1 Samuel 2


Hannah's prophetic hymn, 1-10.

Samuel ministers to the Lord, 11.

The abominable conduct of Eli's sons, 12-17.

Farther account of Samuel, and of the Divine blessing on

Elkanah and Hannah, 18-21.

Eli's reprehensible remissness towards his sons in not

restraining them in their great profligacy, 22-26.

The message of God to Eli, and the prophecy of the downfall of

his family, and slaughter of his wicked sons Hophni and

Phinehas, 27-36.


Verse 1. And Hannah prayed, and said] The Chaldee very properly

says, And Hannah prayed in the spirit of prophecy; for indeed the

whole of this prayer, or as it may be properly called oracular

declaration, is a piece of regular prophecy, every part of it

having respect to the future, and perhaps not a little of it

declaratory of the Messiah's kingdom.

Dr. Hales has some very good observations on this prophetic


"This admirable hymn excels in simplicity of composition,

closeness of connection, and uniformity of sentiment; breathing

the pious effusions of a devout mind, deeply impressed with a

conviction of God's mercies to herself in particular, and of his

providential government of the world in general; exalting the poor

in spirit or the humble-minded, and abasing the rich and the

arrogant; rewarding the righteous, and punishing the wicked.

Hannah was also a prophetess of the first class, besides

predicting her own fruitfulness, 1Sa 2:5, (for she bore six

children in all, 1Sa 2:21,) she foretold not only the more

immediate judgments of God upon the Philistines during her son's

administration, 1Sa 2:10, but his remoter judgments 'upon the

ends of the earth,' 1Sa 2:10, in the true spirit of the

prophecies of Jacob, Balaam, and Moses. Like them, she describes

the promised Saviour of the world as a KING, before there was any

king in Israel; and she first applied to him the remarkable

epithet MESSIAH in Hebrew, CHRIST in Greek, and ANOINTED in

English, which was adopted by David, Nathan, Ethan, Isaiah,

Daniel, and the succeeding prophets of the Old Testament; and by

the apostles and inspired writers of the New. And the allusion

thereto by Zacharias, the father of the Baptist, in his hymn,

Lu 1:69, where he calls Christ a

'horn of salvation,' and the beautiful imitation of it by the

blessed Virgin throughout in her hymn, Lu 1:46-55, furnishing the

finest commentary thereon, clearly prove that Hannah in her

rejoicing had respect to something higher than Peninnah her rival,

or to the triumphs of Samuel, or even of David himself; the

expressions are too magnificent and sublime to be confined to such

objects. Indeed the learned rabbi, David Kimchi, was so struck

with them that he ingenuously confessed that 'the King of whom

Hannah speaks is the MESSIAH,' of whom she spake either by

prophecy or tradition; for, continues he, 'there was a tradition

among the Israelites, that a great King should arise in Israel;

and she seals up her song with celebrating this King who was to

deliver them from all their enemies.' The tradition, as we have

seen, was founded principally on Balaam's second and third

prophecies, Nu 24:7-17; and we cannot but admire that

gracious dispensation of spiritual gifts to Hannah (whose name

signifies grace) in ranking her among the prophets who should

first unfold a leading title of the blessed Seed of the woman."

In the best MSS. the whole of this hymn is written in hemistich

or poetic lines. I shall here produce it in this order, following

the plan as exhibited in Kennicott's Bible, with some trifling

alterations of our present version:-

Ver. 1. My heart exulteth in Jehovah;

My horn is exalted in Jehovah.

My mouth is incited over mine enemies,

For I have rejoiced in thy salvation.

Ver. 2. There is none holy like Jehovah,

For there is none besides thee;

There is no rock like our God.

Ver. 3. Do not magnify yourselves, speak not proudly, proudly.

Let not prevarication come out of your mouth;

For the God of knowledge is Jehovah,

And by him actions are directed.

Ver. 4. The bows of the heroes are broken,

And the tottering are girded with strength.

