Bible: 1 Samuel 2:11-4:22

2:11 Then Elkanah went back home to Ramah. But the boy was serving the Lord under the supervision of 1  Eli the priest.

Eli’s Sons Misuse Their Sacred Office

2:12 The sons of Eli were wicked men. 2  They did not recognize the Lord’s authority. 3  2:13 Now the priests would always treat the people in the following way: 4  Whenever anyone was making a sacrifice, while the meat was boiling, the priest’s attendant would come with a three-pronged fork 5  in his hand. 2:14 He would jab it into the basin, kettle, caldron, or pot, and everything that the fork brought up the priest would take for himself. This is what they used to do to all the Israelites 6  when they came there to Shiloh.

2:15 Even before they burned the fat, the priest’s attendant would come and say to the person who was making the sacrifice, “Hand over some meat for the priest to roast! He won’t take boiled meat from you, but only raw.” 7  2:16 If the individual said to him, “First let the fat be burned away, and then take for yourself whatever you wish,” he would say, “No! 8  Hand it over right now! If you don’t, I will take it forcibly!

2:17 The sin of these young men was very great in the Lord’s sight, for they 9  treated the Lord’s offering with contempt.

2:18 Now Samuel was ministering before the Lord. The boy was dressed in a linen ephod. 2:19 His mother used to make him a small robe and bring it up to him at regular intervals when she would go up with her husband to make the annual sacrifice. 2:20 Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife saying, “May the Lord raise up for you descendants 10  from this woman to replace the one that she 11  dedicated to the Lord.” Then they would go to their 12  home. 2:21 So the Lord graciously attended to Hannah, and she was able to conceive and gave birth to three sons and two daughters. The boy Samuel grew up at the Lord’s sanctuary. 13 

2:22 Now Eli was very old when he heard about everything that his sons used to do to all the people of Israel 14  and how they used to have sex with 15  the women who were stationed at the entrance to the tent of meeting. 2:23 He said to them, “Why do you behave in this way? For I hear about these evil things from all these 16  people. 2:24 This ought not to be, 17  my sons! For the report that I hear circulating among the Lord’s people is not good. 2:25 If a man sins against a man, one may appeal to God on his behalf. But if a man sins against the Lord, who then will intercede for him?” But Eli’s sons 18  would not listen to their father, for the Lord had decided 19  to kill them.

2:26 Now the boy Samuel was growing up and finding favor both with the Lord and with people.

The Lord Judges the House of Eli

2:27 A man of God came to Eli and said to him, “This is what the Lord says: ‘Did I not plainly 20  reveal myself to your ancestor’s 21  house when they were in Egypt in the house of Pharaoh? 2:28 I chose your ancestor 22  from all the tribes of Israel to be my priest, to offer sacrifice on my altar, to burn incense, and to bear the ephod before me. I gave to your ancestor’s house all the fire offerings made by the Israelites. 2:29 Why are you 23  scorning my sacrifice and my offering that I commanded for my dwelling place? 24  You have honored your sons more than you have me by having made yourselves fat from the best parts of all the offerings of my people Israel.’

2:30 Therefore the Lord, the God of Israel, says, ‘I really did say 25  that your house and your ancestor’s house would serve 26  me forever.’ But now the Lord says, ‘May it never be! 27  For I will honor those who honor me, but those who despise me will be cursed! 2:31 In fact, days are coming when I will remove your strength 28  and the strength 29  of your father’s house. There will not be an old man in your house! 2:32 You will see trouble in my dwelling place! 30  Israel will experience blessings, 31  but there will not be an old man in your 32  house for all time. 33  2:33 Any one of you that I do not cut off from my altar, I will cause your 34  eyes to fail 35  and will cause you grief. 36  All of those born to your family 37  will die in the prime of life. 38  2:34 This will be a confirming sign for you that will be fulfilled through your two sons, 39  Hophni and Phinehas: in a single day they both will die! 2:35 Then I will raise up for myself a faithful priest. He will do what is in my heart and soul. I will build for him a secure dynasty 40  and he will serve my chosen one for all time. 41  2:36 Everyone who remains in your house will come to bow before him for a little money 42  and for a scrap of bread. Each will say, ‘Assign me to a priestly task so I can eat a scrap of bread.’

The Call of Samuel

3:1 Now the boy Samuel continued serving the Lord under Eli’s supervision. 43  Word from the Lord was rare in those days; revelatory visions were infrequent.

3:2 Eli’s eyes had begun to fail, so that he was unable to see well. At that time he was lying down in his place, 3:3 and the lamp of God had not yet been extinguished. Samuel was lying down in the temple of the Lord as well; the ark of God was also there. 3:4 The Lord called to Samuel, and he replied, “Here I am! 3:5 Then he ran to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But Eli 44  said, “I didn’t call you. Go back and lie down.” So he went back and lay down. 3:6 The Lord again called, “Samuel!” So Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But Eli 45  said, “I didn’t call you, my son. Go back and lie down.”

3:7 Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord; the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him. 3:8 Then the Lord called Samuel a third time. So he got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me!” Eli then realized that it was the Lord who was calling the boy. 3:9 So Eli said to Samuel, “Go back and lie down. When he calls you, say, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” So Samuel went back and lay down in his place.

