1 Samuel 2: The Child Samuel
Primary and Junior
We learned how Hannah prayed at the tabernacle, how she cried and was very sad. Now she prayed again, and this time it was a glad prayer of thanksgiving. Samuel had been born; and she thanked the Lord with all her heart. We read her words in the first ten verses of the chapter. At the same time the mother had brought the little Samuel, now perhaps six or seven years old, to lend him to the Lord for all his life. His home would be at the tabernacle. He would live with the priests and help them in their work, and by and by be himself the Lord's faithful priest and prophet.
What was the work of the priests, in which the little Samuel helped? There was the care of the holy building itself with its walls and curtains. Then there was the golden lamp, whose cups must be filled each day with olive-oil and the wicks trimmed; and the lamps must be lighted every evening. Opposite to the lamp was the golden table on which thin cakes of bread must be carefully arranged in piles before the Lord, and the old bread must be changed for new each Sabbath. Incense must be burned morning and evening on the little altar, which would send up a sweet fragrance with the people's prayers. Out in the court, near the door of the tabernacle, was the laver to hold water; and the priests must wash their hands and feet there before doing sacrifice or going into the tabernacle. There was also in the court the altar of burnt offering with its fire that must never go out, and there was much work for the priests at this altar.
We must learn a little about the offerings that were made on the altar. They were of animals, calves and lambs and doves, and of the fruits of the field, flour and oil. Some offerings were made at regular times, as the offering of a lamb every morning and evening; others were made whenever the people brought them to the tabernacle.
There were also different ways of making the offerings, which are described in the Book of Leviticus. Some were wholly burnt upon the altar; of others only a small part was burnt, and the greater part was returned to those who brought it, and was eaten by them as a sacred feast. Read again 1 Sam. 1:4-9. A part of some offerings was also given to the priests to eat, and it was told in the law just what their part should be of meat and of flour. In the case of "peace offerings," which were offerings of thanksgiving, the fat should be burned upon the altar, the breast should be waved before the Lord and should then be given to Aaron and his sons, and the right shoulder should be given to the priest who did the service and burned the fat upon the altar. (Lev. 7:28-34)
Eli's sons did wrong in taking for themselves from the offerings much more than their rightful part, and also in taking their part first before the fat had been burned upon the altar; sometimes they did not burn the fat at all. The sons of Eli did worse wrong in other ways, and their old father rebuked them but did not prevent it. They could not be priests much longer. "Sons of Belial" mean wicked men.
Very beautiful garments were made for Aaron when he was made high priest. One of them was the ephod. It was a beautiful vest fastened on the shoulders and around the waist and on the front of it was fastened the breastplate of precious stones. (Exod. 28:6-14) The little Samuel was girded with a linen ephod; he wore a priestly vest of plain white linen. And Samuel's mother made him a little coat and brought it to him from year to year. The coat is called by the same name as Aaron's outer robe. (Exod. 28:31-35) It did not have all the beauty of Aaron's robe, but the loving mother made it with her own hands.
1. Tell me about the two prayers that Hannah prayed at the tabernacle. Why was the first one sad and the second grateful?
2. What was some of the work of the priests at the tabernacle, in which Samuel helped?
3. How was Samuel dressed?
4. Who was the old priest in Shiloh? What wrong did his sons do in regard to the offerings which the people brought?
How nearly the words spoken of the child Samuel are like words spoken of the Lord when He was a child in Nazareth! (1 Sam. 2:26 and Luke 2:52) Other things in the chapter remind us that Samuel was a type of the Lord. Hannah's prayer of thanksgiving is much more than a thanksgiving for Samuel's birth. Like Zacharias, and like Simeon and Anna, she was inspired to speak words which are a thanksgiving for the Lord's coming and for His saving work. Hannah's prayer especially reminds us of the words of the mother Mary at the house of Elizabeth. (Luke 1:46-55) What is said also in verse 35 about the "faithful priest" looks beyond Samuel to the Lord.
The offering of animals and of fruits of the earth, which was a large part of the Jewish worship, represents the acknowledgment that every good thing natural and spiritual is the Lord's, and the devoting of them to His service. But when some good thing is acknowledged to be the Lord's we do not lose it. We still enjoy it and share it with others, but in a holier way. And this was represented by the returning of the offering, when it had been consecrated, to the one who brought it, to be eaten as a sacred feast. We take the fat to the altar when we acknowledge that all delight in good is the Lord's. The breast and right shoulder given to the priest are the happy sense of the love and power of the Lord, as we do our work, enjoy our pleasures, live our life, as a feast sacred to Him. The sin of Eli's sons in claiming their own part first and neglecting to offer the fat is the sin of everyone who forgets that good is only from the Lord. Like them, we demand more than the appointed portion when we are not content with the sense of the Lord's love and power in our life, but look for selfish excitement and indulgence. (A. 10075, 10093)
Any outer thing which clothes a more interior thing is as a garment. In the Bible, garments especially represent the thoughts and expressions which clothe the living affections of the heart. The Lord's garments in the Gospels represent the thoughts and words which clothe His love. Samuel was a type of the Lord, and the ephod and little coat which the child Samuel wore represent the expressions of His love, even as a child. The linen ephod suggests the truthfulness and rightness of His life. (Rev. 19:8) The little coat made by his mother year by year, like the swaddling clothes which Mary wrapped about the Lord, suggests the instruction which a child needs in regard to useful and becoming ways of life, and the instruction which even the Lord as a child received from the Scriptures. (A. 5433; E. 240)