**Scripture references have been highlighted in red and are hyperlinked to the LDS Scriptures at LDS.org and will open in a new window. Please click to read!
Resource quotes have been highlighted in blue and are noted at the end of the blog.
Recently we learned of Hannah, a great woman of the Old Testament that teaches us remarkable values and life skills in living righteously. Hannah took the grief of her childlessness to the Temple and there promised that if she were to be blessed with a son, she would dedicate him, all the days of his life, to the Lord (1 Sam. 1:9-11).
The Lord heard the prayer of Hannah and blessed her with a son whom she called Samuel, a name which means "Name of 'El (God)" or "his name is 'El." When she went to the temple at Shiloh to deliver her son to the Lord, by entrusting him to the ministry of the temple under the priest Eli, she prayed a prayer in the form of a song (or poem) of joyous thanksgiving and praise to the Lord (1 Sam. 2:1-10). This poem echoes themes of the omnipotence of God, his love for his children, and the justice that he metes out to them. It ends with the phrase "he shall give strength unto his king, and exalt the horn of his anointed" (1 Sam. 2:10), which is a clear allusion to the establishment of kingship in Israel in which Samuel was to play a part.
We learn about imperative righteous qualities from Hannah in 1 Samuel 1 as we now continue on to 1 Samuel 2–3; 1 Samuel 8 we can begin to understand the blessings of honoring and pleasing the Lord above ourselves, others, or the world. As taught through the prophet Eli, his sons, Samuel and Israel, we can see whom the Lord will honor. 1 Samuel 2:30
The Books of Samuel
The books of 1 and 2 Samuel include the period from the beginning of the Judges to the death of King David roughly 1100 BC to 961 BC. They describe the change in Israel from a tribal congregation to a more organized royal state. There was a shift during this time to a more centralized temple worship that led to Jerselum as a religious and political center.
In the Hebrew Bible these books form one. Our division into two books follows the Greek Bible. The books begin with the birth of Samuel (hence the title) and carry us down nearly to the death of David, a period of about 130 years. It is uncertain who the author was or when he wrote. In order to compile his narrative he no doubt used various writings that he found already in existence, including the state chronicles (among which were writings by Samuel, Nathan, and Gad, 1 Sam. 10:25; 1 Chr. 29:29). In some cases he has combined together two different accounts of the same event and has not always been careful to reconcile the two together (compare the two accounts of David’s introduction to Saul, 1 Sam. 16:14–23 and 17:1–18:5). He also made use of various national and religious poems, which may have been preserved in writing or by oral tradition, such as Hannah’s song (1 Sam. 2:1–10); David’s lament for Abner (2 Sam. 3:33–34); David’s thanksgiving and his last words (2 Sam. 22; 23:1–7); see also the reference to the Book of Jasher (2 Sam. 1:18). (Bible Dictionary King James)
Whom the Lord Will Honor
Part 1 The Sons of Eli Honor Themselves Above the Lord. 1 Samuel 2:12–17, 22–25.
By the time of Eli, who was the next to last judge to rule in Israel, two things were evident: "First, there was a common central place of worship at Shiloh, north of Jerusalem, where all were to assemble once each year. "Second, there seems to have been a sort of central government. Eli sat on his seat before the temple and in some way decided problems for the people." Washburn surmised that Eli was "an indulgent father, a humble, charitable, and easy-going priest and judge." Eli's sons, Hophni and Phinehas, were also priests and officiated at the sacrifice with their father. "But they were wicked, self-indulgent, and disobedient, and utterly disregarded the example and teachings of their father," wrote Washburn. "Of each animal sacrificed the priests were to be given a certain portion after it was boiled and cooked. These two men took what they pleased by force and roasted it to their liking regardless of the law. "Besides this evil, they were otherwise wicked and immoral and caused much sin and wickedness among the people. . . ." Because of the sons' transgressions, "a man of God" pronounced the Lord's curse upon Eli's house. (1 Sam. 2:27-34.)
In the following verses of the Sons of Eli commit trangressions and are counseled by their father. Hophni and Phinehas were sons of Eli, the high priest and were priests themselves. However, they were wicked. When Israelites came to offer sacrifices at the tabernacle Hophni and Phinehas forcibly took the flesh of the sacrificial animals before the fat portions had been burned on the altar. They also took some of the flesh that the offerer was boiling for the sacrificial meal (1 Samuel 2:12–17). These were serious transgressions of God’s laws, equivalent to robbing God. Eli’s sons also committed the extremely serious sin of seducing women who assembled at the door of the tabernacle (1 Samuel 2:22).
