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apprehension any longer for the fate of the chosen son of the prophets in his college home-possibly in people, knowing that David was ready to step into the Naioth of Ramah-out of these materials made his the breach, conscious that to such a hero-king-strong selection, and wrote down, for the teaching of the Israel in the devoted love of the nation-a splendid future of his own time and-unconsciously, no doubt, as far as indeed lay before Israel. That future is painted in the he was concerned-for the instruction of a long series Second Book of Samuel, which describes at length the of generations yet unborn, the strange story of the splendour and glory of the reign of David, the man rise of his people to grandeur and to power. after God's own heart.
In this inspired chronicle of our book the youth of 1. DATE OF WRITING.-In the first section of this Israel, in the days of the kings, would find an answer Introduction the probable date has been assumed to be to the question, "What changed their nation from the the reign of King Rehoboam, the son of Solomon (see too loose aggregate of Bedouin tribes' of the days of Eli the Note on p. 1). There are a few notes of time in the into the mighty, world-famed Israel of the magnificent two Books of Samuel, which were most probably written Solomon ?" It was a noble story, and one well fitted or compiled by one hand, for instance, the statement, to inspire a new, bright confidence in the mighty arm Ziklag pertaineth unto the kings of Judah unto this of Jehovah.
day” (1 Sam. xxvii. 6), plainly tells us the separation of
Israel had already taken place; in the six stories reII. The Original Sources of the Book. Two specting some of the principal heroes of David's army, well-known passages in the Book of Chronicles- at the end of the Second Book (chap. xxiii. 8–39), the referred to below -inform us of certain original compiler is evidently uncertain as to their proper place writings which issued most probably from the pro- in the life of David : thus a considerable time must phetic schools founded by Samuel. These writings, or have elapsed before the tradition of the exact period in moirs, without doubt, form the basis of the two when these events happened could have died out. The Books of Samuel.
chronology, too, of Saul's reign is also indefinite. All To these written records we must add a mass of well- this points to a date for the composition some time after authenticated oral traditions, which — assuming the David's death. But, on the other hand, the language Books of Samuel were written, as we suppose, in the is pure, and virtually free from Chaldaisms and later reign of King Rehoboam, or even a little later, in the forms of Hebrew, being in this respect different from reign of Jehoshaphat-must have been well known to the the Books of Kings, where the Hebrew used belonged prophetic scribes. We read also in 1 Chron. xxvii. 24 evidently to a later date. There are absolutely no hints of an historical work relating to the government of as to the subsequent disasters of the people and the David, entitled, “The Chronicles of King David” exile. Thenius, Keil, and Erdmann place the com(Diaries or Annals of King David).* We safely position in the times of Rehoboam; Dean Payne infer that all the principal events of his reign were
Smith, a little later, probably in the days of King included in these chronicles. These amals-probably Jehoshaphat. On the whole, it seems most probable of a statistical, historical character, since the reference that in the latter days of King Rehoboam our book to them occurs in the midst of lists of state and military was compiled in its present form. officials-were, no doubt, also in the possession of the writer of the Books of Samuel.
