Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
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.1. And Hannah prayed] This description of the Psalm is not inappropriate, for prayer includes thanksgiving and praise. Cp. the “prayer of Habakkuk” (Habakkuk 3:1): and the “prayers of David” as a general designation of his psalms (Psalm 72:20).
rejoiceth] Exulteth or triumpheth, a strong word.
mine horn is exalted in the Lord] = ‘I am brought to great honour, and the author of that honour is Jehovah.’ The horn is frequently used as a symbol (a) of strength (Deuteronomy 33:17): (b) of honour Job 16:15). “To exalt the horn” signifies “to raise to a position of power or dignity.” Cp. Psalm 89:17; Psalm 148:14. The figure is probably derived from horned animals, tossing their heads in the air, and there is no allusion to the horns worn by women in the East at the present day. It is found in Latin poets, e.g. Ov. A. A. 1. 239, “Tum pauper cornua sumit” = “plucks up courage.”
my mouth is enlarged over mine enemies] “My mouth is opened wide against mine enemies;” I am no longer put to silence in their presence. Cp. Psalm 38:13-14. In ch. 1 Samuel 1:7-8 it is implied that Hannah made no answer to Peninnah’s taunts.
thy salvation] Cp. Luke 1:47. “Salvation” in the O. T. means (a) deliverance, rescue from dangers or adversities of all kinds (ch. 1 Samuel 14:45); (b) help, the power by which the deliverance is effected, whether divine or human (Psalm 35:3).
Ch. 1 Samuel 2:1-11. The Song of Hannah
Hannah’s song is a true prophecy. She is inspired “to discern in her own individual experience the universal laws of the divine economy, and to recognise its significance for the whole course of the Kingdom of God.” The deliverance from her proud adversary which had just been vouchsafed to her was but one instance of the great principles of Jehovah’s moral government of the world, principles which receive their fullest illustration in the exaltation of the Lord’s Christ through humiliation to victory, and which will only he fully realised when “the kingdoms of this world shall have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ.” Hence it is that her own peculiar circumstances are so soon lost sight of in the wider view of the dealings of God’s Providence. The failure to recognise this has led critics to deny the authenticity of the song, and to conjecture that some ancient triumphal war-pæan has been erroneously placed in Hannah’s month by the compiler of the book.
A brief analysis will help to explain the connexion of thought.
“Jehovah is the sole author of my deliverance. He shall be the theme of my song.
There is none to be compared with Him for holiness, power, faithfulness: be silent before him, all ye proud boasters! He knows your thoughts and weighs your actions.
Observe the vicissitudes of human fortune: the haughty are humbled, the humble exalted: this is Jehovah’s doing: for He is the Almighty Governor of the universe. He guides and guards His saints, and destroys the wicked.
May He finally discomfit his adversaries, judge the world, and establish the kingdom of His Anointed One!”
The Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55) should be carefully compared with Hannah’s song, of which it is an echo rather than an imitation. The resemblance lies in thought and tone more than in actual language, and supplies a most delicate and valuable testimony to the appropriateness of this hymn to Hannah’s circumstances. The 113th Psalm forms a connecting link between the two.
There is none holy as the LORD: for there is none beside thee: neither is there any rock like our God.2. rock] A frequent metaphor to describe the strength, faithfulness, and unchangeableness of Jehovah. See Deuteronomy 32:4; 2 Samuel 22:32.
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.3. arrogancy] The old form of the word arrogance (cp. innocency for innocence) from the Lat. arrogantia. It signifies “claiming more than one’s due,” “assumption,” “pride.”
knowledge] The Heb. word is plural, denoting varied and extensive knowledge.
by him actions are weighed] Jehovah knows the hearts of men and estimates men’s actions at their true value. See Proverbs 16:2; Proverbs 24:12. This explanation is probably right, but the Heb. may also be rendered, “His (i.e. God’s) actions are weighed,” or, “measured:” i.e. are just and right. Cp. the use of the same word in Ezekiel 18:25, “Is not my way equal?” “By him” is the Qrî or traditional read text. (See p. 14.) The Kthîbh or written text has “not” instead of “by him,” the words being similar in pronunciation though differently spelt. This may be rendered either, “though actions be not weighed,” or interrogatively, “and are not actions weighed?”
