Matthew Poole's Commentary
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.Hannah’s song, 1 Samuel 2:1-10. Samuel ministers before the Lord, 1 Samuel 2:11. Eli’s sons are wicked, 1 Samuel 2:12-17. Hannah beareth more children, 1 Samuel 2:20,21. Eli reproves his sons, but mildly 1 Samuel 2:22-25. God by a proverb foretelleth the destruction of Eli’s house, 1 Samuel 2:27-36.
Hannah prayed, i.e. praised God; which is a part of prayer, Colossians 4:2 1 Timothy 2:1; so it is a synecdochical expression. My heart 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 and the master of my joy, that he hath heard my prayer, and accepted my son for his service.
Mine horn is exalted; my strength and glory (which are oft signified by a horn, as Psalm 89:17,24 92:10) are advanced and manifested to my vindication, and the confusion of mine enemies.
My mouth is enlarged, i.e. opened wide, to pour forth abundant praises to God, and to give a full answer to all the reproaches of mine adversaries; whereas before it was shut through grief and confusion.
Over mine enemies, i.e. more than theirs, or so as to get the victory over them, as she saith afterwards. Here she manifests her great prudence, and piety, and modesty, that she doth not name Peninnah, but only her enemies in the general.
Because I rejoice in thy salvation; because the matter of my joy is no trivial or worldly thing, but that strange and glorious salvation or deliverance which thou hast given me from my own oppressing care and grief, and from the insolencies and reproaches of mine enemies, in giving me a son, and such a son as this, who shall be serviceable to God, and to his people, in helping them against their enemies, which she presaged, as may be guessed from 1 Samuel 2:10.
There is none holy as the LORD: for there is none beside thee: neither is there any rock like our God.There is none holy as the Lord; none so perfectly, exchangeably, and constantly holy, as God hath showed himself to be in this act of grace to me, whereby he hath both checked the proud and mighty, and pleaded the cause of his afflicted servant that trusted in him, and also fulfilled his promise in giving me a son, whom he hath sanctified by his grace to his service; all which are the proper effects of God’s holiness.
There is none beside thee; not only none is so holy as thou art, but in truth there is none holy (which word is easily understood out of the former clause) besides thee, to wit, entirely or independently, but only by participation from thee. Or, as none have any holiness like thine, so none have ally being besides thee, unless by derivation from thee.
Neither is there any rock like our God; thou only art a sure defence and refuge to all that flee to thee, and trust in thee, as I have found by my experience.
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 so exceeding proudly; thou Peninnah, boast no more of thy numerous offspring, and speak no more insolently and scornfully of me, as thou hast done. She speaks of her in the plural number, brings many because she would not expose her name to censure, but only instruct and reprove her for her good.
Arrogancy, Heb. hard speeches, as those are called, Judges 1:15, harsh, heavy, and not to be borne. Or, the old sayings; either the old proverbs concerning barren women, which thou appliedst to me; or the old reproaches, to which for a long time thou hast accustomed thyself.
The Lord is a God 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 carriages towards me.
By him actions are weighed, i.e. he pondereth or trieth all men’s thoughts and actions, (for the Hebrew word signifies both,) as a just Judge, to give to every one according to their works; and therefore he hath pitied my oppressed innocency, and rebuked her arrogancy. Or, by him counsels, or actions, or events are disposed or ordered, and not by ourselves; and therefore he things to pass contrary to men’s expectations, as now he hath done; he maketh one barren, and another fruitful, when and how it pleaseth him. In the Hebrew text it is lo the adverb; and so the words may be rendered thus, His actions are not, or cannot, be directed, or rectified, or corrected by any others; none can mend his work; he doth every thing best, and in the best season, as now he hath done: or weighed, or numbered; his ways are unsearchable. Or thus, Are not his works right and straight? who can blame his actions? So lo is for halo, as it is 2 Samuel 13:26 2 Kings 5:26 Job 2:10.