2. CHARACTER OF THE BOOK.-It is more than In 1 Chron. xxix. 29 the following statement concern. a mere historic record of the fortunes of Israel during ing contemporary literature occurs: “Now the acts of the momentous period of their rapid rise from semi. David the king, behold they are written in the acts of barbarism to a state of comparatively high civilisationSamuel the seer (the Roch), and in the acts of Nathan more than a brilliant and vivid biography of certain of the prophet (the Nabi), and in the acts of Gad the seer the most gifted and famous of the children of Israel : (the Chozeh).” We conclude then that for the narrative Eli, Samuel, David, and Saul. Careful students of the of Eli's times, for the details respecting himself, for book have particularly noticed its deep religious spirit, much of Saul's story, for many of the events related in which respect it is said to take* the highest rank (in the First Book of Samuel) of David's early career- among the historical books of the Old Testament. the principal written authority was the Books of the Acts Samuel—by far the most prominent figure—is throughof Samuel the Seer (Roch). The acts of Gad the seer out the instrument of the Divine working; Saul the (Chozeh) were, there is little doubt, the foundation of a king is anointed by Divine command, and prospers with large portion of the narrative of the desert wander- his doings only so long as “the Spirit of the Lord" ings of David. Nathan the prophet (Nabi) supplies remains with him; the instant that “Spirit,” whose materials for the life and work of David in the so- blessed influence was quenched by Saul's self-will and called Second Book of Samuel. Each of the prophets, reliance, departs, success departs too from Saul's armies, it is evident, recorded the events of his own times. and peace and prosperity from his house. From the But besides these written contemporary memoirs, and sad moment of the separation from the king of the the well - authenticated oral traditions which were Spirit of the Lord, the course of the royal life is current in his time, the prophet-writer has in. downwards. No gallantry or determination can avert corporated in his history certain songs and verses of the catastrophe, and the life of the disobedient songs from poems, such as the “Song of Hannah,” |-"anointed of the Lord ” closes in clouds and thick "the folk-song respecting the victories of Saul,” and
darkness. the still more glorious deeds of David ; and notably, in His divinely appointed successor, in his first great the second book, “ the elegy of David on Saul and deed of arms, and in his subsequent military successes, Jonathan,” taken directly from the Book of the Upright is ever assisted to victory by the “glorious arm” of the (Yashar); he has also made use of certain psalms and Lord; by the same protection he is preserved through songs composed by David.
numberless persecutions and deadly perils, and is led Guided by the “ Spirit of the Lord,” the unknown higher and higher by the same Almighty Hand, till,
• Keil, Introduction to the Books of Samuel.
• Dr. Erdmann, in Lange, Comm.: Introduction, Section IV.
without crime or plotting, he mounts his fallen prede- III. Messianic Teaching. - In the Book of cessor's throne.
Samuel there is little which directly touches upon Throughout the book, the work and power of a new Messianic hopes, although the history is frequently order or class in Israel is dwelt on with peculiar quoted in the New Testament, especially in the writings
of —which was the name by which those enrolled in its Two fine passages, written by contemporary theo. ranks were known—is made in the compilation now logians of our own Church of England, sum up the under our consideration. And that great servant of Messianic teaching of our book. the Lord, Samuel, who was the mainspring of all the " It is the first book in Holy Scripture which declares mighty changes wrought at this period among the the incarnation of Christ as King in a particular family people, was undoubtedly the founder of the famous -the family of David. It is the first book in Scripture * order.” From the period of the death of Eli, related which announced that the kingdom founded in Him, in the early chapters of this book, for more than 800 raised up from the seed of David, would be universal years, during all the changing fortunes of the people, and everlasting: Here also the prophetic song of the prophetic order continued an enduring public Hannah gives the clue to the interpretation of this power. It acted as the mediating agency between history. The Lord,' she says, “shall judge the ends God and His people, and was the organ of the Spirit of of the earth,' that is, His kingdom shall be established the Lord to the children of Israel during the whole in all nations. • He shall give strength unto His period of the monarchy and the captivity. After the King, and exalt the horn of His Anointed'-the Messiah, sorrowful return from Babylon, the priesthood—which or Christ, who was come of David--and sit on His from the days of Eli onward had continued to exist, throne for ever.”—Bishop Wordsworth. though shorn of its old splendour and influenco-seems “It was thus Samuel's lot to sketch out two of the to have recovered some of its ancient power and con. main lines of thought which converge in Christ. The sideration, and during the last melancholy age of the idea of the prophet and the idea of the king gain under existence of Israel as a people once more filled the him their shape and proportion. This is especially chief position in the nation.
