With much joy of heart Hannah praises the Lord for her son Samuel (2:1-11). Eli, the High Priest, had sons (who were priests) that did not much regard the Lord; in fact, with their actions they despised the Lord (2:12-17). “To take the flesh of the sacrificial animal and roast it before this offering had been made, was a crime which was equivalent to a robbery of God…” (Keil & Delitzsch, p. 385).
If Elkanah was an Ephraimite how could his descendent serve as priest? Looking at a complimentary passage we learn that Samuel was actually a Levite (1 Chronicles 6:22-34). Thus, it is probably best to understand the reference to Ephraim to be a reference to the location of his residence and not his descendants (Youngblood, p. 570). Josephus also recognizes his status as a Levite (Antiquities, 5.10.2 (342), p. 149).
Samuel’s parent left him with the High Priest, but came each year to visit him. The Lord blessed the union of Elkanah and Hannah with more children, but it was the children of Eli that was not a blessing to the people of Israel at all (2:18-26). Thus the Lord brings a prophet to His High Priest and declares to him that because he honored his sons more than he did the Lord that disaster was coming to his house. Eli knew why (2:27-36).
Application: Do we honor our children, our parents, our spouse, or anyone else more than we honor the Lord? It is much easier to do than one realizes. The Lord calls upon us to obey His holy word from the heart; when we set aside the Lord’s word (in obedience) for something else like not rendering discipline to our children when their actions are in need of it, can it possibly be the case this will please the Lord? No, it won’t. Sometimes we set aside the Lord’s will for the moment, making a resolve to come back again when it is convenient (more people are guilty of this than is realized), but in so doing we have honored man more than the Lord. Let us not be guilty as Eli was for disaster may soon come to us also!