Eliís two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, who were the leaders of the priests, were behaving very wickedly. However, the boy Samuel still learned how to live a holy life, although very unholy things were constantly happening round him.
Samuel was working as the servant or slave of Eli, Israelís chief priest, who was now very old. It was Eli who had the responsibility to teach the boy. We do not know how much Eli really understood about God. However, Eli knew about his duty to bless Godís people (2:20). He understood something about Godís standards (2:22-25). He knew about the importance of Godís word (3:17). He realised the importance of his duties as Godís priest (4:17-18).
So Eli trained the boy; but it was God who provided young Samuelís food. Leviticus 22:11 says that a priestís slave may eat the sacred food. That means food from the gifts that Israelís people give to God. God gave that part of these holy gifts to the priests; they shared it with their close family, including their slaves.
Elkanah and Hannah had given their son to God, but they still cared very much for him. Eli taught the boy and God provided his food; but his parents gave him his clothes. God was kind to them; Hannah had 5 more children.
It was not unusual for a young boy to work as a servant or slave. However, it was unusual for a boy to work at Godís house, as Samuel did. People saw his holy behaviour and his sincere attitudes, and they respected him (2:26). Maybe they even hoped that, by means of him, God would bring about a change in the behaviour of their priests. Such a change was very necessary. All Godís people were suffering because of the wicked behaviour of their priests (2:14).
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© 2014, Keith Simons.