Bible Society of South Africa

To The Word – Day 73

1 Samuel 1–5, Psalm 8

Bible text(s)

Elkanah and his Family at Shiloh

1There was a man named Elkanah, from the tribe of Ephraim, who lived in the town of Ramah in the hill country of Ephraim. He was the son of Jeroham and grandson of Elihu, and belonged to the family of Tohu, a part of the clan of Zuph. 2Elkanah had two wives, Hannah and Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah had none. 3Every year Elkanah went from Ramah to worship and offer sacrifices to the LORD Almighty at Shiloh, where Hophni and Phinehas, the two sons of Eli, were priests of the LORD. 4Each time Elkanah offered his sacrifice, he would give one share of the meat to Peninnah and one share to each of her children. 5And even though he loved Hannah very much he would give her only one share, because the LORD had kept her from having children. 6Peninnah, her rival, would torment and humiliate her, because the LORD had kept her childless. 7This went on year after year; whenever they went to the house of the LORD, Peninnah would upset Hannah so much that she would cry and refuse to eat anything. 8Her husband Elkanah would ask her, “Hannah, why are you crying? Why won't you eat? Why are you always so sad? Don't I mean more to you than ten sons?”

Hannah and Eli

9-10One day, after they had finished their meal in the house of the LORD at Shiloh, Hannah got up. She was deeply distressed, and she cried bitterly as she prayed to the LORD. Meanwhile, Eli the priest was sitting in his place by the door. 11Hannah made a solemn promise: “Almighty LORD, look at me, your servant! See my trouble and remember me! Don't forget me! If you give me a son, I promise that I will dedicate him to you for his whole life and that he will never have his hair cut.”

12Hannah continued to pray to the LORD for a long time, and Eli watched her lips. 13She was praying silently; her lips were moving, but she made no sound. So Eli thought that she was drunk, 14and said to her, “Stop making a drunken show of yourself! Stop your drinking and sober up!”

15“No, I'm not drunk, sir,” she answered. “I haven't been drinking! I am desperate, and I have been praying, pouring out my troubles to the LORD. 16Don't think I am a worthless woman. I have been praying like this because I'm so miserable.”

17“Go in peace,” Eli said, “and may the God of Israel give you what you have asked him for.”

18“May you always think kindly of me,” she replied. Then she went away, ate some food, and was no longer sad.

Samuel's Birth and Dedication

19The next morning Elkanah and his family got up early, and after worshipping the LORD, they went back home to Ramah. Elkanah had intercourse with his wife Hannah, and the LORD answered her prayer. 20So it was that she became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, and explained, “I asked the LORD for him.”

21The time came again for Elkanah and his family to go to Shiloh and offer to the LORD the yearly sacrifice and the special sacrifice he had promised. 22But this time Hannah did not go. She told her husband, “As soon as the child is weaned, I will take him to the house of the LORD, where he will stay all his life.”

23Elkanah answered, “All right, do whatever you think best; stay at home until you have weaned him. And may the LORD make your promise come true.” So Hannah stayed at home and nursed her child.

24After she had weaned him, she took him to Shiloh, taking along a three-year-old bull, ten kilogrammes of flour, and a leather bag full of wine. She took Samuel, young as he was, to the house of the LORD at Shiloh. 25After they had killed the bull, they took the child to Eli. 26Hannah said to him, “Excuse me, sir. Do you remember me? I am the woman you saw standing here, praying to the LORD. 27I asked him for this child, and he gave me what I asked for. 28So I am dedicating him to the LORD. As long as he lives, he will belong to the LORD.”

Then they worshipped the LORD there.

1 Samuel 1GNBOpen in Bible reader

Hannah's Prayer

1Hannah prayed:

“The LORD has filled my heart with joy;

how happy I am because of what he has done!

I laugh at my enemies;

how joyful I am because God has helped me!

2“No one is holy like the LORD;

there is none like him,

no protector like our God.

3Stop your loud boasting;

silence your proud words.

For the LORD is a God who knows,

and he judges all that people do.

4The bows of strong soldiers are broken,

but the weak grow strong.

5The people who once were well fed

now hire themselves out to get food,

but the hungry are hungry no more.

