What is said of Elkanah, who had two wives seems to us to present a type of Christ, and of the two dispensations (Israel and the church). Hannah would represent the Jews taken up again in mercy; Peninnah, the Gentiles set aside. Such is what we may distinguish in the prophetic song of Hannah. We also see the corruption of priesthood, and the judgment of God pronounced against the house of Eli. The priesthood of Aaron and of his sons was a type of the church.
The circumstances of the Jewish people, under Samuel the prophet, Saul and David, until the elevation of Solomon to the throne, figure the preparatory events which introduce the reign of the Messiah; that is, they present in types the principal facts which shall transpire from the time when God recommences to act for His people until Jesus comes to seat Himself on the throne of David at Jerusalem.
The word of God pronounced to Eli is the testimony that God raises up against this priesthood before the execution of His judgment. The church, which has the intelligence of what is going to happen, ought also to bear testimony that God is about to judge and reject the Christianised Gentile body; the judgment of God is about to be accomplished in those who share in the corruption introduced into the church; Jude 15.
It is under the priesthood of Eli and his sons that judgment begins to take place against this order of things. As priest, Eli had no more the discernment required: in such a state, the ear is no longer attentive, so that one can be corrected; also, what is very remarkable, the sign which is proposed to Eli is the very judgment that God is about to apply; chap. 2:34.
The judgment against Eli’s house has its full accomplishment only at the time of Solomon’s elevation to the throne; 1 Kings 2:27, 35.. The priesthood established by Solomon is, according to the word of Jehovah, pronounced to Eli by the man of God, “a faithful priest … who shall walk before mine anointed for ever,” 1 Sam. 2:35. The accomplishment of this type presented under the royalty of Solomon, will have place when Christ shall be seated on the throne of His glory at Jerusalem; it is the priesthood which is mentioned in the description of the order of the temple; Ezek. 44:15.
Aaron and his sons represented the heavenly priesthood in the character and position which Jesus took by His resurrection; the position of the church is that of Christ, the glorified Man before God the Father. That which is indicated as replacing what is rejected is “before his anointed.” It is a priesthood in another position. The first is heavenly; it is what was figured in the tabernacle, the pattern of heavenly things; Heb. 9:24. The other is on earth for the temple at Jerusalem, in the days when the Messiah shall be seated on the throne of David. This priesthood shall not fall, any more than the restored Jewish people, because Christ will have taken the government in hand. That which was placed in the hands of man under responsibility has fallen in every dispensation; but God, according to His grace, maintained His election. Unto Him be all the glory.
An instruction of the highest importance for us Gentiles springs out of chapter 2:27, 28. Before executing judgment on that which is corrupted, God ever recalls the nature of His calling according to His grace, as regards the blessing placed in the hands of the men who have been the objects of His goodness. God says to Eli, “Did I plainly appear unto the house of thy fathers, when they were in Egypt in Pharaoh’s house?” etc. The house of Aaron had been the object of a very special grace in the midst of the tribes of Israel. But this grace they had forgotten; and, therefore, having ceased to retain the memory of God’s goodness toward them, they were fallen into a state of complete corruption, and accordingly judgment is the last remedy that God applies, whether to correct or to cut off irrevocably.
It is just the same as regards the church. It also has forgotten the goodness of God, according to the calling of His grace; also this dispensation is about to be irrevocably cut off by the final judgment of Babylon; Rev. 18. It is then of the highest importance for the Christian not to be forgetful of God’s grace as regards his initial calling: let us remember whence God has taken us, in order to avoid the application of the threat of Jesus to Laodicea, “I will spue thee out of my mouth,” Rev. 3:16.