The bows of the mighty men are broken, and they that stumbled are girded with strength.This notes either,
1. The strength of which they boasted. See Psalm 44:6 46:9. Or,
2. Their malicious or mischievous designs. See Psalm 7:12 11:2 37:14. Or,
3. Their virulent tongues, which are compared to
bows that shoot their arrows, even bitter words; as it is said Psalm 64:3: compare Jeremiah 9:3. Or,
4. Their procreating virtue, which may well be compared to a bow, both because it is called a man’s strength, Genesis 49:3, and because children, which are the effects of it, and are as it were shot from that bow, are compared to arrows, Psalm 127:4,5. And this seems best to agree with the following verse.
They that stumbled; or, were weak, or feeble, in body and spirit, that had no strength to conceive, which was once Sarah’s case, Hebrews 11:11; or to bring forth, which was Israel’s condition under Hezekiah, 2 Kings 19:3.
Are girt with strength; are enabled both to conceive and to bring forth, as the church was, Isaiah 66:9.
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.Have hired themselves out for bread, through extreme necessity, into which they are fallen from their greatest plenty. It is the same thing which is expressed both in divers metaphors in the foregoing and following verses, and properly in the latter branch of this verse.
Ceased, i.e. ceased to be such, to wit, hungry; the hungry failed; there was none of them hungry or indigent.
Seven, i.e. many, as seven is oft used. She speaks in the prophetic 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; which, though it be mentioned after this song, 1 Samuel 2:20, yet in all probability was spoken before it, even upon the parents’ presentation of the child to Eli, 1 Samuel 1:25, it not being likely that she would sing this song in Eli’s presence, or before he had given his answer to her speech delivered 1 Samuel 1:26-28, there being nothing more frequent than such transpositions in Scripture. And the experience she had of the strange and speedy accomplishment of his former prophecy made her confidently expect the same issue from the latter.
She that hath many children, i.e. Peninnah.
Is waxed feeble; either because she was now past child-bearing, and impotent for procreation; or because divers of her children, which were her strength and her glory, were dead, as the Hebrew doctors relate.
The LORD killeth, and maketh alive: he bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up.Killeth, and maketh alive; either,
1. Diverse persons; he killeth one, and maketh another alive. Or,
2. The same person whom he first killeth, or bringeth very nigh unto death, he afterwards raiseth to life. Me, who was almost overwhelmed and consumed with grief, he hath revived. The name of death, both in sacred Scripture and profane writers, is oft given to great calamities; as Isaiah 26:19 Ezekiel 37:11 Romans 8:36.
The LORD maketh poor, and maketh rich: he bringeth low, and lifteth up.No text from Poole on this verse.
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.Out of the dust, i.e. out of their low and miserable condition, as this phrase is used, 1 Kings 16:2 Psalm 113:7 Compare Job 16:15 Psalm 22:15.
From the dunghill; from the most sordid place and mean estate. Compare 1 Kings 16:2 Job 36:11 Psalm 7:5.
Dunghill; which the poor are said to embrace, Lamentations 4:5.
To make them inherit; not only possess themselves, but transfer them to their posterity, as hath oft happened in the world; or, possess.
The throne of glory, i.e. a glorious throne or kingdom.
The pillars; either,
1. The foundations of the earth, which God created and upholds, and wherewith he sustains the earth find 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. Or,
2. The princes or governors of the earth, which are called the corners, or corner-stones, of a land or people, Judges 20:2 1 Samuel 14:38 Zephaniah 3:6, and are fitly called pillars, because they uphold the world, and keep it from sinking into confusion. See Psalm 74:2 Jeremiah 1:18 Revelation 3:12. And these are here said to be the Lord’s, by creation and constitution, because he advanceth them to their state, and preserves them in it, Proverbs 8:15,16, and puts the world, or the kingdoms of the world, upon them, as burdens upon their shoulders: see Isaiah 9:6.
He will keep the feet of his saints, and the wicked shall be silent in darkness; for by strength shall no man prevail.The feet, i.e. the steps or paths, their counsels and actions, he will
keep, i.e. both uphold, that they may not fall, at least, into mischief or utter ruin; and direct and preserve from wandering, and from those fatal mistakes and errors that wicked men daily run into.
Shall be 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 months quite stopped, and sit down in silent amazement and consternation: see Isaiah 15:1 Jeremiah 8:14 47:5,6.
