1 Samuel 2 Bible Commentary

John Darby’s Synopsis

(Read all of 1 Samuel 2)
Hannah's song a prophecy of God's ways

In the beautiful song of 1 Samuel 2 Hannah recognises this great principle of sovereign grace, and of the power of God; that He brings down the proud and those who trust in the flesh, and exalts the weak and impotent. "For the pillars of the earth are Jehovah's; and he hath set the world upon them.'' This was what Israel, poor and fallen, and a feeble remnant waiting for Jehovah, needed to learn; that is, that everything hung upon God and God alone, who did not seek for power in man, but manifests it in His own dealings by destroying all His enemies, and who will at length "give strength unto his king, and exalt the horn of his anointed." It is the history of God's interposition in favour of poor fallen Israel; and that by the manifestation of His power in giving strength to His King, His Christ. It is a prophecy of the ways of God, of the great principles of His government with respect to the position of Israel, from the moment of its utterance until the establishment of the millennial kingdom in the Person of the Lord Jesus.

God's judgment on the priestly family

Immediately after this testimony from God upon which faith might rest, the inward state of the people is revealed, and the iniquity of the priesthood, which should have been the instrument for cleansing this iniquity of the people, but which, on the contrary, brought down judgment upon them. "Ye make Jehovah's people to transgress," said Eli. "If one man sin against another, the judge shall judge him; but if a man sin against Jehovah, who shall intreat for him?". Such was the state of things according to Eli himself. "Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto the voice of their father, because Jehovah would slay them. And the child, Samuel, grew on, and was in favour both with Jehovah, and also with men, happy in sharing (however feeble the copy) the testimony borne to Jesus Himself.

As to the sons of Eli, they are an example of that which but too often happens. How frequently, alas! do we see that, when the judgment of God is on the point of breaking forth, people are unconscious of it (their moral perception being darkened by the evil). The eyes of God are elsewhere, as well as the spiritual discernment which He gives to His own, as was the case here with Samuel. Nevertheless God warns Eli by means of a man of God. His judgment on the priestly family and on the priesthood is pronounced before Jehovah reveals Himself to Samuel.

This judgment announces the change in the order of divine government, which was to take place through the setting up of a king, an anointed one (a Christ), and through the consequent position of the priesthood, as we have already remarked (ver. 35)." 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 [1] for ever. Such, I apprehend, will be millennial order.

[1] Joshua, on the contrary, went in and out under the direction of Eleazar, who inquired of God.