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.
1 Samuel 2:3
In all God's dealings with us there is one thing of which we may be perfectly sure,—they will be done deliberately; delicately, by measurement, with accuracy, in proportion. We are quite safe there from all hastiness and inconsideration—those two banes of human judgment. Job's prayer is always answered, "Let me be weighed in the balance." Alike the greatest and the least—from those giants of nature, the everlasting hills, down to the dust of the earth, and to the smallest thought which ever flashed through a man's mind—all are weighed.
I. Let us be sure that we give actions their proper place in the plan of our salvation. Actions never save a man. Actions have, strictly speaking, nothing to do with our salvation. But actions occupy four parts in the great scheme of our redemption. (1) They are the tests of life—"He that abideth in Me, the same bringeth forth much fruit." (2) They are the language of love—"If ye love Me, keep My commandments." (3) They glorify God before men—"Let your light so shine before men that they, seeing your good works, may glorify your Father which is in Heaven." (4) And although they are not the meritorious causes of our final rewards, yet they determine the degrees and proportions of our final state—"He will reward every man according as his work shall be."
II. It would be the greatest presumption on our part to say how God weighs our actions. It is sufficient to know that He does weigh them. That hand cannot err. But we may carry out God's own metaphor a little way and conceive it thus: (1) On the one hand is the action; on the other, what that action might have been, and ought to have been, and, but for our sin, would have been. (2) On the one side the action we did; on the other, the action we meant to do, and promised to do. (3) On the one side, what we have received; on the other, what we have rendered.
III. When God holds the scales of His children's actions. He puts in something of His own over and above, and when He puts that in, the beam that had preponderated against us, turns the other way, and "mercy rejoiceth against judgment." We should be careful not to usurp an office which only Omniscience can rightly exercise.
IV We must all feel that when we are weighed in these holy scales the verdict can only be, "Tekel; thou art weighed in the balances and found wanting." But the Lord Jesus Christ died upon the cross. That death is on the one side, and the whole world's guilt is on the other. God is "weighing them"—the blood of Christ and the sins of all mankind. God has balanced you and your substitute, and God is satisfied for His sake for ever and ever.
J. Vaughan, Sermons, 15th series, p. 189.
References: 1 Samuel 2:3.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxix., No. 1736. 1 Samuel 2:6.—Ibid., vol. ix., No. 523. 1 Samuel 2:8.—J. H. Evans, Thursday Penny Pulpit, vol. iii., p. 387. 1 Samuel 2:9.—G. Brooks, Outlines of Sermons, p. 176.
1 Samuel 2:12, 1 Samuel 2:26The sacred historian dwells with evident pleasure on the beautiful, holy boyhood of the child who served before the Lord, wearing a linen ephod, and who in the visitations of the night, thrilling to the Divine voice which called him by his name, answered fearlessly, "Speak, Lord; for Thy servant heareth." Yet from the same tabernacle, from the same tutelage, from the same influences, came forth also the sons of Eli; and the sons of Eli were men of Belial; they knew not the Lord.
I. The training the same, the product how different; the school the same, the boys whom it educated so fearfully contrasted. Such contrasts seem strange, but they are in reality matters of daily experience. Daily from the same home we see boys go forth, some to live noble, self-denying lives, others to live lives that come to nothing, and do deeds as well undone. So too, often, from happy conditions come base characters, from degraded environments strong, sweet natures struggle into the light.
II. Our inference from this is, that the personal devotion of the heart, the personal surrender of the individual will, can alone save a man or make him holy A man's life may be influenced, but it is not determined by his circumstances. No aid, save that which comes from above to every man, can help him to climb the mountain-path of life, or enter the wicket-gate of righteousness. Nor, on the other hand, can any will or power except his own retard his ascent or forbid his ingress. On ourselves, on the conscious exercise of our own free will, depends our eternal salvation or ruin.
F. W. Farrar, In the Days of the Youth, p. 99.
References: 1 Samuel 2:12.—Parker, vol. vii., p. 57. 1 Samuel 2:17.—Ibid., vol. vi., p. 228, and vol. vii., p. 58,
1 Samuel 2:18Samuel was a child-prophet, and that fact is pregnant with the deepest signification. That a child should have any interest in God's temple, and especially that a child should hold office in that temple, is a circumstance which should arrest our attention.