The childless wife has borne seven children,

but the mother of many is left with none.

6The LORD kills and restores to life;

he sends people to the world of the dead

and brings them back again.

7He makes some poor and others rich;

he humbles some and makes others great.

8He lifts the poor from the dust

and raises the needy from their misery.

He makes them companions of princes

and puts them in places of honour.

The foundations of the earth belong to the LORD;

on them he has built the world.

9“He protects the lives of his faithful people,

but the wicked disappear in darkness;

a man does not triumph by his own strength.

10The LORD's enemies will be destroyed;

he will thunder against them from heaven.

The LORD will judge the whole world;

he will give power to his king,

he will make his chosen king victorious.”

11Then Elkanah went back home to Ramah, but the boy Samuel stayed in Shiloh and served the LORD under the priest Eli.

The Sons of Eli

12The sons of Eli were scoundrels. They paid no attention to the LORD 13or to the regulations concerning what the priests could demand from the people. Instead, when anyone was offering a sacrifice, the priest's servant would come with a three-pronged fork. While the meat was still cooking, 14he would stick the fork into the cooking pot, and whatever the fork brought out belonged to the priest. All the Israelites who came to Shiloh to offer sacrifices were treated like this. 15In addition, even before the fat was taken off and burnt, the priest's servant would come and say to the one offering the sacrifice, “Give me some meat for the priest to roast; he won't accept boiled meat from you, only raw meat.”

16If the person answered, “Let us do what is right and burn the fat first; then take what you want,” the priest's servant would say, “No! Give it to me now! If you don't, I will have to take it by force!”

17This sin of the sons of Eli was extremely serious in the LORD's sight, because they treated the offerings to the LORD with such disrespect.

Samuel at Shiloh

18In the meantime the boy Samuel continued to serve the LORD, wearing a sacred linen apron. 19Each year his mother would make a little robe and take it to him when she accompanied her husband to offer the yearly sacrifice. 20Then Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife, and say to Elkanah, “May the LORD give you other children by this woman to take the place of the one you dedicated to him.”

After that they would go back home.

21The LORD did bless Hannah, and she had three more sons and two daughters. The boy Samuel grew up in the service of the LORD.

Eli and his Sons

22Eli was now very old. He kept hearing about everything his sons were doing to the Israelites and that they were even sleeping with the women who worked at the entrance to the Tent of the LORD's presence. 23So he said to them, “Why are you doing these things? Everybody tells me about the evil you are doing. 24Stop it, my sons! This is an awful thing the people of the LORD are talking about! 25If anyone sins against someone else, God can defend him; but who can defend someone who sins against the LORD?”

But they would not listen to their father, for the LORD had decided to kill them.

26The boy Samuel continued to grow and to gain favour both with the LORD and with people.

The Prophecy against Eli's Family

27A prophet came to Eli with this message from the LORD: “When your ancestor Aaron and his family were slaves of the king of Egypt, I revealed myself to Aaron. 28From all the tribes of Israel I chose his family to be my priests, to serve at the altar, to burn the incense, and to wear the ephod to consult me. And I gave them the right to keep a share of the sacrifices burnt on the altar. 29Why, then, do you look with greed at the sacrifices and offerings which I require from my people? Why, Eli, do you honour your sons more than me by letting them fatten themselves on the best parts of all the sacrifices my people offer to me? 30I, the LORD God of Israel, promised in the past that your family and your clan would serve me as priests for all time. But now I say that I won't have it any longer! Instead, I will honour those who honour me, and I will treat with contempt those who despise me. 31Listen, the time is coming when I will kill all the young men in your family and your clan, so that no man in your family will live to be old. 32You will be troubled and look with envy on all the blessings I will give to the other people of Israel, but no one in your family will ever again live to old age. 33Yet I will keep one of your descendants alive, and he will serve me as priest. But he will become blind and lose all hope, and all your other descendants will die a violent death. 34When your two sons Hophni and Phinehas both die on the same day, this will show you that everything I have said will come true. 35I will choose a priest who will be faithful to me and do everything I want him to. I will give him descendants, who will always serve in the presence of my chosen king. 36Any of your descendants who survive will have to go to that priest and ask him for money and food, and beg to be allowed to help the priests, in order to have something to eat.”

