The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The First Book of Kings
My heart thrills with joy in the Lord; pride in the God I worship lifts high my head; now can I flout my enemies, happy in thy gift of redress!
Who so holy as the Lord? None, there is none else; there is no stronghold can compare with our God.
Boast no more, boast no more; those lips must talk in another strain; the Lord is God all-knowing, and overrules the devices of men.
See how he breaks the great warrior’s bow, girds the feeble with strength;
how the rich, for very need, must work as hirelings, while the hungry eat to their heart’s content! See how at last the barren womb bears many, and the fruitful mother is left to languish!
Lord of death and life, he brings men to the grave and back from the grave;
Lord of poverty and of wealth, he alone humbles, alone exalts,
raising up the poor man out of the dust, the beggar from his dung-hill, to sit among princes and reach the honours of a throne. It is the Lord that poised the round world on its foundations, and holds them in his keeping;
safely his friends journey, dumb sit his enemies in the darkness; there is no protection for man in man’s strength.
The Lord will strike terror into his adversaries; hark, how his thunders roll above them in heaven! The Lord will sit in judgement on the remotest people of earth, the Lord will grant dominion and a sceptre of majesty to the king he has anointed.
And so Elcana went back to his home at Ramatha, while Samuel remained to minister, at the bidding of the priest Heli, in the Lord’s presence.
This Heli had two sons that were men of little worth, recked nothing of the Lord’s honour
or the duty of his priests to the people. When a man was sacrificing some victim, the priest’s servant used to come up, with a three-pronged fork in his hand, while the meat was still cooking;
and this he thrust into pot or pan, great or small, carrying off all that came up with it for the priest’s eating; not an Israelite came to Silo but went away so treated.
The priest’s servant, too, would come up before the fat was offered, and bid the worshipper give him some meat to cook for the priest; he would take it raw, not stewed already.
In vain the worshipper protested, It is the custom for the fat to be burned at once; that done, thou shalt take meat to thy heart’s content. No, give it me now, the servant would answer, or I will take it by force.
This was heinous sin the young men committed under the Lord’s eye; must they turn away men’s hearts from honouring him with sacrifice?
Meanwhile, Samuel had begun to minister in the Lord’s presence, girded, though still a boy, with the linen mantle.
Every year, his mother made him a little tunic, and brought it with her when she came up with her husband on feast-days for the yearly sacrifice.
And Heli gave a blessing to Elcana and his wife, May the Lord grant thee children by this woman, in return for what thou hast lent him! When they had gone home,
the Lord shewed mercy to Anna, so that she conceived and bore three sons and two daughters. And evermore, boy though he was, Samuel rose higher in the Lord’s favour.
Heli was now a man of great age, but tales reached him of the exactions his sons made from the Israelites; how they mated, too, with the women that kept watch at the tabernacle door.
What wickedness is this of yours, he said to them, that brings me the complaints of a whole people!
Amend your ways; it is ill hearing, that you should lead the Lord’s people into transgression.
If man does wrong to man, God’s justice may yet be satisfied; if man sins against the Lord, who shall plead his cause for him? But they paid no heed to their father’s warning; the Lord was resolved to make an end of them.
And Samuel’s boyhood went on; still as he grew he advanced in favour both with God and with men.
And now a messenger from the Lord came to Heli, and this was the Lord’s warning to him: It was to men of thy clan that I revealed myself openly, when they still dwelt in Egypt as Pharao’s servants;
and I chose Levi among all the tribes of Israel to hold the priestly office, mounting up to my altar and burning incense before me, and wearing the sacred mantle in my presence; to this clan of thine I gave a part in every sacrifice Israel should offer.
And now you spurn the due ordering of sacrifice and oblation in my sanctuary; the sons of Heli must have a privilege higher than my own; yours must be the first taste of every sacrifice my people Israel bring to me!
Listen, then, to the Lord’s decree. My purpose was that thou and thy clan should be my ministers for ever; but now never speak of that (the Lord says); honour is for those that honour me, for those that make light of me, only contempt.
Behold, a time is coming when I mean to cripple thee, cripple that clan of thine; no kinsman of thine shall reach old age.
Thou shalt see a rival in my sanctuary, and Israel all prosperity; but in thy kindred no old man shall be left living.✻
My altar shall still have descendants of thine to minister at it; but it shall be a sight to make thy eyes fail and thy heart faint, when so many of thy race die in their early manhood.✻
And for a token of this, thy two sons, Ophni and Phinees, are destined to fall, both of them, in a single day.
Afterwards, I will find myself a priest that shall be a faithful interpreter of my mind and will; I will endow him, too, with a faithful posterity, to enjoy the favour of the king I have anointed.✻
To him thy descendants, if any such are left, will come cringing for a silver piece and a crust of bread; Only the common portion of a priest, they will say; only a mouthful of bread, and I am content!✻
The Holy Bible