Bible Commentaries
1 Samuel 2

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Verse 1


After the prayer of Hannah as supplication in the previous chapter, we now hear a prayer of her as worship and prophecy. It is not so much about the little Samuel, but about Christ (1 Samuel 2:10). This is how the prayer must be for each of our children. It is not about their social prosperity, but whether Christ will be seen in them.

As mentioned earlier, Hannah’s prayer resembles the hymn of praise of Mary (Luke 1:46-2 Timothy :). Both Hannah and Maria are examples of a faithful remnant in their time. Both feel deeply the decayed condition of God’s people. Both understand that no man, but only God, can change this. Both are prophetic songs and a great encouragement at the beginning of a history characterized by dark clouds. It is like the bow of hope in the clouds of the impending judgment.

The prayer can be subdivided into four parts:
1. 1 Samuel 2:1-Leviticus :. Hannah sings of the God of salvation as the faithful, omnipotent, omniscient God. She speaks of “our” God (1 Samuel 2:2).
2. 1 Samuel 2:4-Deuteronomy :. Hannah speaks of the salvation she experienced and the degradation of the opponent.
3. 1 Samuel 2:6-Ruth :. The way in which salvation is experienced is that of death and resurrection.
4. 1 Samuel 2:8-2 Samuel :. God leads everything to His purpose, the battle between good and evil is ended forever. Christ rules over the recreated earth.

The prayer of Hannah, in which she pours out the feelings of her heart after she has dedicated her son to the LORD, is a hymn of praise with a prophetic and Messianic character. It is a psalm as the ripe fruit of the Spirit of God. Hannah knows the destination of Israel to be a kingdom. She knows about the promises God has made to the fathers. She is filled with the desire for the fulfillment of the promises. In the spirit she sees the King Who the LORD will give to His people and by Whom He will give his people the dominion over the earth.

Expressions of joy

The great prophetic perspective of this prayer begins with personal expressions of a woman’s soul exercises. She speaks of “my heart”, “my horn”, “my mouth”. From this personal experience she goes during her hymn to the ends of the earth (1 Samuel 2:10).

She prayed her first prayer in silence – only moved her lips (1 Samuel 1:13) – to God Who also listens to what is said in secret. Now she opens her mouth wide to tell the wonderful things the LORD has done. She speaks from the abundance of her heart. Her heart rejoices not so much in the gift, Samuel, but in the LORD as the Giver. “My horn” indicates the power on which it rests as the precursor of the horn of the Anointed (1 Samuel 2:10).

The first part of the verse (“hart”) and the third part (“mouth”) belong together. The mouth expresses what lives in the heart (Romans 10:10). Also, the second part (“horn”) and the fourth part (“help”) belong together. The horn is a picture of strength. Her help lies in the strength of the LORD.

Verse 2

No One Can Be Compared With the LORD

After having expressed her own joy at what she has found in the LORD, she continues to speak only of Him. She rises above her own victories and is, as it were, completely seized by Who He is.

The first characteristic she sings of is His holiness. Holiness is a special feature of the God of Israel. No idol claims it.

Apart from Him there is no God. Only He is the uncreated, eternal God. Everything that is outside Him comes from Him. He is the origin of it. Nothing outside of Him has an existence apart from Him. “For by Him all things were created, [both] in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him” (Colossians 1:16).

Apart from Him there is no support, no source of salvation. Every sure and steady help is only present in Him. He is the only rock.

Verse 3

The LORD Is Omniscient

The second characteristic is His omniscience (Psalms 139:1-Numbers :). He sees not only the deeds, but also the thoughts and motives: “And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do” (Hebrews 4:13). He tests all deeds.

This is a consolation for Hannah and a warning for Peninnah to moderate her tone and pay attention to what she says. Over the head of Peninnah, Hannah speaks to the enemies of Israel and of God. She leaves the judgment to the LORD, Who will do perfect justice where there is still injustice.

Verses 4-5

The Table Are Turned

All actions are controlled by God. The roles are reversed. He is behind the development of things. Only through His advice we can begin successfully, continue, and complete a work. Everything He proposes and performs or allows to be performed, every action, every thought, everything is considered and weighed, perfectly harmonious and effective. Nothing is in vain or useless. Any result will confirm this.

Hannah sees in faith the result of the LORD’s actions. Through His intervention, the hero becomes powerless and the powerless is girded with power. This is also the case with those who are satisfied and those who are hungry; with those who are barren, and with those who are rich in children (Psalms 113:9; Isaiah 54:1-Joshua :).

