Early Piety
1 Samuel 2:18-19
But Samuel ministered before the LORD, being a child, girded with a linen ephod.…



1. It arose first from a mother's piety. It was the mother's act by means of which all his early impressions were of sacred things. It has been said that the secret of greatness is ordinarily to be traced to mothers. The influence of the mother is the most powerful upon the young life — it springs from purest love. We owe to Monica's prayers, and in modern times there are those who have bold us what was the source of their success — a mother's training.

2. But influence has its limits. Samuel, as a child, "ministered before the Lord." He accepted his vocation, and rose to its demands.

3. Samuel ministered to God as a Levite. Some have thought he was a priest, because he offered sacrifices; but he offered sacrifice by "a special commission" from God, because of the degeneracy of the priesthood. In the same way, sacrifices were offered in different places, instead of one, not because the Levitical laws were unknown, but because it was not possible to keep to one spot until the ark was recovered and settled in its final resting place. God is not bound by His own laws or ordinary modes of acting, whether in the sphere of nature or of grace, and sometimes directly asserts His supremacy.

4. That Samuel was a Levite is seen from the fact that his father was a Levite (1 Chronicles 6:27). He is described as an Ephrathite, because his family resided in Ephraim. Further, he was not of the sons of Aaron. And the "linen ephod," according to some writers, was a Levitical vestment. This, however, seems doubtful. Both the ephod and the "little coat," which was a long outer garment, were not exclusively sacerdotal vestments, so that it cannot be gathered from the mention of them that Samuel had an "irregular priesthood." In the Psalms he is not included amongst priests: "Moses and Aaron among His priests;" but "Samuel among them that call upon His Name" (Psalm 99:6).

5. Samuel, besides being a Levite and a Nazarite, was the first of a new order, "the goodly fellowship of the Prophets." St. Peter puts him first (Acts 3:20): "all the prophets from Samuel." The stream of communication between God and man had almost dried up (1 Samuel 3:1).


1. Parents may learn from Hannah's devotion the blessedness of offering their children to God, and that in no grudging spirit, but as realizing with Hannah the nobleness of a life consecrated to God, and the blessings which were brought thereby to His people.

2. Children should learn from Samuel never to put off the service of God to later life, when it is more difficult and less enthusiastic. Samuel, when he was gray-headed, had the happiest reflection when he looked back upon early faithfulness (1 Samuel 12.)

3. Repentance after a youth misspent is a means of return to God, and may be the basis of future holiness; but preserved innocence has a beauty, and a greatness, and a buoyancy, and a likeness to Christ, the "Holy Child," which the penitent prodigal knows not.

(Canon Hutchings, M. A.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: But Samuel ministered before the LORD, being a child, girded with a linen ephod.

WEB: But Samuel ministered before Yahweh, being a child, clothed with a linen ephod.

Childhood and Service
Top of Page
Top of Page