Then Hannah prayed: “My heart rejoices in the LORD ! The LORD has made me strong. Now I have an answer for my enemies; I rejoice because you rescued me.
No one is holy like the LORD ! There is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God.
“Stop acting so proud and haughty! Don’t speak with such arrogance! For the LORD is a God who knows what you have done; he will judge your actions.
The bow of the mighty is now broken, and those who stumbled are now strong.
Those who were well fed are now starving, and those who were starving are now full. The childless woman now has seven children, and the woman with many children wastes away.
The LORD gives both death and life; he brings some down to the grave but raises others up.
The LORD makes some poor and others rich; he brings some down and lifts others up.
He lifts the poor from the dust and the needy from the garbage dump. He sets them among princes, placing them in seats of honor. For all the earth is the LORD ’s, and he has set the world in order.
“He will protect his faithful ones, but the wicked will disappear in darkness. No one will succeed by strength alone.
Those who fight against the LORD will be shattered. He thunders against them from heaven; the LORD judges throughout the earth. He gives power to his king; he increases the strength of his anointed one.”
Then Elkanah returned home to Ramah without Samuel. And the boy served the LORD by assisting Eli the priest.
Now the sons of Eli were scoundrels who had no respect for the LORD
or for their duties as priests. Whenever anyone offered a sacrifice, Eli’s sons would send over a servant with a three-pronged fork. While the meat of the sacrificed animal was still boiling,
the servant would stick the fork into the pot and demand that whatever it brought up be given to Eli’s sons. All the Israelites who came to worship at Shiloh were treated this way.
Sometimes the servant would come even before the animal’s fat had been burned on the altar. He would demand raw meat before it had been boiled so that it could be used for roasting.
The man offering the sacrifice might reply, “Take as much as you want, but the fat must be burned first.” Then the servant would demand, “No, give it to me now, or I’ll take it by force.”
So the sin of these young men was very serious in the LORD ’s sight, for they treated the LORD ’s offerings with contempt.
But Samuel, though he was only a boy, served the LORD . He wore a linen garment like that of a priest.
Each year his mother made a small coat for him and brought it to him when she came with her husband for the sacrifice.
Before they returned home, Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife and say, “May the LORD give you other children to take the place of this one she gave to the LORD . ”
And the LORD blessed Hannah, and she conceived and gave birth to three sons and two daughters. Meanwhile, Samuel grew up in the presence of the LORD .
Now Eli was very old, but he was aware of what his sons were doing to the people of Israel. He knew, for instance, that his sons were seducing the young women who assisted at the entrance of the Tabernacle.
Eli said to them, “I have been hearing reports from all the people about the wicked things you are doing. Why do you keep sinning?
You must stop, my sons! The reports I hear among the LORD ’s people are not good.
If someone sins against another person, God can mediate for the guilty party. But if someone sins against the LORD, who can intercede?” But Eli’s sons wouldn’t listen to their father, for the LORD was already planning to put them to death.
Meanwhile, the boy Samuel grew taller and grew in favor with the LORD and with the people.
One day a man of God came to Eli and gave him this message from the LORD : “I revealed myself to your ancestors when they were Pharaoh’s slaves in Egypt.
I chose your ancestor Aaron from among all the tribes of Israel to be my priest, to offer sacrifices on my altar, to burn incense, and to wear the priestly vest as he served me. And I assigned the sacrificial offerings to you priests.
So why do you scorn my sacrifices and offerings? Why do you give your sons more honor than you give me—for you and they have become fat from the best offerings of my people Israel!
“Therefore, the LORD, the God of Israel, says: I promised that your branch of the tribe of Levi would always be my priests. But I will honor those who honor me, and I will despise those who think lightly of me.
The time is coming when I will put an end to your family, so it will no longer serve as my priests. All the members of your family will die before their time. None will reach old age.
You will watch with envy as I pour out prosperity on the people of Israel. But no members of your family will ever live out their days.
The few not cut off from serving at my altar will survive, but only so their eyes can go blind and their hearts break, and their children will die a violent death.
And to prove that what I have said will come true, I will cause your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, to die on the same day!
“Then I will raise up a faithful priest who will serve me and do what I desire. I will establish his family, and they will be priests to my anointed kings forever.
Then all of your surviving family will bow before him, begging for money and food. ‘Please,’ they will say, ‘give us jobs among the priests so we will have enough to eat.’”