The bows of the mighty men are broken, and they that stumbled are girded with strength.4. The bows of the mighty men are broken, &c.] The bow was one of the chief weapons of war (2 Samuel 1:22). Its being broken is a natural symbol of defeat. “To be girded with strength” (Psalm 18:39) is a figure derived from the practice of “girding up the loins” in preparation for active exertion.
4, 5. This knowledge and justice apportion to all their due, and reverse conditions of life contrary to all expectation. Sennacherib’s host is annihilated: Gideon’s handful triumphs.
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.5. ceased] i.e. are at rest: need toil no more: or, cease to be hungry.
seven] A perfect family. Cp. Ruth 4:15.
is waxed feeble] By the loss of her children. Cp. Jeremiah 15:9.
The LORD killeth, and maketh alive: he bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up.6. the grave] The Heb. word Sheol, variously rendered in the E. V. grave, hell, pit, denotes the mysterious unseen world, the abode of all departed spirits, righteous and wicked alike. Hell, from A. S. helan, to cover, hide, would be a fair rendering if we could strip the word of all the associations with which it has been invested; but as we cannot do this, it is best to retain the Heb. word Sheol, or take its N. T. equivalent Hades.
There is no direct allusion here to the resurrection: death and Sheol are figuratively used for the depths of adversity and peril: life for deliverance and prosperity. See Psalm 71:20; Psalm 86:13.
6–8. In Jehovah’s hand are the issues of life and death, prosperity and adversity. All history illustrates this truth. Hezekiah is recalled from the gates of the grave: Job is tried by affliction: David is taken from the sheepfolds to be king: Nebuchadnezzar sinks to the level of a beast: Haman is degraded, Mordecai honoured: and chiefest example of all, He who “was despised and rejected of men,” was “highly exalted, and given a name that is above every name.”
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.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.
He will keep the feet of his saints, and the wicked shall be silent in darkness; for by strength shall no man prevail.9. It is Jehovah who guards His chosen ones from stumbling in their walk through life (Psalm 56:13; Psalm 91:12); It is He who leaves the wicked to languish in adversity (Job 5:14) or perish miserably (Psalm 31:17; Psalm 55:23); for apart from Him or in opposition to Him human strength is impotence (Zechariah 4:6).
his saints] Rather, His beloved, or, His chosen. The Heb. word means (a) one who is the object of mercy, and does not in itself imply holiness of character, but is used of Israel as the covenant people, the objects of Jehovah’s lovingkindness: (b) in an active sense, merciful, of God (Jeremiah 3:12): of men (2 Samuel 22:26).
shall be silent] “Shall be silenced,” or, “perish.”
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.10. The adversaries of the Lord] Render,
Jehovah, they that strive with Him shall be broken to pieces:
against them in heaven let Him (or, He shall) thunder:
Jehovah shall judge the ends of the earth:
and may He (or, He shall) give strength unto His king,
and exalt the horn of His Anointed.
The conclusion of the hymn is partly a prayer for the destruction of Jehovah’s enemies, partly an expression of confidence that this will surely be effected. The mention of Jehovah’s judgments leads up naturally to the thought of those who are his instruments for executing them. Hannah’s prophetic prayer was but partially fulfilled in the king soon to be anointed by her son as the deliverer of Israel: it reaches forward to Him whom the Jewish kings foreshadowed, the King Messiah, in whom alone the lofty anticipations of the prophetess are to be completely realised.
shall be broken to pieces] The Sept. here inserts the greater part of Jeremiah 9:23-24. The passage may nave been originally placed in the margin as an illustration, and afterwards incorporated in the text.
his anointed] Here first in connexion with the kingly office do we meet the word which was to become the characteristic title of the expected deliverer, the “Messiah” or “Anointed One,” “the Christ.” The Sept. renders “ὑψώσει κέρας χριστοῦ αὐτοῦ” (cp. Luke 2:26): the Vulgate “sublimabit cornu Christi sui.” See the notes on 1 Samuel 10:1 and 1 Samuel 12:3.
