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nah went to Ramah to his house. And the child did minister unto the Lord before Eli the priest ; performed such service in opening and shutting the doors, lighting the lamps, or the like, as he
was able, according to his appointment. 12 Now the sons of Eli, (were) sons of Belial ; they knew not
the LORD ; they were wicked, disobedient persons ; who, though 13 they professed to know God, yet in their works denied him. And
the priest's custom with the people [was, that,] when any man
offered sacrifice, the priest's servant came, while the flesh was 14 in seething, with a flesh hook of three teeth in his hand ; 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.
Their first crime was great injustice ; for, when any offered sacrifice, they were used to be feusting in some apartment of the tabernacle ; and not content with the breast and right shoulder, which was their lot, they took any thing they could lay hold of ; and this
was done in Shiloh, and done constantly. Their second crime was 15 daintiness and luxury. Also before they burnt the fat, the
priest's servant came, and said to the man that sacrificed, Give Hesh to roast for the priest ; for he will not have sodden flesh of thee, but raw. They were not content with boiled meat, but
would have the part they liked, raw, to dress as they pleased, as 16 the fleshhook did not always bring up the best piece. 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. Their third crime was sacrilege ; before the fat was burned, which was presented to God, they would be served. The Israelites 80 well knew the law, that they were desirous God's altar should be served first ; but the
priest's servants, who had learnt insolence from their master, would 17 not allow this, and would even take it by force. Wherefore the
sin of the young men was very great before the LORD : for men abhorred the offering of the Lord; they did not care to
offer sacrifices, when there were such abuses committed about them. 18 But Samuel ministered before the LORD, [being] a child
girded with a linen ephod.* He performed such services as he
was capable of, and did not follow the example of these wicked * 19 priests. Moreover, his mother, to show her fiety and affection,
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 20 sacrifice. And Eli blessed Elkanah, and his wife, and said,
The LORD give thee seed of this woman, for the loan which is 21 lent to the LORD. And they went unto their own home. And
the LORD visited Hannah, so that she conceived, and bare three sons and two daughters. And the child Samuel grew before the LORD. Thus God rewarded her heroic piety, in devoting her only son to the Lord, by giving 'her many more children.
He wore an ephod, not such an one as the high priest wore, but a kind of honourable gar. nent, used by the inferior priests, and provided at the public expense. VOL. ÍII.
E are taught from Hannah's song, that our souls should
magnify the Lord, and our spirits rejoice in God our Saviour. This composition is sublime and eloquent, as well as devout, and intimates to us the reasonableness of prayer and thanksgiving, of recollecting divine mercies, and keeping a written memorial of them, to cherish our gratitude. Let us learn to bless God for every appearance of providence in our favour ; to rejoice and delight in him, to take comfort in his perfect rectitude, his universal and perfect knowledge, his almighty power, and unerring justice. Let us remember, that he knows our thoughts, and weighs our actions in an equal balance, and therefore be solicitous to be approved of him. We should own and adore him in all the changes he makes in our circumstances, or in the circumstances of others ; and not be proud and talk arrogantly in the highest station, since God may bring us low, to poverty, contempt, and even to death itself in a moment. When we are most abased and distressed, let us not despair, because he can presently and surprisingly exalt us. Let us trust in him, wait upon him, and rejoice in that comfortable promise, he will keep the feet of his saints ; will direct, defend, and support them. They are often set in slippery places, and need his assistance to keep their feet from falling. Let us dread the doom of his enemies, who shall be confounded and ruined : he will thunder upon them, and then what can men do? Let us especially learn to rejoice in the advancement and security of the Messiah's kingdom, and the destruction of all the enemies of his church, and approve ourselves his faithful subjects, that we may have reason now, and through all eternity, to rejoice in his complete salvation.
2. See what sad creatures wicked priests are ; they are the worst men upon earth. What vile wretches were these sons of Eli; who was himself in the main an upright, holy man ! They were the scandal of religion, the contempt of all sober and virtuous people, yea, the contempt of the most wicked, all the people cried shame on them. It was indeed a shame to see such greedy dogs, (as the prophet calls such priests) men given up to their belly and to their lusts. May God awaken all ministers to guard against the lusts of the flesh, that his offerings and service be not abhorred, religion dishonoured, and its interest weakened, by those, who should be its patrons and ornaments.
