Saturday, November 10, 2012

LXXXV - I Samual

The Book of I Samual

Author:              Unknown
Place:                 Israel and Judah
Main Subject:    Samual establishes Israel as a united kingdom

You've noticed I've often compared the Biblical Patriarchs with one another, ie. Boaz was Christ-like; Gideon much like Joshua; etc.  Samual is to be compared with Moses in his personal characteristics and leadership style.  Bear in mind that Samual was such a powerful leader that his fame as God's prophet (spokesman) spread from Ephraim to every tribe throughout Israel, as all tribes honored Samual's words.

The book of I Samual begins at the end of the period of the Judges.  Israel was a scattered group of twelve tribes who ruled themselves as each saw fit.  They had not purged the promised land of all non-Israelites as commissioned by God, and of course these Canaanites were the constant sourse of all of the individual tribes' problems.  Most or all the judges were territorial, thus the nation Israel was really twelve separate tribes with each having their own separate set of circumstances and problems.  Samual was to be a prophet to serve the entire nation, thus a uniting force for Israel.  At this particular time, the biggest oppressor was again the Philistines.  The most influencial person at this time was the priest Eli, who was now advancing in years and whose sons were not fit to succeed him.  But Eli was entrusted with the training of the child Samual, who is the obvious heir to Eli's authority.  This book covers so much History and I will have to take it slow in order to be thorough, so please be patient.  I want to cover at least the first two chapters in this post.

In the opening verses of the first chapter we read about a man named Elkanah, from the tribe of Ephraim.  Elkanah had two wives, Peninnah and Hannah.  {Allow me to address this polygamy:  Elkanah's polygamy was not in keeping with the ideal that God established for marriage in the beginning (Gen. 2:24), and the Old Testament never condoned it.  However, it was a general practice in the ancient world.  Even though Elkanah was a polygamist, he was a devoutly religious person, as he was careful to appear before the Lord at Shiloh on every ritual occasion, and he made sure that each member of his household participated properly.}  In the first 8 verses, its very clear that Elkanah loved Hannah more than he loved Pininnah, but Pininnah gave him children and Hannah could not.  {Hannah was in good company:  Sarah, Rebecah, Rachel.}  A woman being barren, especially in those days, was a serious affliction, akin to being a curse.  Hannah was distrought by this affliction, which was made even worse by Pininnah teasing Hannah about it.
In verses 9-18 we see that Hannah (while attending worship at Shiloh) prayed earnestly, howbeit silently.  So deeply in prayer was she, that Eli the High Priest thought she was drunk.  Hannah immediately took offense to this and corrected Eli.  This was a very special moment to Hannah, and she was not going to have it misunderstood by Eli or anyone else.  In verse 17 Eli sent sent her on her way with his blessings {I think he knew he accused her in haste and that he was in the presence of a truly Godly woman}.  When Hannah and her family returned to their home in Ramah, she concieved and gave birth to a son.  She named him Samual.  The name Samual meant "Because I have asked him of the Lord".  Hannah and Elkanah knew that Samual was a direct answer to prayer.  Hannah knew that she had promised to give her son to God, and actually dedicated him as a Nazarite (vs 11).  But Hannah kept Samual about two years until he was weaned.  Then, in vs 24, Hannah kept her promise.  She gave Samual to God by giving him to the priest Eli.  What a Godly woman.  You know she loved and appreciated her son above and beyond any other mother for ages and ages.  But not only did this saintly woman give up her son, but Hannah wrote a song, praising God for answring her prayer and giving her Samual.  (God blessed Hannah and Elkanah with many more children after she delivered Samual to Eli.)  Take time to read this song in chapter 2.  You can sense the depth of her love and appreciation for God.

Allow me to skip to verses 18-21 of chapter 2.  Hannah was Samual's mother and she always would be.  It says that when her and Elkanah would go to Shiloh to worship, Hannah would always bring Samual some clothes and probably other gifts.  I'll bet Hannah and Elkanah were so proud to see their son growing up to be everything they had hoped for and more. 

Back up to vss 12-17.  These verses give you an idea of just how corrupt Eli's sons are.  Eli's two sons were Hophni and Phinehas.  They stole from the Lord's portion.  What a bad idea.  They stole their portion before God got His.  I won't dwell on this, but no matter how busy Eli was, he was still commissioned to raise his children properly.  Children are a blessing from God (ask Hannah) and we, like Eli, must not shirk the responsibility of doing everything we can to raise them properly, out of obedience and respect for God.  In vs 22 we see that Eli has been made aware of his sons' evil ways (they even made the female temple servants to prostitute themselves).  These guys were making a mockery of their father and the priesthood itself.  But God steps in.  Look at vss 27--> as God takes this matter into His own hands.  Vs 30 "Those who honor Me I will honor, but those who dispise Me will be disdained."  God proceeds in vs 34 to pronounce a curse on Hophni and Phinehas.  Although God has decided their punishment, He is going to have Samual give this information to Eli, which we'll see in the .............

..........Next post:  Chapter 3  -  Samual Grows Up

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