1 Samuel 8: That’s My King

Who is the King?

“The law and the prophets and evangelists have declared that Christ was born of a virgin, and suffered on the cross; was raised also from the dead, and taken up to heaven; that He was glorified, and reigns for ever. He is Himself termed the Perfect Intellect, the Word of God. He is the First-begotten, after a transcendent manner, the Creator of man; All in all; Patriarch among the patriarchs; Law in the law; the Priest among priests; among kings Prime Leader; the Prophet among the prophets; the Angel among angels; the Man among men; Son in the Father; God in God; King to all eternity. He was sold with Joseph, and He guided Abraham; was bound along with Isaac, and wandered with Jacob; with Moses He was Leader, and, respecting the people, Legislator. He preached in the prophets; was incarnate of a virgin; born in Bethlehem; received by John, and baptized in Jordan; was tempted in the desert, and proved to be the Lord. He gathered the apostles together, and preached the kingdom of heaven; gave light to the blind, and raised the dead; was seen in the temple, but was not held by the people as worthy of credit; was arrested by the priests, conducted before Herod, and condemned in the presence of Pilate; He manifested Himself in the body, was suspended upon a beam of wood, and raised from the dead; shown to the apostles, and, having been carried up to heaven, sitteth on the right hand of the Father, and has been glorified by Him as the Resurrection of the dead. Moreover, He is the Salvation of the lost, the Light to those dwelling in darkness, and Redemption to those who have been born; the Shepherd of the saved, and the Bridegroom of the Church; the Charioteer of the cherubim, the Leader of the angelic host; God of God; Jesus Christ our Saviour.” (Irenaeus, Fragments 54)

Indeed, the Lamb is my King.  Yet, will my King be presented as one like the kings of the nations (v.20)?  Will he go out before us and fight our battles like the worthy knights, soldiers and infantrymen of yesteryear?

No – our King’s strength is in His weakness to His Father.  He is the One Sent by His Father, but He can do nothing by Himself (John 8:16, 8:29).  A bruised reed He shall not break (Isaiah 42:3; Matthew 12:20), for His strength is manifested entirely as that nursing lamb (chapter 7:9) led to the slaughter (Isaiah 53:7).  He is our God who shall not be sculpted by human hands (c.f. Deuteronomy 27:6), for He is who He is (Exodus 3:14, John 8:58), who rules and mediates from His Father’s right hand (Psalm 110, Hebrews 12:2, 1 Peter 3:22).

Yet, this King shall not come through Samuel’s line; much like the beheaded Baptist who paved the path for Jesus of Nazareth, so also Samuel’s descendants – whatever name they bear, be Jehovah their true Father or God – will not live in the covenant typifying the relationship of the true Father and the Son.  Samuel will continue to stand at the end of his circuit, at Mizpah the watchtower, watching for the one true king who destroys the world’s Spirit-less recognition of kingship (Matthew 17:12).  Only this role is fulfilled by the Davidic royal line superseding that of the priestly office – the line of Melchizedek, the King-Priest.  Unlike the household of Eli where the high priest led the Israelites astray, Samuel stays faithful to the LORD who still speaks to him despite his children’s perversion of justice; and it is clear that if it is not Samuel’s children who are to lead the Israelites, then it is either through God’s appointed King or the pitiful king who does not follow His ways, but the ways of the pagans.  Instead of obeying the Word of God, they obeyed the words of the surrounding nations.  What simple blasphemy and usurpation of the true throne, as is prophesied by the missing ark-throne which is left neglected until the one worthy of the throne, David, seeks to restore it in its rightful tabernacle.  What simple adultery as prophesied by the golden calf of Exodus 32, that the Israelites would dare imagine that these are the gods who took them out of Egypt!  Such is the idolatrous heart of man, that we seek to fill the throne with golden idols of our own creation, the truest expression of self-exaltation and self-worship.

All the while the true ark and throne is in Kiriath-jearim, the city of woods; the true David is shepherding his sheep peacefully in the pastures; the faithful High Priest is rejected, thus simultaneously rejecting Christ Himself who is the King of the parable:

Mat 25:31-46  “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne.  (32)  Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.  (33)  And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left.  (34)  Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.  (35)  For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,  (36)  I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’  (37)  Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?  (38)  And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?  (39)  And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’  (40)  And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’  (41)  “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.  (42)  For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,  (43)  I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’  (44)  Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’  (45)  Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’  (46)  And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

It is thus clear that the King who does not sacrifice himself for his men (v.13-18) is not the King of Scripture.  The King of Scripture is Immanuel – God with us, the Word who became flesh so that we receive Him and receive the Father at once in the Spirit, lest we obey the voice of man and create our own gods by our own hands and words.  “Make them a king” – the LORD said; indeed, we make many things our kings daily, but the true King is not made.  He is to be revealed and received as our Bridegroom, Lover, Head and Redeemer, identifying us as the kingdom of priests, citizens of New Jerusalem, which no other nation however magnificent can even imitate in their perversion of true justice and in their false understanding of true cruciform and Trinitarian kingship of mutual reliance and divine community.