Now the sons of Eli sons of Belial; they knew not the .
Belial was an epithet meaning "worthlessness, evil"; the English translators capitalized it as if it were a cognomen for Satan, and, indeed, in New Testament times, Paul apparently so used it (2 Cor. 6:15; BD, "Belial"). The immoral and blasphemous acts of the sons of Eli justified the label.
And the priests’ custom with the people 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 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 burnt 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 any man said unto him, Let them not fail to burn the fat presently, and take as thy soul desireth; then he would answer him, but thou shalt give now: and if not, I will take by force.
Wherefore the sin of the young men was very great before the : for men abhorred the offering of the .Now Eli was very old, and heard all that his sons did unto all Israel; and how they lay with the women that assembled the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.
And he said unto them, Why do ye such things? for I hear of your evil dealings by all this people.
Nay, my sons; for no good report that I hear: ye make the ’s people to transgress
.If one man sin against another, the judge shall judge him: but if a man sin against the , who shall entreat for him? Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto the voice of their father, because the would slay them.
In what areas of our lives do we sometimes choose to honor and please ourselves rather than the Lord? Entertainment, Sabbath observance, Dating and morality, Fasting, Church callings...
Why do you think we sometimes choose to please ourselves rather the God?
What are the consequenses of honoring ourselves above God? For the sons of Eli under the law of Moses, willful disobedience to parents was punishable by death, and the parents were abliged to see that the punishment was carried out. The consequence for their choice to please themselves above God was death.
Can these consequences in our day, be similar for us?
In the above verses we read that A man of God warns Eli about the consequences of the wickedness in his family. Hophni and Phinehas compounded their already serous sins by disobeying their father, and Eli failed in his parental responsibility as well as in his office as the presiding priest. Although he rebuked his sons, he took no action to see that the abomination in his family and at the tabernacle was corrected. Therefore, “a man of God” (some unnamed prophet) came to Eli and pronounced the Lord’s curse upon Eli’s house because “[thou] honourest thy sons above me” That is, Eli’s relationship with his sons was of more value to him than his relationship with God.
What responsibility did Eli have when he learned of the wickedness of his sons? What did he do? 1 Samuel 2:22–25 To rebuke and correct their sins. Eli knew of his sons' grave violations not only of their priestly privileges (they had the right to certain portions of flesh and other food items offered in sacrifice, but they took more than allowed and demanded choice parts) but also of the commandments (their abuse of women worshippers emulated the behavior of the priests of fertility cults in Canaan).
Now Eli was very old, and heard all that his sons did unto all Israel; and how they lay with the women that assembled the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.
And he said unto them, Why do ye such things? for I hear of your evil dealings by all this people.
Nay, my sons; for no good report that I hear: ye make the ’s people to transgress.
If one man sin against another, the judge shall judge him: but if a man sin against the , who shall entreat for him? Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto the voice of their father, because the would slay them.
What was their response? 1 Samuel 2:25
Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto the voice of their father, because the would slay them.
After reprimanding his sons, Eli did nothing further to correct the terrible sins in his family and at the tabernacle. As a result, a man of God came and chastised him, telling him that he honored his sons more than God 1 Samuel 2:27–29
And there came a man of God unto Eli, and said unto him, Thus saith the , 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 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 mine offering, which I have commanded habitation; and honourest thy sons above me, to make yourselves fat with the chiefest of all the offerings of Israel my people?
In what way had Eli honored his sons more than God? The priest reproved his sons, but he did not effectively restrain them.
What did the man of God say would happen to the house of Eli? 1 Samuel 2:30–35.
Wherefore the God of Israel saith, I said indeed thy house, and the house of thy father, should walk before me for ever: but now the 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 habitation, in all which shall give Israel: and there shall not be an old man in thine house for ever.
And the man of thine, I shall not cut off from mine altar, 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 a sign unto thee, that shall come upon thy two sons, on Hophni and Phinehas; in one day they shall die both of them.
And I will raise me up a faithful priest, shall do according to which in mine heart and in my mind: and I will build him a sure house; and he shall walk before mine anointed for ever.
In what ways do we sometimes honor other people more than God? We allow our peers to persuade us to do something we know is wrong. We act dishonestly because we are afraid of what other people might think of us. We fail to correct family members or friends in their wrongdoing because we want to maintain good relations with them.
