“You have been singing about my goodness. Do you really understand goodness as it refers to Me? Every part of the motivation for Me to act is driven by My goodness – it is impossible for Me to do evil. It is impossible for Me even to think evil thoughts. Every thought and every act that flows from that is focused on good. How does that affect you? It means you can have every sense of security in My love, in My relationship with you. The difficulties and the evil that may impinge on you do not arise out of My goodness – though I may and do allow some of that it is so that it will highlight my goodness in contrast. So today appreciate My goodness, enjoy it and know that in everything I am for you and if I am for you who can be against you?”
The second part of 1 Samuel ch 2, comes at a great shock. In ch 1 and the first part of ch 2 we are introduced to this lovely, sweet devout woman, begging and believing God for an offspring. She follows the answer to her prayer with a beautiful psalm. and then we we follow her as she fulfils her vow to place Samuel in God’s service.
Then we are confronted by the two evil sons of Eli. It seems that this story serves two purposes. Firstly it links us with and reminds us of what the state that Israel was in at that time Cf Judges 21:25: “In those days Israel had no king, everyone did as he saw fit”. Secondly by using a huge contrast the writer brings the devotion of Hannah and Samuel to the fore.
Look at what is said about the two, Hophni and Phinehas. 2:12 “Eli’s sons were wicked men; they had no regard for the Lord”. 2:17, “They were treating the Lord’s offering with contempt”. (and of course they were thereby treating the Lord with contempt.) 2:25 “His sons , however, did not listen to their fathers rebuke, for it was the Lord’s will to put them to death”.
Notice in the next paragraph that Eli is complicit in his son’s evil ways: “Why do you honour your sons more than me?” The Lord reveals His anger and sadness at how the priesthood had sank since it was instituted and He pronounces a curse of lives cut short on the priestly house.
So here at the beginning of this book we see that God plans a new beginning against the background of this wickedness. 2:35 “I will raise up for myself a faithful priest, who will do what is in My mind……He will minister before my anointed one always”. At first thought one thinks He is speaking of Samuel. And so He probably is. However the faint picture looms on the horizon of a priest who also would be a king. As I read this I was taken back to 2:25 b “If a man sins against the Lord who will intercede for him?”
So here in this book we see how God is steering history onto His path again. The evil is going to be dealt with. However there is still a lot of water that must flow into the sea,
I was struck in this piece again at the major influence parents have on their children. On the one hand we have Hannah who through her devoting was able to guide Samuel in the direction God wanted him to go. One is reminded of Paul’s words to Timothy: “I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and I am persuaded now lives in you also” 2 Tim 1:5.
On the other hand we have Eli who clearly was not able to influence and discipline his two sons. In the process they were taking him down as well.
This passage reminded me again of how important it is to remain faithful to God’s calling. The difference between Hannah and Eli clearly seems to have been their own personal devotion to our Lord. We cannot be reminded of this too often. God bless for the next week.