1 Samuel 8: That’s My King

1 Samuel 7: The Judge of Ramah

1 Samuel 7 ends the seven-chapter arc of the focus on Samuel’s story in comparison to the house of Eli, the house of the Dagon, the house of the Philistines. The chapter opens with the same message at the end of chapter 6 – that the Israelites are called to retrieve the ark.  However, it was placed in Kiriath-jearim, the city of woods, where it was brought into the house of Abinadab, a Levite, on the hill.  The lamenting after the LORD (v.2) is out of the Israelites’ character; why would they not go to retrieve the ark?  It was in the safe hands of the Levitical priesthood, and yet it lodged there for some twenty years, and would amount to seventy years (under the relevant biblical scholarship over chronology) until the ark was properly brought from the border of Judah and Benjamin (c.f. Joshua 18:14), from this city of woods, to the city of peace – Jerusalem!  It is not until David’s reign in 2 Samuel that the ark is retrieved and placed in Jerusalem; the return of the Father to the rightful place of new Jerusalem.  So also is the nature of John’s vision in Revelation 11:19 that to see the ark of the covenant is an act accomplished through the work of the cross; and here, David is the agent through whom this act is accomplished as he typifies for us the amazing work of the Son who walks the path in and out of the Holy of Holies with freedom:

1Ch 13:1-6  David consulted with the commanders of thousands and of hundreds, with every leader.  (2)  And David said to all the assembly of Israel, “If it seems good to you and from the LORD our God, let us send abroad to our brothers who remain in all the lands of Israel, as well as to the priests and Levites in the cities that have pasturelands, that they may be gathered to us.  (3)  Then let us bring again the ark of our God to us, for we did not seek it in the days of Saul.”  (4)  All the assembly agreed to do so, for the thing was right in the eyes of all the people.  (5)  So David assembled all Israel from the Nile of Egypt to Lebo-hamath, to bring the ark of God from Kiriath-jearim.  (6)  And David and all Israel went up to Baalah, that is, to Kiriath-jearim that belongs to Judah, to bring up from there the ark of God, which is called by the name of the LORD who sits enthroned above the cherubim.

This is the ark of God, called by the name of the LORD – the Name of God being Christ Jesus by which we are called into the Trinitarian fellowship (Acts 4:7, 4:10).  This emphasises the preparatory nature of Samuel; he is in the tri-office of prophet, priest and judge, paving the path for the true king David in the House of Israel.  It is important we remember that Israel was given the law after the exodus, after their salvation, and here the chosen Church of the Old Testament is to be ready for the time when the King comes to be her true ruler where they can fellowship truly with the LORD by the ark in Jerusalem.  It is this ark in Jerusalem which enables the Israelites to meditate the relational truth of the Unseen Father; and the symbolic meaning of the restoration of the ark in the Promised Land as a promise of us seeing the Unseen Father face to face clothed in the righteous robe of His Son (Isaiah 61; 1 John 3:2).  Where the veil to the Holy of Holies is literally ripped apart and we can stand before Him as the Son stands before Him.

However, like the book of Numbers, the Israelites are in the wilderness worshipping Ashtaroth and the Baals (v.4), and at the watchtower (Mizpah) they gathered to pour their hearts out in repentance to the LORD genuinely.  Thus, true circumcision and birth by water is shown here through the pouring of the water before the LORD (v.6) – and this happens before the symbolic death of the nursing lamb as offered as a burnt offering (v.9).  Such is the same picture offered in the chronology of Old Testament Scripture: that the LORD had favoured people’s repentance in Christ Jesus long before the introduction of the systematic Levitical framework of sacrifices; yet Adam, Noah, Abraham, Jethro, amongst the other pre-Moses saints, were already providing burnt offerings (c.f. Genesis 4:4; Genesis 8:20; Genesis 22; Exodus 18:12) not because the blood inherently was the source of salvation.  Rather, it was their circumcised hearts by the Spirit which led them to Christ in Whom they met the Unseen Father; and the burnt offering is but a visible sacrament of this spiritual truth.  Just as Noah and his family was saved through the raging waters in the coffin (the literal Hebrew of the ark) where they stepped onto dry new land as indicative of new creation and only offered the burnt offering then and received the sacrament of communion, the eating of flesh, then – so also the Israelites look to their Redeemer and Mediator where the truth is symbolically manifested in the death of the nursing lamb.

Yet, we should not forget the second layer of truth which 1 Samuel 7 is teaching us: namely that Samuel is still a type of Christ, that he is now the only High Priest available to represent the nation against the Philistines for the household of Eli has been removed, in favour of the spiritual household of Samuel.  He has offered to pray on behalf of Israel (v.5), and continually by his prayers has the LORD looked on Israel with favour (v.8).  This is a pure imitation of the High Priestly prayer of the Son to the Father (John 17) so that the Son may be one with the Bride as we are one with Him.

And during this beautiful two-fold Christocentricity firstly of Samuel as Christ, and secondly the sacrament of the burnt offering as symbolic of the Christian faith which the Israelites now exercise, we see the juxtaposition of the death of the nursing lamb with the wrath of the LORD upon the Philistines just as the punishment of the Father on the Son is a simultaneous judgment of wrath upon all those who are not shielded in the Son.  What we see here is an echo of the Passover in Exodus, that the Israelites may pursue and destroy the Philistines from the watchtower to the House of the Lamb (Beth-car); from the woods where the ark was hidden to the House of Peace where the ark will soon reside; from the present time of engagement with the enemy to the House of Christ under the name of David where the Israelites will finally overcome them.

Thus, it is in this path in between – the one path between the watchtower and Jeshanah (or Shen in certain translations), that Samuel places the stone of help (Ebenezer), stumbling those who consider it a rock to be neglected but a cornerstone for many (Psalm 118; Acts 4).  It is here that he emphasises that the saints of Old (Jeshanah) look to (Mizpah) the true Rock of Ages (Ebenezer), by whom the Israelites had fallen for not clinging to Him (chapter 4:1), but now are victorious by the covenant made with blood.  It is only upon the victory entering Beth-car, the victory of the return of the ark to Jerusalem, that this victory is fully realised under David typifying Christ Jesus as opposed to Samuel who is the testimony to Christ that the Philistines’ cities were displaced from the enemy’s hands and the earth inherited by all those who are meek (Psalm 82:8; Matthew 5:5) (v.14).  It is a restoration, the Irenaeus-esque recapitulation, for these lands were always promised to the Israelites (Deut 27:3) by the blood of the lamb and not by the false golden offerings which the Philistines had offered in chapter 6 and instead culminated in their demise as in chapter 7 though they witnessed the necessity of blood to enact a covenant (chapter 6:15-16).

