Text: 1 Samuel 2:35, "Then I will raise up for Myself a faithful priest who shall do according to what is in My heart and in My mind. I will build him a sure house, and he shall walk before My anointed forever."
By way of a background setting, it must be pointed out that Jehovah, at Mount Sinai, said that the nation of Israel was to be a kingdom of priests. (Exodus 19:6 and compare 1 Peter 2:1-10 regarding the church.)
The statement by God in Exodus 19:6 appears to be a further development of the prediction that God gave to Abraham that he was to be a blessing to other people and nations.
And so it came to be that Israel became a priestly nation which was to be a blessing to the rest of the world.
Now, within the general national priesthood, God ordained a specific family, that of Aaron to officiate as priests (Exodus 29:9).
And toward the end of the wanderings in the wilderness, God made a covenant with Phinehas of an everlasting priesthood (Numbers 25:12-13). (Phinehas was the son of Eleazar, and the grandson of Aaron.)
But in our text, God announced that he would remove the priesthood of Aaron and bring into existence a new priesthood which would be under the leadership of a faithful priest.
Aaron, who was the first High Priest under the Levitical system, was survived by two sons whose names were Eleazar and Ithamar. God ordained that Eleazar should succeed his father, Aaron, as High Priest (Numbers 20:25-28). Because of his zeal to rid the nation of sin in the crisis at Baalpeor, the Lord chose Phinehas to succeed Eleazar as High Priest, as we saw above in point five.
However, sometime during the period of the Judges, the line of priests shifted from the descendants of Eleazar to the descendants of Ithamar. We know this because Eli was of the priestly line of Ithamar.
Eli had two sons who assisted him in the priestly duties while the Tabernacle was at Shiloh. These men, Hophni and Phinehas (not to be confused with Phinehas with whom God made the covenant of Numbers 25:12-13), were corrupt and did not know Jehovah. Some of their evil practices were:
They robbed the people of their share of the sacrificial offerings.
They took advantage of the women who served at the door of the Tabernacle.
And though their father chastised them, it did no good, and finally an anonymous man of God appeared to pronounce the divine sentence against the house of Eli.
In his denunciation, in which our text is found, this prophet of Jehovah made the following important observations:
The Aaronic priesthood had enjoyed the highest privileges God would bestow upon them. Jehovah had revealed himself to Aaron (v. 27) and had chosen him as the first priest (v28). Therefore, the sons of Aaron had the right to portions of sacrifices as payment for their priestly services (v. 28).
He also pointed out, as is indicated in verse twenty-nine of this chapter, that the sin of the sons of Eli was inexcusable.
He pointed out that the Divine promise of an eternal priesthood for the sons of Aaron was conditional, and that God would not continue to honor the house of Aaron if they refused to honor him, as was the case with the sons of Eli.
Then, he prophesied that three punishments were to come upon the priesthood. They were:
The degrading of the house of Eli in verses 31-33.
The distress that would come upon Eli's soul in verse 33.
The distress that would come upon the Tabernacle itself in verse 32.
In the more distant future, Jehovah would cut off the arm of your father's house, that is, God would destroy the strength of the Aaronic, or Levitical, priesthood. (How closely this corresponds to the teaching of the change of the priesthood and of the law in Hebrews Chapter Seven!)
Eli would know that all the predictions of the man of God would be fulfilled when he saw both of his sons killed in one day (v.34).
This would result in the priests of the Levitical system begging for positions in the new system of priests for bread and silver (v.36).
So, the strength of Eli's house and that of the whole house of Aaron would be broken, but that would not end the priesthood, for God would raise up a faithful or a tried priest.
This leads us to discuss some very important points.
Who Is the Faithful Priest Who Was to be Raised Up by Jehovah?
Several viewpoints have been set forth, but the major ones seem to be four in number.
Some think that the faithful priest was Samuel himself, but one must ask the question as to whether or not Samuel was a God-ordained priest.
There was no sense in which Samuel had an enduring house with respect to the priesthood, or even that it can be proved that he functioned as a priest temporarily.