true as regards the latter. The king is ever in Samuel's Throughout the Book of Samuel the influence of the eyes 'the Messiah,' Jehovah's Anointed One. Again new order of prophets is depicted as ever growing: and again the word occurs with marked prominence. Samuel, the prophet and seer, chooses the first king, and It was the pregnant germ of a great future with the during Saul's period of loyalty to God stands by him Jew. He never lost the idea, but carried it onward as friend and counsellor. The successor to the faithless and onward, with David's portrait for its centro, as of Saul is selected and anointed again by the prophet one in whom Messiah's lineaments were marked in Samuel, and the young anointed of the Lord,” David, outline-feebly indeed, and imperfectly, but with the receives his training and education evidently in Samuel's certainty that a Messiah would come who would fill up prophetic school. All the days of Samuel's life, the with glorious beauty that faint, blurred sketch.”seer remained David's counsellor and friend. When Dean Payne Smith. Samuel had passed away, another of the order, Gad the seer, trained by Samuel, took his place by David's IV. The Name.-Abarbanel writes—"All the conside ; and later we see the prophet Nathan occupying tents of both books may, in a certain sense, be referred the same position when David had become a mighty to Samuel: even the deeds of Saul and David, because monarch. Here and there, too, in our book, we come both, having been anointed by Samuel, were, so to upon casual references to the growing influence of the speak, the works of his hands.” In other words, the prophetic order; and it was, be it remembered, the writing is called after Samuel not because he wrote it spirit of the first chief of the prophets that King Saul, in all, but on account of it describing his great work his dire necessity, invoked as the only Being who could for the chosen people. The two Books of Samuel give him real help or true advice. The documents really form one book. In Hebrew MSS. they form one referred to above (Section II.) as the main sources of undivided work, and are called “the Book of Samuel.” the writing were mostly, if not entirely, the work of The present division in the Hebrew Bible into two distinguished and well-known members of the great books under the same name dates only from the prophetic schools; and we may, therefore, with some sixteenth century, and was introduced by Daniel certainty conclude that* this Book of Samuel—at least, Bomberg, after the example of the LXX. and Vulg. the greater part—was taken from a tradition of which Versions. the centre and starting point was in the mighty and In the LXX. and Vulg., however, these books influential prophetic order.
are reckoned as belonging to the Book of the Kings.
In the LXX. they are called “the Book of the Erdmann, Introduction to Samuel, Section IV. Kingdoms.”
(1–8) The Home Life of the Family of the future
extended into the territory of Benjamin, in which tribe Prophet-judge of Israel. (9—28) Interview of Hannah
the city of Ramah lay. with Eli-Birth and Dedication of Samuel.
His name was Elkanah.-Elkanah, the father
of the future prophet-judge, was a Levite of the Somewhere about the year 1140 B.C. (or, as some family of Kohath (compare the genealogy given here suppose, thirty years earlier), the Levitical family of with 1 Chron. vi. 22). He is here termed an Ephrathite: Elkanah, of the house of Kohath, lived in Ramathaim- that is, an Ephraimite, because, as far as his civil zophim, a little city of Benjamin, built on the slopes of standing was concerned, he belonged to the tribe of Mount Ephraim. The supposed date of the Trojan Ephraim. War coincides with this period of Jewish history. We Some have found a difficulty in reconciling the Levi. may then fairly assume that the events related in the tical descent of Samuel with his dedication to the Lord Homeric epic took place during the time treated of by his mother, supposing that in the case of a Levite in these Books of Samuel.
this would be unnecessary; but the dedication of
Samuel, it should be remembered, was a life-long one, (1) Now there was a certain man.-Literally, whereas the Levitical service only began when the And there was, dic. These introductory words do not Levite was twenty-five years old; and even then the signify that this history is the continuation of the Book service was not continuous. of Judges or of any preceding writing. It is a common (2) And he had two wives.—The primeval historical introductory formula. We find it at the com. Divine ordination, we know, gave its sanction alone to mencement of Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 Kings, Esther, monogamy. The first who seems to have violated God's Ezra, Ezekiel, &c. The circumstances under which this original ordinance appears to have been Lamech, of the record was probably compiled are discussed elsewhere. family of Cain (Gen. iv. 19). The practice apparently
Of Ramathaim-zophim.-The name Ramathaim had become general throughout the East when the -- literally, The Two Ramahs-is the dual of the well- Mosaic Law was formulated. In this Divine code it is known Ramah, the appellation by which this city noticeable that while polygamy is accepted as a custom is usually known. The old city was, no doubt, built on everywhere prevailing, it is never approved. The laws two hills, which looked one on the other: hence perhaps of Moses-as in the case of another universally accepted the name Zophim, the watchers. Possibly at an early practice, slavery-simply seek to restrict and limit it date watch-towers or outlooks, to enable the citizens by wise and humane regulations. The inspired writer in to guard against surprise, were built on the summit of this narrative of the home life of Elkanah of “ Ramah of these hills. Either of these suppositions would account the Watchers ” quietly shows up the curse which almost for the suggestive name by which Ramah was once invariably attended this miserable violation of the relaknown, the "Ramahs of the Watchers.”