3. We see that God is not unrighteous to forget any labour of love for his honour. Elkanah and Hannah left their only and favourite son, before the Lord, and he repaid it with interest, and recompensed it with salvation. No one will lose by lending to God; he will take care to repay them. Let us then exercise faith in his promises, and never distrust his kindness ; for God is able to make every temporal favour and benefit abound to us, and to bless us with all spiritual blessings in Christ Jesus.
CHAP. II. 22, to the end. We have here more abominations of Eli's sons, and his too gentle re.
proof of their crimes ; with a very awful reproof and denunciation sent to Eli, on this account by a prophet.
OW Eli was very old, and heard all that his sons did
examine into their conduct as he otherwise would have done ; but he heard of the notorious villanies practised by them, and how they lay with the women that assembled [at] the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, who either lived in the apartments of the tabernacle, and were employed in the necessary work of it,
or rather, such as came to worship there, and bring the customary 23 sacrifice. And he gently reproved them, and said unto them,
Why do ye such things ? for I hear of your evil dealings by all 24 this people. Nay, my sons ; for (it is) no good report that I
hear: ye make the LORD's people to transgress, by neglecting his 25 sacrifice, and committing folly with you.* If one man sin against
another, the judge shall judge him : but if a man sin against the LORD, who shall entreat for him ?t Notwithstanding, they
hearkened not unto the voice of their father, because the LORD 26 would slay them; he determined to punish them himself. And
the child Samuel grew on, and was in favour both with the
LORD, and also with men. 27 And there came a man of God, a prophet, unto Eli, and said
unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Did I plainly appear unto the
house of thy father, that is, Aaron, when they were in Egypt in 78 Pharaoh's house ?! And did I choose him, Aaron and his
family, 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, to consult God, and receive voices and revelations from him ? and did I give unto the house of thy father all the offerings made by
fire of the children of Israel ; something of all the sacrifices, even 29 the skin of the burnt offerings ? Wherefore kick ye at my sacri.
fice, and at mine offering, which I have commanded (in my] habitation, treat it with the highest irreverence and contempi, and honourest thy sons above me,ll to make yourselves fat with
the chiefest of all the offerings of Israel my people ? pampering 30 yourselves with my offerings. Wherefore the Lord God of
This was the language of an indulgent parent, but not of a righteous and zealous jndge. He should have told them their actions were vile and abominable ; should have cast them out of the priesthood, and even have put them to death for adultery, according to God's law.
† Here he argued well with them. If one neighbour do an injury to another, the judge may interpose, and punish the guilty. But if one injure the judge himself, who shall interpose for him? Who will plead with a prince to pardon one who has atcempted to take away his life?
It was the usual way of prophets, to bring men to humility and repentance by recounting the divine favoars, and thereby showing how their guilt was aggravated.
Eli was included in this charge because he tolerated the evil; suffering them to con. tinue in office, and allowing them to treat God's service so shamefully; choosing rather to humour and please them, than vindicate the honour of his worship from those abuses they put upon it.
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.
Here God revokes the conditional decree, that Eli and his family 31 should continue priests for ever. * Behold, the days come that
I will cut off thine arm, thy power and authority, and the arm of
thy father's house, that there shall not be an old man in thine 32 house, they shall all be cut off in the flower of their age.t And
thou, that is, thy posterity, (this is a usual scripture phrase) shalt see an enemy (in my] habitation, in all (the wealth] which (God) shall give Israel, when Israel shall be most wealthy and glorious, and the priesthood be a most honourable and lucrative
post :1 and there shall not be an old man in thine house for ever. 33 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 ; those who survive shall live in poverty and contempt, and be 34 a grief to all their friends and families. And, as a proof that all
this shall come to pass, 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. He should see this himself, and might therefore conclude that all the rest of the threatening should.