Therefore, Samuel ends his life as judge by symbolically passes through three landmarks of Israel – Bethel, where Jacob received the dream confirming the covenant with Abraham, this “House of God” established by the nursing lamb; Gilgal, where the Israelites had their first Passover in Canaan (Joshua 5:10); and Mizpah, the watchtower.  This circuit displays the gospel in the Old Testament – the covenant which the Father offered to the Israelites in the Son seen in Bethel, firstly explicitly spoken through Abraham and confirmed in Jacob’s dream as he is the father of all Israelites; secondly, the Passover which is first tasted in the Promised Land at Gilgal; yet, thirdly, these are all but shadows of the true covenant as Samuel built his own altar to the LORD (v.17) waiting for the true King to bring the brazen altar of the tabernacle, the only appointed place of sacrificial offerings, back from Kiriath-jearim and into Jerusalem (1 Chronicles 13).  What Samuel looked forward to (Mizpah), as all the other Old Testament saints did (Matthew 13:17) was the fulfilment of the covenant in both Jews and Gentiles as Christ is banner of Shem and Japheth (Genesis 9:27); of the Passover by which we enter into New Creation; and no longer shall we then reside in Mizpah as there is no longer anything to look forward to, except to reside in our true Ramah, our true home at the end of the true ascension hill (Psalm 24:3) which Samuel returned to every year to judge, displaying to himself and to us the home we are to enter a new creation home which is redeemed by the One who will be our Judge, face to face, in communal love.

1 Samuel 7: The Judge of Ramah

1 Samuel 6: Who can stand before the Father?

The Old Testament is rife with examples of foreign nations speaking of Israel as light to the nations.  Does any nation have the privilege of Israel being the receivers of the Torah?  Does any nation have a God who is defined by salvation, the Hebrew action and noun by which His Son is named in His incarnation (Yeshua; c.f. Daniel 3:29)?  And here this truth is highlighted amongst the Philistines, who look back on the Exodus and Passover with fear.  “Why should you harden your hearts as the Egyptians and Pharoah hardened their hearts?  After he had dealt severely with them, did they not send the people away, and they departed?” (v.6).

Yet this is half the gospel – the gospel is the punishment of the Father towards the Son, and the love of the Father towards the Son (Isaiah 53:5; John 17).  What they saw was the death of the firstborn, and they only saw Yahweh as a mere God of Israel (v.5).  Their purpose was to provide golden images of creatures to save themselves (Exodus 20:23), just as the Israelites had created the golden image of the calf as the gods (Exodus 32:1) of their salvation.  They did not see the God of Rahab, she who preached the God of heavens and the earth; the God who saved, chose and loved, Israel and gave them Canaan (Joshua 2) the land of Promise, the nation which was given the law to display their transgressions after they were saved from Egypt (Galatians 3).  Their guilt offering is not a covenant enacted and purified by blood (v.3, v.8; c.f. Hebrews 9:20-22), but a guilt offering provided of golden idols.  What blasphemy it is to place images of pestilence next to the Ark of the Covenant which is also laden with gold!  This is why the Philistines, even having the Ark of the Covenant within their midst for seven months, is the subject of wrath – just as the beauties of His creation in the heavens and earth are poetry proclaiming Christ in the eyes of Israel (Psalm 19), but is exclaiming His wrath to all those standing outside of Christ (Romans 1:18-32).  Just as we are destined to walk into the Holy of Holies in Christ, yet the Philistines will forever stand their distance and refuse to join to Israel even after witnessing the joy of the Israelites when the throne of God is in their midst (v.16).  Instead of joining under the tent of the House of the Sun (Beth-shemesh; Malachi 4:2), they return to the House of eradication (Ekron).  Though they know it is not a coincidence (v.9), yet they fail to trust in the object of the true blood-guilt offering of the milk cow on which there has never come a yoke.

And so the Israelites carefully retrieved the ark by the hand of the Levites, the priests who are ordained and anointed to be privileged with this duty; and by the Stone of the House of the Sun in the field of Joshua, the chief typological Saviour between Moses and Samuel, these burnt offerings were truly given to the LORD in rejoicing (v.13) rather than in trembling fear.  These Philistines returned to Ekron, only to await their true eradication by the hands of the King of Israel, for even in the time of Joshua the five lords of the five cities (Ashdod, Gaza, Ashkelon, Gath, Ekron) were already the subject of wrath awaiting to be devoted to destruction (Joshua 13:3).  This true destruction is symbolized in the return of the Ark after seven months, intimating the seventy years after the Babylonian captivity whereupon the LORD will send the staggering cup for these nations to drink where the Philistines, amongst others, are to drink the cup which Christ has drunk (John 18:11):

