20 June 1 Samuel 2:11-12,18-26

20 June.  Samuel serves the LORD at Shiloh

“Then Elkanah went home to Ramah, but the boy [Samuel] continued to serve the LORD under Eli the priest. Now Eli’s sons were evil men: they did not care about the LORD…”

“But Samuel obeyed the LORD. As a boy he wore a linen holy robe. Every year Samuel’s mother made a little coat for him and took it to him when she went with her husband to Shiloh for the sacrifice. When Eli blessed Elkanah and his wife, he would say, ‘May the LORD repay you with children through Hannah to take the place of the boy Hannah prayed for and gave back to the LORD.’”

“Then Elkanah and Hannah would go home. The LORD was kind to Hannah, so she became the mother of three sons and two daughters. And the boy Samuel grew up serving the LORD.”

“Now Eli was very old. He heard about everything his sons were doing to all the Israelites and how his sons had sexual relations with the women who served at the entrance to the Meeting Tent. Eli said to his sons, ‘Why do you do these evil things that the people tell me about? … If you sin against someone, God can help you. But if you sin against the LORD himself, no one can help you!’ But Eli’s sons would not listen to him, because the LORD had decided to put them to death.”

“The boy Samuel grew physically. He pleased the LORD and the people."

          (1 Samuel 2:11-12, 18-26)



In today’s passage, Samuel ministers in the sanctuary at Shiloh under the supervision of Eli the priest. Samuel “grew physically” and “pleased the LORD and the people” (1 Samuel 2:26) while Eli’s sons – Hophni and Phinehas – showed nothing but contempt for their priestly roles.

Have you ever noticed how closely the birth narrative of Jesus as recorded in Luke’s gospel reflects the account of Samuel’s birth in the Book of Samuel (1 Samuel and 2 Samuel were originally one book in the Hebrew scriptures)?

In 1 Samuel, Hannah prays with a song of thanks when she discovers she is pregnant:

“The LORD has filled my heart with joy;

I feel very strong in the LORD.

I can laugh at my enemies;

I am glad because you have helped me! … 


The LORD destroys his enemies;

He will thunder in heaven against them.

The LORD will judge all the earth.

He will give power to his king

And make his appointed king strong” (1 Samuel 2:1-10)


In Luke’s gospel, Mary rejoices in a song of thanks (the ‘Magnificat’) when she also discovers she is pregnant:

“My soul praises the LORD;

My heart rejoices in God my Saviour,

Because he has shown his concern for his humble servant girl.

From now on, all people will say that I am blessed…


He [God] has done mighty deeds by his power.

He has scattered the people who are proud…

He has brought down rulers from their thrones

And raised up the humble…” (Luke 1:46-52)


Read these songs of praise again, and note the similarities!

As Samuel grew up in the sanctuary at Shiloh, we’re told, “But Samuel obeyed the LORD… And the boy Samuel grew up serving the LORD… The boy Samuel grew physically. He pleased the LORD and the people.” (1 Samuel 2:19, 21, 26)

As Jesus grew up in Nazareth, we’re told, “Jesus went with [his parents] to Nazareth and was obedient to them… Jesus became wiser and grew physically. People liked him, and he pleased God.” (Luke 2:51-52)

Read the descriptions of these two boys again, and, bearing in mind that we lose some of the original wording in the translation, spot the clear similarities between the Old Testament and the New Testament text.

These similarities are not accidental! The Jewish audience for which the New Testament gospels were written was very familiar with the words of the Old Testament. Many of them were illiterate, and relied on familiar passages such as the story of Samuel being read to them (and often memorised) on a regular basis in the local synagogue.

And the Jewish view of history which was prevalent at the time of Jesus’s birth was a ‘cyclic’ view of history – they believed that current events reflected something that had happened in the past (the modern version of this ‘cyclic’ world view is reflected in the saying, ‘There’s nothing new under the sun.’)

So it’s hardly surprising that the gospel narratives often describe Jesus in similar words and phrases to those describing godly people in the Old Testament. In his childhood, for example, Jesus is likened to the boy Samuel, the greatest of the ‘judges’ (see above); when Jesus heals the ten lepers in Samaria (see Luke 17:11-19) there is a clear comparison with the healing of Naaman’s leprosy by the prophet Elisha, also in Samaria (see 2 Kings 5:1-14 ); and as Jesus enters Jerusalem on Palm Sunday he’s likened to the great Jewish hero King David (compare Matthew 21:1-11 with Psalm 118:19-29, a psalm of David).

The photo shows a painting of Hannah presenting her son Samuel to the priest Eli (by Gerbrand van den Eeckhout) (c.1665). 

You can read more about Samuel @ https://www.thebiblejourney.org/biblejourney2/29-the-journeys-of-ruth-and-samuel/samuel-is-taken-to-shiloh/

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