be fulfilled : nevertheless, to comfort Israel, he promises the prieste 35 hood shall be continued. And I will raise me up a faithful priest,
(that) shall do according to [that] which [is] in mine heart and in my mind :ll and I will build him a sure house, multiply his family, and continue him in place and power, and he shall walk
before mine anointed for ever ;* he shall direct the king in his 36 proceedings, and consult for him in difficult cases, 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 ; the children of those who were so dainty that they must haye the choicest pieces of the sacrifice, shall be reduced so low as to beg their bread, and be glad of the meanest office or pension to keep them from starving, Sec 1 Kings ii, 26, 27,
• The priesthood, it seems, for some reason or other, not mentioned in scripture, had been transferred from the family of Eleazar, Aaron's eldest son, to Ithamar, the younger son, from whom Eli was descended, but now is translated back again.. As if he had said, Though I made such a promise, yet, imagine not that I will be a partner in such crimes as yours, or connive at such wickedness. And the reason he gives, is a standing rule in God's government, that he will give men honour and esteem according as they behave ; and wicked men, who contemn God, shall be despised both by God and man.
+ This particularly refers to the destruction of the priests by Doeg in Saul's time. See ch. xxii. 18.
Some understand this of the Philistines defeating the Israelites and taking the ark ; but I rather think it refers to the removal of Eli's family, which happened eighty years after, in Solomon's time; when Israel was in the greatest prosperity ; and another was put ing whom they looked upon as an enemy and a rival.
This refers to Zadok, who was faithful to God, to David, and to Solomon, and succeeded Abiathar, of the family of Eli.
* The priesthood continued in this family till the Babylonish captivity, and very probably till the time of Christ.
E may observe, that those who are deaf to reproof,
especially to parental reproof, are in the way to ruin, v. 25. Eli's sons would not hearken ; therefore God determined to slay them, and make them public examples of his displeasure. There is not a surer sign of an hardened sinner, a brutish wretch, a son of Belial, than despising and rejecting the reproofs of pious parents. Accordingly, Solomon lays it down as a maxim, and this story confirms the truth of it, that he who being often reproved, hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.
2. Steady piety in young people is peculiarly honourable, especially when they have bad examples before them. The encomium upon Samuel in this chapter is very remarkably introduced. After the wickedness of Eli's sons had been specified, then comes Sam. ueľs good character, v. 18, 26. He minded his business, and did it, unmoved by the example of those wicked priests, though they were his superiors in age, knowledge, and station. He kept his, integrity, regarded and profited by Eli's instruction ; and God loved him, Eli loved him, and all the good people of Israel loved him. Good children and pious, youths will always be the favourites of heaven, and the darlings of all wise and good men ; and the more bad examples and powerful temptations they have about them, the greater will be their honour, and the more God and man will love them. It should be the hearty wish and prayer of us all, that that may be the character of all our children and young friends, which was the character of Samuel, and of one greater and better than him, even the holy child Jesus ; that they may grow in wisdom as they do in stature, and in favour with God and man.
3. Let us attend to that important maxim, that settled rule of God's government, that those who honour him he will honour. If we honour God by serious worship, by a holy behaviour, and zeal for his glory, he will honour us by reputation among men, his own esteem, and innumerable benefits. But if we despise him, by forgetting his worship, breaking his laws, and being unconcerned about his glory, we shall sink into contempt, become mean and vile creatures, and be the objects of the divine displeasure ; which is the greatest evil that can possibly befall us. Religion makes men honourable in the sight of God, and all wise and good beings; but sin is the greatest dishonour to human nature, and will bring upon men everlasting shame, contempt, and reproach. Once more,
4. Let parents learn from the awful threatening denounced against Eli, the terrible consequence of spoiling their children, and conniving at their vices. Eli appears in every other respect to have been a worthy, good man ; but a foolish partiality and fondness for his children brought ruin upon them. He reproved them indeed, but it was in the most gentle manner for the most execrable crimes ; and treated them more lightly than he did Hannah, whom he only suspected. See how easily even the best parents may err in the treatment of their children ; and how he that spareth reproof and