1 Samuel 2:8
He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory: for the pillars of the earth are the LORD'S, and he hath set the world upon them.
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(8) The pillars of the earth.—And the gracious All-Ruler does these things, for He is at once Creator and Upholder of the universe. The words of these Divine songs which treat of cosmogony are such as would be understood in the childhood of peoples. The quiet thinker, however, is tempted to ask whether after 3,000 or 4,000 years, now, with the light of modern science shining round us, we have made much real progress in our knowledge of the genesis and government of the universe.

The pillars.—Or columns—Jerome, in the Vulgate, translates this unusual word by “hinges”—cardines terrœ.

Gesenius prefers the rendering “foundations.” On the whole, the word used in the English Version, “pillars,” is the best.

1 Samuel 2:8. He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, &c. — From the most mean estate and sordid place. To set them among princes — Instance Joseph, David, and Daniel. To make them inherit the throne of glory — That is, a glorious throne or kingdom; not only to possess it themselves, but to transmit it to their posterity, as the word inherit implies. For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s — The foundations which God created and upholds, and wherewith he sustains the earth and all its inhabitants, as a house is supported with pillars. These words signify the reason of all that is contained in the five preceding verses. For the very earth being founded, upheld, and supported by the Lord, it is no wonder that all the inhabitants of it are in his power, so that he can dispose of them as he pleases.

2:1-10 Hannah's heart rejoiced, not in Samuel, but in the Lord. She looks beyond the gift, and praises the Giver. She rejoiced in the salvation of the Lord, and in expectation of His coming, who is the whole salvation of his people. The strong are soon weakened, and the weak are soon strengthened, when God pleases. Are we poor? God made us poor, which is a good reason why we should be content, and make up our minds to our condition. Are we rich? God made us rich, which is a good reason why we should be thankful, and serve him cheerfully, and do good with the abundance he gives us. He respects not man's wisdom or fancied excellences, but chooses those whom the world accounts foolish, teaching them to feel their guilt, and to value his free and precious salvation. This prophecy looks to the kingdom of Christ, that kingdom of grace, of which Hannah speaks, after having spoken largely of the kingdom of providence. And here is the first time that we meet with the name MESSIAH, or his Anointed. The subjects of Christ's kingdom will be safe, and the enemies of it will be ruined; for the Anointed, the Lord Christ, is able to save, and to destroy.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."

8. He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill—The dunghill, a pile of horse, cow, or camel offal, heaped up to dry in the sun, and used as fuel, was, and is, one of the common haunts of the poorest mendicants; and the change that had been made in the social position of Hannah, appeared to her grateful heart as auspicious and as great as the elevation of a poor despised beggar to the highest and most dignified rank.

inherit the throne of glory—that is, possesses seats of honor.

Out of the dust, i.e. out of their low and miserable condition, as this phrase is used, 1 Kings 16:2 Psalm 113:7 Compare Job 16:15 Psalm 22:15.

From the dunghill; from the most sordid place and mean estate. Compare 1 Kings 16:2 Job 36:11 Psalm 7:5.

Dunghill; which the poor are said to embrace, Lamentations 4:5.

To make them inherit; not only possess themselves, but transfer them to their posterity, as hath oft happened in the world; or, possess.

The throne of glory, i.e. a glorious throne or kingdom.

The pillars; either,

1. The foundations of the earth, which God created and upholds, and wherewith he sustains the earth find all its inhabitants, as a house is supported with pillars; and therefore it is not strange if he disposeth of persons and things therein as he pleaseth. Or,

2. The princes or governors of the earth, which are called the corners, or corner-stones, of a land or people, Judges 20:2 1 Samuel 14:38 Zephaniah 3:6, and are fitly called pillars, because they uphold the world, and keep it from sinking into confusion. See Psalm 74:2 Jeremiah 1:18 Revelation 3:12. And these are here said to be the Lord’s, by creation and constitution, because he advanceth them to their state, and preserves them in it, Proverbs 8:15,16, and puts the world, or the kingdoms of the world, upon them, as burdens upon their shoulders: see Isaiah 9:6.

