Mother and Son
July 17th, 1960 @ 8:15 AM
1 Samuel :1-36
Dr. W. A. Criswell
1 Samuel 2:1-36
7-17-60 8:15 a.m.
You who share this service with us on the radio are listening to the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. This is the pastor bringing the early morning message from the second chapter of the Book of 1 Samuel. And if you will open your Bible to the place, you can easily follow the message. The title of the message is Mother and Son. Last Sunday morning we concluded with the first chapter in 1 Samuel. There is the promise of the Lord to Hannah, who does not have a child, that God will give her an answer to her prayer and that she shall have a man-child [1 Samuel 1:11]. We said she did not pray for a boy, as distinct from a girl. She did not ask for a little boy, not wanting a little girl. But the deep spiritual insight of this sainted mother in Israel brought her to her knees in behalf of her people, and she was praying for a deliverer. Those were dark and treacherous times, and the course and destiny of the nation looked tragic indeed. So she prays to God that the Lord will give her a child whom the Lord may use to deliver His people.
Now the Lord answers that prayer, and the little child from the beginning of its life is set apart as a holy man of God. And the sign of that holiness is that his hair is never cut, he never drinks strong drink, he is set aside as a Nazarite, as they call it in the Bible; he is set aside to be holy unto the Lord [Numbers 6:1-8; 1 Samuel 1:11]. So, when the little child is old enough to wean, and in those days that meant when the little fellow was about three years of age, she brought him to the tabernacle at Shiloh, the national shrine in that ancient day and gave him to the Lord [1 Samuel 1:24-28]. And of course, the women who ministered there at the tabernacle and all the rest of the priestly tribe that took care of those holy things took the little boy as their own. And he lives and he grows up in the house of the Lord. Now that is where we ended last Sunday morning [1 Samuel 1-28].
This Sunday morning we begin at the second chapter, and it says, “And Hannah prayed, and said, My heart rejoiceth in the Lord, mine horn is exalted in the Lord; my mouth is enlarged . . . because I rejoice in Thy salvation” [1 Samuel 2:1]. Then she continues in a paean of praise and thanksgiving and gratitude [1 Samuel 2:2-10] that reminds us of the Magnificat of Mary the mother of Jesus, whose Magnificat we read this morning as our Scripture passage [Luke 1:46-55]. You find here in the life of Hannah a beautiful adumbration of the glorious gift of God through the yieldedness, the surrenderedness of the Virgin Mary [Matthew 1:20-25; Luke 1:26-35, 2:6-16].
Now will you notice that it says in the book here, “And Hannah prayed, and said” [1 Samuel 2:1], then you don’t have a request. You have an overflowing heart of gratitude, and thanksgiving, and praise, and adoration [1 Samuel 2:1-10]. We should not forget that in our prayers. “And Hannah prayed” [1 Samuel 2:1]. In one, the first chapter and the thirteenth verse, “Now Hannah, she spake in her heart; only her lips moved, and her voice was not heard” [1 Samuel 1:13]. “And because of that, Eli thought she was drunk [1 Samuel 1:14]. But she said, “I am not drunken, but out of the sorrow of my heart have I spoken unto God” [1 Samuel 1:15-16]. So in her agony, and in her distress, and in her need, and in her intercession, and in her pleading, and in her begging, and in her knocking, and in her importunity, nobody heard her say a word. They just saw her in agony of distress, speaking to somebody. Her lips moved, but nobody heard her voice [1 Samuel 1:13]. She prayed unto the Lord, she begged before God, she poured out her soul before heaven. But when her prayer was answered [1 Samuel 1:20], she exulted openly where everybody could hear her. She rejoiced in the presence of the congregation of the Lord, the priests, the Levites, the worshipers [1 Samuel 2:1-10].
Now that is so much like the pattern in the figure of our lives. There are not many of us who would come down here, and before this congregation this morning or on Wednesday evening, pour out your heart to God regarding some of the, say, the intimacies of your family life, or some of the things that concern the waywardness, or the disobedience of your children, or things that pertain to personal relationships where you work or as you live. Most of these things we would just pour out before God, and man wouldn’t hear our voice and wouldn’t hear our prayer. But isn’t that like God? “He that seeth in secret,” He that hears when the door is shut, “He will reward thee openly” [Matthew 6:4]. And our life follows that same pattern. We pray, and we beg, and we beseech, and we knock, maybe when nobody hears our voice. But when the prayer is answered and God gives us the request of our souls, then may the congregation hear our expressions of gratitude and glory. And Hannah prayed and said, “My heart rejoiceth in the Lord, mine horn is exalted; my mouth is enlarged; I rejoice in Thy salvation” [1 Samuel 2:1]. Well, it is a beautiful thing.