tions of the home life to which in the old Eden days the Others would connect the appellation_“ Zophim " eternal law had given its sanction and blessing. The with the family of Zuph, from whom Elkanah de- Old Testament Book contains many of these gentlyscended. (See 1 Chron. xxvi. 35, and 1 Sam. ix. 5, worded but fire-tipped rebukes of sin and frailty-sins where the land of Zuph is mentioned.) An inter- condoned and even approved by the voice of mankind. esting, thongh fanciful, derivation refers Zophim, Peninnah.-Hannah signifies grace or favour, and watchers, to the “prophet-watchmen” of the house has ever been a favourite name among the women of of Israel, as Ramah in after years was a school of the the East. It was the name of the Punic Queen Dido's prophets.
sister, Anna. The traditional mother of the Virgin On the whole, the simplest and least strained explana- Mary was named Anna. (See Luke ii. 36.) Peninnah tion is the one given above, which refers the name to is translated by some scholars “ coral;” according to the hills so placed that they watched one another, or others it signifies "pearl.” We have adopted the same better still, to the watch-towers built at an early date name under the modern “ Margaret." on the two summits.
(3) Went up out of his city yearly.--The HeRamah lay among the mountains of Ephraim, which brew expression rendered yearly, is found in Exodus
Elkanah and his Wives.
I. SAMUEL, I.
Hannah and Peninna!..
unto the LORD of hosts in Shiloh. And Oc; a double por la worthy portion; for he loved Hannah: the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phine
but the Lord had shut up her womb. has, the priests of the LORD, were there. - Heb, angered (6) And her adversary also ? provoked her (4) And when the time was that Elkanah
sore, for to make her fret, because the offered, he gave to Peninnah his wife, from the time LORD had shut up her womb. (7) And and to all her sons and her daughters,
as he did so year by year, 3 4 when she portions : (5) But unto Hannah he gave joiny u. went
to the house of the LORD, SO
4 Heb., from her
xiii. 10, and there refers to the Feast of Unleavened occasions the sacred tent, and all or part of the holy Bread, the Passover. There is little doubt but that this furniture, seems to have been temporarily moved to great national festival is here referred to. It was the such places as Mizpah and Bethel, but its regular home Passover that the whole family were accustomed to was Shiloh. At the time of the birth of Samuel, and keep at the sanctuary of the Eternal. The writer during his younger days, the high priest resided there, places in strong contrast the piety and devotion which and the religious families of the people were in the evidently still existed in the family life of many in habit of making an annual pilgrimage to this, the Israel with the fearful disorders and crime which dis- central sanctuary of the worship of Jehovah. figured the priestly life in those days. There were not The priests of the Lord.—The mention of these a few, doubtless, in Israel who, like Elkanah and his two priests of the Lord by no means suggests that the house, honoured the name of the Lord, while the re- ritual of the Tabernacle had become so meagre and cognised rulers and religious guides of the people, deficient as only to require the services of two or three like the sons of Eli the high priest, too often lived in ministers: indeed, the contrary is signified by the deopen and notorious sin.
scription of one portion only of the ceremonies given Unto the Lord of hosts.—This is the first time in the next chapter. These two, Hophni and Phinehas, in the Old Testament Book that we find the well-known are here alluded to specially by name. First, on acappellation of the Eternal “ Jehovah Sabaoth,” Lord of count of their rank and connection with the high hosts.