Jer 25:12-27  Then after seventy years are completed, I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation, the land of the Chaldeans, for their iniquity, declares the LORD, making the land an everlasting waste.  (13)  I will bring upon that land all the words that I have uttered against it, everything written in this book, which Jeremiah prophesied against all the nations.  (14)  For many nations and great kings shall make slaves even of them, and I will recompense them according to their deeds and the work of their hands.”  (15)  Thus the LORD, the God of Israel, said to me: “Take from my hand this cup of the wine of wrath, and make all the nations to whom I send you drink it.  (16)  They shall drink and stagger and be crazed because of the sword that I am sending among them.”  (17)  So I took the cup from the LORD’s hand, and made all the nations to whom the LORD sent me drink it:  (18)  Jerusalem and the cities of Judah, its kings and officials, to make them a desolation and a waste, a hissing and a curse, as at this day;  (19)  Pharaoh king of Egypt, his servants, his officials, all his people,  (20)  and all the mixed tribes among them; all the kings of the land of Uz and all the kings of the land of the Philistines (Ashkelon, Gaza, Ekron, and the remnant of Ashdod);  (21)  Edom, Moab, and the sons of Ammon;  (22)  all the kings of Tyre, all the kings of Sidon, and the kings of the coastland across the sea;  (23)  Dedan, Tema, Buz, and all who cut the corners of their hair;  (24)  all the kings of Arabia and all the kings of the mixed tribes who dwell in the desert;  (25)  all the kings of Zimri, all the kings of Elam, and all the kings of Media;  (26)  all the kings of the north, far and near, one after another, and all the kingdoms of the world that are on the face of the earth. And after them the king of Babylon shall drink.  (27)  “Then you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Drink, be drunk and vomit, fall and rise no more, because of the sword that I am sending among you.’

Therefore, it is this same cup in which we are crucified in Him; it is this same cup in which the world is condemned through His mediation of creation (Colossians 1).  Yet our sacramental communion provides also the bread of life upon Whom we feed, and until then, the wrath of the Father will continue to impartially display His wrath upon all those standing outside of Christ (v.19).  Indeed, “who is able to stand before the LORD, this holy God?  And to whom shall he go up away from us?” which is an echo of Job’s question (Job 33:23).  The answer has always been Christ Jesus, the commander of the LORD’s army; but it is seen for now through the actions of David, the typological mediator who worships the LORD at the right hand of the Father (Psalm 110) – he is the only one, not Saul, nor Samuel, to take the Ark back from Kiriath-jearim to the city of David in Jerusalem, the city of Peace.

1 Samuel 6: Who can stand before the Father?

1 Samuel 5: The Seen Father

Have you ever considered what it would be like for the Father to be seen?  Have you ever wanted to stand before God in awe?

Christ has the answer – that he has physically manifested the glory before us in redeemed and renewed adamic flesh:

Joh 17:5-10  And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.  (6)  “I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word.  (7)  Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you.  (8)  For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me.  (9)  I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours.  (10)  All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them.

This is how we partake in that divine glory – to stand in Christ so that we are crucified, resurrected and ascended – in the throne room with Him right now – by the Spirit (Romans 8:34; Hebrews 9:11-15).  Though this is the rejoicing through standing in Christ, there is also the flip side of the coin, for those who are already condemned and are awaiting their second death (Revelation 2:11, 20:6, 20:14, 21.8).  This second death reality is catalysed for many throughout the Old Testament through their presence before the ark of the covenant, the entirely purified and sacred relic of the tabernacle.  Who could offer anything more than what is ordained (Numbers 3:4)?  Who can even touch the ark (2 Samuel 6:6-9)?  Yet who can eat of the bread of presence (1 Samuel 21:6), which is placed in the Holy Place but not the Holy of Holies where the ark resides?  No one has seen God (1 John 4:12), but he who does not keep on sinning has seen Him and known Him (1 John 3:6).  When John wrote his first epistle, he did not aim to contradict himself; the same way that Samuel has seen Christ in the tabernacle so also David ate the bread of presence which was not considered profanity (Luke 6:3-5).  For Christ, the Son, is our Bread of Life; the Spirit is the light of the lamp in the Holy Place; and the Father is behind the tabernacle curtain which only the Son and the Spirit can pass.  That is the fear which should strike in our hearts – there is no way we can stand, nor partake in the Father’s glory, except by the intercession of the Anointed Christ.  If Eli is not our head, then it is the true High Priest Christ who takes our headship, whom Samuel is but a type of; where Samuel’s words came to all Israel (chapter 4:1), Christ’s words are truly what Samuel have been speaking (John 17:8).

Is it thus so surprising that Dagon is amputated from its fallen glory?  He is unliving and he is a wicked perversion of the image of God, uniting fish and man in one body (v.4).  Indeed, though we are mindless fish  (Habakkuk 1:14), we are saved from that perversion so that we are restored to the true image in Christ.  Either we are led by Samuel, or we are led by Eli; either we are led by Christ, or we are Dagon in his true form – a fish without man-like arms nor head: not a man-fish; and neither are we a sick perversion of saint-sinner, but we are truly fully a saint in the eyes of the Father for we are co-heirs with the Son because we have inherited the Son’s kingdom alongside Him (Romans 5:19; 2 Corinthians 5:21).  The priests of Dagon, these idolaters, do not tread over the threshold (v.5) as a mark of awe, not knowing what sort of God has struck them; and this superstitious behaviour is equally condemned of the Israelites when they have inherited their Philistinian traditions (Zephaniah 1:9).  This threshold is between His glory or man-made glory; between mutual sight and knowledge before the Father in the Son by the Spirit, or blindness, death, pestilence, sickness before Dagon.  The Father has ravaged (Ashdod) the Philistines at the winepress (Ekron; Isaiah 63:2) to eradicate (Ekron) those who were not part of the body of Christ.