Ver. 5. The full have hired out themselves for bread,

And the famished cease for ever.

The barren hath borne seven,

And she who had many children is greatly enfeebled.

Ver. 6. Jehovah killeth, and maketh alive;

He bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up.

Ver. 7. Jehovah maketh poor, and maketh rich;

He bringeth down, and he even exalteth.

Ver. 8. He lifteth up the poor from the dust;

From the dunghill he exalteth the beggar,

To make him sit with the nobles,

And inherit the throne of glory.

For to Jehovah belong the pillars of the earth,

And upon them he hath placed the globe.

Ver. 9. The foot of his saints he shall keep,

And the wicked shall be silent in darkness;

For by strength shall no man prevail.

Ver. 10. Jehovah shall bruise them who contend with him;

Upon them shall be thunder in the heavens.

Jehovah shall judge the ends of the earth;

And he shall give strength to his King.

And shall exalt the horn of his Messiah.

It is not particularly stated here when Hannah composed or

delivered this hymn; it appears from the connection to have been

at the very time in which she dedicated her son to God at the

tabernacle, though some think that she composed it immediately on

the birth of Samuel. The former sentiment is probably the most


Mine horn is exalted in the Lord] We have often seen that horn

signifies power, might, and dominion. It is thus constantly used

in the Bible, and was so used among the heathens. The following

words of Horace to his jar are well known, and speak a sentiment

very similar to that above:-

Tu spem reducis mentibus anxiis,

Viresque et addis CORNUA pauperi.

Hor. Odar. lib. iii., Od. 21, v. 18.

Thou bringest back hope to desponding minds; And thou addest

strength and horns to the poor man.

Paraphrastically expressed by Mr. Francis:-

"Hope, by thee, fair fugitive,

Bids the wretched strive to live.

To the beggar you dispense

Heart and brow of confidence."

In which scarcely any thing of the meaning is preserved.

My mouth is enlarged] My faculty of speech is incited, stirred

up, to express God's disapprobation against my adversaries.

Verse 2. None holy] HOLINESS is peculiar to the God of Israel;

no false god ever pretended to holiness; it was no attribute of

heathenism, nor of any religion ever professed in the world before

or since the true revelation of the true God.

There is none beside thee] There can be but one unoriginated,

infinite, and eternal Being; that Being is Jehovah.

Any rock like our God.] Rabbi Maimon has observed that the word

tsur, which we translate rock, signifies, when applied to

Jehovah, fountain, source, spring. There is no source whence

continual help and salvation can arise but our God.

Verse 3. A God of knowledge] He is the most wise, teaching all

good, and knowing all things.

Actions are weighed] nithkenu, they are directed; it

is by his counsel alone that we can successfully begin, continue,

or end, any work.

Verse 4. The bows of the mighty] The Targum considers the first

verse as including a prophecy against the Philistines; the second

verse, against Sennacherib and his army; the third, against

Nebuchadnezzar and the Chaldeans; the fourth, against the

Greeks; the fifth, against Haman and his posterity; and the

tenth, against Magog, and the enemies of the Messiah.

Verse 5. They that were full] All the things mentioned in these

verses frequently happen in the course of the Divine providence;

and indeed it is the particular providence of God that Hannah

seems more especially to celebrate through the whole of this

simple yet sublime ode.

Verse 6. The Lord killeth] God is the arbiter of life and death;

he only can give life, and he only has a right to take it away.

He bringeth down to the grave] The Hebrew word sheol,

which we translate grave, seems to have the same meaning in the

Old Testament with αδης, hades in the New, which is the word

generally used by the Septuagint for the other. It means the

grave, the state of the dead, and the invisible place, or

place of separate spirits. Sometimes we translate it hell, which

now means the state of perdition, or place of eternal torments;

but as this comes from the Saxon [Anglo-Saxon], to cover or

conceal, it means only the covered place. In some parts of

England the word helling is used for the covers of a book, the

slating of a house, &c. The Targum seems to understand it of

death and the resurrection. "He kills and commands to give life;

he causes to descend into Sheol, that in the time to come he may

bring them into the lives of eternity," i.e., the life of shame

and everlasting contempt, and the life of glory.