Others think the prophecy refers to Zadok, since 1 Kings 2:27 says, "So Solomon removed Abiathar from being priest to the Lord, that he might fulfill the word of the Lord which He spoke concerning the house of Eli at Shiloh."
Zadok and Abiathar seem to have shared the office of High Priest during the reign of David.
Solomon deposed Abiathar, and Zadok was left as the sole High Priest.
And while there can be no doubt that the deposing of Abiathar by Solomon fulfilled the threat against the house of Eli, it cannot be stated that Zadok was the faithful priest.
Still others take the faithful priest to be a collective phrase embracing all the priests whom the Lord would raise up as faithful servants at his altar, the culmination of whom would be Christ. But:
According to this view, the prophecy of the faithful priest found at least three fulfillments.
In Samuel, who we do not know was a priest.
In Zadok, whom we do not know was under consideration.
And, in the Lord Jesus Christ.
The fourth view, and the one to which we subscribe, is that our text prophesies of the removal of the Levitical priesthood, including that of Aaron, by our Lord Jesus Christ who became a great High Priest forever after the order of Melchizedek (Hebrews 6:20; 7:17 & 21).
This faithful priest would carry out all that was in the heart of Jehovah (v.35).
Of what mere human being, no matter how righteous that person might be, can it be said that he did all that was in the heart of God?
But Jesus said, John 8:29, "And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him."
Let Us Study the House of the Faithful Priest Which Is Mentioned in Verse Thirty-Five.
The word house, as it is used in the Old Testament, generally refers to numerous offspring of a family of people. (See: Exodus 1:21 and 2 Samuel 7:11 as examples.)
It can also refer to all the descendants of a given person such as Abraham.
In Isaiah 53:10, the prophet refers to the seed (descendants) of the Messiah.
The next phrase to which we come in 1 Samuel 2:35 is: and he shall walk before my anointed forever.
This statement has worried commentators to no end, and as a result they have interpreted that the faithful priest would come under the observation and approval of the Messiah.
But, this view presents many problems, among which are:
This interpretation of the sentence eliminates any possibility that the faithful priest could be the Messiah. This is an insurmountable problem! Why?
Because, in what meaningful sense could the Messiah, the faithful priest walk, under the supervision of the anointed one, or the Messiah?
The solution to this problem is grammatical.
Since it is true that a pronoun always adheres to its nearest antecedent, the pronoun "he" has as its antecedent "house."
And so, it is the house of the faithful priest who comes under the watchful supervision of the Messiah.
This would be fortified by the New Testament teaching that Christ is the Head of his Body, the church. (See: Colossians 1:18; Ephesians 1:22-23.)
The idea of a "walking house" has already been set forth in verse thirty.
The Faithful priest and the Anointed One are one and the same person, or the Messiah.
The Messiah's house, the church, in the New Testament is, according to 1 Peter 2:9, a royal priesthood.
Members of the Old Priestly House (Levi) Would Also Submit to the Authority of the Faithful Priest.
The Aaronic priests would bow down to the Messiah, and they would depend upon him for their sustenance.
They would ask for a priestly office, a piece of silver and a loaf of bread.
But, since the Aaronic priesthood would be invalidated, it would depend upon the Faithful priest for appointment to the priestly office (v.36).
This would not come to pass in a national sense because Jesus said to the leaders of the Jewish nation in Matthew 23:38, (37) "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! (38) See! Your house is left to you desolate; (39) for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, 'Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!'"
However, some of the Jewish leaders, such as members of the Sanhedrin like Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea, did come to believe on him as the Messiah.
And according to Acts 6:7, many of the priests capitulated to the authority of the Messiah, and in so doing they found a place of service in the new covenant priesthood. ("And the word of God spread, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith.")
In these priests becoming obedient to the faith, they petitioned the Messiah for a place in his priesthood, for a piece of silver and a loaf of bread.
We are thrilled to see Jehovah prophesy of the coming of his Son into the world to function as the great High Priest.
We have already seen in Deuteronomy 18:18 that the Messiah would come as our great Prophet.
And in 1 Samuel 2:10, we saw that the Messiah is coming as our King.
These themes will be repeated as we go on through the prophecies laid out for future study.