If you don’t know the story of Samuel, it’s really an awesome story! Samuel is born toward the end of Israel’s period known as “the Judges” in the Bible. During this time, Israel had been divided into Tribes, and each Tribe was living in their allotted portion of the Promised Land. They didn’t always get along with each other, and they were often battling against the Canaanites, who had remained in parts of the land. Israel had a “cheatin’ heart”, and served both the Lord AND the Canaanite ‘gods’ in their quest for security and prosperity. YHWH Elohim, the True Creator God is a “jealous God” (meaning that He does not want His “Wife” Israel worshipping other gods), and would therefore lift His hand of protection from the Israelites giving them into the hands of their enemies. This was the cycle in the book of Judges
Towards the end of this time period known as “Judges”, a man named Elkanah, a Levite (1 Chronicles 6) , and his wife Hannah went up to Shiloh every year to worship and sacrifice to YHWH (Lord of Hosts). If you recall, Levi was one of Jacob (Israel)’s 12 sons. The Levites were not given a portion of land, but were the “priestly line”, making animal sacrifices for Israel and ministering to the Lord. ( The animal sacrifices were established by God as soon as Adam and Eve fell into sin as a way to atone for sin. They pointed to the substitution principle, the blood of the innocent in exchange for the blood of the guilty. Without the shedding of blood, there can be no forgiveness for sin (Hebrews 9:22) Although the blood of bulls and goats cannot take away sin, their purpose was to point to the ultimate Sacrifice, and the ONLY way to atone for sin, the shed blood of the Promised Messiah, Jesus the Christ!) Shiloh was the location in the Promised Land where the Tabernacle was set up, where the Ark of the Covenant (the box that held the 10 commandments) was kept, and where the Priests made the animal Sacrifices to YHWH. God’s Glory was in the Tabernacle and over the Ark of the Covenant.
Elkanah’s wife Hannah was infertile, and Hannah silently poured out her heart to the Lord at Shiloh, begging the Lord (YHWH Elohim) to open her womb and give her a son.
This was Hannah’s prayer.
O Lord of hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your maidservant and remember me, and not forget Your maidservant, but will give Your maidservant a [son, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and a razor shall never come on his head.”
Eli the Priest, who was ministering to the Lord at the Tabernacle, saw that Hannah was praying, and said to her -“Go in peace; and may the God of Israel grant your petition that you have asked of Him.”
Hannah and Elkanah returned from Shiloh to their home at Ramah (in the Promised Land), and the Lord Remembered Hannah, and answered her prayer. Hannah conceived a son with her husband Elkanah, and she named him Samuel saying “Because I have asked of the Lord”. The Name Samuel means “God has heard”.
After this, Hannah did a very remarkable thing! I can only shake my head as a mother, in awe of her trust in God. Once the child was weaned, Hannah brought her child to Eli the Priest and gave YHWH the Glory for opening her womb. She then recognized her vow to dedicate her son to the Lord, and the boy remained with Eli the Priest to learn the ways of the Priesthood. Eli the Priest would now be raising Samuel!! Every year after Samuel’s birth, Hannah and Elkanah went up to worship the Lord at Shiloh, where Hannah would bring Samuel little robes and probably other special things. Little Samuel ministered to the Lord wearing a Linen Ephod. An Ephod is a special garment only worn by a Priest, made of fine linen consisting of two pieces which hung from the neck, both front and back. For Hannah’s great faithfulness to her vow, the Lord opened her womb and gave her three more sons and two daughters.
At this time, Eli the Priest, who was charged with raising little Samuel, also had two adult natural sons, Hophni and Phinehas. Hophni and Phinehas were also being trained to be priests, but were using their “privileges” to, um, serve themselves.
1 Samuel 2: 22 Now Eli was very old; and he heard all that his sons were doing to all Israel, and how they lay with the women who served at the doorway of the tent of meeting. 23 He said to them, “Why do you do such things, the evil things that I hear from all these people?
The “Tent of Meeting” is another name for the Tabernacle, the Place where God’s Glory dwelt. YHWH Elohim was not happy with Hophni and Phinehas’ rebellion and self-serving ways, thereby dishonoring the Name of YHWH by doing these things at the Tent of Meeting. After warning them several times, the Lord had pretty much had it with them. Meanwhile, Samuel was growing in stature and in favor with both YHWH and with the people.
A man of God (prophet) came to Eli with a message from YHWH. This man told Eli that his two adult sons Hophni and Phinehas were greatly dishonoring the God of Israel by making themselves fat by eating the choicest of every offering of His people Israel. So, these two men were not only sleeping with Prostitutes at the Tent of Meeting, they were literally eating and making themselves fat on the best portions of the Sacrifices that were supposed to be put on the altar as a Sacrifice to YHWH God, our Elohim. YHWH required that these Sacrifices be perfect, and the choice part of them be a Sacrifice to HIM because they would one day point to the ONE TRUE SACRIFICE, HIS Precious Son YESHUA (Jesus), who was completely perfect, without spot or blemish. YHWH would one day send His Only Son Jesus, the best that Heaven has to offer (and Heaven is AMAZING) to earth as a sacrifice to atone for the sins of all mankind. It is a slap in the Savior’s face to offer up the worst parts of the animal as a sacrifice to YHWH so that Phinehas and Hophni could make themselves fat on the best parts. This is in complete defiance of all the laws of the Priesthood, and Eli, Phinehas, and Hophni were not ignorant, they understood the Priestly laws and ordinances very well.
This is what the man of God told Eli the Priest…
1 Samuel 2: 34 This will be the sign to you which will come concerning your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas: on the same day both of them will die. 35 But I will raise up for Myself a faithful priest who will do according to what is in My heart and in My soul; and I will build him an enduring house, and he will walk before My anointed always.36 Everyone who is left in your house will come and bow down to him for a piece of silver or a loaf of bread and say, “Please assign me to one of the priest’s offices so that I may eat a piece of bread.”’”
What we have in 1 Samuel 2:35 is a prophecy! MASSIVE CHANGES were coming to Israel! It was time to begin preparing for the Promised seed from Genesis Genesis 3:15!!! Eli and his two sons had “blown it” in the service of the Levitical Priesthood. Hophni and Phinehas would die on the same day (which they did at a later time (1 Sam 2:27-36; 3:11-14)!! The man of God told Eli that YHWH Elohim would be raising up for Himself a Faithful Priest, and He (God) would build him an enduring house, and he would walk before God’s anointed (Kings/CHRIST) always. This may have been a reference to not only Samuel, but also Zadok (1 Kings 2:27, 35), and ultimately to Christ (Messiah).
Samuel is the one person in Jewish history who approached the high rank of Moses, Israel’s founder (Jeremiah 15:1). With Samuel, a new order of things would begin. Prophecy, from being spasmodic and irregular, was about to become an established institution, and would soon take its place side by side with the priesthood in preparing for Christ’s (Messiah’s) advent, and in forming the Jewish nation to be the evangelisers of the world. Samuel would become the founder of the Old Testament Jewish Prophets to the NATION of Israel
Samuel marked a major turning point for the Jewish people. No longer would they be a disjointed group of 12 Tribes struggling to keep the land that YHWH had given them, but under the guidance of Samuel, God’s chosen Prophet and Judge, the Israelites would form a strong, united nation that would eventually be brought together under a single “King”.