I. God's interest in human life begins at the earliest possible period. This is an argument for infant baptism which I have never known to be touched, much less shaken.
II. In Hannah's making Samuel a coat every year, we see how age must work for childhood, strength must toil lovingly and helpfully for weakness. The resources of life must be expended on the children of need.
III. Looking at the call of Samuel we see: (1) Almighty God calling man at an unlikely time. In the pomp of mid-day He comes to us, blazing with all effulgence of glory, and addresses us with majesty and overwhelming force; in the hour of midnight He approaches His sleeping ones, and by dream or vision or still small voice, would hold intercourse with His saints. (2) We see Almighty God calling an unlikely person. We should have thought it more probable that God would call the aged prophet, rather than the ministering child. But the first shall be last and the last first. We may enlarge this incident so as to find in it a great principle of exquisite beauty and of worldwide application; that principle is that Almighty God is constantly sending messages by children. (3) In this scene we have also the revelation of the true state of man for receiving God's message—"Speak, Lord; for Thy servant heareth." It is the place of the creature to listen to the Creator. Good listening is one condition of progress.
Parker, Wednesday Evenings in Cavendish Chapel, p. 28.
I. The first notice we have of Samuel's ministering before the Lord reminds us of the decency and gravity necessary at all times and in all persons, in approaching Him. As Samuel is an example of reverence in worship, so in Saul we have an example of irreverence. There have ever been these two kinds of Christians—those who belonged to the Church, and those who did not. And while, on the one hand, reverence for sacred things has been a characteristic of Church Christians on the whole, so want of reverence has been characteristic of Christians not of the Church. The one have prophesied after the figure of Samuel, the other after the figure of Saul.
II. So natural is the connection between reverence and faith that the only wonder is, how any one can for a moment imagine he has faith in God, and yet allow himself to be irreverent towards Him. Hence even heathen religions have considered faith and reverence identical. Those who have separated from the Church of Christ have in this respect fallen into greater than pagan error. They have learned to be familiar and free with sacred things, as it were, on principle. They have considered awe to be superstition and reverence to be slavery.
III. Those who worship in a humble and reverent way will find the effect of it, through God's mercy, in their heavenly walk. If we honestly strive to obey God, then our outward manner will be reverent also. This is the true way of doing devotional service, not to have feelings without acts, or acts without feelings, but both to do and to feel—to see that our hearts and bodies are both sanctified together and become one.
Plain Sermons by Contributors to "Tracts for the Times" vol. v., p. 167 (see also J. H. Newman, Parochial and Plain Sermons, vol. viii., p. 1).
References: 1 Samuel 2:18.—M. G. Pearse, Sermons for Children, p. 56; Outline Sermons for Children, p. 28; J. Reid Howatt, The Churchette, p. 120; R. D. B. Rawnsley, Village Sermons, 1st series, p. 299.
1 Samuel 2:21(with 1 Samuel 2:26)
Early growth in grace and knowledge, the training up of a child in the fear and nurture of the Lord and in the praise of His holy name; this is the great lesson which is exemplified in the early life of Samuel.
I. Let us first recall who Samuel was. (1) He was the child of Hannah, given in answer to her fervent prayer. (2) His very name "Samuel," which means "asked of God," reminds us of his mother's piety and his own. (3) From his birth he was dedicated to God's service.
II. Observe further, how God communicated with Samuel. Three several times did the Lord call Samuel by name. It was a terrible message that God gave the young child to deliver, but he told it, every whit. Those who have the care of children should early impress them with the thought that God sees them, that He is about their bed and about their path. Teach them to hear God's voice betimes, and to obey His movement in their souls.
R. D. B. Rawnsley, Village Sermons, 3rd series, p. 130.
One of the most beautiful things that God has made in the world is growth, and the world is full of it. God did not make a great Samuel at once, but a little child Samuel, who grew before Him. I will speak of four thoughts as included in growing before the Lord.
I. Samuel grew at the Lord's House. At this time there was no temple. There was the tabernacle, with the court round about, where the burnt offerings were consumed on the altar. But, also, there must have been chambers for the priests, and their servants, the Levites. In one of these Samuel lived. Eli's dwelling must have been close beside the sacred court with its altar and holy places of the Lord's tabernacle.