He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill,.... This is but a further illustration of what is before expressed. Literally; such poor as are beggars, are those that are extremely poor, that sit in the dust and beg, and have nothing but a dunghill to lie on; yet God is able to raise and lift up persons in such an extremely low condition to a very high one: spiritually; such are the poor, who are poor in spirit, and spiritually poor, and are sensible of it, and they, and they only, are beggars. For all that are poor, as they are not sensible of their poverty, so they beg not; but some are and beg; they knock at the door of grace and mercy; their language is petitionary, they entreat the grace and mercy of God; their posture is standing, and waiting till they have an answer; they are importunate, and will not easily take a denial; and they observe all opportunities to get relief, and are thankful for everything that is given then. Their conditions, in which they are, is represented by the "dust" and "dunghill"; which in general denotes that they are in a mean estate, in a sinful one, and in a very polluted and loathsome one; in this condition the Lord finds them, when he calls them by his grace; and from this he raises and lifts them up by his Spirit and grace, out of which they could never have raised themselves; and in which estate of sin and misery they must have lain, had he not exerted his powerful efficacious grace, in bringing them into a glorious one, next described:

to set them among princes the people of God called by grace, who are the sons of the King of kings by adoption, manifested in their regeneration and faith; have a princely spirit, the spirit of adoption, a free, generous, and bountiful one; live and look like princes, are well fed and clothed, and attended; have the riches of princes, and are heirs of a kingdom: and to be set among them, is to be made one, and ranked as such; to have a place and a name in the church, and among the people of God; to sit down with them at the table of the Lord, and have communion with them: and to make them inherit the throne of glory; eternal glory and happiness, which as it is signified by a kingdom and crown, so by a throne, and is the same with Christ's, Revelation 3:21 and therefore must be a glorious one: and this is had by way of inheritance; not obtained by industry, nor purchased with money; but comes by adoption grace, and belongs only to children, is a bequest of our heavenly Father, and comes through the death of Christ the testator; and this phrase denotes not barely the right unto, but the possession of his happiness and glory:

for the pillars of the earth are the Lord's, and he hath set the world upon them; the earth has its foundations on which it is laid, and its pillars by which it is supported; but these are no other than the power and providence of God; otherwise the earth is hung upon nothing, in the open circumambient air: and that God can and does do this may well be thought, and to do all the above things in providence and grace, related in the preceding verses; in the support, and for the proof of which, this is observed. Figuratively, the pillars of the earth may design the princes of the world, the supreme rulers of it, and civil magistrates, who are sometimes called cornerstones, and the shields of the earth, Zechariah 10:4, and so pillars, because they are the means of cementing, supporting, and protecting the people of the earth, and of preserving their peace and property. Likewise good men may be meant in a figurative sense, who, as they are the salt of the earth, are the pillars of it, for whose sake it was made, and is supported, and continued in being; the church is the pillar and ground of truth; and every good man is a pillar in the house of God, and especially ministers of the Gospel; see Revelation 3:12.

He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among {f} princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory: for the pillars of the earth are the {g} LORD'S, and he hath set the world upon them.

(f) He prefers to honour, and does according to his own will, though man's judgment is contrary.

(g) Therefore he may dispose all things according to his will.

8. out of the dust] “To sit in the dust” (Isaiah 47:1), or “on the dunghill” (Lamentations 4:5) are Oriental figures for a condition of extreme degradation and misery, derived probably from the practice of mourners (Job 2:8): to share the company of princes, and occupy a throne of honour (Job 36:7) are metaphors for advancement and prosperity. Psalm 113:7-9 is copied almost verbatim from these verses. Cp. too Psalm 75:6-7.

for the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s] The creation and maintenance of the natural framework of the earth by Jehovah are a guarantee for His moral government among men. Cp. Psalm 75:3. The expression “pillars of the earth” (cp. Job 9:6) is a poetical metaphor derived from the construction of a house (see Jdg 16:26), and need not imply any theory as to the earth’s shape.

1 Samuel 2:8שׂבעים are the rich and well to do; these would become so poor as to be obliged to hire themselves out for bread. חדל, to cease to be what they were before. The use of עד as a conjunction, in the sense of "yea" or "in fact," may be explained as an elliptical expression, signifying "it comes to this, that." "Seven children" are mentioned as the full number of the divine blessing in children (see Ruth 4:15). "The mother of many children" pines away, because she has lost all her sons, and with them her support in her old age (see Jeremiah 15:9). This comes from the Lord, who kills, etc. (cf. Deuteronomy 32:39). The words of 1 Samuel 2:6 are figurative. God hurls down into death and the danger of death, and also rescues therefrom (see Psalm 30:3-4). The first three clauses of 1 Samuel 2:8 are repeated verbatim in Psalm 113:7-8. Dust and the dunghill are figures used to denote the deepest degradation and ignominy. The antithesis to this is, sitting upon the chair or throne of glory, the seat occupied by noble princes. The Lord does all this, for He is the creator and upholder of the world. The pillars (מצקי, from צוּק equals יצק) of the earth are the Lord's; i.e., they were created or set up by Him, and by Him they are sustained. Now as Jehovah, the God of Israel, the Holy One, governs the world with His almighty power, the righteous have nothing to fear. With this thought the last strophe of the song begins:
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