UPON THE FIRST BOOK OF
This book, and that which follows it, bear the name of Samuel in the title, not because he was the penman of them, (except of so much of them as fell within his own time, to the twenty-fifth chapter of the first book, in which we have an account of his death,) but because the first book begins with a large account of him, his birth and childhood, his life and govemment; and the rest of these two volumes that are denominated from him, contains the history of the reigns of Saul and David, who were both anointed by him. And because the history of these two kings takes up the greatest part of these books, the vulgar Latin calls them the first and second Books of the Kings; and the two that follow, the third and fourth, which the titles of our English Bibles take notice of with an alias, otherwise called the first Book of the Kings. The LXX call them the first and second Books of the Kingdoms. It is needless to contend about it, but there is no occasion to vary from the Hebrew verity. These two books contain the history of the two last of the judges, Eli and Samuel, who were not, as the rest, men of war, but priests; and so much of them is an entrance upon the history of the kings. They contain a considerable part of the sacred history, are sometimes referred to in the New Testament, and often in the title of David's Psalms, which, if placed in their order, would fall in, in these books. It is uncertain who was the penman of them; it is probable that Samuel wrote the history of his own time, and that, after him, some of the prophets that were with David, (Nathan, as likely as any,) continued it. The first book gives us a full account of Eli's fall, and Samuel's rise and good govemment, ch. 1••8. Of Samuel's resignation of the govemment, and Saul's advancement and mal-administration, ch. 9..15. The choice of David, his struggles with Saul, Saul's ruin at last, and the opening of the way for David to the throne, ch. 16..31. And these things are written for our learning.
I. SAMUEL, I.
The history of Samuel here begins as early as that of Samson did, even before he was born, as afterwards the history of John the Baptist and our blessed Saviour. Some of the scripture worthies drop out of the clouds, as it were, and their first appearance is in their full growth and lustre. But others are accounted for from the birth, and from the womb, and from the conception. It is true of all, what God says of the prophet Jeremiah, Before I formed thee in the belly, I knew thee, Jer. 1. 5. But some great men were brought into the world with more observation than others, and were more early distinguished from common persons, as Samuel for one. God, in this matter, acts as a free agent. The story of Samson introduces him as a child of promise, Judg. 13. But the story of Samuel introduces him as a child of prayer. Simson's birth was foretold by an angel to his mother; Samuel was asked of God by his mother: both together intimate what wonders are produced by the word and prayer. Samuel's mother was Hannah, the principal person concerned in the story of this chapter. I. Here is her affliction, she was childless, and this affliction aggravated by her rival's insolence, but in some measure balanced by her husband's kindness, v. 1..8. II. The prayer and vow she made to God under this affliction, in which Eli the High Priest at first censured her, and afterward encouraged her, V. 9..18. III. The birth and nursing of Samuel, V. 19..23. IV. The presenting of him to the Lord, V. 24..28.
1. NOW there was a certain man of Ramathaim-zophim, of mount Ephraim, and his name was Elkanah, the son of Jeroham, the son of Elihu, the son of Tohu, the son of Zuph, an Ephrathite: 2. And he had two wives ; the name of the one was Hannah, and the name of the other Peninnah: and Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children. 3. And this man went up out of his city yearly to worship, and to sacrifice unto the Lord of hosts in Shiloh. And the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, the priests of the Lord, wereVOL. II.—2 F