Thursday, May 19, 2022

Samuel and Eli (1 Samuel 1-8)

Priest v. Prophet

Hannah has brought her young son, Samuel, up to the Temple to live his Nazarite vow and be apprenticed to the High Priest, Eli. 

READ 1 Samuel 2:11-17

What are the differences between Samuel and the sons of Eli the High Priest?

The sons of Eli are ordained priests while Samuel is not.

Samuel is righteous and the sons of Eli are not.

Samuel did minister UNTO THE LORD before Eli (he does not minister to Eli) while the sons of Eli administer religious rites to the people under the presiding authority of their father, with little thought about the Lord.

Eli’s sons (who are Priests), are stealing from the Lord by forcing the people who come to sacrifice to give them as much of their meat as they want - they are clearly “ministering” to themselves.

Samuel is there because of a Nazarite vow his mother made on his behalf – a humble sacrifice of her son to the Lord; but Samuel is not resentful – he has given his own heart to the Lord.

Eli’s sons are there because of their Levite lineage and their father being the High Priest (relationships: they “know someone” in power).


READ 1 Samuel 3:1-3

What does “ere the lamp of God went out in the temple” imply?

Eli and his sons are faithfully observing the religious requirement to burn the lamp in the temple.

What does the “word of the Lord was precious” mean?

While they had the ark of the covenant, the temple, the ordinances, the Law, the scriptures, and the priesthood, they have no connection to God - no revelation is being received by the leaders of the Church.

Although they are observing the ordinances of burning the lamp, which symbolizes the light of God, they lack the faith to call down revelation from heaven.

What happens when the priestly leaders (those given priesthood authority) do not connect with heaven?

The ordinances and observances become the focus as ends in and of themselves, instead of inviting and enabling people to actually connect with God.

AND/OR, scholars step in with their research, analysis and hypothesis, to fill the void - this is what will eventually happened in Israel by the time of Christ’s ministry.

What is the difference between a presiding “high priest” and a “prophet” (don’t think about today’s offices in the Church by the same name)?

The presiding High Priest holds authority to conduct the ordinances.

A prophet communes with heaven directly.

Can the presiding High Priest be a prophet?

Yes – Adam, Enoch, Melchizedek, Moses and Joseph Smith are examples.

Can a presiding High Priest not be a prophet?

Yes – Eli, Caiaphas and Amulon are examples, as were all of the Levite High Priests from the time of Josiah to the time of Christ’s mortal ministry

And if we believe the D&C (and what happened to the temple and saints in Nauvoo), each of the Church presidents since Joseph Smith are also examples (see D&C 124:27-28, 44-50).

Can a prophet not be a presiding High Priest?

Yes – Samuel, Abraham, Elijah, Jeremiah, Abinadi, and Samuel the Lamanite are all examples.


READ 1 Samuel 3:4-10

Did Samuel hear the voice of the Lord?


Did Eli hear the voice of the Lord?


But he discerned, in time, that the voice of the Lord was speaking to Samuel - he had scholarly knowledge but not experiential knowledge. He had studied and knew enough to recognize what must be happening to Samuel.

But… he did not DO or BELIEVE enough to warrant that same revelation to happen to him.

Perhaps Eli was not seeking after revelation like he should have - the Lord requires us to “seek, ask and knock”


READ TPJS 205:2 "All priesthood is Melchizedek, but there are different portions or degrees of it. That portion which brought Moses to speak with God face to face was taken away; but that which brought the ministry of angels remained. All the prophets had the Melchizedek Priesthood and were ordained by God himself"

READ 3 Nephi 20:24

How does one “testify of Christ” as a prophet?

He/she will first encounter Christ then testify of what they now KNOW to be true from their own experiences: “He lives for I have seen him, felt the wounds and been ministered to”; “He has the power to save through the atonement because He has promised me that my sins are forgiven and I will be saved, as I abide in covenant and continue to follow His will”; “He’s ushered me into the presence of the Father where I actually was sealed up to eternal life and saved.”

Was Samuel of the Priestly class with authority – was he a Levite?


He was serving in the temple because of the Nazarite vow of his mother.

Why did the Lord speak to Samuel and not to Eli (who was the presiding authority or High Priest)?

The Lord speaks to whoever the Lord wants to speak to (remember that He spoke to Cain, AFTER he had killed Abel).

The Lord is no respecter of persons - if you have the faith, seek to be filled with light by keeping the commandments, follow the promptings of the Spirit and ask, He will answer.

The Lord was not pleased with Eli but Samuel found grace in His sight.

The Lord is more likely to speak to the humble and righteous; He cares nothing for callings and priestly position, nor is He bound by them.


The power or authority or right or invitation to see God face to face is not effectively real if a person doesn’t actually go on to actually behold God face to face! 

READ 1 Samuel 3:11

What does it mean to say that the Lord’s revelation will cause their ears to “tingle”?

Tingle or itch - it will bother them or annoy them or trouble them.

Why do the revelations of the Lord do this?

The Lord will call people to repentance - which they do not like.

Revelation always involves a certain degree of inevitable risk and uncertainty, which leads to inconvenience and imposition.

There is always tension between the Spirit and human control - we like predictability and continuity - we do not like to be surprised!  So, the best way to avoid surprise is to impose limits on the Spirit.

Will the Lord honor the limits we impose on Him?

