Reading 76/341, 1 Samuel 1-4

Today we begin the book of Samuel. This book is about Samuel, the last judge of Israel.

1 Samuel...

There was a certain man of Ramathaim-zophim, of the hill country of Ephraim, whose name was Elkanah, the son of Jeroham, the son of Elihu, the son of Tohu, the son of Zuph, an Ephraimite. He had two wives; the name of the one was Hannah, and the name of other Peninnah, and Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children. Every year, this man went up from his city to worship and to sacrifice to the Lord of Hosts in Shiloh. The two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, priests to the Lord, were there. When the day came that Elkanah sacrificed, he gave to Peninnah his wife, and to all her sons and her daughters, portions, but to Hannah he gave a double portion, for he loved Hannah though the Lord had shut up her womb. Her rival seriously provoked her, to make her fret, because the Lord had shut up her womb. Thus she did, year by year, when she went up to the house of the Lord, she provoked her; therefore she wept, and did not eat. Elkanah her husband said to her, “Hannah, why do you weep? And why do not you eat? And why is your heart grieved? Am I not more to you than ten sons?”

Hannah got up after they had eaten in Shiloh, and after they had drunk. Now Eli the priest was sitting on his seat by the doorpost of the temple of the Lord. She was in bitterness of soul, and prayed to the Lord, and wept bitterly. She vowed a vow, and said, “O Lord of Hosts, if you will indeed look on the affliction of your handmaid, and remember me, and not forget your handmaid, but will give to your handmaid a son, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come on his head.” It happened, as she continued praying before the Lord, that Eli noticed her mouth. Now Hannah spoke in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard, therefore Eli thought she was drunk. Eli said to her, “How long will you make this drunken show? Put your wine away from you.” Hannah answered, “No, my lord, I am a woman of a sorrowful spirit, I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I poured out my soul before the Lord. Do not think your handmaid a wicked woman, for all along out of the abundance of my complaint and my provocation have I spoken.” Then Eli answered, “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant your petition that you have asked of him.” She said, “Let your handmaid find favor in your sight.” So the woman went her way, and ate, and her face was no longer sad. They rose up in the morning early, and worshiped before the Lord, and returned, and came to their house in Ramah, and Elkanah knew Hannah his wife, and the Lord remembered her. It happened in due time, that Hannah conceived, and bore a son, and she named him Samuel [Hearing God], saying, “Because I have asked for him from the Lord.”

The man Elkanah, and all his house, went up to offer to the Lord the yearly sacrifice and to pay his vow. But Hannah did not go up, for she said to her husband, “When the child is weaned, I will bring him, that he may appear before the Lord, and there abide forever.” Elkanah her husband said to her, “Do what seems best to you; wait until you have weaned him; only, may the Lord establish his word.” So the woman waited and nursed her son, until she weaned him. When she had weaned him, she took him up with her, along with a three-year-old bull, and one ephah of meal, and a bottle of wine, and brought him to the house of the Lord at Shiloh. The child was young. They killed the bull, and brought the child to Eli. She said, “O, my lord, as your soul lives, my lord, I am the woman who stood by you here, praying to the Lord. For this child I prayed, and the Lord has given me my petition which I asked of him. Therefore I have given him to the Lord. As long as he lives, he is given to the Lord.” He worshiped the Lord there.

Hannah prayed, and said, “My heart exults in the Lord! My horn is exalted in the Lord. My mouth derides my enemies, because I rejoice in your salvation. There is no one as holy as the Lord, for there is no one besides you, nor is there any rock like our God. No longer talk so exceedingly proud. Do not let arrogance come out of your mouth, for the Lord is a God of knowledge. By him actions are weighed. The bows of the mighty men are broken. Those who stumbled are girded with strength. Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread. Those who were hungry have ceased to hunger. Yes, the barren has borne seven. She who has many children languishes. The Lord kills, and makes alive. He brings down to Sheol, and brings up. The Lord makes poor, and makes rich. He brings low, he also lifts up. He raises up the poor out of the dust. He lifts up the needy from the dunghill, to make them sit with princes, and inherit the throne of glory. For the pillars of the earth are the Lord's; he has set the world on them. He will keep the feet of his holy ones, but the wicked shall be put to silence in darkness; for no man shall prevail by strength. Those who strive with the Lord shall be broken to pieces. He will thunder against them in heaven. The Lord will judge the ends of the earth. He will give strength to his king, and exalt the horn of his anointed.” Elkanah went to Ramah to his house. The child ministered to the Lord before Eli the priest.