priest Eli, to whose high dignity one of the brothers It is computed that this title of God occurs 260 would probably succeed. Secondly, because these untimes in the Old Testament, but it is not found in any happy men figured in one of the great historical disof the books written or compiled before this time. In asters of the people. Thirdly, the writer, out of many the New Testament it is only once used (see Jas. V. 4). servants of the sanctuary, chose two prominent figures
The glorious title, with which Isaiah, who uses to illustrate the terrible state of corruption into which it some sixty times, and Jeremiah some eighty times, the priesthood had fallen. Bishop Wordsworth here have especially made us familiar, represented Jehovah, draws a curious but suggestive lesson. Although the Eternal One, as ruler over the heavenly hosts : that Hophni and Phinehas were among the priests, yet is, over the angels and the stars; the stars being con- Elkanah and Hannah did not separate themselves from ceived to be the dwelling-places of these deathless beings. the service of the sanctuary when they ministered-a
The idea of their invisible God-Friend being the lesson against schism." sovereign Master of a host of those innumerable (5) A worthy portion.-Literally, one portion for glorious beings usually known as angels, or messengers, two persons: i.e., a double portion. It was an ex. was no strange one to Hebrew thought. For instance, pression of his deep love for her. As Von Gerlach already in the story of Jacob we find the patriarch puts it, “ Thou art as dear to me as if thou hadst borne calling the angels who appeared to him the camp of me a child.” Some scholars would translate the diffiGod” (Gen. xxxii. 1,2).
cult Hebrew expression here by, “But to Hannah he In the blessing of Moses in the magnificent descrip- gave a portion of anger or sadness,” thus intensifying tion of the giving of the law on Sinai (Deut. xxxiii. 2), the natural sorrow of Hannah by representing her we read of “ ten thousands of saints" (Kodesh). The husband as unkind. The Vulgate, Luther, and Abarglorious Angel who allowed Joshua to worship him banel favour this singular interpretation; but the one under the towers of Jericho (Josh. v. 14) speaks adopted by the English Version, and explained above, of himself as “captain or prince of the host of the is in all respects grammatically and exegetically to Lord.” It is especially noteworthy that here in these be preferred. Books of Samuel, which tell of the establishment of an (6) And her adversary also provoked her earthly sovereignty over the tribes, this stately title of sore.-Jealousy, grief, anger, malice, the many bitter the real King in Israel, which afterwards became so fruits of this way of living, so different to God's general, first appears. It was the solemn protest of original appointment, here show themselves. The one Samuel and his school against any eclipsing of the sin of polygamy poisons the whole home life of the mighty but invisible sovereignty of the Eternal by the family, in all other respects apparently a quiet, Godpassing splendours and the outward pomp of an fearing, orderly household. earthly monarchy set up over the people.
(7) And as he did so year by year.-That is, It told also the strange and the alien peoples Elkanah, on the occasion of every yearly visit to the that the God who loved Israel was, too, the star national sanctuary, was in the habit of publicly giving ruler, the Lord of the whole universe, visible and the childless Hannah the double gift, to show his un. invisible.
diminished love; while the happier mother of his In Shiloh.—That is, rest. This sacred city was children, jealous of her rival, every year chose this situated in Ephraim. It became the sanctuary of solemn occasion of offering thank-offerings before the Israel in the time of Joshua, who pitched the tent of Tabernacle, especially to taunt the childless wife, the Tabernacle there. Shiloh, as the permanent seat of doubt referring the absence of children, which among the Ark and the Tabernacle, was the religious centre of the mothers of Israel was considered so deep a calamity, Israel during the whole period of the judges. On rare to the special anger of God.
Hannah at Shiloh.
I. SAMUEL, I.
she provoked her; therefore she wept, lucha bitter og handmaid ’a man child, then I will give and did not eat. (8) Then said Elkanah
him unto the Lord all the days of his her husband to her, Hannah, why
life, and a there shall no razor come upon weepest thou ? and why eatest thou not?
his head. and why is thy heart grieved ? am not 2 Heb., serd of men. (12) And it came to pass, as she 3 conI better to thee than ten sons ?
tinued praying before the Lord, that Eli (9) So Hannah rose up after they had
marked her mouth. (13) Now Hannah, eaten in Shiloh, and after they had
she spake in her heart; only her lips drunk. Now Eli the priest sat upon a
moved, but her voice was not heard : seat by a post of the temple of the Lord.
therefore Eli thought she had been (10) And she was lin bitterness of soul,
drunken. (1+) And Eli said unto her, and prayed unto the Lord, and wept
How long wilt thou be drunken ? put (11) And she vowed a vow, and
3 Heh., multiplied
(15) And said, O LORD of hosts, if thou wilt in
Hannah answered and said, No, my lord, deed look on the affliction of thine hand
I am a woman * of a sorrowful spirit: I maid, and remember me, and not forget
have drunk neither wine nor strong thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine which hand drink, but have poured out my soul be
" Yum. 6.5; Judg.
