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An Awesome Holiday Tradition

An awesome gift.

1 Samuel 2:18–26

But Samuel ministered before the LORD, even as a child, wearing a linen ephod. Moreover his mother used to make him a little robe, and bring it to him year by year when she came up with her husband to offer the yearly sacrifice. And Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife, and say, “The LORD give you descendants from this woman for the loan that was given to the LORD.” Then they would go to their own home.

And the LORD visited Hannah, so that she conceived and bore three sons and two daughters. Meanwhile the child Samuel grew before the LORD.

Now Eli was very old; and he heard everything his sons did to all Israel, and how they lay with the women who assembled at the door of the tabernacle of meeting. So he said to them, “Why do you do such things? For I hear of your evil dealings from all the people. No, my sons! For it is not a good report that I hear. You make the LORD’s people transgress. If one man sins against another, God will judge him. But if a man sins against the LORD, who will intercede for him?” Nevertheless they did not heed the voice of their father, because the LORD desired to kill them.

And the child Samuel grew in stature, and in favor both with the LORD and men.

The commentators estimate that Samuel may have been as old as three years when Hannah delivered him to Eli; children were nursed a long time back then. Now, every year, Samuel would have outgrown his robe and Mama would bring him a new one. Any excuse to spend time with her firstborn, right?

God blesses Hannah further, and Samuel isn’t her only child, but just imagine the emotional intensity of the annual gifting of a new robe. They try to catch up, but there’s so much to catch up on as Samuel grows in stature, and in favor both with the LORD and men.

In addition to all the blessings the LORD showered on Elkanah and Hannah, they have an awesome holiday tradition.

Meanwhile, Eli’s sons are a train wreck and Eli is all torn up about it. He confronts his sons, but they’re not interested. They think they’ve discovered a free lunch. There’s no such thing.

But the conclusion to Eli’s conversation with them is disturbing. Nevertheless they did not heed the voice of their father, because the LORD desired to kill them. This supports reformed doctrine but in an especially creepy way. Did God really “desire” to kill them?

The Hebrew word translated as “desired” (חָפֵ֥ץ, kha-phates) is rendered “willed” in the ESV. That’s a bit of a paraphrase; the BDB lexicon only lists definitions related to the emotion of wanting to do something. The ESV rendering can, of course, be defended by noting that God must desire to do everything He wills.

And that’s the point. Yes, He desired to kill them. He desires to glorify Himself, and He desires to do it in a holy way. His holy will is always what comes to pass.

These Monday—Friday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. The Weekend DEEPs are written by Matt Richardson. To subscribe to all the DEEPs click here:

The weekly study guides, which include the Monday–Friday devotionals plus related questions for discussion or meditation, are available for download here:

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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