In darkness; both inward, in their own minds, which are wholly in the dark, perplexed by their own choice and counsels, not knowing what to say or do; and outward, in a state of deepest distress and misery.
By strength shall no man prevail, to wit, against God, or against his saints, as the wicked were confident they should do, because of their great power, and wealth, and numbers; whereas God’s people were mean, and impotent, and helpless. And particularly, Peninnah shall not prevail against me by that strength which she hath, or thinks to have, from her numerous offspring. But it is to bc observed, that although Hannah takes the rise of this song from her own condition, yet she extends her thoughts and words further, even to the usual methods of God’s providence in the government of the world.
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.The adversaries of the Lord; and of his people; especially the Philistines, who at this time were the chief oppressors of Israel.
Shall be broken to pieces these and the following words are prophetical of what God was about to do: they who are now our lords, shall be subdued.
Out of heaven, i.e. out of the clouds or air, which is oft called heaven.
Shall he thunder upon them; as was done, 1 Samuel 7:10.
Shall judge, i.e. shall condemn and punish, as that verb by a synedoche is oft used. Of the earth, or, of the land, to wit, the Philistines who dwelt in the utmost borders of Canaan, even upon the sea-coast.
Unto his king; either,
1. Unto the judge or ruler whom he shall set up for the protection and deliverance of his people; the word king being elsewhere so taken. Or,
2. The King properly so called; and so she prophesieth, that Israel should have a king, and that there should be a great difference between king and king; between the people’s king, Saul, whom they would obstinately and passionately desire, by whom therefore they should have but little relief; and God’s king, David, whom God would choose as a man after his own heart, and whom he would strengthen and assist so, as by his hands to break all his enemies to pieces.
Exalt the horn, i.e. increase or advance the strength.
Of his anointed, i.e. of his king. The same thing repeated in other words, although it may have a mystical sense and respect to Christ, the singular anointed one of God, and the special King of his people, whom all their other kings did typify and represent, and from whom they received authority and power.
And Elkanah went to Ramah to his house. And the child did minister unto the LORD before Eli the priest.In some way agreeable to his tender years, as in singing, or playing upon instruments of music, as they used then to do in God’s service; or lighting the lamps, or some other way. For I suppose Samuel was not brought to the tabernacle in such tender years as some think; of which See Poole "1 Samuel 1:22".
Before Eli the priest, i.e. under the inspection and by the direction and instruction of Eli.
Now the sons of Eli were sons of Belial; they knew not the LORD.To wit, practically, i.e. they did not acknowledge honour, regard, love, or serve God; for so words of knowledge are commonly used in Scripture: see Romans 1:28 1 Corinthians 15:34 Titus 1:16
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;Offered, i.e. presented it to the Lord, to be offered by the priest.
While the flesh was in seething; for 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 sodden.
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.All that the flesh-hook brought up the priest took for himself; not contented with the breast and shoulder which were allotted them by God, Exodus 29:27,28 Le 7:31, they took also part of the offerer’s share; and besides, they snatched their part before it was heaved and waved, contrary to Leviticus 7:34.
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. See Leviticus 3:3,4,9 7:31. So this was an additional injury; for lest the fork should mistake and injure them, they took such parts as they best liked whilst it was raw, when it might be better discerned.
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.Take as much as thy soul desireth; we are content to relinquish our parts to thee, only let not God be wronged of his due.
Wherefore the sin of the young men was very great before the LORD: for men abhorred the offering of the LORD.The sin of the young men was very great; because they violently took away both man’s and God’s dues, and this before their time, and that with manifest contempt of God and men; and all this merely for the gratifying of their sensual appetite.
Before the Lord, i.e. even in the place of God’s special presence, where he saw and observed all their miscarriages; which argues the height of impiety and imprudence.
Men abhorred the offering of the Lord; they neglected and abhorred the practice of carrying up sacrifices to be offered, which they knew would be so grossly abused; and which, as they might think, would be rejected and abhorred by God himself; and therefore they would not contribute to the priests’ sin, and the corruption of God’s worship, but judged it better to neglect the thing, than to expose it to the priests’ depravation; wherein yet they erred, as we see, 1 Samuel 2:21.