This complete reversal of the roles will take place through the judgments preceding the empire of peace and in the kingdom of peace that immediately follows: “For after all it is [only] just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and [to give] relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire” (2 Thessalonians 1:6-Judges :). Examples of this we see in the book of Esther, where the LORD humiliates Haman and raises Mordecai. We also see it in this book in His humbling of Saul and His exaltation of David.

Verses 6-9

The Omnipotence of the LORD

In these verses all is about the LORD, about what He does. Hannah looks beyond the death and the grave and points to the life and the resurrection. This is special in the Old Testament (Deuteronomy 32:39). All blessings of the LORD are based on the death and resurrection of Christ. All who know that they are dead of themselves are given life in Him. They may know that they died and rose with Him. In the resurrection all the promises of God are fulfilled. Abraham also learned this and believed: “He considered that God is able to raise [people] even from the dead” (Hebrews 11:19).

The LORD hath made rich and poor, that men may be dependent on one another (Proverbs 22:2). This also applies spiritually. Those who are rich, that is, those who know their spiritual riches, owe it to God. Those who are poor look up to God. To accept this distinction from the hand of God makes us grateful and content (cf. James 1:9-2 Samuel :). That preserves the rich for pride and the poor for discouragement. Rich and poor need each other. The distinction in the position we take is also made by God.

In the kingdom of peace God will show the great end results of His actions. Those who are now small, and poor will then have a place of honor. Examples of this we see in Joseph who becomes a ruler of slave and prisoner (Genesis 41:14; Genesis 41:38-Acts :) and in Lazarus who is a beggar on earth, but in heaven gets a place in the womb of Abraham (Luke 16:20-Song of Solomon :).

Hannah sings of Him as the Almighty. We see this in the way the LORD has founded the earth. The foundation or pillars upon which He has set the earth is His Word, for He upholds the universe “by the word of His power” (Hebrews 1:3). The earth rests on foundations which bear the earth by the power which He gives it. If the foundations of the earth are His, the righteous has nothing to fear.

With the omnipotence which becomes manifest in the keeping of His creation, the LORD also keeps the foot of His godly ones. How could man’s power ever stand up to the omnipotence of that great God? He keeps the feet of His godly ones on the way to the inheritance He promised them, that they may not stumble or slip (Psalms 116:8; Psalms 121:3). He keeps the inheritance for His godly ones and keeps His godly ones for the inheritance (1 Peter 1:4-Deuteronomy :). But from the wicked who oppress and persecute the righteous, God will take away the light of His grace, so that they may perish in darkness. The power of the wicked can do nothing against the omnipotence of God.

Verse 10

The King and Anointed of the LORD

All rebellion against the LORD will be broken. He will let His thunder be heard in heaven over all His opponents. Thunder is the announcement that the LORD is coming to judge. When it thunders, man feels on an alarming way the presence of the almighty God. Thus, the LORD clears the way by judgment to ground the kingdom of peace.

This empire covers the whole earth, to its ends. Then the LORD gives the government of this kingdom to “His king”. Hannah concludes her prayer with “His anointed”. That says as it were that the Anointed of God is God’s last word to man. “His king” and “His anointed” are none other than the Lord Jesus. About Him it is in this book (1 Samuel 2:35). Just as the name “LORD of hosts” is used for the first time by Hannah (1 Samuel 1:11), there as a barren and sad woman, this is also the case with the name “anointed”, but now by a fruitful and happy woman.

Verses 11-17

Samuel and the Sons of Eli

Samuel is always called “boy”. That indicates the contrast with the adults around him. It also indicates that God begins something new with what is not deemed in the world. He hides His plans “from [the] wise and intelligent” and reveals “them to infants” (Matthew 11:25).

The Spirit shows the development of the child Samuel into an adult man and servant in a religious and at the same time godless environment. That can only be God’s work. Samuel is formed in the hidden. He does not serve Eli before the LORD’s face, but he serves the LORD under Eli’s supervision. He may even be dependent in his very young years on the care of the women with whom Eli’s sons sleep.

Eli’s sons are “worthless men” or “children of Belial”, that is, they have nothing in common with Christ (2 Corinthians 6:15). In these two priests we see how external presence with God, without knowing Him, results in the worst deviation from Him. A holiness that is only external is the worst unholiness. Eli’s sons act as if there is no God. Their behavior caused men to despise the offering of the LORD and to no longer take heed of God’s precepts.