It has been alleged that the mention of the king stamps the song as of later date, posterior to the establishment of the monarchy. This is by no means the case. The idea of a king was not altogether novel to the Israelite mind. The promise to Abraham spoke of kings among his posterity (Genesis 17:6): the Mosaic legislation prescribes the method of election and the duty of the king (Deuteronomy 17:14-20): Gideon had been invited to establish a hereditary monarchy (Jdg 8:22). Anointing too was recognised as the regular rite of admission to the office (Jdg 9:8). Amid the prevalent anarchy and growing disintegration of the nation, amid internal corruption and external attack, the desire for a king was probably taking definite shape in the popular mind. The prophet who came to Eli speaks again of “Jehovah’s anointed” (1 Samuel 2:35). But who so worthy to be first chosen to anticipate the future as the mother of him who was destined to guide the chosen nation through this critical epoch of its existence, and superintend the foundation of the Davidic-Messianic kingdom?
Chapters 1 and 2 to 1 Samuel 2:10 form the Haphtarah or lesson from the prophets, appointed to be read in the Jewish synagogues on the first day of the new year.
A translation of the Targum or Chaldee Paraphrase of Hannah’s Song is given in Note III. p. 236.
And Elkanah went to Ramah to his house. And the child did minister unto the LORD before Eli the priest.
Now the sons of Eli were sons of Belial; they knew not the LORD.12–17. The faithless priests of Shiloh
12. sons of Belial] Worthless men. See note on 1 Samuel 1:16.
they knew not the Lord] Were ignorant of His character and so despised His laws. Cp. Jdg 2:10; Job 18:21; Hosea 4:1.
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;13. the priests’ custom] The law directed the worshipper to present to the priest the fat of the victim along with the breast and shoulder (Leviticus 7:29-34). The fat was to be burned on the altar to Jehovah (Leviticus 3:3-5): the breast and shoulder, after being ‘waved’ and ‘heaved,’ a ceremony of dedication to Jehovah, became the priest’s portion. Hophni and Phinehas were guilty of a double sin. (a) They robbed the people: not content with the share assigned them, they sent a servant to interrupt the preparation of the sacrificial meal, and seize a further portion. (b) They insulted Jehovah by demanding their share before the parts consecrated to Him had been duly burned upon the altar (1 Samuel 2:15).
priests’] Misprinted priest’s in most editions of the Bible.
seething] i.e. boiling.
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.14. strooke] An old form of struck, Cp. Milton’s Ode on the Nativity,
“Such music sweet
As never was by mortal finger strook.”
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.15. Also] Even. The climax of their transgression was the offence against Jehovah.
sodden] Boiled: the perf. of ‘seethe’ is ‘sod’ (Genesis 25:29), and the past partic. ‘sodden.’
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.16. presently] “Immediately:” the usual meaning of the word in the E. V., e.g. Matthew 26:53.
he would answer him, Nay] The correct reading of the Heb. gives “Nay” in place of “him.” Cp. note on 1 Samuel 2:3.
Wherefore the sin of the young men was very great before the LORD: for men abhorred the offering of the LORD.17. the young men] Hophni and Phinehas.
men abhorred] Rather, the men despised, or, brought into contempt the offering of Jehovah. The Sept. omits the men. Corruption in the priesthood begets profanity in the people. Cp. Malachi 2:8-9. “They made it vile in the eyes of the people by shewing how vile it was in their eyes.”
But Samuel ministered before the LORD, being a child, girded with a linen ephod.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.).
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.19. a little coat] The Heb. mĕîl denotes a kind of long upper tunic, worn by kings (1 Chronicles 15:27), prophets (1 Samuel 15:27), men of position (Job 2:12), women of rank (2 Samuel 13:18). The term is applied to a part of the High Priest’s dress, the robe of the Ephod (Exodus 28:31), and it is suggested in the Speaker’s Comm. that “the mention of the ephod and the robe as worn by the youthful Samuel taken in connexion with his after acts 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.”
the yearly sacrifice] See note on 1 Samuel 1:3.
19, 20. Moreover, &c.] Lit. “And Hannah used to make … and bring it to him … And Eli used to bless … and they used to go unto his home.” The verbs are frequentative, describing an annual practice often repeated.