But Samuel ministered before the LORD, being a child, girded with a linen ephod.Ministered, i.e. performed his ministration carefully and faithfully, not corrupting nor abusing it, as Eli’s sons did.
Before the Lord; in God’s tabernacle; or as in God’s presence, sincerely and regardarly, with God’s approbation.
Compare Genesis 17:1 2 Chronicles 26:4.
A linen 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, as 2 Samuel 6:11, and therefore to Samuel, who, though no Levite, was a Nazarite, and that from his birth.
Moreover his mother 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 sacrifice.A little coat, suitable to his age and stature, to be worn ordinarily; for coats were their usual garments. See Genesis 3:21 37:3 2 Samuel 15:32 Song of Solomon 5:3 Daniel 3:21 Luke 3:11 9:3. Knowing that he could not yet do much service, she would not have him too burdensome to the tabernacle, and therefore she yearly provided him with a coat, which was the chief and upper garment; and under that his other garments possibly are comprehended.
And Eli blessed Elkanah and his wife, and said, The LORD give thee seed of this woman for the loan which is lent to the LORD. And they went unto their own home.As their superior, and God’s high priest, Eli blessed them in God’s name, and they received his blessing by faith, which made it effectual, 1 Samuel 2:21.
Seed, i.e. a child, or rather children, as the event showed.
For the loan which is lent to the Lord, or, for the petition, i.e. the thing desired, to wit, the child; which she, thy wife, asked of the Lord; or, for the Lord, as 1 Samuel 1:28, to whom accordingly she hath given them. And therefore as she asked him not so much for herself, for she seldom sees him, as for the Lord, to whose service she hath wholly devoted him; so now I pray that God would give you other children, for both your comfort and enjoyment.
And the LORD visited Hannah, so that she conceived, and bare three sons and two daughters. And the child Samuel grew before the LORD.Visited, to wit, in mercy, and with his blessing, as that word is used, Genesis 21:1 Exodus 13:19 Jeremiah 15:15; not in anger, as it is taken Exodus 32:34 Leviticus 26:16.
Grew; not only in age and stature, but especially in wisdom and goodness, as Luke 1:15. Or, was magnified; or grew great, famous and acceptable, as 1 Samuel 2:26.
Before the Lord; not only before men, who might be deceived, but in the presence and judgment of the all-seeing God.
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.He was very old; and therefore unfit either to manage his office himself, or to make a diligent inspection into the carriage of his sons in holy administrations; which gave them opportunity for their wickedness.
All that his sons did unto all Israel; whom they injured in their offerings, and alienated from the service of God.
Assembled, or warred; which expression is used of them, either because they came to the service and worship of God in the tabernacle, which is often called a warfare; or because they came in considerable numbers, and due order, like to an army.
At the door; the place where all the people, both men and women, waited when they came up to the service of God, 1 Samuel 1:9,12 Lu 1:10, because they could not have admittance into the tabernacle, and because the altar on which their sacrifices were offered was by the door. Hence it seems probable that these women were not such as devoted themselves to the service of God and of his tabernacle, either by fasting and prayer, &c., or by sewing, spinning, &c., which, if then there were any such, had their stations not at the door, but in divers places allotted to them round about the tabernacle; but of such as came up to worship God at his tabernacle; as women ofttimes did, with their husbands, as here Hannah did, and the blessed Virgin Mary, Luke 2:41, or with their parents. And this exposition may receive strength from Exodus 38:8, where the very same phrase is used, and that when the great tabernacle was not yet built: and so there was no occasion for any women to come to the other less tabernacle then used, save only to pray or offer sacrifices.
And he said unto them, Why do ye such things? for I hear of your evil dealings by all this people.Such things, as those above mentioned, 1 Samuel 2:13,22. Eli’s sin in this matter was not only that he reproved them too gently, and generally, and sparingly; but especially that he contented himself with a verbal rebuke and did not
restrain them, as is said 1 Samuel 3:13, and inflict those punishments upon them, of putting them out of their priest’s office, and cutting them off from God’s people; which such high crimes deserved by God’s law, and which he as judge and high priest ought to have done, without all respect of persons.