No-one has seen God, yet those who do his will have seen Him in His Son who shares in His full glory.  Yet, this light is too bright for the unbelievers to bear; the light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not comprehend nor overcome (using the KJV and ESV translation) it.  Only the glorified High Priest can stand before the Father in the throne room: none other.  Yet, he pulled us up in Him and with Him as our prayers are coveted in the midst of the Trinity (Exodus 30, where the altar of incense is in the midst of the Three Persons; Revelation 8:4).  Like the deathly panic and terrible cry of the Passover night (Exodus 11:6, 12:30), those who were saved from the plague were protected in the Lamb’s blood at the door threshold, safe in the house of the LORD.  Yet, those who stood outside were in the raging waters of the flood of Noah; in the open danger of the wilderness; in the condemnation of the glorious Father.  We simply cannot even stand before Him; but Christ is our living righteousness external to us, yet the Spirit has bound us to His Person, so that we either remain like Dagon – a lifeless, mindless fish trying to be a god.  Dagon and Eli share the same end, the former revealed for what he really is by the light revealing darkness (c.f. Galatians 3:19), by the ark next to the man-made idol; and Eli also revealed for his failed headship for not restraining his two sons, his seed.  Where Dagon is left with a stump, the Hebrew does not even use that word specifically in v.4; it is more accurate to say that all that is left is Dagon itself; both his hands (v.4) and head were never part of it and thus Dagon does not deserve even a picture of perversion of the image of God for Dagon is, really, just a creature of the sea.  Eli, similarly, has both his hands/arms and head amputated – his strength in both sons, as if they were his right and left arms, and his headship over Israel as judge and as High Priest eradicated for it is truly Ichabod: that the glory hasn’t left Israel, but has left the household of Eli just as the glory has left the household of Dagon (v.5) that even the priests are too scared to be in his presence lest they be also struck by the true living God.  Eli is thus reduced to a mere creature, a subject of Yahweh’s punishment, revealed for what he really is in the face of the Spirit-filled Samuel.

And to the grace of the Trinity, we are like Christ so that we can embrace the Person Whom the ark represents, the Holy Unseen Father who rarely speaks directly from heaven except to give the law (Exodus 19) and to confirm that He has Sent the Seen LORD, His Son (Luke 3:22).  To this end, the Spirit amputates and destroys all the idols in our hearts, so that we are presented before Him as holy and blameless when His Son gifts us His righteousness, and what is left is a renewed physical body after going through the refiner’s fire, and we can finally embrace the Father face-to-face (1 Corinthians 13:12).

1 Samuel 5: The Seen Father

1 Samuel 4: Death of the High Priest, Life of the Word

The prophecies of 1 Samuel 2 and 3 come to fruition in chapter 4 where the focus once again is on Samuel – that his word came to Israel.  What is the significance of his word in comparison to the words of the High Priest?  These are words which bore much implication, that would make the two ears of the Israelites tingle – that the High Priest of Israel, along with his household, would perish forever without mediation.  All the previous judges have succeeded in one sense or another in striving against Israel’s enemy and reformation of internal strife; but Eli is a fallen judge who died in this chapter as an empty shell of a priest.

At first sight, the threat seems to affect only Eli, Hophni and Phinehas.  However, the LORD’s punishment extends from the head of Israel to the body congregation.  The implication of Eli’s household being removed is fully realised in this chapter:  the physical ark inherently cannot save for it symbolises the throne room of the Father, but the Father Son and Spirit are not with Israel in their ordeal against the Philistines; 4000 Israelites die as a result of the Lord’s permission.  “Why has the LORD defeated us today before the Philistines?” – indeed, even the Israelites know that the Philistines, no matter how mighty, could not strive even a moment against Israel if she is mediated by the High Priest.  The Levitical traditions laid out in the first few chapters of Leviticus, with the pinnacle of the Day of Atonement in Leviticus 16, represent the utter importance of the holiness of this typological Mediator.  Yet, Eli has failed – and what strikes fear in the Old Testament Church’s heart is not only how astounding it is to hear of the removal of this great priest; but that his prophesied removal is the first ever heard of – and that without mediation, Israel would be the subject of judgment.  Where is the bull offering for the anointed priest’s sin (Leviticus 4:3)?  Is Samuel the man who acts presumptuously in the place of the High Priest (Deuteronomy 17:12)?  Both answers result in the negative: there is no sacrifice, for Eli has spat upon it.  There is no high priest in the household of Eli, for Samuel is the one who now receives revelation from the Son who made and is making the Father known to him.  Eli stands far away from enemy lines (v.13), though for victory to be ensured, he must proclaim success at the head of the army:

Deu 20:1-4  “When you go out to war against your enemies, and see horses and chariots and an army larger than your own, you shall not be afraid of them, for the LORD your God is with you, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt.  (2)  And when you draw near to the battle, the priest shall come forward and speak to the people (3)  and shall say to them, ‘Hear, O Israel, today you are drawing near for battle against your enemies: let not your heart faint. Do not fear or panic or be in dread of them,  (4)  for the LORD your God is he who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies, to give you the victory.’

Once again, where is the priest?  He is dead.  He was spiritually dead before his neck broke (v.18), but his death is to lead to the death of the congregation.  The pugilist (Hophni) and mouth of the serpent (Phinehas) were both the seed of Eli.  Is this man worthy of his name – of ascension?  By no means – he has harboured the seed of Satan and the seed of strife in his house against His will (c.f. chapter 2v.29).  And thus, Eli’s contribution as judge of Israel has not been a contribution of glory like the previous judges before him.  He did not live by the Spirit’s direction, and instead was used as an example of the fallen house of the congregation Israel.  The pain of childbirth, the immediate curse upon Eve after the fall of man, is for the first time mentioned in Scripture since Genesis 3 – and it is in the context of the descendant of the fallen High Priest, a huge contrast to the picture of doxology in Hannah’s childbirth.  Where Eli’s daughter-in-law wept because the glory has left Israel (v.22), Hannah’s weeping are tears of joy because the glory has not left Israel entirely, but that the LORD has left a remnant within Israel who are spiritually circumcised as voiced beautifully in her praise song in chapter 2.  Light has entered the world, when Israel was at its height of darkness, though this microcosm is to have a fuller display in the Assyrian and Babylonian captivity of God’s “chosen” nation.

