1 Samuel 2 Bible Commentary

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

(Read all of 1 Samuel 2)

Verse 1

[1] And Hannah prayed, and said, My heart rejoiceth in the LORD, mine horn is exalted in the LORD: my mouth is enlarged over mine enemies; because I rejoice in thy salvation.

Prayed — That is, praised God; which is a part of prayer.

Rejoiceth — Or, leapeth for joy: for the words note not only inward joy, but also the outward demonstrations of it.

In the Lord — As the author of my joy, that he hath heard my prayer, and accepted my son for his service.

Horn — My strength and glory (which are often signified by an horn,) are advanced and manifested to my vindication, and the confusion of mine enemies.

Mouth enlarged — That is, opened wide to pour forth abundant praises to God, and to give a full answer to all the reproaches of mine adversaries.

Enemies — So she manifests her prudence and modesty, in not naming Peninnah, but only her enemies in the general.

Salvation — Because the matter of my joy is no trivial thing, but that strange and glorious salvation or deliverance which thou hast given me from my oppressing care and grief, and from the insolencies and reproaches of mine enemies.

Verse 2

[2] There is none holy as the LORD: for there is none beside thee: neither is there any rock like our God.

None holy — None so perfectly, unchangeably and constantly holy.

None beside — Not only none is so holy as thou art, but in truth there is none holy besides thee; namely, entirely, or independently, but only by participation from thee.

Any rock — Thou only art a sure defence and refuge to all that flee to thee.

Verse 3

[3] Talk no more so exceeding proudly; let not arrogancy come out of your mouth: for the LORD is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed.

Talk no more — Thou Peninnah, boast no more of thy numerous off-spring, and speak no more insolently and scornfully of me. She speaks of her in the plural number, because she would not expose her name to censure.

Of knowledge — He knoweth thy heart, and all that pride, and envy, and contempt of me, which thy own conscience knows; and all thy perverse carriage towards me.

Actions — That is, he trieth all mens thoughts and actions, (for the Hebrew word signifies both) as a just judge, to give to every one according to their works.

Verse 4

[4] The bows of the mighty men are broken, and they that stumbled are girded with strength.

Bows — The strength of which they boasted.

Stumbled — Or, were weak, or feeble, in body and spirit.

Verse 5

[5] They that were full have hired out themselves for bread; and they that were hungry ceased: so that the barren hath born seven; and she that hath many children is waxed feeble.

Hired themselves out for bread — It is the same thing which is expressed both in divers metaphors in the foregoing, and following verses.

Ceased — That is, ceased to be hungry.

Seven — That is, many, as seven is often used. She speaks in the prophetick style, the past time, for the future; for though she had actually born but one, yet she had a confident persuasion that she should have more, which was grounded either upon some particular assurance from God; or rather upon the prayer or prediction of Eli.

She — That is, Peninnah.

Feeble — Either because she was now past child-bearing: or, because divers of her children, which were her strength and her glory, were dead, as the Hebrew doctors relate.

Verse 6

[6] The LORD killeth, and maketh alive: he bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up.

Killeth — The same person whom he first killeth, or bringeth nigh unto death, he afterwards raiseth to life. Me, who was almost consumed with grief, he hath revived. The name of death both in sacred scripture, and profane writers, is often given to great Calamities.

Verse 8

[8] He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory: for the pillars of the earth are the LORD's, and he hath set the world upon them.

From the dunghill — From the most sordid place, and mean estate.

Inherit — Not only possess it themselves, but transmit it to their posterity.

Throne — That is, a glorious throne or kingdom.

Pillars — The foundations of the earth, which God created, and upholds, and wherewith he sustains the earth, and all its inhabitants, as a house is supported with pillars; and therefore it is not strange if he disposeth of persons and things therein as he pleaseth.

Verse 9

[9] He will keep the feet of his saints, and the wicked shall be silent in darkness; for by strength shall no man prevail.

Feet — That is, the steps or paths, their counsels and actions; he will keep; that is, both uphold, that they may not fall into ruin; and direct and preserve from wandering, and from those fatal errors that wicked men daily run into.

Silent — Shall be put to silence: they who used to open their mouths wide against heaven, and against the saints, shall be so confounded with the unexpected disappointment of all their hopes, and with God's glorious appearance and operations for his people, that they shall have their mouths quite stopped.

Darkness — Both inward, in their own minds, not knowing what to say or do; and outward, in a stat e of deep distress.

Prevail — Namely, against God, or against his saints, as the wicked were confident they should do, because of their great power, and wealth, and numbers.