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.20. for the loan which is lent] Better as in the margin, in return for the petition which she asked for Jehovah: i.e. in place of Samuel, for whom she prayed in order to dedicate him to God. Cp. 1 Samuel 1:11; 1 Samuel 1:27-28, and note on 1 Samuel 2:28.
unto their own home] Lit., “to his (Elkanah’s) place.” Cp. Genesis 18:33.
And the LORD visited Hannah, so that she conceived, and bare three sons and two daughters. And the child Samuel grew before the LORD.21. grew before the Lord] Three stages of physical, moral (1 Samuel 2:26), and spiritual (1 Samuel 3:19-21) growth are marked.
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.22–26. Eli’s fruitless expostulations with his sons
22. heard] “Used to hear all that his sons were doing,” constantly and habitually.
the women that assembled] Rather, that served. The word is applied to (a) military service: (b) Levitical service (Numbers 4:13; Numbers 8:24): and it seems probable that the women mentioned here and in Exodus 38:8, where the same words are used, had regular duties in connexion with the tabernacle service. The example of the abominations connected with the Phoenician worship of Ashtaroth may have helped to corrupt the priests of Shiloh.
the tabernacle of the congregation] Rather, the tent of meeting, where Jehovah would meet and hold communication with the priests, and the people. See Exodus 29:42-43.
And he said unto them, Why do ye such things? for I hear of your evil dealings by all this people.23. for I hear of your evil dealings] Rather, for I hear evil things of yon from 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.25. If one man &c.] Better,
If a man sin against a man, then Elohim shall judge him:
but if a man sin against Jehovah, who shall intercede for him?
For man’s offences against his fellow-man, there is a third superior party to arbitrate and rectify the wrongs, namely God, or God’s representative, the duly appointed judge: but for man’s offences against Jehovah, there is no third superior party to intercede as a mediator.
This is most likely an ancient proverb, quoted by Eli to impress his sons with a sense of the enormity of their sins, which were committed against Jehovah. The point is obscured by the impossibility of translating the paronomasia of the Hebrew which expresses “judge” and “intercede” by different voices of the same verb.
the judge] Heb. Elôhîm, i.e. God. Judges, as the representatives of God in executing justice on earth (Deuteronomy 1:17), are sometimes styled gods (Exodus 21:6; Exodus 22:8-9; Psalm 82:1; Psalm 82:6), but it seems best not to limit the present passage to human judgments.
because the Lord would slay them] Literally, was pleased to slay them. Compare the language of Exodus 4:21, and Joshua 11:20, where we read that the Lord hardened the hearts of Pharaoh and the Canaanites; and 1 Samuel 16:14, where it is said that “an evil spirit from the Lord troubled Saul.” Yet we are assured that “the Lord delighteth in mercy” (Micah 7:18), and “hath no pleasure in the death of him that dieth” (Ezekiel 18:32). This coexistence of mercy and judgment in the divine will (Exodus 34:6-7) is a mystery which necessarily transcends our comprehension. But it must be carefully noted that it is not till Pharaoh has turned a deaf ear to repeated warnings, not till the Canaanites have polluted themselves with intolerable abominations, that God hardens their hearts; not till Eli’s sons have ignored His existence and defied His laws docs He determine to slay them: not till Saul has set at naught his calling and deserted God, is he deserted by Him. Obstinate impenitence may be judicially punished by the withdrawal of the grace which leads to repentance.
And the child Samuel grew on, and was in favour both with the LORD, and also with men.26. grew on, and was in favour] A childhood like that of Jesus (Luke 2:52). Again Samuel’s progress is contrasted with the declension of Hophni and Phinehas.
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?27–36. The doom of Eli’s house
27. a man of God] i.e. a prophet commissioned by God. Even in the general decay of religion (1 Samuel 3:1) God still had his messengers. The title “man of God” is applied to Moses, Samuel, Elijah, Elisha, and others. It is specially frequent in the Books of Kings.
Did I plainly appear] Better, Did I indeed reveal myself. See Exodus 4:14 ff., Exodus 4:27; Exodus 12:1; Exodus 12:43 for revelations made to Aaron.
in Pharaoh’s house] In bondage to Pharaoh’s house.