President Joseph F. Smith taught: “There should [not] be any of us so unwisely indulgent, so thoughtless and so shallow in our affection for our children that we dare not check them in a wayward course, in wrong-doing and in their foolish love for the things of the world more than for the things of righteousness, for fear of offending them” (Gospel Doctrine, 5th ed. , 286).
How can parents fulfill their responsibility toward wayward children in a spirit of love? We have no choice but to declare what is and what should be. We do not lower our vision or dilute our ideals as a concession to a decaying society. And yet, there is much heart-ache among us, much distress over current failures in the home and family, even among the Latter-day Saints. The key is not to surrender our goals but to be more sensitive and solicitous of those who come up short. Not all of our little ones will be above average. Not all of our children will excel academically. Not all of our teenagers will be articulate, handsome, or charismatic. And not all of our posterity will choose the right. The odds are certainly greater that children will turn out properly if parents do their part to live the gospel, teach the gospel, and be active and involved in the Church. But we live in a world of risk; there are no guarantees. We knew that before we came here, and perhaps that is why so many of our spirit brothers and sisters followed Lucifer: "The contention in heaven was——Jesus said there would be certain souls that would not be saved; and the devil said he could save them all, and laid his plans before the grand council, who gave their vote in favor of Jesus Christ" (Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 357).
To hold on, to hope on in regard to the family is to face life and its challenges with courage and conviction, recognizing that God is in his heaven and knows of our sufferings. To proceed with hope is to live the gospel the best we can, to trust in the infinite power and never-ending mercy of Jesus Christ, and to surrender our burdens to him. Jesus is the Balm of Gilead. His is the soothing ointment that heals the wounds of the brokenhearted. To a degree, we each have wandered, just as do some of our children. "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way" (Isaiah 53:6). But thanks be to God, "he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows" (Isaiah 53:4). Because he has taken upon him our infirmities, he is filled with mercy and knows how to succor his people according to their individual needs (see Alma 7:12) (When a Child Wanders Robert L Millet)
What is the responsibility of children as their parents strive to lead them in righteousness?
Part 3 Samuel Honors the Lord 1 Samuel 3
Beginning wtih 1 Samuel 3:1-10 Samuel is called of the Lord.
And the child Samuel ministered unto the before Eli. And the word of the was precious in those days; no open vision.
And it came to pass at that time, when Eli laid down in his place, and his eyes began to wax dim, he could not see;
And ere the lamp of God went out in the temple of the , where the ark of God and Samuel was laid down
That the called Samuel: and he answered, Here I.
And he ran unto Eli, and said, Here I; for thou calledst me. And he said, I called not; lie down again. And he went and lay down.
And the called yet again, Samuel. And Samuel arose and went to Eli, and said, Here I; for thou didst call me. And he answered, I called not, my son; lie down again.
Now Samuel did not yet know the , neither was the word of the yet revealed unto him.
And the called Samuel again the third time. And he arose and went to Eli, and said, Here I; for thou didst call me. And Eli perceived that the had called the child.
Therefore Eli said unto Samuel, Go, lie down: and it shall be, if he call thee, that thou shalt say, Speak, ; for thy servant heareth. So Samuel went and lay down in his place.
And the came, and stood, and called as at other times, Samuel, Samuel. Then Samuel answered, Speak; for thy servant heareth.
All of us must choose each day whom we will honor and Sometimes we exchange things of great value for things of lesser value. What did Eli and his sons give up because of their choices? What things did Samuel tell the Israelites they would give up if they wanted a king? 1 Samuel 8:11–17. As we seek to honor the Lord, instead of the world, we will be blessed and we will have the strength, courage, and skills needed to endure to the end faithfully and well. The First Presidency has stated:, "We promise that as you keep these standards and live by the truths in the scriptures, you will be able to do your life's work with greater wisdom and skill and bear trials with greater courage. You will have the help of the Holy Ghost. You will feel good about yourself and will be a positive influence in the lives of others. You will be worthy to go to the temple to receive holy ordinances. These blessings and many more can be yours." (For The Strength of Youth, p2-3)
Old Testament Student Manual
Story of the Old Testament, by J.A. Washburn
Studies in Scripture, Vol. 3, Edited by Kent P. Jackson and Robert L. Millet;
October 1983 conference report
Keil and Delitzsch, Commentary, 2:2:35–36
Gospel Doctrine 5th edition
Latter-day Saint Commentary of the Old Testament Ellis Rasumussen
Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 357
When a Child Wanders Robert L Millet
Brigham Young University Speeches of the Year, Provo, 7 Feb. 1956
McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 789.
For Strength of Youth