God has provided in the law for priests to receive their share of the peace offering (Leviticus 7:34). However, Eli’s sons are not satisfied with this. They do not care about that. Not only do they take much more than they are entitled to, but they also take it even before God has received His share. It is a display of power and an expression of iniquity and arrogance of the coarsest kind.

Today we see that happening when the church takes away of the people belonging to God’s people what God is entitled to. We see it in church leaders who enrich themselves at the expense of the church people. In such a situation, people are needed who give God His part again as the first Rightsholder. Do we take the best for ourselves and should God settle for the leftovers?

Someone of the people who comes to sacrifice knows the law and speaks to these corrupt priests about it. He points out that the fat must first be sacrificed (Leviticus 3:3-Deuteronomy :; Leviticus 3:16). The priest’s servant does not care about this. He was given his command by the priest, and he followed it closely. That also gives him the most benefit. He even threatens with violence if the offeror does not give what the priest demands.

This performance gives a picture of the service to God that is considered a very great sin. The representatives of God present Him as a violent, greedy God. The result is that people no longer take the sacrifice so seriously. Here we can learn the lesson that a misrepresentation of Who God is will lead to a despising of the Lord Jesus and His work.

Verse 18

Samuel Serves the Lord

After the description of the wickedness of the priestly sons, we see here again the true servant. Although Samuel does not belong to the priestly family, he is the true priest. His purity in the impure surroundings comes to the fore. Samuel’s behavior contrasts sharply with that of Eli’s sons.

The linen ephod is a linen garment worn by priests (1 Samuel 22:18). David also wears it once when he brings the ark to Zion (2 Samuel 6:14). David is a king-priest. Purity and priestly mind belong together. Samuel is not from Aaron’s family, but he lives in God’s presence and can pass on God’s thoughts as a prophet.

Verses 19-21


When Elkanah and Hannah are going to make the annual sacrifice, Hannah always brings a little robe to Samuel. This means that his mother is busy with his growing. Every year she takes the right size with her. She knows his growth. Do we know the spiritual growth of our children? Parents must have something for every spiritual age.

Hannah is always busy with Samuel’s clothes. In the same way a mother is always busy forming the character of her children, especially by her example. The children see how she behaves, what she says and how she says something, and what her dealings with the Lord are like. Thus, children will become kind or rough, interested in the things of the Lord or indifferent to them in accordance with the example they have seen in the lives of their elders.

In the meantime, Eli has understood that Elkanah and Hannah are special to the LORD, because the LORD is special to them. He pronounces His blessing upon them. He will have done so now with more insight than before (1 Samuel 1:17). The family of Elkanah is increasing. Hannah gets a total of six children, a rich blessing. She gets more than what she prayed for. This is how God often acts.

Meanwhile Samuel grows before the LORD, that is, close to Him in the sanctuary and under His protection and blessing. If the heart is directed toward the Lord, as is the case with Samuel, we will grow spiritually “in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18), even though the environment is still so ungodly.

Verses 22-25

Eli Rebukes His Sons

Eli’s sons are only out to satisfy their lusts. They seek the satisfaction of their belly (cf. Philippians 3:19). The step from physical satisfaction to the satisfaction of their sexual lusts is easily made. Those who cannot control themselves with food, often cannot control themselves in sexuality. Eli’s sons can no longer escape judgment after they have misbehaved themselves like this.

Eli admonishes his sons about their behavior, but his admonition comes too late. Partly because of his weak performance they have hardened their hearts. Now the time of conversion is over. Eli does not know the thoughts of God and therefore continues to act in his weak way. He is behind the facts.

The LORD had to make the decision to kill them. That decision is irrevocable because they irrevocably hold on to evil and despise every exhortation. It goes with Eli’s sons as it did with the pharaoh, who also first hardened his own heart (Exodus 7:13; Exodus 7:14Exodus 7:22; Exodus 8:15Exodus 8:19; Exodus 8:32Exodus 9:7; Exodus 9:34Exodus 13:15) and whose heart is hardened by God afterwards (Exodus 9:12; Exodus 10:1Exodus 10:20; Exodus 10:27Exodus 11:10; Exodus 14:4Exodus 14:8; Exodus 14:17).

Verse 26

Samuel Grows in Stature

If the spiritual darkness increases, the light of God shines the clearer. Samuel grows against the oppression. The LORD and men rejoice more and more the more they see of Samuel’s fear of God (cf. Luke 2:52). His life is a blessing for all who encounter him. It is striking how much he is different from Eli’s godless sons.