3:10 Then the Lord came and stood nearby, calling as he had previously done, “Samuel! Samuel!” Samuel replied, “Speak, for your servant is listening! 3:11 The Lord said to Samuel, “Look! I am about to do something in Israel; 46  when anyone hears about it, both of his ears will tingle. 3:12 On that day I will carry out 47  against Eli everything that I spoke about his house – from start to finish! 3:13 You 48  should tell him that I am about to judge his house forever because of 49  the sin that he knew about. For his sons were cursing God, 50  and he did not rebuke them. 3:14 Therefore I swore an oath to the house of Eli, ‘The sin of the house of Eli can never be forgiven by sacrifice or by grain offering.’

3:15 So Samuel lay down until morning. Then he opened the doors of the Lord’s house. But Samuel was afraid to tell Eli about the vision. 3:16 However, Eli called Samuel and said, “Samuel, my son!” He replied, “Here I am.” 3:17 Eli 51  said, “What message did he speak to you? Don’t conceal it from me. God will judge you severely 52  if you conceal from me anything that he said to you!

3:18 So Samuel told him everything. He did not hold back anything from him. Eli 53  said, “The Lord will do what he pleases.” 54  3:19 Samuel continued to grow, and the Lord was with him. None of his prophecies fell to the ground unfulfilled. 55  3:20 All Israel from Dan to Beer Sheba realized that Samuel was confirmed as a prophet of the Lord. 3:21 Then the Lord again appeared in Shiloh, for it was in Shiloh that the Lord had revealed himself to Samuel 56  through the word of the Lord. 57 

4:1 Samuel revealed the word of the Lord 58  to all Israel.

The Ark of the Covenant is Lost to the Philistines

Then the Israelites went out to fight the Philistines. 59  They camped at Ebenezer, 60  and the Philistines camped at Aphek. 4:2 The Philistines arranged their forces to fight 61  Israel. As the battle spread out, 62  Israel was defeated by 63  the Philistines, who 64  killed about four thousand men in the battle line in the field.

4:3 When the army 65  came back to the camp, the elders of Israel said, “Why did the Lord let us be defeated today by 66  the Philistines? Let’s take with us the ark of the covenant of the Lord from Shiloh. When it is with us, it will save us 67  from the hand of our enemies.

4:4 So the army 68  sent to Shiloh, and they took from there the ark of the covenant of the Lord of hosts who sits between the cherubim. Now the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phineas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God. 4:5 When the ark of the covenant of the Lord arrived at the camp, all Israel shouted so loudly 69  that the ground shook.

4:6 When the Philistines heard the sound of the shout, they said, “What is this loud shout in the camp of the Hebrews?” Then they realized that the ark of the Lord had arrived at the camp. 4:7 The Philistines were scared because they thought that gods had come to the camp. 70  They said, “Too bad for 71  us! We’ve never seen anything like this! 4:8 Too bad for us! Who can deliver us from the hand of these mighty gods? These are the gods who struck the Egyptians with all sorts of plagues in the desert! 4:9 Be strong and act like men, you Philistines, or else you will wind up serving the Hebrews the way they have served you! Act like men and fight!

4:10 So the Philistines fought. Israel was defeated; they all ran home. 72  The slaughter was very great; thirty thousand foot soldiers fell in battle. 4:11 The ark of God was taken, and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phineas, were killed.

Eli Dies

4:12 On that day 73  a Benjaminite ran from the battle lines and came to Shiloh. His clothes were torn and dirt was on his head. 4:13 When he arrived in Shiloh, Eli was sitting in his chair watching by the side of 74  the road, for he was very worried 75  about the ark of God. As the man entered the city to give his report, 76  the whole city cried out.

4:14 When Eli heard the outcry, 77  he said, “What is this commotion?” 78  The man quickly came and told Eli. 4:15 Now Eli was ninety-eight years old and his eyes looked straight ahead; 79  he was unable to see.

4:16 The man said to Eli, “I am the one who came from the battle lines! Just today I fled from the battle lines!” Eli 80  asked, “How did things go, my son? 4:17 The messenger replied, “Israel has fled from 81  the Philistines! The army has suffered a great defeat! Your two sons, Hophni and Phineas, are dead! The ark of God has been captured!

4:18 When he mentioned the ark of God, Eli 82  fell backward from his chair beside the gate. He broke his neck and died, for he 83  was old and heavy. He had judged Israel for forty years.

4:19 His daughter-in-law, the wife of Phineas, was pregnant and close to giving birth. When she heard that the ark of God was captured and that her father-in-law and her husband were dead, she doubled over and gave birth. But her labor pains were too much for her. 4:20 As she was dying, the women who were there with her said, “Don’t be afraid! You have given birth to a son!” But she did not reply or pay any attention. 84 

4:21 She named the boy Ichabod, 85  saying, “The glory has departed from Israel,” referring to the capture of the ark of God and the deaths of her father-in-law and her husband. 4:22 She said, “The glory has departed from Israel, because the ark of God has been captured.”

NET Bible Study Environment