There are two things that Hannah says that are said for the first time in the Bible. And thereafter you read it again and again. For example, for the first time in the Bible, she addresses the Lord as the “Lord of hosts” [1 Samuel 1:11]. You have a song, Lee Roy, that the choir sings, in which you call the Lord, “The Lord of sabaoth.” Well, that is just the Hebrew for the “Lord of hosts.” That expression is used so much thereafter: the Lord of hosts. It refers to all of the hosts of glory, the great armies of heaven. Well, Hannah is the first one to use that expression, “O Lord of hosts” [1 Samuel 1:11].
Then she is the first one to refer to our coming King and Savior as the Anointed One, the Messiah, the Christ. Messiah means the Anointed One, and the Greek word Christos is a translation of that Hebrew word messiah. And Hannah is the first one to refer to our coming Lord as the Messiah, the Anointed One, the Christ. And that beautiful Magnificat of Hannah closes with that reference to Christ, “And He shall give strength unto His King, and exalt the horn of His Messiah,” of His Christ, of His—in English—Anointed One [1 Samuel 2:10]. That is unusual, that God would bestow upon this humble woman these marvelous prophetic intuitions and insights. Now in the eleventh verse, “And Elkanah went to Ramah to his house” [1 Samuel 2:11]. That shows you that all of this took place in the presence of the congregation. Hannah’s overflowing, abounding praise and gratitude was expressed before all Israel [1 Samuel 2:1-10].
Now you have the little boy Samuel ministering unto the Lord [1 Samuel 2:11]. And in the passage that we now come to beginning with the eleventh verse, you have the contrast between the wicked sons of Eli—Eli, the high priest, the spokesman and representative of God—you have the contrast between the wicked sons of Eli and the saintliness of this little boy. For example, in the eleventh verse, “And the child did minister unto the Lord before Eli [1 Samuel 2:11]. Now the sons of Eli were sons of Belial; they knew not the Lord” [1 Samuel 2:12]. There you have it. Now look at it again, “Wherefore the sin” in the seventeenth and eighteenth verses, “The sin of the young men was very great; for men abhorred, because of them, the offering of the Lord [1 Samuel 2:17]. But Samuel ministered before the Lord, being a child, girded with the linen ephod” [1 Samuel 2:18]. Now you have it again, “And the child Samuel” in the twenty-first verse, “And the child Samuel grew before the Lord [1 Samuel 2:21]. . . And he [Eli] said to his evil sons, ‘Why do ye such things?’” [1 Samuel 2:23]. Now you have it again in the twenty-fifth and twenty-sixth verses, “Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto the voice of their father [1 Samuel 2:25] . . . And the child Samuel grew on, and was in favor both with the Lord, and also with men” [1 Samuel 1:26].
Well, there are a whole lot of things to be noticed in a situation like that. One is this: if you come to church here very much, and if you listen to the Word of God very much, and if you read it, you will find that God always has His own, always. And it never fails, and He never fails; His elective purpose is carried through:
The kings of the earth may take counsel against God and His Anointed One, And the nations may say, Let us break His bands asunder…
But He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh…
And He that rules saith, Kiss the Son, lest He destroy thee in the day of His wrath.
[Psalm 2:2-4, 12]
You know, these things appear as though darkness rides to victory, and men are able to shake their fist in the face of God and still live. But actually, God overrules, and God has His elective purpose that never falls to the ground. And you have it illustrated here in this little boy. You have a small child growing up there in the presence of evil children: the sons of Eli were vile and iniquitous, as we are going to see in a moment. And yet, that child Samuel grows up in the presence of those vile and evil sons absolutely untouched by them.
Well you say, “Pastor, that is an interdiction of all that we read in psychology, and that violates every principle that we know concerning human association. It would be impossible for that child to grow up without tarnish and without spot and without all of the other things that come from the vile, villainous, iniquitous, wicked influences of these older boys, Hophni and Phinehas, the children of Eli.” But God has His purposes, and God set aside for Himself this child Samuel. And all of the iniquity and all of the darkness and all of the bad, vicious example of a thousand Hophnis and Phinehases cannot change, or spot, or blemish, or destroy the beautiful life of this little fellow that is growing up unto God.
Now I don’t propose to understand the elective purposes of the Almighty, and I’m not here as one that is wiser than God. There are a whole lot of things about God’s kingdom and God’s world that I cannot fathom, but I don’t need to and I don’t have to. If God reveals something to us, we are grateful for the revelation. But if God chooses to hide in the mystery of His infinite counsels things into which we’re not to enter and things concerning which we are not to understand, then may He choose what is best. But He always chooses. That’s the only thing that I preach, that I have the authority to preach, that I read in the Book—not that I understand always and not that I can see always—but that God has a plan. God has a purpose, and the elective purposes of God never ultimately fail.
