1 Samuel 2:22-36 part 1: verses that serve as the background for this story

Now Eli was very old; and he heard everything his sons did to all Israel, and how they lay with the women who assembled at the door of the tabernacle of meeting. So he said to them, “Why do you do such things? For I hear of your evil dealings from all the people. No, my sons! For it is not a good report that I hear. You make the LORD’s people transgress. If one man sins against another, God will judge him. But if a man sins against the LORD, who will intercede for him?” Nevertheless they did not heed the voice of their father, because the LORD desired to kill them. And the child Samuel grew in stature, and in favor both with the LORD and men.

Wow! This is sobering. First of all, in the background of all of this, we get a verse here or there about the status of the temple or some comment about the relationship status between God and Israel. Several verses come to my mind from this story arc.

First verse
1 Samuel 1 13-14

Now Hannah spoke in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard. Therefore Eli thought she was drunk. So Eli said to her, “How long will you be drunk? Put your wine away from you!”

Eli (and I would hazard to say, the rest of Israel) has likely, in his lifetime, never seen someone whose heart burned with zeal for the Lord and someone who desperately poured out their heart in devotion to the Lord. See Romans 8:26-27 for an exposition of what Hannah is doing. She is praying with groanings that cannot be uttered. That is, utterances are something made with the tongue or sensical vocalization. This prayer of Hannah is unutterable and uninterpretable. It is a groaning from deep within.

This is probably the first time in a long time since anyone in the nation of Israel has ever engaged the Lord in this manner. Especially when you consider that in the nation of Israel at the end of the book of Judges, “everyone did what was right in his or her own eyes” (Judges 21:25).

Eli, who has no relationship with the Lord, as is evident from later, assumes she is drunk and accuses her of this. Eli spends the course of his recorded life in the biblical record, judging according to the outward appearance. Samuel would later make the same mistake in his selection of Israel’s second king. Eli does not use the discernment that was, at some point, available to the House of Levi (see Moses and Aaron’s work in Numbers 16 during the rebellion of Korah and the plague against Israel). The only thing that we can infer is that Eli judged Hannah’s outward appearance. This is the mistake we too often make in all sectors of Christianity when we are scared to see someone actually pouring the fullness of their emotions out to the Lord. We are afraid that somehow the person pouring out their life before the Lord is going to disrupt our man made order. When we do that, we get into trouble and interfere with what the Spirit may actually be doing. Let this be a word of warning to all you would-be pastors who are weak in the area of discernment: Do not interrupt what may be happening emotionally in some of your congregants, for the very thing that is happening emotionally, may be the very healing that needs to take place, so that your congregations can ascend to the next level and function in the fullness of the way in which the Spirit designed them to function.

Even in spite of this read the respect of verse 15

1 Samuel 1:15

But Hannah answered and said, “No, my lord, I am a woman of sorrowful spirit. I have drunk neither wine nor intoxicating drink, but have poured out my soul before the LORD.”

Did you see that. She said, no my lord. No, my Adon (where we get the word Adonai). It is a reverence for the office of Eli and an understanding that the LORD has place Eli, as the descendant of Aaron, in the place of Aaron as the LORD God’s representative. Eli’s relationship and knowledge of the LORD does not influence Hannah’s respect. Rather, it’s her acknowledgment of the LORD’s positioning of Eli, and her reverence for that office that the LORD Himself had establish that guides her attitude. I guarantee that there are many of you who have been placed under leaders that you thought were less anointed or able to hear the voice of God, and in some cases that may be true, but it does not justify the attitude of disrepect you may still be choosing to walk in towards that leader. God’s leader is God’s leader, and if God has placed you somewhere, then it is your responsibility to treat God’s positioned authority with the respect due the office. You may disagree with the organization, with the polity, with the dress code, with the vested political power, but that does not justify rebellion. Only when the authority genuinely steps outside the bounds of God’s word in sacred Scripture do you have a place to speak up, or if you have a legitimate concern or something does not jive with what you feel the Spirit may be saying. And even when you have a concern, you still need to approach the concern with all humility. Leadership responds better when humility and concern are the hallmarks of the flock, instead of arrogance or pride. Hannah’s response to Eli, even though he does not deserve it, is one that we need to emulate towards the leadership that God has placed us under.

Second, Hannah is doing the opposite of drinking. She is offering a drink offering to the LORD, pouring out the very heart and life’s blood of her soul to the LORD. A son would mean the world to her, and it would mean the breaking of a shameful societal stigma. It would produce all sorts of gruit in her life. Moreover, a son would mean that the LORD has favored her. And, what is interesting is Hannah has even made a vow the LORD cannot resist. This is one found in the Law of Moses in Exodus 13:2.

Exodus 13:2 Whatever opens the womb or matrix, whether man or beast, belongs to the LORD.

This is an extension of the principle of tithing. The tithe comes off the top and goes to the LORD, in recognition that God owns absolutely everything. When God sees that you have given him the first portion, then He will bless the rest. When Hannah pledged Samuel to the LORD, the LORD blessed Hannah and gave her 5 more children besides Samuel.

Second Verse
1 Samuel 1:8
And Elkanah, her husband, said to her, “Hannah, why do you weep? And why do you not eat? And why is your heart sad? Am I not more to you than ten sons?”

Elkanah did not understand her grief. No, Elkanah could not take away her shame. A son was her heart’s desire, and Elkanah refused to see that. Once you attempt to take the place of what a woman truly desires, that woman will begin to despise whatever is attempting to satisfy her desire. Men, take a piece of counsel from this. You cannot satisfy or replace the godly and righteous desire of a woman’s heart, once she has set her mind and affection on something as deep and abiding as a child, you cannot slake that desire at all. Motherly affection is a natural outflow of her being. Perhaps this is a bit of commentary on that passage in 1 Timothy 2 that says “a woman will be saved through childbearing.” Maybe what it means to say is that a woman’s honor in society is partly tied to her ability to bear children, who will be able to carry on the family name and legacy. Without children, a woman has no abiding legacy and no way to leave behind a blessing to this earth.

Third verse

1 Samuel 2:12
Now the sons of Eli were corrupt; they did not know the LORD.

Knowing the LORD and having a relationship with Him was the secret to living a full and honorable life. Not knowing the LORD led to corruption. Eli, it would seem either tried to teach his sons the knowledge of the LORD, and it did not take with them, or he did nothing. Either way, knowing the LORD is a key theme in all of Scripture, and because they did not know the LORD, they could not leave a spiritual legacy to Israel.

Fourth verse

1 Samuel 2:25b
Nevertheless the sons of Eli did not heed the voice of their father, because the LORD desired to kill them.

This is where the LORD decides to move next in this account (the first movement being the birth of Samuel in response to Hannah’s dedication). It’s His desire to place in the office of high priest, one who will do all His will. Samuel is this man.

Fifth verse

1 Samuel 3:1
Now the boy Samuel ministered to the LORD before Eli. And the word of the LORD was rare in those days there was no widespread revelation.

During the events described in 1 Samuel 2, Samuel, as a boy, was minsitering to the LORD. It was probably the first time in many generations that someone who actually knew the LORD (read “had a working relationship with Him”) stood in the office of priest and ministered to and worshipped Him without pretense or hidden or corrupt agenda.

The sad state of the second verse was the state of Israel. Their relationship with their God had stagnated and deteriorated that they chose not to and could not hear Him. Because his people chose not to hear Him, why would He bother speaking to them?

These verses set the stage for what is about to be prophesied to the house of Eli. Due to their refusal to seek God and have a relationship with Him, He is about to seek after a priest who will do according to all that is in His heart and mind.

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