Samuel's Arrival in Shiloh
"And brought him unto the house of the LORD in Shiloh"
(1 Samuel 1:24)
The first three chapters of 1 Samuel show how God intervenes in a day of decay and deterioration. Prophetically, this time presents us with a picture of the last days before the coming of the Messiah, the King of Israel. This is also the theme of Hannah's song of praise in chapter two. The apostates will be judged but a poor and small remnant will be lifted up by God's power and the appearance of His anointed King. When King David came to power these expectations found their preliminary fulfilment-but the final realization will only take place in the end time, at Christ's coming. We may apply the outlines that are sketched here to ourselves as well, because we are living in the last days (2 Tim. 3:1), the days just before the second coming of Christ. Ours is a time of spiritual and moral decay, as in the days of Eli. The service of God is disparaged because people bearing the name of servants and ministers of God behave improperly, just as the sons of Eli did.
Yet, even in bad times, God does not stop working. Here, He raised up a prophet who, at a later stage, was to bring in the king. God does not let His people down even though they may have strayed far away from Him. God began to speak using a servant who was ready to hear His voice: "Speak, LORD; for Thy servant heareth" (1 Sam. 3:9). And today we have the prophetic ministry of God's Word, announcing the coming of our Lord in power and glory.
First of all we can learn from the example of Samuel's parents. They were faithful to the service of God and went to Shiloh yearly to worship the Lord of hosts. In those days the ark of the covenant, upon which God sat enthroned and with which He had linked His presence, remained in Shiloh (meaning "place of rest"). It was there that God had found a place of rest and dwelt in the midst of His people. In the day of grace the place where God dwells amongst His own is not a special geographical location. We worship the Father in spirit and truth. This is realized wherever believers, recognizing the true Centre given to us by God, are gathered together unto the Name of Christ (Matt. 18:20). The ark of the covenant symbolises Christ Himself dwelling in the midst of His own by His Spirit and blessing them by His presence.
In spite of the spiritual and moral decay which was found in Shiloh, Samuel's parents never ceased to recognize it as God's dwelling place. The sons of Eli had made a mockery of the priesthood, and because of their behaviour the offering of the Lord was abhorred (1 Sam. 2:17). Eli himself was made responsible for this. He was told that judgment upon his house had become inevitable, and that Shiloh was going to be set aside as a place of worship (cf.