Verses 27-29

A Man of God Comes to Eli

An anonymous man of God is sent to Eli. When the man of God speaks of “the house of your father”, he means Aaron’s house. He opposes this to “Pharaoh’s house”, which is the house of slavery, where the people have served Pharaoh and his interests. With this he reminds Eli of his origins.

Then the man of God speaks of the electing grace of God that He called Aaron and his house to the priesthood. He also points to God’s gracious provisions for priests. Everything He has given makes their sin to want more and more a contempt for all those abundant gifts of God (cf. 2 Samuel 12:8-1 Samuel :).

The LORD holds Eli responsible for despising “My sacrifice and … My offering” because he did not act against his sons. In the accusation that Eli is being made, it is also said that he has feasted on to the best part of each grain offering. So much the actions of his sons are also attributed to him.

Although he has reprimanded his sons, indicating that he has insight into their wrongdoing, he has not stopped their wrongdoing. Eli’s lack of action has contributed to the contempt that the people have gotten for the sacrifice and service to the LORD. He has honored his sons more than the LORD. Every father has the danger of choosing for his son if he must choose between his son and God. Let fathers follow the example of Abraham, who did not kindly ask his children, but commanded them “to keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice” (Genesis 18:19).

Verses 30-34

Judgment on Eli’s house

To despise the sacrifice (1 Samuel 2:29) is the same as to despise God. The consequences of this are serious. God cannot now give the promised (Jeremiah 18:9-2 Samuel :). Is God now returning to His promise and contradicting Himself? It cannot be and it is not.

God has promised Aaron’s house that it will always serve Him. Aaron had four sons. Two are killed by the LORD (Leviticus 10:1-Exodus :). Of the two remaining, Ithamar and Eleazar, Eleazar succeeds Aaron. Eleazar is followed by Phinehas. That has become the line of the priesthood in Israel. However, something has been done – what that is, cannot be inferred from the Scriptures – by which the line of the priesthood has been transferred to Ithamar. Eli does not originate from the line of Eleazar, but from the line of Ithamar. By his unfaithfulness to the LORD, the promise made to Aaron is taken away from Ithamar.

The promise of a reliable priest will be fulfilled in Zadok (Ezekiel 44:15), who becomes a high priest at the time of David. Zadok comes from the line of Eleazar (1 Chronicles 6:3-Ruth :). God always fulfill His promises in a way that shows He did it.

God will break the strength of Eli and his whole family. His offspring will die young. Eli will experience it in his time that the LORD’s dwelling will be in distress. He will experience this when the ark is captured by the Philistines (1 Samuel 4:10-1 Kings :; Psalms 78:59-2 Peter :). Later Shiloh is destroyed, and the ark disappeared, captured by the enemies (Jeremiah 7:12; Jeremiah 26:6). The few years Eli will still be alive will be tormented by what is promised to him here. Always the thought of this judgment will occupy him. He will have no joy in his last years of life.

The man of God also tells him the death of both his sons. Here their names are mentioned. Phinehas bears the same name as a former family member. That member of the family, however, has behaved completely faithful to the LORD when sin has entered the people (Numbers 25:7-1 Chronicles :). That Phinehas was the son of Eleazar.

Verse 35

God Provides a Faithful Priest

After the announcements of judgment in the previous verses now follows a promise of the LORD. It is based on nothing but His own sovereign proposal. He Himself will appoint a faithful, reliable priest. Faithfulness contrasts sharply with the unfaithfulness of Eli and his sons.

First , we can apply that to Samuel. Then it is of application to Zadok, who will become a priest instead of Abjathar. Abjathar is the last descendant of Eli’s house. Solomon deprives him of the priesthood (1 Kings 2:26-Daniel :). It is taken from Abjathar because he is in connection with Adonia who has proclaimed himself king (1 Kings 1:7), while Zadok does not participate in it (1 Kings 1:8). Above all, it applies to the Lord Jesus as the King-Priest.

The “enduring house” is the house of David (1 Samuel 25:28). The “anointed” often refers to the priest, but here it is the king according to God’s thoughts. The priest will stand before the anointed king. We see this in this book, where the emphasis is on the king after God’s heart. The priesthood is exercised in the presence of the kingship. The Lord Jesus is both. He is both King and Priest. In Him the kingship and priesthood unite completely. In Him it is as God intended.

Verse 36

The Remnant of Eli’s House

What this verse says we see in Abjathar, who will serve David (1 Samuel 22:20; 1 Samuel 23:91 Samuel 30:7). He represents all those who escape judgment. They will depend on the grace of the new priest. They will appeal to that grace.

Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op 1 Samuel 2". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniël', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.