(8) Than ten sons.-Merely around number to from intoxicating drinks, the letting the hair grow, and express many. The simple narration evidently came the avoiding all ceremonial defilement by corpses even from Hannah, who, no doubt, in after years loved of the nearest kin. Samuel was what the Talmud calls to dwell on her past sorrowful life, contrasted with her a perpetual Nazarite. present strange blessedness as mother of the Restorer These strange restrictions and customs had an inner of the people.
signification. The abstinence from wine and strong drink (9) After they had eaten in Shiloh, and after typitied that the Nazarite determined to avoid all sensual they had drunk.-This was the solemn sacrificial indulgence which might cloud the mind and render the meal, at which the whole family were present.
man unfit for prayer to, and work for, the Lord; the Now Eli the priest sat upon a seat.-Eli, the avoiding contact with the dead was a perpetual outward high priest of Israel at this time, was a descendant of protest that the vower of the solemn vow renounced all Ithamar, the younger son of Aaron (see 1 Chron. xxiv. 3, moral defilement, that he gave up every thing which where it is stated that his great-grandson, Ahimelech, could stain and soil the life consecrated to the Eternal's was of the sons of Ithamar). The circumstances which service; the untouched hair, which here is especially led to the transfer of the dignity from the line of mentioned, was a publie protest that the consecrated one Eleazar, who succeeded his father Aaron in the office, had determined to refrain from intercourse with the are unknown. It has been suggested that at the death world, and to devote the whole strength and fulness of life of the last high priest of the line of Eleazar, Ozi, to the Lord's work. The LXX. (Greek) Version here there was no son of sufficient age and experience to inserts the words, “and he shall drink neither wine nor succeed, and so the office passed to the next of kin, Eli, strong drink.” wishing to bring the passage into stricter a son of the house of Ithamar. (See Josephus, Antt. v., accordance with Numbers vi. The original Hebrew 2, $ 5.)
text, however, contents itself with specifying merely the The seat npon which Eli is represented as usually ontward sign of the untouched hair, by which these sitting (see chap. iv. 18) was evidently a chair or throne solemnly consecrated ones were publicly known. of state, where the high-priestly judge sat at certain (13) Now Hannah, she spake in her heart. times to administer justice and to transact business. -Eli was watching the worshippers, and, as Bunsen The Hebrew word rendered here “post,” and the ex- well remarks, was struck with dismay at her silent pression “ doors of the house” (chap. iii. 15), seem to earnestness, such heartfelt prayer being apparently suggest that now a permanent home had been erected not usual at that time, and remembering the condition for the sanctuary: something of a building, possibly of of the moral life in the precincts of the sanctuary over stone, surrounding the Tabernacle had been built. which he ruled with so weak and vacillating a rule, and
The “temple of the Lord,” rather, palace of the how sadly frequent were disorders at the sacrificial Lord, so called not from any external magnificence but meal, at once suspected that the weeping, praying one as being the earthly place where at times the visible was a drunken woman. He, however, quickly atoned glory of the Eternal King of Israel, the Shekinah, was for his unworthy suspicion. pleased to manifest itself.
(14) And Eli said unto her.-The LXX. or (11) And she vowed a vow.-The vow of Hannah Septuagint attempts to soften the harshness of the contained two solemn promises—the one pledged the high priest to Hannah by inserting before Eli the son she prayed for to the service of the Eternal all the word servant,” or “young man, thus suggesting days of his life. The mother looked on to a life-long that the hard, unjust words were spoken by an attenservice in the ritual of the Tabernacle for him, but the dant. But it is clear that the English Version repreBeing who heard her prayer destined her son for higher sents the true text here, for in the next verse Hannah work; in his case the priestly duties were soon merged replies directly to Eli with the simple words “ No, in the far more responsible ones of the prophet—the great reforner of the people. The second promise (15) No, my lord, I am a woman of a sorrowful undertook that he should be a Nazarite. Now the spirit . .-Calvin, quoted by Erdmann, well reNazariteship included three things—the refraining marks here:-“ Consider the modesty of Hannah, who,