1 Samuel 2GNBOpen in Bible reader

The LORD Appears to Samuel

1In those days, when the boy Samuel was serving the LORD under the direction of Eli, there were very few messages from the LORD, and visions from him were quite rare. 2One night Eli, who was now almost blind, was sleeping in his own room; 3Samuel was sleeping in the sanctuary, where the sacred Covenant Box was. Before dawn, while the lamp was still burning, 4the LORD called Samuel. He answered, “Yes, sir!” 5and ran to Eli and said, “You called me, and here I am.”

But Eli answered, “I didn't call you; go back to bed.” So Samuel went back to bed.

6-7The LORD called Samuel again. The boy did not know that it was the LORD, because the LORD had never spoken to him before. So he got up, went to Eli, and said, “You called me, and here I am.”

But Eli answered, “My son, I didn't call you; go back to bed.”

8The LORD called Samuel a third time; he got up, went to Eli, and said, “You called me, and here I am.”

Then Eli realized that it was the LORD who was calling the boy, 9so he said to him, “Go back to bed; and if he calls you again, say, ‘Speak, LORD, your servant is listening.’ ” So Samuel went back to bed.

10The LORD came and stood there, and called as he had before, “Samuel! Samuel!”

Samuel answered, “Speak; your servant is listening.”

11The LORD said to him, “Some day I am going to do something to the people of Israel that is so terrible that everyone who hears about it will be stunned. 12On that day I will carry out all my threats against Eli's family, from beginning to end. 13I have already told him that I am going to punish his family for ever because his sons have spoken evil things against me. Eli knew they were doing this, but he did not stop them. 14So I solemnly declare to the family of Eli that no sacrifice or offering will ever be able to remove the consequences of this terrible sin.”

15Samuel stayed in bed until morning; then he got up and opened the doors of the house of the LORD. He was afraid to tell Eli about the vision. 16Eli called him, “Samuel, my boy!”

“Yes, sir,” answered Samuel.

17“What did the LORD tell you?” Eli asked. “Don't keep anything from me. God will punish you severely if you don't tell me everything he said.” 18So Samuel told him everything; he did not keep anything back. Eli said, “He is the LORD; he will do whatever seems best to him.”

19As Samuel grew up, the LORD was with him and made everything that Samuel said come true. 20So all the people of Israel, from one end of the country to the other, knew that Samuel was indeed a prophet of the LORD. 21The LORD continued to reveal himself at Shiloh, where he had appeared to Samuel and had spoken to him. And when Samuel spoke, all Israel listened.

1 Samuel 3GNBOpen in Bible reader

The Capture of the Covenant Box

1At that time the Philistines gathered to go to war against Israel, so the Israelites set out to fight them. The Israelites set up their camp at Ebenezer and the Philistines at Aphek. 2The Philistines attacked, and after fierce fighting they defeated the Israelites and killed about 4,000 men on the battlefield. 3When the survivors came back to camp, the leaders of Israel said, “Why did the LORD let the Philistines defeat us today? Let's go and bring the LORD's Covenant Box from Shiloh, so that he will go with us and save us from our enemies.” 4So they sent messengers to Shiloh and fetched the Covenant Box of the LORD Almighty, who is enthroned above the winged creatures. And Eli's two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, came along with the Covenant Box.

5When the Covenant Box arrived, the Israelites gave such a loud shout of joy that the earth shook. 6The Philistines heard the shouting and said, “Listen to all that shouting in the Hebrew camp! What does it mean?” When they found out that the LORD's Covenant Box had arrived in the Hebrew camp, 7they were afraid, and said, “A god has come into their camp! We're lost! Nothing like this has ever happened to us before! 8Who can save us from those powerful gods? They are the gods who slaughtered the Egyptians in the desert! 9Be brave, Philistines! Fight like men, or we will become slaves to the Hebrews, just as they were our slaves. So fight like men!”

10The Philistines fought hard and defeated the Israelites, who went running to their homes. There was a great slaughter: 30,000 Israelite soldiers were killed. 11God's Covenant Box was captured, and Eli's sons, Hophni and Phinehas, were both killed.