II. Samuel grew in the Lord's sight. This means that the Lord was pleased to see Samuel grow as he did. "Grow in grace" is the Apostle's word. Growth in love is the true progress; for love is holiness, and holiness is light, and light is God.
III. Samuel grew by the Lord's grace. His mother had lent him to the Lord, and the Lord saw to his growing.
IV. Samuel grew for the Lord's service. (1) Little services from little people are acceptable to God. (2) The little grows by and by to the great.
J. Edmond, Sermons Preached at the Dedication of Union Chapel, Islington, p. 68 (C.S.)
Reference: 1 Samuel 2:22.—J. Bainton, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxii., p. 150.
1 Samuel 2:25I. The lesson of the text is that there were some on whom advice was wasted, for the law of God's providence was that they must perish; that they had neglected such great means of grace so long and so obstinately, as to have hardened their hearts beyond repentance. There was a time, even with Hophni and Phinehas, there was a time with all the souls who who may since have been equally lost, when God willed not to slay them; when His words to them were thus recorded by the prophet Ezekiel: "Why will ye die? Turn yourselves and live ye." God does speak to us now in the words of Ezekiel; He may and will, if we are obstinately careless, speak to us hereafter in the words of Samuel; we shall not listen to the voice of God's word, because we have sinned beyond repentance.
II. Nor will it avail to complain that we should not have been so fatally hardened had the means of good been more sparingly given us; that we should have loved the service of the tabernacle more had we been less familiar with it. The same page of Scripture which tells us of the sons of Eli tells us of Samuel also; not born indeed, but brought by his mother, at his earliest years, to be in that same place, and to draw grace and strength from those very ministrations which, to the sons of Eli, had been the savour of death unto death. It is for us to determine whether we will be as Samuel or as Hophni and Phinehas; whether we will gain the habit of profiting by holy things or of despising them.
T. Arnold, Sermons, vol. iii., p. 218.
References: 1 Samuel 2:26.—F W Farrar, In the Days of thy Youth, p. 99; J. Edmunds, Sermons in a Village Church, p. 178; R. D. B. Rawnsley, Village Sermons, 3rd series, p. 130. 1 Samuel 2:30.—W. Landels, Christian World Pulpit, vol xxi., p. 2; Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxx., No. 1811; A. W. Hare, Sermons to a Country Congregation, vol. ii., p. 35; C. J. Vaughan, Lessons of Life and Godliness, p. 131; H. Alford, Quebec Chapel Sermons, vol. iii., p. 357; J. Burns, Sketches of Sermons on Special Occasions, p. 157; Homiletic Magazine, vol. xii., p. 75 1 Samuel 2:33.—Parker, vol. vi., p. 238. 1 Samuel 2:1.—F. W. Robertson, Sermons, 4th series, p. 1; G. Brooks, Outlines of Sermons, p. 194; Parker, vol. vii., p. 58.
There is none holy as the LORD: for there is none beside thee: neither is there any rock like our God.
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.
The bows of the mighty men are broken, and they that stumbled are girded with strength.
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.
The LORD killeth, and maketh alive: he bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up.
The LORD maketh poor, and maketh rich: he bringeth low, and lifteth up.
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.
He will keep the feet of his saints, and the wicked shall be silent in darkness; for by strength shall no man prevail.
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.
And Elkanah went to Ramah to his house. And the child did minister unto the LORD before Eli the priest.
Now the sons of Eli were sons of Belial; they knew not the LORD.
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;
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.
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.
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.
Wherefore the sin of the young men was very great before the LORD: for men abhorred 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 coat, and brought it to him from year to year, when she came up with her husband to offer the yearly sacrifice.
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.
And the LORD visited Hannah, so that she conceived, and bare three sons and two daughters. And the child Samuel grew before the LORD.
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.
And he said unto them, Why do ye such things? for I hear of your evil dealings by all this people.
Nay, my sons; for it is no good report that I hear: ye make the LORD'S people to transgress.
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.
And the child Samuel grew on, and was in favour both with the LORD, and also with men.
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?
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?
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.