So it is with this child Samuel, growing up in the presence of those evil boys, yet absolutely untouched by their iniquity, separate, holy, and apart. Like the root out of a dry ground, there he flourishes as the green bay tree. It is remarkable. “Now the sons of Eli were sons of Belial; they knew not the Lord” [1 Samuel 2:12]. Then you have in those immediate verses there, from verse 13 on through 17; you have three instances, God gives us three instances here of the iniquity of those vile children [1 Samuel 2:13-17]. There is another thing I cannot understand. Their father was a good man, but indulgent. And the children took advantage of the indulgence of their father to do every abominable thing. You would think, wouldn’t you, you would think that for a parent to be indulgent with a child would bless the child world without end.
In most instances, it is the opposite. You spoil the child. He loses every regard for value, and he turns out to be about as sorry and as worthless as you could have trained him if you tried to do it on purpose. It takes discipline, whether it is mental in going to school, or whether it is moral in the administration of the rod, or whether it is in the hands of God as He grows saints in His presence. It takes discipline to raise people up straight and strong unto God. And when you do not discipline your children, when you fall into indulgence and lassitude, you are sowing the seeds of tragic reaping in their later lives.
Now these sons of Eli; their father was a good man, old Eli was a saintly man, he was God’s man, but here are three things that these sons of Eli were doing. One: they were greedy and grasping. And you have in those verses there how they did with the people when they came up to worship God. There was always, according to the Law, a certain amount set aside for the minister before the Lord. This is for him, that he might live [1 Samuel 2:13-14].
That has always been God’s careful provision for His servants. You find it in the New Testament church, as you find it back there in the Old Testament tabernacle. They that minister the Word shall live by the Word; nor would there ever be any disposition on the part of any right-thinking church to do other than to care for its ministers. It is your heart. Why, if somebody were to come up to the smallest, humblest member of this church and say, “Did you know you are not doing right by your pastor and by his fellow workers?” why, you would rise up and say, “There is something wrong with my church.” It has always been that way. But these boys not only took what God had set aside for them, but in their grasping greed they tried to take everything else besides.
The same thing as if your pastor were to take this budget, and instead of receiving in gratitude what the people of the church gives to the pastor to live on, he were to say, “But I will take three times as much.” That is what those boys, that is what indulgence will do to children. You never satiate the grasping greed of the human nature and the human heart; it has to be disciplined. If you have the world, you want a fence around it. There is no end to it, just like there is with nations. When nations get graspy and power hungry, they don’t stop. It feeds on itself, and that was the way with these boys.
The second thing they did was they were guilty of sacrilege. I had in my plan here this morning to go into this sacrilege, but I don’t have the beginning of opportunity and the time to do it. Be it said to the honor of those people that, when those boys took three times as much as they should have taken according to what God meant for them to have, they never said a word. They just went right on, they never objected. But be it said to their honor, when the boys violated what belonged to God—the burnt offering of the fat that God had said was His, it was to be burnt on the altar to the Lord—when they took that, the people remonstrated, and they said, “Take what you will from us, but don’t rob God!” [1 Samuel 2:15-16].
And the third thing they were guilty of: the people who worked there in the church, these boys were incestuous and unclean [1 Samuel 2:22]. Well, you can’t imagine, it is beyond imagination, all because of the indulgence of that father. So now we are going to skip over this middle part. I have not time to speak of it, though I have prepared many things concerning it; and I don’t know where this time goes.
So now we come to the last part of this chapter in the twenty-seventh verse, twenty-seventh verse, “There came a man of God unto Eli” [1 Samuel 2:27]. He is not named; we have no idea who he is. There were three like him in the Bible. There was a man of God who was sent to idolatrous Jeroboam [1 Kings 13:1-10]—don’t know his name, don’t know where he came from, except out of Judah. He just suddenly appears, delivering God’s message. Second: there was a man of God that came from out of nowhere and delivered God’s message to wicked Ahab [1 Kings 20:28]. And the third one: there was a man of God that just came out of nowhere and delivered God’s message to the militarist Amaziah [2 Chronicles 25:7-8]. There was a “man of God,” that title is used for very few in the Bible. Moses is called a man of God [1 Chronicles 23:14, Psalm 90:1], David is called a man of God [1 Samuel 13:14], Elijah and Elisha were called men of God [1 Kings 17:18, 2 Kings 5:8]. Only Timothy in the New Testament is called a man of God [1 Timothy 6:11]; the title is used very sparingly. But there came a man of God unto Eli and said, “Thus saith the Lord” [1 Samuel 2:27]. Ah, he starts abruptly! “Ah,” but you say, “he has no tact.” “Ah,” but you say, “he had no sweet introduction.” “Ah,” but you say, “he is blunt.” The man of God had only one responsibility, and that was to deliver God’s message; that was all.