Verse 10

[10] The adversaries of the LORD shall be broken to pieces; out of heaven shall he thunder upon them: the LORD shall judge the ends of the earth; and he shall give strength unto his king, and exalt the horn of his anointed.

Exalt — Increase, or advance the strength.

Of his anointed — Of his king. This may respect Christ, the singular anointed one of God, and the special king of his people. In this sense also, the Lord shall judge the ends of the earth: David's victories and dominions reached far. But God will give to the Son of David, the uttermost parts of the earth for his possession. And he will give strength unto his king, for the accomplishing his great undertaking, and exalt the horn, of the power and honour of his anointed, till he hath put all his enemies under his feet.

Verse 11

[11] And Elkanah went to Ramah to his house. And the child did minister unto the LORD before Eli the priest.

Minster — In some way agreeable to his tender years, as in singing, or playing upon instruments of musick, or lighting the lamps.

Before Eli the priest — That is, under the inspection, and by the direction of Eli.

Verse 12

[12] Now the sons of Eli were sons of Belial; they knew not the LORD.

Knew not — They did not honour, love, or serve God.

Verse 13

[13] And the priests' custom with the people was, that, when any man offered sacrifice, the priest's servant came, while the flesh was in seething, with a fleshhook of three teeth in his hand;

Boiling — As the Lord's part of the peace-offerings was burnt upon the altar, so the priest's and offerer's parts were to be boiled.

Verse 14

[14] 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.

Took — Not contented with the breast and shoulder which were allotted them by God, they took also part of the offerer's share; besides which they snatched their part before it was heaved and waved; contrary to Leviticus 7:34.

Verse 15

[15] Also before they burnt the fat, the priest's servant came, and said to the man that sacrificed, Give flesh to roast for the priest; for he will not have sodden flesh of thee, but raw.

The fat — And the other parts to be burnt with it. So this was all additional injury; for they took such parts as they best liked whilst it was raw.

Verse 17

[17] Wherefore the sin of the young men was very great before the LORD: for men abhorred the offering of the LORD.

Abhorred — But we know the validity and efficacy of the sacraments does not depend on the goodness of those that administer them. It was therefore folly and sin in the people, to think the worse of God's institutions. But it was the much greater sin of the priests, that gave them occasion so to do.

Verse 18

[18] But Samuel ministered before the LORD, being a child, girded with a linen ephod.

Ministered — That is, performed his ministration carefully and faithfully.

Before the Lord — In God's tabernacle.

Ephod — A garment used in God's service, and allowed not only to the inferior priests and Levites but also to eminent persons of the people, and therefore to Samuel, who, though no Levite, was a Nazarite, from his birth.

Verse 21

[21] And the LORD visited Hannah, so that she conceived, and bare three sons and two daughters. And the child Samuel grew before the LORD.

Grew — Not only in age and stature; but especially in wisdom and goodness.

Before the Lord — Not only before men, who might he deceived, but in the presence and judgment of the all-seeing God.

Verse 22

[22] Now Eli was very old, and heard all that his sons did unto all Israel; and how they lay with the women that assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.

Very old — And therefore unfit either to manage his office himself, or to make a diligent inspection into the carriage of his sons, which gave them opportunity for their wickedness.

To Israel — Whom they injured in their offerings, and alienated from the service of God.

The door — The place where all the people both men and women waited when they came up to the service of God, because the altar on which their sacrifices was offered, was by the door.

Verse 23

[23] And he said unto them, Why do ye such things? for I hear of your evil dealings by all this people.

He said, … — Eli's sin was not only that he reproved them too gently, but that he contented himself with a verbal rebuke, and did not restrain them, and inflict those punishments upon them which such high crimes deserved by God's law, and which he as judge and high-priest ought to have done, without respect of persons.

Verse 25

[25] If one man sin against another, the judge shall judge him: but if a man sin against the LORD, who shall intreat for him? Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto the voice of their father, because the LORD would slay them.

The judge — If only man be wronged, man can right it, and reconcile the persons.

Against the Lord — As you have done wilfully and presumptuously.

Who shall, … — The offence is of so high a nature, that few or none will dare to intercede for him, but will leave him to the just judgment of God. The words may be rendered, Who shall judge for him? Who shall interpose as umpire, between God and him? Who shall compound that difference? None can or dare do it, and therefore he must be left to the dreadful, but righteous judgment of God. They had now sinned away their day of grace. They had long hardened their hearts. And God at length gave them up to a reprobate mind, and determined to destroy them, 2 Chronicles 25:16.

