And the child Samuel grew on, and was in favour both with the Lord, and also with men. — 1 Samuel 2:26
The mighty oak tree stands tall as an example of strength and endurance. Few trees have a greater geographical range than the oak; its nearly 300 species grow all across Europe and northern America. The oak may reach heights of sixty to one hundred feet, and acquire a diameter of eight to ten feet.
However, the single mark of supremacy which distinguishes the oak from any other tree in the forest is its ability to defy gravity. Most trees grow primarily in a vertical direction, thus minimizing the pull of gravity. But the oak not only grows vertically but also spreads its limbs horizontally for fifty or sixty feet, so the forces of gravity are greater. Few woods are so durable under all circumstances, so the oak has had a wide variety of uses. It was a favorite wood of the Greeks and Romans for ship building. The Anglo-Saxons used the wood for church building. The tree was also used as a mold for smeltering cannons.
In our text today, we see Samuel growing strong before the Lord, even in difficult circumstances. It is not uncommon to struggle spiritually when times are hard. Some people blame their lack of spiritual growth and maturity on these circumstances or their environment — placing the blame on others. Samuel provides the example that one can grow spiritually in spite of one’s circumstances. Eli’s sons had turned away from God and were committing sin in the house of the Lord, and against the people who came to worship. In the midst of this hardship and wrongdoing, we read that Samuel ministered unto the Lord. Samuel apparently had a desire to do whatever the Lord wanted him to do, and he did it with all of his heart despite the circumstances or environment he was in. In verse 21, we read how he grew before the Lord. In our focus verse we read he “grew on, and was in favour both with the Lord, and also with men.” He became spiritually strong as he continued to serve the Lord. This strength was recognized by the Lord and those who came to the temple to worship.
If we serve the Lord with all our hearts, despite how hard our circumstances or environmental conditions are, we will find ourselves growing spiritually. Like the mighty oak, we can resist the downward pull of “gravity” found in the influences of the world. With God’s help we can be an example of strength and endurance. Maybe today you are facing an especially challenging situation. Put your trust in God and grow stronger in Him!
This chapter is one that may be overlooked in the account of Samuel’s early years. Chapter 1 records Hannah’s vow to God and Samuel’s birth. Chapter 3 tells of God’s call to Samuel in the night. Tucked between these two chapters, however, are clues to Samuel’s eventual call by God: his faithfulness to serve, and his spiritual growth as he served. The word minister (used in verses 11 and 18) in the original language means “to serve.”
This chapter opens with Hannah’s song. Hannah had just brought Samuel to the house of the Lord in obedience to her promise to the Lord for giving her a son. The song is one of the earliest and most stirring poems in the Old Testament. It describes the attributes of God such as holiness, strength, knowledge, and discernment. It speaks of how God deals with mankind and how His judgment is supreme. Hannah’s song is so messianic in character that Mary, the mother of Jesus, incorporated it into her own song of triumph in which she praised God for choosing her to be the mother of Jesus.
Eli’s sons, Hophni and Phinehas, did not know the Lord and were very evil. They stole offerings from the people of Israel to use for themselves, and even committed sexual sins with women who came to the Tabernacle. Eli chastised his sons for their actions but they refused to listen to him, so judgment was prophesied against Eli as well as his sons. A prophecy was also given that God would raise up a man to be the faithful priest in the house of the Lord forever. This prophecy was partially fulfilled in Zadoc, of the family of Eleazar, in the beginning of Solomon’s reign (see Ezekiel 40:46). The ultimate fulfillment of this prophecy is found in the priesthood of Jesus, the merciful and faithful High Priest.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
I. The judgeship of Samuel
A. The birth and parentage of Samuel
6. The song of Hannah (2:1-10)
a. Praise for Jehovah’s person (2:1-3)
b. Praise for Jehovah’s power (2:4-8)
c. Praise for prophetic assurances (2:9-10)
B. The call of Samuel
1. The failure of Eli’s house (2:11-36)
a. The presence of Samuel at Shiloh (2:11)
b. The degeneracy of Eli’s sons (2:12-17)
c. The blessing upon Elkanah and Hannah (2:18-21)
d. The warning of Eli to his sons (2:22-26)
e. The prophecy against Eli’s house (2:27-36)
Mature oak trees are not produced overnight, and neither are servants of God. Keep serving God faithfully with all your heart, and see if you don’t find yourself growing spiritually!