Verse 7. The Lord maketh poor] For many cannot bear affluence,

and if God should continue to trust them with riches, they would

be their ruin.

Maketh rich] Some he can trust, and therefore makes them

stewards of his secular bounty.

Verse 8. To set them among princes] There have been many cases

where, in the course of God's providence, a person has been raised

from the lowest and most abject estate to the highest; from the

plough to the imperial dignity: from the dungeon to the throne;

from the dunghill to nobility. The story of Cincinnatus is well

known; so is that of the patriarch Joseph; but there is one not

less in point, that of Roushen Akhter, who was brought out of a

dungeon, and exalted to the throne of Hindustan. On this

circumstance the following elegant couplet was made:-



"He was a bright star, but now is become a moon,

Joseph is taken from prison, and is become a king."

There is a play here on Roushen Akhter, which signifies a bright

star; and there is an allusion to the history of the patriarch

Joseph, because of the similarity of fortune between him and the

Mohammedan prince.

For the pillars of the earth are the Lord's] He is almighty, and

upholds all things by the word of his power.

Verse 9. He will keep the feet of his saints] He will order and

direct all their goings, and keep them from every evil way.

The wicked shall be silent in darkness] The Targum understands

this of their being sent to the darkness of hell; they shall be


By strength shall no man prevail.] Because God is omnipotent,

and no power can be successfully exerted against him.

Verse 10. The adversaries of the Lord shall be broken] Those who

contend with him, meribaiu, by sinning against his laws,

opposing the progress of his word, or persecuting his people.

Shall judge the ends on the earth] His empire shall be extended

over all mankind by the preaching of the everlasting Gospel, for

to this the afterpart of the verse seems to apply: He shall give

strength unto his king, and shall exalt the horn of his Christ,

or, as the Targum says, viribbey malcuth

Meshicheyh, "he shall multiply the kingdom of the Messiah." Here

the horn means spiritual as well as secular dominion.

After the clause, The adversaries of the Lord shall be broken

to pieces, the Septuagint add the following words: μηκαυχασθωο

φρονιμοςεντηφρονησειαυτουκτλ Let not the wise man glory

in his wisdom and let not the rich man glory in his riches; but

let him who glorieth rather glory in this, that he understandeth

and knoweth the Lord; and that he executeth judgment and

righteousness in the midst of the earth. This is a very long

addition, and appears to be taken from Jer 9:23, but on collating

the two places the reader will find the words to be materially

different. This clause is wanting in the Complutensian Polyglot,

but it is in the edition of Aldus, in that of Cardinal Caroffa,

and in the Codex Alexandrinus.

Verse 11. And Elkanah went to Ramah] Immediately after the 10th

verse, the Septuagint add, καικατελιπεναυτονεκειενωπιον

κυριουκαιαπηλθενειςαραματαια, And she left him there before

the Lord, and went unto Arimathea. Thus the Septuagint suppose

that the song of Hannah was composed when she brought Samuel to

present him to the Lord; and as soon as she had completed this

fine ode, she delivered him into the hands of Eli the high priest,

and the child entered immediately on his ministration, under the

direction and instructions of Eli.

Verse 12. The sons of Eli were sons of Belial] They were

perverse, wicked, profligate men; devil's children. They knew not

the Lord.

"THEY know! nor would an angel show Him;

They would not know, nor choose to know Him."