Verse 27

[27] And there came a man of God unto Eli, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Did I plainly appear unto the house of thy father, when they were in Egypt in Pharaoh's house?

Man of God — That is, a prophet sent from God.

Verse 29

[29] Wherefore kick ye at my sacrifice and at mine offering, which I have commanded in my habitation; and honourest thy sons above me, to make yourselves fat with the chiefest of all the offerings of Israel my people?

Kick ye — Using them irreverently, and profanely; both by abusing them to your own luxury, and by causing the people to abhor them. He chargeth Eli with his sons faults.

Honourest thy sons — Permitting them to dishonour and injure me, by taking my part to themselves; chusing rather to offend me by thy connivance at their sin, than to displease them by severe rebukes, and just punishments.

Fat — To pamper yourselves. This you did not out of necessity, but out of mere luxury.

Chiefest — Not contented with those parts which I had allotted you, you invaded those choice parts which I reserved for myself.

Verse 30

[30] Wherefore the LORD God of 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.

I said — Where, or when did God say this? To Eli himself, or to his father, when the priesthood was translated from Eleazar's to Ithamar's family.

Walk — That is, minister unto me as high-priest. Walking is often put for discharging ones office; before me; may signify that he was the high-priest, whose sole prerogative it was to minister before God, or before the ark, in the most holy place.

For ever — As long as the Mosaical law and worship lasts.

Far from me — To fulfil my promise, which I hereby retract.

Verse 31

[31] Behold, the days come, that I will cut off thine arm, and the arm of thy father's house, that there shall not be an old man in thine house.

Arm — That is, I will take away thy strength, or all that in which thou placest thy confidence, either, 1. the ark, which is called God's strength, Psalms 78:61, and was Eli's strength, who therefore was not able to bear the very tidings of the loss of it. Or, 2. his priestly dignity or employment, whence he had all his honour and substance. Or rather, 3. his children, to whom the words following here, and in the succeeding verses, seem to confine it.

Father's house — That is, thy children's children, and all thy family which was in great measure accomplished, 1 Samuel 22:16, etc.

Verse 32

[32] And thou shalt see an enemy in my habitation, in all the wealth which God shall give Israel: and there shall not be an old man in thine house for ever.

Shalt see, … — The words may be rendered; thou shalt see, in thy own person, the affliction, or calamity of my habitation; that is, either of the land of Israel, wherein I dwell; or of the sanctuary, called the habitation by way of eminency, whose greatest glory the ark was, 1 Samuel 4:21,22, and consequently, whose greatest calamity the loss of the ark was; for, or instead of all that good wherewith God would have blessed Israel, having raised up a young prophet Samuel, and thereby given good grounds of hope that he intended to bless Israel, if thou and thy sons had not hindered it by your sins. So this clause of the threatning concerns Eli's person, as the following concerns his posterity. And this best agrees with the most proper signification of that phrase, Thou shalt see.

Verse 33

[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.

Of thine — That is, of thy posterity.

Shalt grieve — Shall be so forlorn and miserable, that if thou wast alive to see it, it would grieve thee at the heart, and thou wouldst consume thine eyes with weeping for their calamities.

Increase — That is, thy children.

Flower — About the thirtieth year of their age, when they were to be admitted to the full administration of their office.

Verse 35

[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 for ever.

Raise a priest — Of another line, as it necessarily implied by the total removal of that office from Eli's line. The person designed is Zadok, one eminent for his faithfulness to God, and to the king, who, when Abiather, the last of Eli's line, was deposed by Solomon, was made high-priest in his stead.

Build, … — That is, give him a numerous posterity, and confirm that sure covenant of an everlasting priesthood made to Phinehas, of Eleazar's line, Numbers 25:13, and interrupted for a little while by Eli, of the line of Ithamar, unto him and his children for ever.

Anointed — Before Jesus Christ, who is the main scope and design, not only of the New, but of the Old Testament, which in all its types and ceremonies represented him; and particularly, the high-priest was an eminent type of Christ, and represented his person, and acted in his name and stead, and did mediately, what John Baptist did immediately, go before the face of the Lord Christ; and when Christ came, that office and officer was to cease. The high-priest is seldom or never said to walk or minister before the kings of Israel or Judah, but constantly before the Lord, and consequently, before Christ, who, as he was God blessed for ever, Romans 9:5, was present with, and the builder and governor of the ancient church of Israel, and therefore the high-priest is most properly said to walk before him.