Like Paul when he stood in the presence of the Roman procurator Felix: Felix, with Drusilla, had sent for him to hear some sweet palaver about a strange, esoteric, mysterious Oriental religion to while away an idle hour. But when Paul stood there, he delivered God’s message on righteousness, and temperance, and judgment to come! And the book says, “And Felix trembled” [Acts 24:24-25], in the presence of the Word of the Lord. So is this man a man of God, and he delivers God’s message [1 Samuel 2:27]. That’s all any man of God is supposed to do. “Yes, but how will it be received?” God never said anything about how will it be received.”Yes, but what will the people think?” God never said anything about what will the people think? “There came a man of God unto Eli, and said, Thus saith the Lord” [1 Samuel 2:27]. That’s all the man of God is to do, is to deliver God’s message.
Now he has three things in his message [1 Samuel 2:27-34]: First, he talks to Eli about the grace of God that chose his house, how favored and how blessed, not because of anything you did, but because of the grace of God, the Lord chose you and set you in this favored place. That is the first thing [1 Samuel 2:27-28]. Then the second thing he says, he says, “Why, therefore, have you rebelled against Me?” Why? Why? “You have not tried to discipline your children. And you have brought upon Me and My name and this house where My name is praised, you have brought shame, and evil iniquity, and vile whisperings concerning the tragic conduct of these vile children” [1 Samuel 2:29-30]. Now then, he has that sweeping word of judgment, “Now your house is going to be cut off forever, and there will not be a single one born in your house that will die in old age. They will all be cut off in their youth . . . And this is the sign that what I say will come to pass: your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, in one day they shall die, both of them” [1 Samuel 2:31-34]. And the man of God went away, leaving the message of the Lord in the heart of Eli.
And it came to pass just as God said. The last of Eli’s house was Abiathar who, with his son Jonathan, conspired with Adonijah and the veteran warrior Joab, against Solomon and were cut off forever [1 Kings 1:7-8]. And the Lord raised up another wing, another branch of the house of Aaron, Zadok, to minister before the Lord [1 Kings 2:35-36; 1 Kings 2:35]. And Hophni and Phinehas were slain by the Philistines in one day, according to the saying of the man of God [1 Samuel 4:11].
And when you read these things, you would be in the depths of despair, but have you ever noticed, have you ever noticed, always God has another word to say? Always, God points to another somebody. These may fail, these may be slain, and because of vile wickedness, these may be discarded, but God always points to a somebody else in whom we can have hope and life and glory and forgiveness and salvation. And this prophet does it here. Look at this verse 35, “And I will raise Me up a faithful Priest” [1 Samuel 2:35]. Wonder who that is? “That He shall do according to that which is in Mine heart and in My mind” [1 Samuel 2:35]. Wonder who that is? “And I will build Him a sure house” [1 Samuel 2:35]. I wonder who that is. “And He shall walk before Mine anointed forever” [1 Samuel 2:35]. I wonder who that is. Of course, in the line of Aaron, He is speaking of Zadok [1 Kings 1:34]; but far beyond the Aaronic line, He is speaking of the Lord Jesus [Hebrews 5:5-6].
And it never fails, Judah may sin and go into captivity [2 Chronicles 36:15-17], and Israel may be destroyed [2 Kings 17:6-18], and Jerusalem may be plowed up as heaps [Micah 3:12], and the people of God may become the Diaspora, scattered over the earth [1 Peter 1:1], but there will be a New Jerusalem [Revelation 21:2] and there will be a new King [Revelation 19:16]. And there will be another leader, and there will be our living Lord, always [Revelation 21-22]. The Book never fails in that bright and glorious prospect. Like somebody reminded me of a thing I have said here many times, “Pastor, don’t you remember what you said? ‘When the down-look is dark, try the up-look, it’s bright.’” And that is the message of God always: when the way here is dark, look up. That way is always filled with the glory of the promise of God.
Now while we sing our song this morning, somebody give his heart to Jesus; somebody put his life with us in the fellowship of the church, as the Spirit of the Lord shall say the word and lead the way, would you come and stand by me? On the first note of this first stanza, “Here I am, pastor, and here I come. I give you my hand; I have given my heart to God.” Or, “Here we are, the whole family of us, coming into the fellowship of this gracious, precious, and blessed church,” while we stand and while we sing.
MOTHER AND SON
Dr. W. A. Criswell
I Samuel 2:1-36
7-17-60 8:15 a.m.
I. Hannah prays for a child who will deliver His people
II. God answers with Samuel, Hannah humbly thanks God
1. First time “Lord of Hosts” used in the Bible
2. First time the Lord Jesus is called Messiah, “The Anointed One”
III. Contrast between sons of Eli and Samuel
IV. Eli’s sons
V. A man of God delivers God’s Word that ultimately points to the Lord