The Death of Eli

12A man from the tribe of Benjamin ran all the way from the battlefield to Shiloh and arrived there the same day. To show his grief, he had torn his clothes and put earth on his head. 13Eli, who was very anxious about the Covenant Box, was sitting on a seat beside the road, staring. The man spread the news throughout the town, and everyone cried out in fear. 14Eli heard the noise and asked, “What is all this noise about?” The man hurried to Eli to tell him the news. 15(Eli was now 98 years old and almost completely blind.) 16The man said, “I have escaped from the battle and have run all the way here today.”

Eli asked him, “What happened, my son?”

17The messenger answered, “Israel ran away from the Philistines; it was a terrible defeat for us! Besides that, your sons Hophni and Phinehas were killed, and God's Covenant Box was captured!”

18When the man mentioned the Covenant Box, Eli fell backwards from his seat beside the gate. He was so old and fat that the fall broke his neck, and he died. He had been a leader in Israel for forty years.

The Death of the Widow of Phinehas

19Eli's daughter-in-law, the wife of Phinehas, was pregnant, and it was almost time for her baby to be born. When she heard that God's Covenant Box had been captured and that her father-in-law and her husband were dead, she suddenly went into labour and gave birth. 20As she was dying, the women helping her said to her, “Be brave! You have a son!” But she paid no attention and did not answer. 21She named the boy Ichabod, explaining, “God's glory has left Israel” — referring to the capture of the Covenant Box and the death of her father-in-law and her husband. 22“God's glory has left Israel,” she said, “because God's Covenant Box has been captured.”

1 Samuel 4GNBOpen in Bible reader

The Covenant Box among the Philistines

1After the Philistines captured the Covenant Box, they carried it from Ebenezer to their city of Ashdod, 2took it into the temple of their god Dagon, and set it up beside his statue. 3Early next morning the people of Ashdod saw that the statue of Dagon had fallen face downwards on the ground in front of the LORD's Covenant Box. So they lifted it up and put it back in its place. 4Early the following morning they saw that the statue had again fallen down in front of the Covenant Box. This time its head and both its arms were broken off and were lying in the doorway; only the body was left. 5(That is why even today the priests of Dagon and all his worshippers in Ashdod step over that place and do not walk on it.)

6The LORD punished the people of Ashdod severely and terrified them. He punished them and the people in the surrounding territory by causing them to have tumours. 7When they saw what was happening, they said, “The God of Israel is punishing us and our god Dagon. We can't let the Covenant Box stay here any longer.” 8So they sent messengers and called together all five of the Philistine kings and asked them, “What shall we do with the Covenant Box of the God of Israel?”

“Take it over to Gath,” they answered; so they took it to Gath, another Philistine city. 9But after it arrived there, the LORD punished that city too and caused a great panic. He punished them with tumours which developed in all the people of the city, young and old alike. 10So they sent the Covenant Box to Ekron, another Philistine city; but when it arrived there, the people cried out, “They have brought the Covenant Box of the God of Israel here, in order to kill us all!” 11So again they sent for all the Philistine kings and said, “Send the Covenant Box of Israel back to its own place, so that it won't kill us and our families.” There was panic throughout the city because God was punishing them so severely. 12Even those who did not die developed tumours and the people cried out to their gods for help.

1 Samuel 5GNBOpen in Bible reader

God's Glory and Human Dignity

1O LORD, our Lord,

your greatness is seen in all the world!

Your praise reaches up to the heavens;

2it is sung by children and babies.

You are safe and secure from all your enemies;

you stop anyone who opposes you.

3When I look at the sky, which you have made,

at the moon and the stars, which you set in their places —

4what are human beings, that you think of them;

mere mortals, that you care for them?

5Yet you made them inferior only to yourself;

you crowned them with glory and honour.

6You appointed them rulers over everything you made;

you placed them over all creation:

7sheep and cattle, and the wild animals too;

8the birds and the fish

and the creatures in the seas.

9O LORD, our Lord,

your greatness is seen in all the world!

Bible Society of South Africav.4.16.16
Find us on