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1 Samuel 2:18-26 – Samuel at Shiloh

Summary

Eli's wicked sons are contrasted with young Samuel who continues to grow in the presence of the Lord.

Analysis

The contrast between Samuel and Eli's wicked sons Phinehas and Hophni characterize the whole unit (vv. 12-36):

A Eli's wicked sons do not know the Lord (vv. 12-17)
B Samuel grows in favor with the Lord (vv. 18-21)
X Eli rebukes his wicked sons (vv. 22-25)
B′ Samuel grows in favor with the Lord and people (v. 26)
A′ The Lord will destroy Eli's wicked sons (vv. 27-36)

The contrast could hardly be clearer. The sinful misuse of the priestly office by Phinehas and Hophni (vv. 12-17), Eli's tragic inability to hold them in check (vv. 22-25), and the man of God's announcement of the destruction of the house of Eli (vv. 27-36) alternate with an almost idyllic depiction of little Samuel, dedicated to the service of the Lord, wearing the priestly ephod and other vestments lovingly sewn up for him by his proud mother (who by now has been blessed with five more children, vv. 18-21), and a declaration that, rather than defrauding people and remaining oblivious of the Lord, Samuel continued to grow in favor with both God and people (v. 26). In fact, the Hebrew word translated "continued to grow" in verse 26 and "grew" in verse 21 as a description of Samuel's maturation (gadal), is also used to describe the sin of Eli's sons as "great" (gedolah) in verse 17. The activity of Eli's sons is condemned in each of the three sections in which they appear: by the narrator (vv. 12-17), Eli (vv. 22-25), and the man of God (vv. 27-36). As the wicked priests of Eli's house decline, Samuel rises.

1 Samuel 2:18-26

The Child Samuel at Shiloh

18 Samuel was ministering before the Lord, a boy wearing a linen ephod. 19His mother used to make for him a little robe and take it to him each year, when she went up with her husband to offer the yearly sacrifice. 20Then Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife, and say, ‘May the Lord repay* you with children by this woman for the gift that she made to* the Lord’; and then they would return to their home.

21 And* the Lord took note of Hannah; she conceived and bore three sons and two daughters. And the boy Samuel grew up in the presence of the Lord.

Prophecy against Eli’s Household

22 Now Eli was very old. He heard all that his sons were doing to all Israel, and how they lay with the women who served at the entrance to the tent of meeting. 23He said to them, ‘Why do you do such things? For I hear of your evil dealings from all these people. 24No, my sons; it is not a good report that I hear the people of the Lord spreading abroad. 25If one person sins against another, someone can intercede for the sinner with the Lord;* but if someone sins against the Lord, who can make intercession?’ But they would not listen to the voice of their father; for it was the will of the Lord to kill them.

26 Now the boy Samuel continued to grow both in stature and in favour with the Lord and with the people.

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10 February 2011

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