These men were the principal cause of all the ungodliness of

Israel. Their most execrable conduct, described 1Sa 2:13-17,

caused the people to abhor the Lord's offering. An impious

priesthood is the grand cause of the transgressions and ruin of

any nation; witness France, Germany, Spain, Ac., from 1792 to


Verse 13. When any man offered sacrifice] That is, when a

peace-offering was brought, the right shoulder and the breast

belonged to the priest, the fat was burnt upon the altar, and the

blood was poured at the bottom of the altar; the rest of the flesh

belonged to the offerer. Under pretence of taking only their own

part, they took the best of all they chose, and as much as they


Verse 14. Kettle-caldron, or pot] We know not what these were,

nor of what capacity; nor is it of any consequence.

Verse 15. Before they burnt the fat] They would serve themselves

before GOD was served! This was iniquity and arrogance of the

first magnitude.

He will not have sodden flesh] He chooses roast meat, not

boiled; and if they had it in the pot before the servant came,

he took it out that it might be roasted.

Verse 17. Wherefore the sin of the young men was very great]

That is, Hophni and Phinehas, the sons of Eli.

Men abhorred the offering] As the people saw that the priests

had no piety, and that they acted as if there was no God; they

despised God's service, and became infidels.

A national priesthood, when the foundation is right, may be a

great blessing; but if the priesthood becomes corrupt, though the

foundation itself stand sure, the corruption of the national

manners will be the unavoidable consequence.

Verse 18. Girded with a linen ephod] This the Targum translates

asir cardut debuts, "Girded with a cardit of

byssus, or fine linen." The word cardut they seem to have borrowed

from the Greek χειριδωτος, a tunic, having χειριδας, i.e.,

sleeves that came down to, or covered, the hands. This was

esteemed an effeminate garment among the Romans. See Buxtorf's

Talmudic Lexicon.

Verse 19. Made him a little coat] meil katon, a little

cloak, or surtout, an upper garment: probably intended to keep

him from the cold, and to save his other clothes from being abused

in his meaner services. It is probable that she furnished him with

a new one each year, when she came up to one of the annual


Verse 20. Eli blessed Elkanah] The natural place of this verse

seems to be before the 11th; after which the 21st should come in;

after the 21st, perhaps the 26th should come in.

1Sa 2:11, 21, 26. The subjects in this chapter seem very much

entangled and confused by the wrong position of the verses.

Verse 22. They lay with the women that assembled] It is probable

that these were persons who had some employment about the

tabernacle. See Clarke on Ex 38:8, where the Hebrew text is

similar to that in this place.

Verse 23. Why do ye such things!] Eli appears to have been a

fondly affectionate, easy father, who wished his sons to do well,

but did not bring them under proper discipline, and did not use

his authority to restrain them. As judge, he had power to cast

them immediately out of the vineyard, as wicked and unprofitable

servants; this he did not, and his and their ruin was the


Verse 25. If one man sin against another] All differences

between man and man may be settled by the proper judge; but if a

man sin against the Supreme Judge, God himself, who shall

reconcile him to his Maker? Your sin is immediately against God

himself, and is the highest insult that can be offered, because it

is in the matter of his own worship, therefore ye may expect his

heaviest judgments.

But if a man sin against the Lord, who shall entreat for him?]

This was a question of the most solemn importance under the old

covenant, especially after the death of Moses, the mediator. The

law had determined what sins should be punished with death; and it

was supposed that there was not any appeal from the decision there

pronounced. 1Jo 2:1 is an answer to this question; but it is an

answer which the Gospel alone can give: My little children, these

things write I unto you, that ye sin not; but if any man sin, we

have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.

Because the Lord would slay them.] The particle ki, which

we translate because, and thus make their continuance in sin the

effect of God's determination to destroy them, should be

translated therefore, as it means in many parts of the sacred

writings. See Noldius's Particles, where the very text in question

is introduced: Sed non auscultarunt, &c., IDEO voluit Jehova eos

interficere; "But they would not hearken, &c.; THEREFORE God

purposed to destroy them." It was their not hearkening that

induced the Lord to will their destruction.

Verse 27. There came a man of God] Who this was we know not, but

the Chaldee terms him nebiya daya, a prophet of Jehovah.

