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What an excellent example did Hannah set as a parent; may all mothers like her seize the earliest opportunity of impressing the yet unprejudiced mind with religious knowledge, which can alone secure the present and future happiness of their children!
SAMUEL'S MINISTRY -- A PROPHECY AGAINST ELI'S
From 1 Samuel, Chap. ii.
Now the sons of Eli were sons of Belial; they knew not the Lord.
And the priest's custom with the people was, that when any man offered sacrifice the priest's servant came, while the flesh was in seething, with a fleshhook of three teeth in his hand : and he struck it into the pan, or kettle, or caldron, or pot: all that the fleshhook brought up the priest took for himself. So they did in Shiloh unto all the Israelites that came thither.
Also before they burned the fat, the priest's servant came, and said to the man that sacrificed, Give flesh to roast for the priest: for he will not have sodden flesh of thee, but raw.
And if any man said unto him, Let them not fail to burn the fat presently, and then take as much as thy soul desireth : then he would answer him, Nay; but thou shalt give it me now: and if not, I will take it
Wherefore the sin of the young men was very great before the LORD: for men abhorred the offering of the LORD.
But Samuel ministered before the LORD, being a child, girded with a linen ephod.
Moreover his mother made him a little coat, and brought it to him from year to year, when she came up with her husband to offer the yearly sacrifice.
And Eli blessed Elkapah and his wife, and they went unto their own house, and the LORD blessed Hannah so that she had three sons and two daughters. And the child Samuel grew before the Lord.
Now Eli was very old, and heard all that his sons did unto Israel ; and he said unto them, Why do ye such things, for I hear of your dealings by all this people.
Nay, my sons : for it is no good report that I hear : ye make the LORD's people to transgress.
If one man sin against another, the judge shall judge him : but if a man sin against the LORD, who shall intreat for him ? notwithstanding, they hearkened not unto the voice of their father, wherefore the LORD would slay them.
And the child Samuel grew on, and was in favour both with the Lord, and also with men.
And there came a man of God unto Eli, and said unto him, Thus saith the Lord, Did I plainly appear unto the house of thy father, when they were in Egypt in Pharaoh's house and did I choose him out of all the tribes of Israel to be my priest, to offer upon
mine altar, to burn incense, to wear an ephod before me? and did I give unto the house of thy father all the offerings made by fire of the children of Israel?
Wherefore kick ye at my sacrifice and at my offering, which I have commanded in my habitation, and honourest thy sons above me, to make yourselves fat with the choicest of all the offerings of Israel my people? Wherefore the LORD God of Israel saith, I said indeed, that thy house and the house of thy father. should walk before me for ever: but now the Lord 9
saith, Be it far from me: for them that honour 'me I will honour, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed.
Behold, the days come that I will cut off thine arm, and the arm of thy father's house, that there shall not be an old man in thine house.
And thou shalt see an enemy in my habitation, in all the wealth which God shall give Israel: and there shall not be an old man in thine house for ever.
And the man of thine whom I shall not cut off from mine altar, shall be to consume thine eyes, and to grieve thine heart: and all the increase of thine house shall die in the flower of their age.
And this shall be a sign unto thee that shall come upon thy two sons, on Hophni and Phineas; in one day they shall die both of thein.
And I will raise me up a faithful priest, that shall do according to that which is in mine heart and in my mind: and I will build him a sure house; and he shall walk before mine Anointed for ever.
And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left in thine house shall come and crouch to him for a piece of silver and a morsel of bread, and shall say, Put me, I pray thee, into one of the priest's offices, that I may eat a piece of bread.
ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS.
It is said that Eli's sons were sons of Belial, that they knew not the LORD; this expression means, that they lived as if they were ignorant of God, and served him like an idol, not for his honour, but their own profit. Discontented with their allotted portion of the sacrifices made by fire, they seized some part of the peace. offerings which belonged to the offerers, at the very
instant when they are going to feast religiously with their friends : in short, they were guilty of many enormities of the most atrocious kind. What a beautiful contrast did the piety of Samuel afford!
Eli, a high-priest and supreme judge, had power to punish offenders; and in such a case, paternal love should have given way to zeal for God's glory; and though these wicked men were his own sons, he should have deprived them of the power of bringing the holy religion he professed into disrepute, by removing them from their office; instead of this he gave them only a few mild reproofs, which they totally disregarded.
As Eli was in other respects a good man, the LORD sent a prophet to him, to awaken him to his duty, that he might by repentance obtain pardon for himself; and the man of God reminded him in the name of the LORD, of the honourable distinction his family had long enjoyed, which would have been continued in that branch of Aaron's posterity, if they had not forfeited it; but, the sons of Eli had cast off God, there. fore he rejected them.
Eli was of the family of Ithamaz, Aaron's youngest son : how the priesthood came to be removed from the house of Eleazar the elder son, we are not told ; but it is likely that the last priest of this branch had been remiss in his duty, for which reason God deprived his descendants of the honour which he had promised to Phineas (the son of Eleazar)* for his zeal against the Midianites; but though the LORD suspended the blessing for a time, he was mindful of his covenant; he rea stored the priesthood, and established it afterwards in Eleazar's line.
There is in this section one text that demands particular attention, because it is a declaration from God * Numb. xxv. 12, 13.
Himself, that concerns all mankind. Those who honour me, I will honour ; and those who dishonour me shall be lightly regarded. It is thus explained by a learned and pious Divine.
* To honour God is to have an esteem and reverence for him, and to shew it to the world in such a manner, as may promote virtue and religion. To en• tertain just and worthy notions of him, of his power,
wisdom, justice, goodness, mercy; to love him, to • trust him, to desire to resemble him as nearly as our
nature permits, and in all things to consult his will. • To declare openly before men, that we do thus esteem . bim. To be constant and regular in the performance • of all public aets of religion. To set a good example • to others.
• We may likewise honour God by improving our • abilities, and discharging the duties of our station in • such a manner, as to procure respect to the religion . we profess, and the country to which we belong.
• He who has wealth honours God with his sub• stance when he relieves the poor, encourages honest . industry and useful knowledge. He who has learn•ing, wit, and judgment, honours God when he so • applies them, as to excite in other men's minds an • ambition of excelling in goodness. He who has
power, honours God when he discourages profaneness • and immorality, and, by his own illustrious example, endeavours to invite others to well-doing. He who has reputation, honours God when he employs it to
bring virtue into credit, and make vice unfashionable • and contemptible. He who is in the lowest station • honours God, when in his little sphere he shines an 4 example, to the poorer sort, of honesty, diligence, and sobriety; of contentment and reliance on God." * Jortin's Sermons, vol. 3.