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?28. him] Perhaps we should read, it (the house of Aaron) to be my priests (Exodus 28:1-4). The priestly functions are mentioned in an ascending scale: (a) the common sacrificial duties, (b) offering incense in the Holy Place (Exodus 30:7-8), (c) wearing an ephod, i.e. serving as High-priest, for probably the High-priest’s ephod (the only one mentioned in the Pentateuch) is meant here, and not the ordinary linen ephod worn at this time by all priests. See note on 1 Samuel 2:18.
to offer upon mine altar] or perhaps, “to go up to mine altar,” to minister at it. But the E. V. seems best.
all the offerings made by fire] See Leviticus 10:12-15.
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?29. Wherefore kick ye] Better, Wherefore do ye trample upon, i.e. treat with contempt.
at my sacrifice and at mine offering] When the words are distinguished, that rendered sacrifice (literally slaying) includes as a general term all sacrifices of slain animals: that rendered offering (literally a gift) is applied to unbloody sacrifices, the so-called meat-offering: but the latter is often used in a wide sense to include all kinds of sacrifice, e.g. in 1 Samuel 2:17. The distinction between the words is fairly observed in the E. V.
in my habitation] The word is used again in 1 Samuel 2:32, and in Psalm 26:8, of the tabernacle. The Heb. is obscure, and the Sept. rendering diverges considerably from the present text, thus, “And wherefore didst thou look upon my offering and my sacrifice with a shameless eye?”
with the chiefest of all the offerings] “With the first,” or, “best part of every offering,” which should have been God’s. See note on 1 Samuel 2:13.
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.30. saith] The Heb. word is one rarely used except of a solemn divine utterance, as in Genesis 22:16, and very commonly in the prophets.
I said indeed that thy house, and the house of the father, should walk before me for ever] God had promised that the family of Aaron in all its branches should serve perpetually as priests in His presence (Exodus 29:9; Numbers 25:13): but now the decree must be reversed, for the faithlessness of Eli’s sons had broken the covenant.
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.31. I will cut off thine arm] = I will destroy thy strength. “The arm” is a common expression for “might,” “strength.” Cp. Psalm 10:15; Zechariah 11:17. One signal fulfilment of this doom was the massacre of the priests at Nob (1 Samuel 22:18-19).
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.32. thou shalt see an enemy in my habitation] Or, a rival, the same word as that rendered “adversary” in 1 Samuel 1:6. The best explanation of this difficult passage appears to be this: ‘Thou, in the person of thy descendants, wilt see another take thy place as priest in my habitation (cp. 1 Samuel 2:29), at the time when the nation shall be most prosperous and the office most honourable;’ the reference being to Abiathar’s deposition by Solomon (1 Kings 2:27). The words might also be translated “Thou shalt behold the distress of my habitation” (cp. E. V. margin), and would then refer to the neglect which the tabernacle suffered owing to the loss of the Ark, even while the nation was prospering under Samuel and Saul. Such neglect would be a punishment on the house of Eli, because the High-priest for the time would lose his position and influence.
The Sept. however omits 1 Samuel 2:32, and there are other grounds for suspecting that the present Heb. text of this verse as well as of 1 Samuel 2:29 is corrupt.
wealth] Here in the sense of “weal,” “well-being,” as in the Litany ‘In all time of our wealth.’
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.33. And the man, &c.] or, Yet every man of thine will I not cut off from mine altar, to consume thine eyes and to vex thy soul; i.e. some will still survive to mourn over the ruin of their family. “Thine eyes,” “thy soul,” because Eli is identified with his posterity. But the Sept. has “his eyes,” “his soul.”
increase] = offspring, Lat. incrementum.
in the flower of their age] Heb. men: i.e. when they come to manhood.
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.34. this shall be a sign unto thee] The immediate fulfilment of one prediction will serve as a sign or assurance that the rest will not fail to come to pass. Such signs were often given by prophets as the credentials of their mission. Cp. ch. 1 Samuel 10:7-9; 1 Kings 13:3; 2 Kings 20:8-9; Luke 1:18; Luke 1:20.
in one day they shall die] See ch. 1 Samuel 4:11.
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.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.
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.36. crouch] Lit. bow himself down.
a piece of silver] The Heb. word means such a coin as beggars would receive.
a morsel of bread] Rather, a cake of bread. The same word is used in 1 Samuel 10:3 (E. V. loaves), and denotes a round flat cake or loaf.