Unto the house of thy father] That is, to Aaron; he was the

first high priest; the priesthood descended from him to his eldest

son Eleazar, then to Phinehas. It became afterwards established in

the younger branch of the family of Aaron; for Eli was a

descendant of Ithamar, Aaron's youngest son. From Eli it was

transferred back again to the family of Eleazar, because of the

profligacy of Eli's sons.

Verse 28. And did I choose him] The high priesthood was a place

of the greatest honour that could be conferred on man, and a place

of considerable emolument; for from their part of the sacrifices

they derived a most comfortable livelihood.

Verse 29. Wherefore kick ye at my sacrifice] They disdained to

take the part allowed by law; and would take for themselves what

part they pleased, and as much as they pleased, 1Sa 2:13-16: thus

they kicked at the sacrifices.

Honourest thy sons above me] Permitting them to deal, as above,

with the offerings and sacrifices, and take their part before the

fat, &c., was burnt unto the Lord: thus they were first served. At

this Eli connived, and thus honoured his sons above God.

Verse 30. Should walk before me for ever] See Ex 29:9; 40:15;

Nu 25:10-13, where it is positively promised that the

priesthood should be continued in the family of Aaron FOR EVER.

But although this promise appears to be absolute, yet we plainly

see that, like all other apparently absolute promises of God, it

is conditional, i.e., a condition is implied though not


But now-be it far from me] You have walked unworthily; I shall

annul my promise, and reverse my ordinance. See Jer 18:9, 10.

For them that honour me] This is a plan from which God will

never depart; this can have no alteration; every promise is made

in reference to it; "they who honour God shall be honoured; they

who despise him shall be lightly esteemed."

Verse 31. I will cut off thine arm] I will destroy the strength,

power, and influence of thy family.

Verse 32. Thou shalt see an enemy in my habitation] Every

version and almost every commentator understands this clause

differently. The word tsar, which we translate an enemy, and

the Vulgate aemulum, a rival, signifies calamity; and this is

the best sense to understand it in here. The calamity which he saw

was the defeat of the Israelites, the capture of the ark, the

death of his wicked sons, and the triumph of the Philistines. All

this he saw, that is, knew to have taken place, before he met with

his own tragical death.

In all the wealth which God shall give Israel] This also is

dark. The meaning may be this: God has spoken good concerning

Israel; he will, in the end, make the triumph of the Philistines

their own confusion; and the capture of the ark shall be the

desolation of their gods; but the Israelites shall first be sorely

pressed with calamity. See the margin.

There shall not be an old man] This is repeated from the

preceding verse, all the family shall die in the flower of their

years, as is said in the following verse.

Verse 33. And the man of thine] Of this passage Calmet observes:

"The posterity of Eli possessed the high priesthood to the time of

Solomon; and even when that dynasty was transferred to another

family, God preserved that of Eli, not to render it more happy,

but to punish it by seeing the prosperity of its enemies, to the

end that it might see itself destitute and despised. This shows

the depth of the judgments of God and the grandeur of his justice,

which extends even to distant generations, and manifests itself to

sinners both in life and death; both in their own disgrace, and in

the prosperity of their enemies."

Verse 34. They shall die both of them.] Hophni and Phinehas were

both killed very shortly after in the great battle with the

Philistines in which the Israelites were completely routed, and

the ark taken. See 1Sa 4:1-11.

Verse 35. A faithful priest] This seems to have been spoken of

Zadok, who was anointed high priest in the room of Abiathar, the

last descendant of the house of Eli; see 1Ki 2:26, 27. Abiathar

was removed because he had joined with Adonijah, who had got

himself proclaimed king; see 1Ki 1:7.

I will build him a sure house] I will continue the priesthood in

his family.

He shall walk before mine Anointed] He shall minister before

Solomon, and the kings which shall reign in the land. The Targum

says, "He shall walk kodam Meshichi, before my MESSIAH,"

and the Septuagint expresses it, ενωπιονξριστουμον, "before my

CHRIST; " for, in their proper and more extended sense, these

things are supposed to belong to our great High Priest and the

Christian system: but the word may refer to the Israelitish

people. See Clarke on Heb 9:26.

