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.