By all this people, that dwell here, or come hither to worship.
Nay, my sons; for it is no good report that I hear: ye make the LORD'S people to transgress.Words too mild for such diabolical actions.
Ye make the Lord’s people to transgress; either,
1. The women that by your instigation were drawn to folly. Or,
2. Others who are easily brought to follow your pernicious example. Or,
3. Other persons of pious and honest minds, whom therefore he calls the
Lord’s people by way of distinction from the children of Belial, who were so highly offended. with the great dishonour done to God and to his worship, and with the horrible wickedness of the priests, that upon that occasion they were hurried into the other extreme, and lived in the neglect and contempt of their own indispensable duty of offering sacrifices, because they came through the priests’ hands.
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.If one man sin against another, by doing any injury.
The judge shall judge him; the magistrate shall by his sentence end the difference, and both parties shall acquiesce in his determination, and so the breach shall be made up. The sense is, if only man be wronged, man can right it, and reconcile the persons.
If a man sin against the Lord, to wit, in such manner as you have done, directly and immediately, in the matters of his worship and service, wilfully and presumptuously.
Who shall entreat for him? 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. He speaks after the manner of men, who do oft intercede with the prince for such as have injured any private person; but will not presume to do so when the injury is committed against his own person. The words are, and may be thus rendered,
Who shall judge for him? Who shall interpose himself as umpire, or arbitrator, 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; which is your case and misery. Because the Lord would slay them, i.e. because God hath determined to destroy them for their many and great sins; and therefore would not and did not give them grace to hearken to Eli’s counsel, and to repent of their wickedness, but hardened their hearts to their destruction.
And the child Samuel grew on, and was in favour both with the LORD, and also with men.He grew better in bad times, which is remembered to his commendation.
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?A man of God, i.e. a prophet or preacher sent from God. See 1 Timothy 6:11 2 Timothy 3:17 2 Peter 1:21. Who this was is not revealed by God, and therefore it is vain to inquire, and impossible to determine.
Did I plainly appear? did I indeed show such a favor, and appear so evidently and gloriously to thee, and for thee, and is this thy requital?
unto the house of thy father, i.e. unto Aaron the chief of thy father’s house.
When they were in Egypt: see Exodus 4:27. Pharaoh’s house, i.e. either,
1. In Pharaoh’s land; the whole kingdom being, as it were, one great family, whereof Pharaoh was the master. Or,
2. In Pharaoh’s court, where Aaron might probably be at the time of this revelation, either to answer to some accusation against him or his brethren, or to beg some relaxation of the rigour, or for some other occasion.
And did I choose him 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? and did I give unto the house of thy father all the offerings made by fire of the children of Israel?Did I choose him, to wit, Aaron thy father? whereby he shows what he meant by his father’s house. An ephod; that golden ephod which was peculiar to the high priest.
All the offerings made by fire, i.e. all the priest’s part of the offerings. He only had the office, and he had the whole benefit.
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?Wherefore kick ye at my sacrifice; using them irreverently, contemptuously, and profanely; both by abusing them to your own luxury, and by causing the people to abhor and neglect them? He chargeth Eli with his sons’ faults.
Honourest thy sons above me; permitting them to dishonour and injure me, by taking my part to themselves; choosing rather to offend me by thy connivance at their sin, than to displease them by severe rebukes, and effectual restraints, and just punishments; and so prefer their will, and pleasure, and honour, before mine.
To make yourselves fat; to pamper yourselves. This you did not out of any necessity, but out of mere luxury.
The chiefest of all the offerings; not contented with those parts which I had allotted you, you invaded those choice parts which I reserved for myself.
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 indeed.
Quest. Where or when did God say this?
1. When he made that promise for the perpetuation of the priesthood in Aaron’s family, Exodus 28:43 29:9.
Object. If Eli and all his family had been cut off, yet that promise had been made good in Eleazar’s family: how then was that promise recalled by this sentence against Eli?