And what of the neglected ark?  It is captured, but it does not lose its symbolism as the Father’s throne seat.  It is here that we see the glory being returned to where Israel first battled against the Philistines.  The encampment, Ebenezer, the stone of help, was the very stone of stumbling (1 Peter 2:8) which burdened the Israelites; yet by the return of the ark at the side of Samuel in 1 Samuel 7:

1Sa 7:12-13  Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen and called its name Ebenezer; for he said, “Till now the LORD has helped us.”  (13)  So the Philistines were subdued and did not again enter the territory of Israel. And the hand of the LORD was against the Philistines all the days of Samuel.

Thus, true salvation came not through Eli.  Nor through the ark of the covenant.  Especially not through the might of Israel.  For Israel is weak; the ark an icon; Eli a fallen high priest – but Samuel was led by the Word of God who he met in chapter 2 – and standing tall at the beginning of chapter 4, it is by the word that Samuel conquered and rose higher than the High Priest.  Only through the complete deprivation and erasure of the household of Eli, only through the establishment of Ichabod – of no glory in this house – did the glory of the household of Yahweh return to Israel in the ark’s symbolic return; but the true power had always been the Word which even restores the ark to its purpose.  Only through the breaking of the neck of Eli could his headship be removed from that of Israel and be entirely replaced by the Head of Christ, by the true King David.  Only by the breaking of the neck of Eli could new creation birth be praised, as opposed to birth out of creation-pains of sin.  The death of the old Adam, of Eli, symbolises the born-again life in the Son by the Spirit as we are grafted into the true vine of life (Romans 11:23).

Thus, where the Israelites used the ‘ark’ superstitiously for their own glory, Samuel was used by LORD’s Word and Son to lead Israel to glory in spite of the widespread non-messianic Judaism.  It is not by Eli’s failed high-priesthood mediation that Israel is to be redeemed; but that Israel is to be condemned by the law, of the failures in fulfilling the high-priestly role, so that the Word can be the True High Priest and True and Only Mediator as established through Samuel.  So I end this chapter on the prophetic and faithful words of Job:

Job 33:23-26  If there be for him an angel, a mediator, one of the thousand, to declare to man what is right for him,  (24)  and he is merciful to him, and says, ‘Deliver him from going down into the pit; I have found a ransom;  (25)  let his flesh become fresh with youth; let him return to the days of his youthful vigor’;  (26)  then man prays to God, and he accepts him; he sees his face with a shout of joy, and he restores to man his righteousness.

1 Samuel 4: Death of the High Priest, Life of the Word

1 Samuel 3: The Revelation of the Son

1 Samuel 1 and 2 have been building towards the bigger picture of Eli’s eviction from the House of God.  Eli’s rebuke of his sons were actions done out of religiosity; they were not done out of a conviction of loving Christ Jesus.  The LORD had already accused him of this sin in chapter 2v.29 where Eli has scorned God’s sacrifice, further elaborated in chapter 3v.13 – “And I declare to him that I am about to punish his house forever, for the iniquity that he knew, because his sons were blaspheming God, and he did not restrain them [my emphasis].”

And this contrast is visible – the youthful and innocent Samuel who had been worshipping and praising the LORD consistently in the previous two chapters is now the reception of God’s word.  v.1 explained that the word of the LORD was rare in those days, the word of the LORD coming traditionally true frequent vision (חזון chazon) – a word commonly associated with prophetic dream-like visions (Prov 29:18; Isaiah 1:1, 29:7; Jer 14:14, 23:15; Lam 2:9; Eze 7:29, 13:16; Daniel 8:1, 9:24, 10:14, 11:14; Hosea 12:10; Obadiah 1:1; Nahum 1:1; Habakkuk 2:2-2:3).  Yet, what Samuel is to experience is beyond a prophetic vision.

It is upon the third time that Eli recognises how Samuel, who has been worshipping the LORD, has not yet received direct revelation from him.  Eli is the High Priest; yet even the LORD chose not to speak to him directly.  Instead, He chose to speak through Samuel as an intercessor to shame Eli.  In the same way that the Gentiles are used to shame the Israelites, so also Eli needed to accept that this is good in the LORD’s eyes (v.18).  Yet, Eli’s hard-heart has prevented him from serving the LORD effectively; in fact, his actions extend to that of blasphemy: failing to restrain his sons who had been prostituting themselves and even now, no more direct revelation from God.  In chapter two, a “man of God” came to Eli (v.27).  Who this man is not as relevant as the fact that the High Priest did not receive revelation; and now, it is through a Christophany, through Jesus Christ who came and stood before Samuel (chapter 3v.10).  v.7 should not throw us off by any means – the word for “know” in Hebrew encompasses a vaster meaning than that of simply to know a friend in the English language; rather, this “know” involves physical perception, involves sight.  This would be faithful to the previous chapters, where it would be more accurate to say that Samuel worshipped the LORD through his service in the tabernacle; through his reading of the Scriptures; but had not yet seen Christ, the visible LORD, and not yet receive direct revelation from him.  Yet, here, the LORD appeared before Samuel; and once again, He appeared at Shiloh, for the LORD revealed himself to Samuel at Shiloh by the word of the LORD (v.21).