Now the sons of Eli were worthless men; they did not know the Lord. The custom of the priests with the people was that when any man offered sacrifice, the priest's servant came, while the flesh was boiling, with a three-pronged fork in his hand, and he struck it into the pan, or kettle, or caldron, or pot. Whatever that the fork brought up the priest took. So they did in Shiloh to all the Israelites who came there. Indeed, before they burned the fat, the priest's servant came, and said to the man who sacrificed, “Give flesh to roast for the priest, for he will not have boiled meat from you, but raw.” If the man said to him, “They will surely burn the fat first, and then take as much as your soul desires”, he would say, “No, but you shall give it me now, and if not, I will take it by force.” The sin of the young men was very great before the Lord, for the men despised the offering of the Lord. But Samuel ministered before the Lord, being a child, girded with a linen ephod. Moreover his mother made him a little robe, and brought it to him from year to year, when she came up with her husband to offer the yearly sacrifice. Eli blessed Elkanah and his wife, and said, “May the Lord give you seed of this woman for the petition which was asked of the Lord.” They went to their own home. The Lord visited Hannah, and she conceived, and bore three sons and two daughters. The child Samuel grew before the Lord.

Now Eli was very old, and he heard all that his sons did to all Israel, and how they lay with the women who served at the entrance of the tent of meeting. He said to them, “Why do you do such things? For I hear of your evil dealings from all these people. No, my sons; it is not a good report that I hear. You make the Lord's people disobey. If one man sin against another, God shall mediate for him, but if a man sins against the Lord, who shall intercede for him?” Nevertheless, they did not listen to the voice of their father, because the Lord was minded to kill them. The child Samuel grew in stature and in favor both with the Lord, and also with men. There came a man of God to Eli, who said to him, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Did I not reveal myself to the house of your father, when they were in Egypt, in bondage to Pharaoh's house? Did I not choose him out of all the tribes of Israel to be my priest, to go up to my altar, to burn incense, to wear an ephod before me? Did I not give to the house of your father all the offerings of the children of Israel made by fire? Why then do you scorn my sacrifices and my offerings, which I have commanded in my dwelling, and honor your sons above me, to make yourselves fat with the best of all the offerings of Israel my people?’ Therefore the Lord, the God of Israel, says, ‘I said indeed that your house, and the house of your father, should walk before me forever’, but now the Lord says, ‘Far be it from me; for those who honor me I will honor, and those who despise me shall be lightly esteemed. Behold, the days come, that I will cut off your arm, and the arm of your father's house, that there shall not be an old man in your house. Then in distress you will look with envious eye on all the prosperity that shall be bestowed on Israel, and there shall not be an old man in your house forever. The only one of you whom I shall not cut off from my altar shall be spared to consume your eyes with tears, and to grieve your heart, and all the increase of your house shall die as men. This shall be the sign to you, that shall come on your two sons, on Hophni and Phinehas: in one day they shall both die. I will raise up a faithful priest, who shall do according to what is in my heart and in my mind, and I will build him a sure house, and he shall walk before my anointed forever. It shall happen, that everyone who is left in your house shall come and bow down to him for a piece of silver and a loaf of bread, and shall say, “Please put me into one of the priests' offices, that I may eat a morsel of bread.”’”