In almost all cases, yes – not because He is bound but because He honors our agency.

One in a while, He will give us another opportunity to embrace more truth and light.

That is what is happening through Samuel: the Lord is giving Israel another chance by sending a prophet (who, by definition receives revelation and can start to build Zion if Israel will come unto Christ or Jehovah).


READ 1 Samuel 3:19-21

What does “let none of His words fall to the ground” mean?

Seek after revelation and when you have received it, treasure it by writing it down and following it – so that not one of His words is “dropped” and lost.

When God has a people, revelation among them continues.  Whether there is a righteous leadership or a fallen one, the Lord remains committed to His people.  He does not forsake them until they utterly forsake Him.  Anytime anyone is willing to receive, He is willing to give.  As the giver of good gifts, He will never return a serpent to one asking for a fish. 



Losing the Ark: An Allegory of the Last Days

READ 1 Samuel 4:3-11

Whose idea was it to use the Ark to deliver a military/political victory?

The Elders of Israel.

Not the Lord.

Why did the Philistines “arm of the flesh” overcome the Israelites and the Ark?

The Israelites were also relying solely on the arm of the flesh.

The Ark was not theirs to use in that manner - it is up to the Lord, not to the “Elders of Israel”; God’s power cannot be used against His own will (a lesson the Nazi’s will later learn in the movie “Indiana Jones”…).

Why did the Lord allow the Ark of the Covenant, which represents His throne and presence on earth, to be taken by the Philistines?

To show Israel that they had lost His presence

To show the priests that they had lost their authority and power (“amen to the priesthood… of that man!”)

To afflict the Philistine gods… and show them all that He is the true and living God!


READ 1 Samuel 5:2,4,6

What happens to the Philistines now that they have the Ark?

Their gods are shown to be powerless

The people are afflicted (with bubonic plague) or destroyed


In Chapter 6, the Philistines come to believe in the God of Israel, they repent of their wrong doing, and take the Ark back to Israel. 

How is Israel’s losing and regaining the Ark from the Philistines an allegory for the last days?

Israel looks to the Messiah (ark) to deliver them a political/military victory (at the time of Christ).

The gospel (ark) is lost from Israel (the great apostasy of the historic Christian church).

The gospel (ark) overcomes the gods of the gentiles (Philistines).

The gentiles (Philistines) come to believe in the power of the God of Israel and repent.

The gentiles (Philistines) take the gospel (ark) back to Israel.

The Israelites repent and put away false gods.

The Israelites put their trust in the Lord when attacked by their enemies.

The Lord provides a military victory.

What happens next in the “last days” story?

Christ is established as the King over Israel and reigns on earth.

The Second Coming of Christ.


Read 1 Samuel 8:5 and 20

In response to the miraculous intercession by God, what happens next in Israel’s story?

They demand a king.



The King of Israel

READ Judges 21:25

What are the advantages and disadvantages for Israel in this condition?

No King to command or compel behavior but everyone did that which was right in their own eyes.

Freedom to choose (which is a pro and con, depending on how they choose).

Had Israel ever had a king?

No (not a mortal king); in fact, God’s people had NEVER had a king except Melchizedek.  This makes you think about what kind of king he was or what it means to be a “king” in heaven (see JST Genesis 14:33-36).

But they had a “strongman” in Moses, and were used to depending too much upon a man; it was comfortable to them.

Why did they want a king?

So they won’t be strange in the eyes of the world (“be like all the nations”).

So they won’t have to think for themselves and also won’t have to be responsible for their decisions and actions.

So that they might be protected from their enemies.

What is the irony in Israel’s current situation?

They’ve just been saved from the Philistines by the living God.

They don’t need an earthly king for protection; but if they give up their agency to a mortal king, they will lose the protection and saving relationship they have or could get from God; or it will be a lot harder if they are under oath and law to revere and pay homage to a mortal king who may or may not be aligned completely with God’s will.

How had Israel used its “freedom to choose”?

They had failed to keep their covenants.

Lost their connection to God.

Lost His protection and adopted the fear/respect of man (idol worship) and faith in the arm of the flesh to save them in God’s absence.


READ 1 Sam 8:6

What was Samuel’s response?

He was angry.

He prayed about the request.


READ 1 Sam 8:7 and 22

What was the Lord’s response?

They have rejected me as their King.

So, give them what they want.

What is the Lord really trying to teach Israel through the loss of the Ark?

That if they do not have Him for their King, and keep His commandments, and seek His face…

But instead trust in the arm of the flesh and choose a mortal king…

They will end up losing His presence and the gospel itself (which enables them to come into His presence).


READ 1 Samuel 9:16-17 and 1 Samuel 12:13-15

Was it the Lord’s will that Saul be their King?

No - He didn’t want them to have a mortal king but for God to be their heavenly King.

But He honored their agency and He chose Saul – so yes.

Why did the Lord select a mortal king for Israel?

Because they desired it.

What can we learn about the Lord and His dealings with us from this experience?

He gives us what we want - which is not necessarily what He wants; He honors our agency above all else.

In time, He turns the unwise desires we ask of Him to our ultimate good (King David as a type of Christ and ancestor of Him) if we will continue to follow His commandments and seek His face.

However, individuals (like Saul and David) may still lose their exaltation if they don’t individually come unto Christ and abide in the covenant. 

But that will not stop the Lord’s work with the rest who will listen and come.


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