This brings me to the important words which Christ shared during his time as incarnate Jesus of Nazareth:

Mat 11:27  All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

And so, the Father revealed Himself to Samuel by the word; not by mere vision though that is already infrequent, but an even greater and better glory of physical perception, of physical sight, of seeing the appearance of the LORD Christ Himself.  He who is the Visible, walking, standing, speaking Word.  Yet, all of this is not simply to see the awe of Samuel as the chosen prophet, because this truth has been indicated from chapter 1 onwards.  It is clear that, as Samuel continued to grow, he would hold an important role as a prophet and witness to David the typological Son; and only a prophet who would not let any of his words fall to the ground would be able to discern who the true coming King is – to discern between Saul and David.  It is at Shiloh, where Elkanah and Hannah (and not Peninnah, nor Hophni, nor Phinehas) praised Him exceedingly – and it is here that the LORD appears once again to confirm Samuel’s prophethood.  Yet, what is truly emphasised is the failure of the high priestly line through Eli.  Something which would tingle the two ears of everyone who hears (v.12-14):

“On that day I will fulfill against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end.  And I declare to him that I am about to punish his house forever, for the iniquity that he knew, because his sons were blaspheming God, and he did not restrain them.  Therefore I swear to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be atoned for by sacrifice or offering forever.”

This is almost a direct parallel to Jeremiah’s prophecy in chapter 19 (v.3, but the rest of the chapter retains the poignancy and pain of the subject matter):

“You shall say, ‘Hear the word of the LORD, O kings of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem. Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Behold, I am bringing such disaster upon this place that the ears of everyone who hears of it will tingle.”

Indeed – what will shake people to the core is the fact that the chosen priesthood, both Eli and Israel, seen as priesthood and light to the nations (Exodus 19:6), is rejected by the One who chose them.  However, the only chosen One, the only Elect One, the only Predestined One, is not any individual.  Rather – it is Christ himself (Isaiah 42:1), and only those who cling onto Christ will also be chosen like Him; those who cling onto Christ will also be righteous like Him, because His self-election, His righteousness, His mysteries are all revealed and given to us from the Father through the Son, who makes the Father known to us.  In this way, we shame those who call themselves Christians but have never received revelation, love, truth from the Father; for these are the people who say “Lord Lord” but He has never known them.  Instead, they worship a figment of their creation; they look upon a God who is not living, whom they continually spit upon for they do not surrender themselves to the Word by Whom we know the Father and know that He has become sin who knew no sin.  So Israel even made election a religiosity of itself; but we are truly elect in Him because of His Son, in the line of Melchizedek shaming the physical but spiritually uncircumcised line of Levi and Israel.

1 Samuel 3: The Revelation of the Son

1 Samuel 2: Melchizedek

The premise of the first chapter of Samuel is to lay up for us the true foundation of this faithful witness to the coming king.  What I find interesting is that the focus on Samuel is as if he was a type of Christ rather than a type of John the Baptist.  As revered a prophet as John was, he was still overshadowed by the Christ whom he wholeheartedly testified to. 

Having said that, it is even clearer in chapter 2 that Samuel is the “faithful priest” of v.35, akin to Deuteronomy 18:18 – the prophet which was raised up for the people; a priest who is raised up for God; a king who is a man after God’s own heart – these are three different but intricately intertwined offices which the Spirit-anointed Christ fulfilled through His obedience to the Father.  It is in this sense that Samuel is a type of Christ; not in the sense that he is a fore-running witness (like John the Baptist), which is a compelling typology.  In a different manner, Samuel is the prophesied priest who, like the young incarnate Christ, worshipped the LORD (chapter 1.v28), ministered to Him in the presence of Eli the priest (chapter 2v.11), grew in the presence of the LORD (v.21), continuing to grow both in stature and in favour with the LORD and with man (v.26) – verse 26 of chapter 2 especially echoing what is written in Luke 2:52.

What we therefore see is this priestly Samuel, not according to the priestly line of Eli, but according to the righteous line of the High Priest Melchizedek which Christ partook in.  The true meaning of this is found in the latter parts of chapter 2, where we see a direct contrast between Eli’s half-hearted rebuke of his sons and the LORD holding him responsible for the death of this specific Levitical line under Eli to be replaced by Samuel the outsider.  Samuel who is born of that seemingly drunken woman Hannah.  Samuel who is born of Elkanah’s wife, Hannah, scorned by Peninnah.  However, this transfer of power from Eli to Samuel is not immediate, but is poetically prophesied in the beginning of chapter 2, and this transfer of power is intentional in expressing the transfer of power from Israel to the outside world.

It is at the beginning of this chapter that we read of Hannah’s prayer, which bears much semblance to Mary’s Magnificat and Zechariah’s prophecy in Luke 1.  All three – the prayer, the song, the prophecy – are sculpted almost in an identical manner.  The structure begins with praise – “My heart exults in the LORD” against “My soul magnifies the Lord”, and Zechariah’s “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel”.  Why and for what reason?  The reason of salvation – “because I rejoice in your salvation”, “and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour”, and “for he has visited and redeemed his people and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David”, respectively.  It is perhaps of no coincidence that all three are sculpted in this way – for all three are driven by the Spirit.

