, and the prophets with the living voice of inspiration took the place of the priest with the ephod. For this is a far more important matter than even the fact that Samuel performed the higher functions of the priesthood. With him a new order of things began. Prophecy, from being spasmodic and irregular, became an established institution, and took its place side by side with the priesthood in preparing for Christ's advent, and in forming the Jewish nation to be the evangelisers of the world. The prediction of this organic change followed the rule of all prophecy in taking its verbal form and expression from what was then existent. Just as the gospel dispensation is always described under figures taken from the Jewish Church and commonwealth, so Samuel, as the founder of the prophetic schools, and of the new order of things which resulted from them, is described to Eli under terms taken from his priestly office. He was a "faithful priest," and much more, just as our Lord was a "prophet like unto Moses" (Deuteronomy 18:15), and a "King set upon the holy hill of Zion" (Psalm 2:6), but in a far higher sense than any would have supposed at the time when these prophecies were spoken. As regards the specific terms of the prophecy, "the building of a sure house" (1 Samuel 25:28; 2 Samuel 7:11; 1 Kings 2:24; 1 Kings 11:38; Isaiah 32:18) is a metaphor expressive of assured prosperity. The mass of the Israelites dwelt in tents (2 Samuel 11:11; 2 Samuel 20:1, etc.; 1 Kings 12:16), and to have a fixed and permanent dwelling was a mark of greatness. From such passages as 1 Kings 2:24; 1 Kings 11:38, it is plain that the idea of founding a family is not contained in the expression. As a matter of fact, Samuel's family was prosperous, and his grandson Heman had high rank in David's court and numerous issue (1 Chronicles 25:5). Probably too the men of Ramah, who with the men of the Levite town of Gaba made up a total of 621 persons (Nehemiah 7:30), represented the descendants of Samuel at the return from Babylon. Nevertheless, the contrast is between the migratory, life in tents and the ease and security of a solid and firm abode, and the terms of the promise are abundantly fulfilled in Samuel's personal greatness. In the promise, "he shall walk before mine anointed forever," there is the same outlook upon the office of king, as if already in existence, which we observed in Hannah's hymn (1 Samuel 2:10). Apparently the expectation that Jehovah was about to anoint, i.e. consecrate, for them some one to represent him in civil matters and war, as the high priest represented him in things spiritual, had taken possession of the minds of the people. It had been clearly promised them, and regulations for the office made (Deuteronomy 17:14-20); and it was to be Samuel's office to fulfil this wish, and all his life through he held a post of high dignity in the kingdom. But the promise has also a definite meaning as regards the prophets, in whom Samuel lived on. For St. Augnstine's error was in taking Samuel simply in his personal relations, whereas he is the representative of the whole prophetic order (Acts 3:24). They were his successors in his work, and continued to be the recognised mediators to declare to king and people the will of Jehovah, who was the supreme authority in both Church and state; and in political matters they were the appointed check upon the otherwise absolute power of the kings, with whose appointment their own formal organisation exactly coincided. From Samuel's time prophet and king walked together till the waiting period began which immediately preceded the nativity of Christ. 1 Samuel 2:35But the priesthood itself was not to fall with the fall of Eli's house and priesthood; on the contrary the Lord would raise up for himself a tried priest, who would act according to His heart. "And I will build for him a lasting house, and he will walk before mine anointed for ever."
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