Answ. It was recalled and made void, though not absolutely and universally to all Aaron’s family, yet respectively to Eli and his family, which were wholly excluded from the benefit of it, wherein otherwise they should have shared; even as God’s keeping of the Israelites out of Canaan and in the wilderness for forty years, and destroying them there, is called his breach of promise, Numbers 14:31, although the promise of Canaan was not simply made void to all the Israelites, but only to that evil generation of them; or as God’s covenant with David, and with his seed, of which God saith that it should stand fast, Psalm 89:28, and that he would not break nor alter it, 1 Samuel 2:34, yet is said to be made void, 1 Samuel 2:35, to wit, in regard of some particular branches or members of that family. Or,
2. To Eli himself, or to his father, when the priesthood was translated from Eleazar’s to Ithamar’s family, for some cause not mentioned in Scripture, but most probably for some great miscarriage of some of them. If it be said that there is no such promise recorded in Scripture, it may be so replied, That there are many sayings and doings noted in Holy Scripture which were not spoken of in their proper times and places, as Genesis 24:51 42:21 Hosea 12:4 Luke 11:49 Acts 20:25. So the sense of the place may be this, That promise and privilege of the perpetuation of the priesthood in Phinehas and his family, made to them Numbers 25:12,13, namely, upon condition of his and their faithfulness in their office, which is plainly understood, I now take away from that family for their wickedness, and I transfer it to thee and thine, and will fix it there upon the same condition.
Should walk before me, i.e. minister unto me as high priest. Walking is oft put for discharging one’s 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 lasted, as that phrase is oft used.
Be it far from me, to wit, to fulfil my promise, which I repent of, and hereby retract.
Them that honour me; that worship and serve me with reverence and godly fear, and according to my will, which I esteem as an honour done to me.
I will honour; I will advance them to honour, and maintain them in it.
They that despise me; not formally and directly; for so Eli’s sons did not despise God; but indirectly and by consequence, by presumptuous disobedience of my commands; by defiling and disgracing my worship and ordinances, either by transgressing the rules I have given them therein, or by their ungodly and shameful conversation; and by making my service contemptible and abominable to others through their scandals: all which are manifest arguments of contempt of God, and are so called, as Numbers 11:20 1 Samuel 12:9,10 Mal 1:8, and all which were eminently found in Eli’s sons.
Shall be lightly esteemed, both by God and men.
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.I will cut off thine arm, i.e. I will take away thy strength, which is oft signified by the arm, as Job 22:8 Psalm 37:17, or all that in which thou placest thy confidence and security; either,
1. The ark, which is called God’s strength, Psalm 78:61, and was Eli’s strength, who therefore was not able to beat the very tidings of the loss of it, 1 Samuel 4:18. 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, who are the strength of parents: see Genesis 49:3 Deu 21:17 Psalm 127:4,5.
The arm of thy father’s house, i.e. thy children’s children, and all thy family; which was in great measure accomplished, 1 Samuel 22:16, &c.
There shall not be an old man in thine house; they shall generally be cut off by an untimely death before they be old.
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.So the sense is,
Thou shalt see, not in thy person, but in thy posterity, (it being most frequent in Scripture to attribute that to parents which properly belongs to their posterity only; as Genesis 17:8 Genesis 27:29,40)
an enemy, i.e. thy competitor, or him who shall possess that place of high trust and honour which now thou enjoyest, (such persons being through man’s corrupt nature esteemed as a man’s worst enemy,) in my habitation, i.e. in the sanctuary. And then he adds by way of aggravation, that this sad accident should happen in all the wealth when God shall give Israel, i.e. in a time when God should eminently bless Israel, and make good all his promises to them, which was in Solomon’s days, when Abiathar of Eli’s race was put out of the high priesthood, and Zadok was put in his place, 1 Kings 2:27,35, when the priesthood was most glorious, and most profitable, and comfortable, and therefore the loss of it more deplorable. But the words may be otherwise rendered, as is noted in the margin of our English Bibles: Thou shalt see, to wit, in thy own person, the affliction, or oppression, or calamity of my habitation, i.e. 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, or was about to bless 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, which God was resolved severely to punish. So this clause of the threatening concerns Eli’s person, as the following concerns his posterity. And this best agrees with the most proper and usual signification of that phrase, Thou shalt see. For ever, i.e. as long as the priesthood continues in thy family, or as long as the Levitical priesthood lasts.