These are not the only common ground amongst the three proclamations in response to child-birth:  to dwell on Zechariah’s point of the “horn of salvation”, the Hebrew for 1 Samuel 2:1, and 2:10 (where the words “strength” and “power” are used respectively) and in direct relation to the Anointed One who saves; the Horn of Salvation who is exalted by the Father (chapter 2:10).  Throughout Scripture, “horn” is seen as symbolic of redemption primarily related to the four horns of the altar of burnt offering of the tabernacle (Exodus 27:1-3), the horns being one piece with the altar (Exodus 38:2); blood being smeared onto horns of the altar before the LORD in the Tent of Meeting, on the altar of burnt offering, on the altar of fragrant incense (Leviticus 4); the filling of David’s horn with oil prior to the king’s anointing (1 Samuel 16:1-3); Adonijah clining to the horns of the altar for refuge (1 Kings 1:49-51); and the altar of Ezekiel 43:14-16, the four horns projecting upward from the hearth to the heavens (c.f. Ezekiel 43:19-21 for the blood smeared onto the altar horns).  It would seem reasonable from these verses to see that the horns on the altars represent the four corners of creation, representing refuge, redemption and renewal by the sacrificial blood of the lamb, looking upwards to the heavens as a sign of resurrection and ascension.  So, the symbolism of this “horn” of salvation should not be undermined – rather, it contributes to a robust understanding of Hannah and Zechariah’s theology of the gospel of the Anointed One.

This brings us to a somewhat robust theology of humiliation and glorification in other parts of their prayer, song and prophecy – the LORD who kills and bring to life, who brings down to Sheol and raises up as in Hannah’s prayer; the Lord who brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate, helping his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy as he spoke to… Abraham and to his offspring forever as in Mary’s song; and Zechariah who spoke of his son John being Spirit-led to give knowledge of salvation to his people to give light to the darkness, which is similar to Hannah’s petition for the “wicked [to] be cut off in darkness, for not by might shall a man prevail”.  Thus, by what or by whom shall a man prevail?

By now, we should be convinced that they are not speaking merely of their own son; rather, all three saints are speaking of a prophecy which reigns long ago from a promise made to Abraham; that they are speaking of the hope found in this Horn of Salvation, the Anointed One exalted by the Father; that this Son shall be humiliated and risen as we are humiliated in Adamic flesh and risen in Christ’s resurrection and ascension.  Only through Christ can resurrection come after death, He who was made poor and thus made rich once more to retain the former glory which He had with the Father which the Three Divine Persons wish to share with us (c.f. John 17).  Jesus Christ is that sunrise who has visited Zechariah, Mary, Hannah and Elkanah (Luke 1:78).

Thus, this is Samuel – compared to Eli’s worthless sons (v.12-17) who abused the sacrifice just as the Corinthians abused the communion table (1 Corinthians 11).  Such contempt for the symbolic body of Christ is of direct offence to the actual body of Christ; indeed, that is why Eli’s sons did not know the LORD, because they failed to see the significance of the meat as prophetic of Christ.  This is a far cry from David feeding his men with the bread of presence (Matthew 12:2-4), for David did not treat it with the same type of contempt and knew fully of the Second LORD (Psalm 110; Matthew 22:42-44) Whom the bread represented.  The worthless priests, Hophni and Phinehas, did not even know this much, which suggests why even the symbolic meat was treated with such disrespect. 

Although Eli rebukes his sons in v.22-26, the words fall on deaf ears, just as the old Israel had fallen deaf to the word of the Father in heaven (perhaps explaining why the word of the LORD being rare in those days, c.f. chapter 3:1).  It may look like Eli is a cut above Hophni and Phinehas through his timely rebuke, but the LORD reveals his heart:  that though Eli’s household reigns from the line of Aaron, privileged to wear the ephod as a priest before the LORD, only Samuel consistently worshipped Him and grew both in stature and in favour with Him as he wore his little linen ephod (v.18).  Eli, however, did not grow in stature with God nor with man.  He wore that ephod with compromise – the LORD accused him of scorning his sacrifices and his offerings, and honoured his sons above the LORD by fattening himself on the choicest parts of every offering of His people (v.29). 

Samuel’s child-like innocence, such faith in Christ, is thus juxtaposed against Eli and his household who are preaching a false gospel before men by word and by deed (v.23 – the evil dealings reported from all the people).  What kind of priesthood is this?  Definitely not one which the LORD accepts – “far be it from me, for those who honor me I will honor, and those who despise me shall be lightly esteemed… behold the days are coming when I will cut off your strength and the strength of your father’s house” (v.30-31).  Indeed, this prophecy was fulfilled in Samuel, but it was truly fulfilled in Christ Jesus, the eternal mediator between man and God.  Samuel thus did not come from the line of Aaron the same way Eli was (Hebrews 7:11), but he, like Christ, came from the line of Melchizedek, the high priest forever (Hebrews 5-7).  Yet, it is also the partaking of this line of Melchizedek which enables us to “go in and out before [His] anointed forever”.  Like Joseph who had gathered all blessings in Egypt, so also all the blessings once found in the house of Eli shall only be found in the house of Samuel – and even more fundamentally, in Bethlehem – the house of bread where Christ, the bread of life, was born.  Note however that it is by the priest that we can go before His anointed forever; and it is in Christ that the offices are all fulfilled – He was and is that High Priest who made the Father known to us, that we may “go in and out” before Him forever as we too are anointed by the Spirit to become part of the anointed Church Catholic.  Thus, in Him we die, in Him we are saved, in Him we are redeemed, for He is our intercessor, priest and king forever.

Thus, it is by this Faithful Priest, Anointed One, Horn of Salvation, that we receive more than a morsel of bread.  We shall be exalted, we shall be glorified, we shall ascend into His Trinitarian Communion to truly drink and feed on Him eternally.  We shall not scorn His sacrifice, but we shall love it – this sacrifice who lived the true life of a priest, prophet and king and Whom Samuel was a faint but compelling shadow of.  Eli was of the old empty order which the Israelites embraced; but Samuel was led entirely by Christ as to be a fitting type of Christ which the spiritual Church enjoined herself to, forerunning the greater type David who shall become the head of this church of Israel in the climax of Samuel’s writings.  

1 Samuel 2: Melchizedek