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Volume 28 - Page 81 of 217 Index | Zoom | |
There is no need to enlarge upon the abominable actions of the sons of Eli, but we
might notice in passing the way in which the sad story is punctuated, as it were, by the
record of Samuel's growth:
"And the child Samuel grew before the Lord" (I Sam. 2: 21).
"And the child Samuel grew on, and was in favour both with the Lord, and also with
men" (I Sam. 2: 26).
"And Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him" (I Sam. 3: 19).
It has been objected that Samuel was but a Levite, and not a Priest, and that therefore
his offering of the sacrifices was illegal. There are two good answers to this objection:
When the Ark was in its place, and the worship of the Lord centralized, the
specific duties of the priests could be enforced; but at this time the Ark was
taken by the Philistines and Israel were without it for a period of twenty years
(I Sam. 7: 2).
In the days of apostacy the Lord has the right to suspend his laws to replace them
by others. This does not, of course, give man the right to change the ordinances of
the Lord on his own initiative.
The people had become so degraded that the ceremonial service, that should have
enabled them to see the truth of atonement and sanctification, had degenerated into an
unclean superstition, and Samuel was raised up, much like the prophets that succeeded
him, to tell the people that incense so offered was an abomination.
"Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the
voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifices and to hearken than the fat of
rams" (I Sam. 15: 22).
Two very suggestive names occur in this section of Samuel, namely Ichabod and
Ebenezer. When the punishment fell upon Hophni, Phinehas and Eli, and the Ark of the
Lord was taken by the Philistines, the news brought to the wife of Phinehas at a critical
time, for "she was with child, and near to be delivered" (I Sam. 4: 19). When she heard
what had happened she bowed herself and gave birth to a son.
"And about the time of her death, the women that stood by her said unto her, Fear not;
for thou hast born a son. But she answered not, neither did she regard it. And she named
the child Ichabod, saying, The glory is departed from Israel; because the ark of God was
taken, and because of her father-in-law and her husband" (I Sam. 4: 20, 21).
The second name, "Ebenezer" means a "Stone of Help". The stone was erected to
commemorate deliverance and was so named when the Philistines were obliged to return
the Ark whose capture had been associated with the name Ichabod. In these two
symbolic words we have a summing-up of the whole of Israel's history. No glory while
the Presence of the Lord is removed from them, but when at last that glory returns, as we
find in the closing chapters of Ezekiel, the sadness of the cry Ichabod will be turned to
rejoicing and the people will say, "Hitherto hath the Lord helped us".