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.The man of thine, i.e. those of thy posterity.
From mine altar, i.e. from attendance upon mine altar; whom I shall not destroy, but suffer to live, and wait at the altar.
Shall be to consume thine eyes, and to grieve thine heart; shall be so forlorn and miserable, that if thou wast alive to see it, it would grieve thee at the very heart, and thou wouldst consume thine eyes with weeping for their calamities. So the phrase is like that of Rachel weeping for her children, Jeremiah 31:15, which were slain long after her death.
The increase of thine house, i.e. thy children.
In the flower of their age; about the thirtieth year of their age, when they were to be admitted to the plenary administration of their office, Numbers 4:3, then they shall die.
And 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.This shall be a sign unto thee, to wit, of the certain truth of those sad predictions; and it was fulfilled, 1 Samuel 4:11.
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.A faithful priest, to wit, of another line, as is necessarily implied by one total removal of that office from Eli’s line, before threatened. The person designed is Zadok, one eminent for his faithfulness to God and to the king, who, when Abiathar, the last of Eli’s line, was deposed by Solomon, was made high priest in his stead, 1 Kings 2:27,35 1 Chronicles 29:22.
That shall do according to that which is in mine heart; and shall not dishonour or disobey me to gratify his sons, as thou hast done.
I will build him a sure house, i.e. give him a numerous posterity, as that phrase is used, Exodus 1:21 2 Samuel 7:11 1 Kings 11:38, 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, and his, of the line of Ithamar, unto him and his children for ever. And this was manifestly verified until the Babylonish captivity, Ezekiel 44:15; and there is no reason to doubt of its continuance in the same line till Christ came.
He shall walk, i.e. minister as high priest.
Before mine anointed; either, first, Before king Solomon, who was anointed king, 1 Kings 1:39, and before the succeeding kings, who are commonly called anointed, or the Lord’s anointed, as 1 Samuel 12:3,5 24:6,10 Psa 89:38,51 La 4:20. Or rather, secondly, Before Jesus Christ; first, Because this title of Anointed, or Christ, or Messias, (both which words signify only the Anointed,) is most frequently and eminently ascribed to Christ, both in the Old and New Testament, and therefore it is most reasonable to understand it of him, when there is nothing in the text or context which determines it to any other. Secondly, Christ is the main scope and design, not only of the New, but of the Old Testament, which in all its types and ceremonies represented Christ; and particularly, the high priest was an eminent type of Christ, and did represent his person, and act in his name and stead, and did mediately what John Baptist did immediately, go before the face of the Lord Christ; and when Christ did come, that office and officer was to cease. Thirdly, 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, as is manifest from Acts 7:35 1 Corinthians 10:4 Hebrews 3:3-6, and many other places; and their temple is particularly called his temple, Malachi 3:1, because all the temple worship was performed in his presence, and had a special respect unto him, and therefore the high priest is most properly said to walk before him.
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.Crouch to him, in way of humble supplication. See 1 Kings 2:26;
A morsel of bread; whereas before they were so nice and delicate, that my liberal allowance could not satisfy them, but they must have their meat raw and fat, &c., above, 1 Samuel 2:13-16; so the punishment is suited to the nature of their sin.
Into one of the priests’ offices; into the meanest office belonging to it. See Ezekiel 44:10,11, &c.
Quest. How could they be reduced to so great straits, seeing, though they lost the high priesthood, they still were inferior priests, and had a right to those plentiful provisions which belonged to that order?
Answ. First, They might be degraded, not only from the office of the high priest, but also from that of the inferior priests, and consequently might forfeit and lose all the privileges belonging to their office. Secondly, This might be from the tyranny and violence of some of the succeeding priests of Eleazar’s line towards that other line, which had long stood in competition with them, and had for a season got away the priesthood from them; for this text only relates the matter of fact, but doth not express an approbation of it.