Verse 36. Shall come and crouch to him] Shall prostrate himself

before him in the most abject manner, begging to be employed even

in the meanest offices about the tabernacle, in order to get even

the most scanty means of support.

A piece of silver] agorath keseph, translated by the

Septuagint, οβολουαργυριου, an obolus of silver. The Targum

translates it mea, which is the same as the Hebrew gerah,

and weighed about sixteen grains of barley.

A morsel of bread] A mouthful; what might be sufficient to keep

body and soul together. See the sin and its punishment. They

formerly pampered themselves, and fed to the full on the Lord's

sacrifices; and now they are reduced to a morsel of bread. They

fed themselves without fear; and now they have cleanness of teeth

in all their dwellings. They wasted the Lord's heritage, and now

they beg their bread!

IN religious establishments, vile persons, who have no higher

motive, may and do get into the priest's office, that they may

clothe themselves with the wool, and feed themselves with the fat,

while they starve the flock. But where there is no law to back the

claims of the worthless and the wicked, men of piety and solid

merit only can find support; for they must live on the free-will

offerings of the people. Where religion is established by law, the

strictest ecclesiastical discipline should be kept up, and all

hireling priests and ecclesiastical drones should be expelled

from the Lord's vineyard. An established religion, where the

foundation is good, as is ours, I consider a great blessing; but

it is liable to this continual abuse, which nothing but careful

and rigid ecclesiastical discipline can either cure or prevent. If

our high priests, our archbishops and bishops, do not their duty,

the whole body of the clergy may become corrupt or inefficient. If

they be faithful, the establishment will be an honour to the

kingdom, and a praise in the earth.

The words pillars of the earth, metsukey erets, Mr.

Parkhurst translates and defends thus: "The compressors of the

earth; i.e., the columns of the celestial fluid which compress or

keep its parts together." This is all imaginary; we do not know

this compressing celestial fluid; but there is one that answers

the same end, which we do know, i.e., the AIR, the columns of

which press upon the earth in all directions; above, below,

around, with a weight of fifteen pounds to every square inch; so

that a column of air of the height of the atmosphere, which on the

surface of the globe measures one square inch, is known by the

most accurate and indubitable experiments to weigh fifteen pounds.

Now as a square foot contains one hundred and forty-four square

inches, each foot must be compressed with a weight of incumbent

atmospheric air equal to two thousand one hundred and sixty

pounds. And as the earth is known to contain a surface of five

thousand five hundred and seventy-five billions of square feet;

hence, allowing two thousand one hundred and sixty pounds to each

square foot, the whole surface of the globe must sustain a

pressure of atmospheric air equal to twelve trillions and

forty-one thousand billions of pounds; or six thousand and

twenty-one billions of tons. This pressure, independently of what

is called gravity, is sufficient to keep all the parts of the

earth together, and perhaps to counteract all the influence of

centrifugal force. But adding to this all the influence of

gravity or attraction, by which every particle of matter tends

to the centre, these compressors of the earth are sufficient to

poise, balance, and preserve the whole terraqueous globe. These

pillars or compressors are an astonishing provision made by the

wisdom of God for the necessities of the globe. Without this,

water could not rise in fountains, nor the sap in vegetables.

Without this, there could be no respiration for man or beast, and

no circulation of the blood in any animal. In short, both

vegetable and animal life depend, under God, on these pillars or

compressors of the earth; and were it not for this compressing

power, the air contained in the vessels of all plants and animals

would by its elasticity expand and instantly rupture all those

vessels, and cause the destruction of all animal and vegetable

life: but God in his wisdom has so balanced these two forces,

that, while they appear to counteract and balance each other, they

serve, by mutual dilations and compressions, to promote the

circulation of the sap in vegetables, and the blood in animals.

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