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Dare: I Samuel 2

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I Samuel 2

The second chapter begins with a great prayed poem by Hannah in the temple; this time, however, she is not silent, not crushed, but lifted up and triumphant.

The ten verses are a hymn to the power of The Name. They speak of God's power, especially his power shown in utterly reversing the fortunes of the high and low alike. This theme of overturning, of throwing down the proud, and lifting the humble, is a critical theme. (Verse seven was a text Luther loved very dearly.) There are few songs so far in the Tanakh: the blessings of Joseph's sons, Miriam's song, Moses' final blessing, Deborah's song, []. And now, Hannah. Like the great songs before hers, it tells of the uniqueness of the LORD, and how he uses his power.

First, pride is humbled. Second, power is destroyed. Third, the arrogant are punished. Fourth, the low are raised up.

So it is the LORD's doing that she is blessed, and not because she has power in her righteousness, but because of the LORD's interest in her "great anguish and distress". By casting herself wholly on him, her deliverance arrives, just as Eli had spoken. After the song, the boy enters the service of the LORD at the temple after Hannah and Elkanah return home (v. 11). Happy parents, praise to God, an honor for the boy, a happy ending? No. (This is the start of the book, remember?)

Now Eli's sons were scoundrels; they paid no heed to the LORD.
The sons, priests of the temple, acted as though what was brought to the LORD as their own. Now, it is true that portions are given to the priests, so support them as they serve; the Torah books of the law devote quite some time to the processes for sacrifice and the priest's portion. The Law is rather detailed because of exactly this problem: crimonious clerics. Interestingly, we see in verse 16 how Israelites who in sincerity brought offerings reacted with pleading to give to God, contrasted with Eli's sons.

Samuel's mother and father are blessed because of him; Hannah is healed, and the five more children she bears Elkanah are due to her devotion of Samuel, according to Eli's blessing (v. 18-21). As for Samuel, note that he is said not to serve Eli, or the temple, but the LORD (v.21). Two contrasts are made: First, Hannah who gives God what is most precious to her; the sons who take what is God's as though it were their own. Second, the sons who serve their appetites; Samuel who is in the service of the LORD.

Eli gives his sons a little talking-to eventually (v. 22-25), but too late, because God will harden their hearts (v. 25). They have grown arrogant, and Hannah has already told us what happens to the arrogant... Which is exactly what "a man of God" comes to speak to Eli in the prophecy at the end of the chapter (v. 27-36). This prophet has no name, no backstory, and nothing to do except speak "Thus said the LORD". The end of the pronouncement of judgment ends the chapter. Even though Eli is honored, and blesses Hannah to great effect, and admonishes his sons, he is judged: "You have honored your sons more than Me" (v. 29). Eli's effective idolatry will bring low everything he valued, because it is the first command he has failed to keep, to honor the LORD above all.

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