The child Samuel ministered to the Lord before Eli. The word of the Lord was rare in those days; there was no frequent vision. It happened at that time, when Eli was laid down in his place (his eyes had begun to grow dim, so that he could not see), and the lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel had laid down to sleep, in the temple of the Lord, where the ark of God was, that the Lord called, “Samuel”, and he said, “Here I am.” He ran to Eli, and said, “Here I am; you called me.” He said, “I did not call; lie down again.” He went and lay down. The Lord called yet again, “Samuel.” Samuel arose and went to Eli, and said, “Here I am; for you called me.” He answered, “I did not call, my son; lie down again.” Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, nor was the word of the Lord yet revealed to him. The Lord called “Samuel” again a third time. He arose and went to Eli, and said, “Here I am; for you called me.” Eli perceived that the Lord had called the child. Therefore Eli said to Samuel, “Go, lie down, and it shall be, if he calls you, that you shall say, “Speak, Lord; for your servant hears.” So Samuel went and lay down in his place. The Lord came, and stood, and called as at other times, “Samuel, Samuel.” Then Samuel said, “Speak; for your servant hears.” The Lord said to Samuel, “Behold, I will do a thing in Israel at which both the ears of everyone who hears it shall tingle. On that day I will perform against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from the beginning to the end. For I have told him that I will judge his house forever, for the iniquity which he knew, because his sons were blaspheming God, and he did not restrain them. Therefore I have sworn to the house of Eli, that the iniquity of Eli's house shall not be expiated with sacrifice nor offering forever.” Samuel lay until the morning, and opened the doors of the house of the Lord. Samuel feared to tell Eli the vision. Then Eli called Samuel, and said, “Samuel, my son.” He said, “Here I am.” He said, “What is the thing that the Lord has spoken to you? Please do not hide it from me. God do so to you, and more also, if you hide anything from me of all the things that he spoke to you.” Samuel told him everything, and hid nothing from him. He said, “It is the Lord, let him do what seems good to him.” S

Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him, and let none of his words fall to the ground. All Israel from Dan to Beersheba knew that Samuel was established as a prophet of the Lord. The Lord appeared again in Shiloh; for the Lord revealed himself to Samuel at Shiloh by the word of the Lord. The word of Samuel came to all Israel. Now Israel went out against the Philistines to battle, and encamped beside Ebenezer, and the Philistines encamped in Aphek. The Philistines put themselves in array against Israel, and when they joined battle, Israel was struck before the Philistines, and they killed of the army in the field about four thousand men. When the people had come into the camp, the elders of Israel said, “Why has the Lord struck us today before the Philistines? Let us get the ark of the covenant of the Lord out of Shiloh to us, that it may come among us, and save us out of the hand of our enemies.” So the people sent to Shiloh, and they brought from there the ark of the covenant of the Lord of Hosts, who sits above the cherubim, and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God. When the ark of the covenant of the Lord came into the camp, all Israel shouted with a great shout, so that the earth resounded. When the Philistines heard the noise of the shout, they said, “What does the noise of this great shout in the camp of the Hebrews mean? They understood that the ark of the Lord had come into the camp. The Philistines were afraid, for they said, “A god has come into the camp.” They said, “Woe to us! For nothing like this has happened before. Woe to us! Who shall deliver us out of the hand of these mighty gods? These are the gods that struck the Egyptians with all manner of diseases in the desert. Be strong, and behave yourselves like men, O you Philistines, lest you be servants to the Hebrews, as they have been to you. Act like men, and fight.” The Philistines fought, and Israel was struck, and they fled, every man to his tent, and there was a very great slaughter, for there fell of Israel thirty thousand footmen. The ark of God was taken, and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were slain.

A man of Benjamin ran out of the army, and came to Shiloh the same day, with his clothes torn, and with dirt on his head. When he came, behold, Eli was sitting on his seat by the road watching, for his heart trembled for the ark of God. When the man came into the city, and told the news, all the city cried out. When Eli heard the noise of the crying, he said, “What does the noise of this tumult mean?” The man hurried, and came and told Eli. Now Eli was ninety-eight years old, and his eyes were set, so that he could not see. The man said to Eli, “I am he who came out of the army, and I fled today out of the army.” He said, “How went the matter, my son?” He who brought the news answered, Israel has fled before the Philistines, and there has also been a great slaughter among the people, and your two sons also, Hophni and Phinehas, are dead, and the ark of God is taken.” It happened, when he made mention of the ark of God, that Eli fell off his seat backward by the side of the gate, and his neck broke, and he died, for he was an old man and heavy. He had judged Israel forty years. His daughter-in-law, Phinehas' wife, was with child, near to delivery, and when she heard the news that the ark of God was taken, and that her father-in-law and her husband were dead, she bowed herself and brought forth; for her labor came on her. About the time of her death the women who stood by her said to her, “Be not afraid; for you have brought forth a son.” But she did not answer, nor did she regard it. She named the child Ichabod [Not Glorious], saying, “The glory has departed from Israel”, because the ark of God was taken, and because of her father-in-law and her husband. She said, “The glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God is taken.”

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