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Scripture reading – 1 Samuel 1

An Introduction to The First Book of Samuel

Our chronological Bible reading schedule brings us to The First Book of Samuel, one of my favorite books of the Old Testament. In this volume, we find a rich history that marked the transition from the time of the Judges to the beginning of a monarchy in Israel. The first chapter of 1 Samuel concluded an era when judges ruled Israel and introduced an age when kings reigned.

Remember, God, rules through His Law and Commandments. He chose Israel to live, protect and share His message with all people, but first with Israel. It had been the role of the judges to instruct the people in the will and Word of the LORD through the Law that was given in the Covenant at Sinai (Exodus 20). Unfortunately, it would be the failure of the priesthood that provoked the people to demand a king. Eli, the high priest of Israel, and his wicked sons, Hophni and Phinehas (1 Samuel 1:3; 1 Samuel 2:12-17; 1 Samuel 4:10-18), disgraced the priest’s office. Their sins stirred up the people to demand “a king to judge us like all the nations” (1 Samuel 8:5-6).

Hannah’s Aggrievance – She was Barren (1 Samuel 1:1-8)

Several notable names are found in today’s study. There was Elkanah (1 Samuel 1:1), who was of the tribe of Levi and was descended from Kohath, the son of Levi. He was godly and observed the law, going up “yearly to worship and to sacrifice unto the LORD of hosts in Shiloh” (1 Samuel 1:3), where the Tabernacle was located.

The same Elkanah had two wives, “the name of the one was Hannah, and the name of the other Peninnah” (1:2). “Peninnah had children,” and had borne to her husband sons and daughters (1 Samuel 1:2, 4). However, “Hannah had no children” (1 Samuel 1:2), and though her husband loved her (1 Samuel 1:5), she carried the shame of the culture and sorrow of a barren woman and was treated spitefully by Elkanah’s other wife (1 Samuel 1:5-7). Year after year, Hannah went up to Shiloh with her family, wept, and fasted before the LORD, praying He would open her womb (1 Samuel 1:5) and give her a son (1 Samuel 1:7). Although she had the assurances of Elkanah’s love her heart sorrowed that she was barren (1 Samuel 1:8).

Hannah’s Prayer and Vow to the LORD (1 Samuel 1:9-18)

Now Hannah vowed that if the LORD would give her a son, she would dedicate him to serve Him at the Tabernacle. She promised her son would be a Nazarite, and “there shall no razor come upon his head” (1 Samuel 1:10-11). She prayed to the LORD and spoke to Him from her heart, for “only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard: therefore Eli [the high priest] thought she had been drunken” (1 Samuel 1:13). Thus, Eli rebuked her, judged that she had too much wine, and commanded her to “put away thy wine from thee” (1 Samuel 1:14).

Hannah replied to the high priest, saying, “No, my lord, I am a woman of a sorrowful spirit: I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but have poured out my soul before the LORD. 16) Count not thine handmaid for a daughter of Belial [worthless, immoral, wicked]: for out of the abundance of my complaint and grief have I spoken hitherto” (1 Samuel 1:15-16).

Seeing the sincerity of Hannah’s confession, Eli assured her the LORD had heard and would answer her prayers (1 Samuel 1:17). Hannah then went from the Tabernacle, no longer despondent, but believing the LORD would show her grace and grant her a son (1 Samuel 1:18).

Samuel’s Conception, Birth, and Nurturing (1 Samuel 1:19-23)

Elkanah and his family returned to their home in Ramah, and the LORD remembered Hannah’s prayer. In God’s perfect time, she conceived a son “and called his name Samuel [lit. “heard of God], saying, Because I have asked him of the LORD” (1 Samuel 1:19-20).

The following year, Elkanah prepared to go up to Shiloh on his annual pilgrimage (1:21); however, Hannah requested that she would be allowed to remain at her home and not go up to the Tabernacle until her son was no longer nursing. She knew the day would come when she would keep her vow to the LORD and would leave Samuel to minister at Shiloh with Eli, the high priest (1 Samuel 1:22-23).

Hannah Dedicated Samuel to the LORD (1 Samuel 1:24-28)

Hannah was a woman of faith who honored her vow to the LORD. When she had “weaned” her son (probably around three years old), the day came when she took Samuel and went up with Elkanah to present offerings and sacrifices at the Tabernacle. Hannah, therefore, “brought [Samuel] unto the house of the LORD in Shiloh: and the child was young” (1 Samuel 1:24). After sacrificing a bullock, Elkanah and Hannah brought their son to Eli, and she reminded the high priest, “I am the woman that stood by thee here, praying unto the LORD. 27) For this child I prayed; and the LORD hath given me my petition which I asked of him” (1 Samuel 1:26-27). In an act of faith, and sacrificial love, Hannah confessed, “I have lent [given; claimed] him to the LORD; as long as he liveth he shall be lent to the LORD” (1 Samuel 1:28a).

Closing thoughts:

Elkanah and Hannah’s example of faith, prayer, and sacrifice has inspired the saints of the LORD down through the centuries. Hannah’s faith was clearly demonstrated when she offered her son to the LORD before he was conceived. By faith, she was confident the LORD heard and would surely answer her prayer.

Perhaps only mothers can imagine the pull of the heartstrings when Hannah left her son at Shiloh (especially knowing the wickedness of Eli’s sons). She fulfilled her vow to the LORD, and He honored her faith and sacrifice. She would be blessed with three sons and two daughters in addition to Samuel (1 Samuel 2:21).

Before we close our study, I invite parents and grandparents to take a moment, pray and dedicate their children and grandchildren to the LORD. After all, every child is a special gift from Him.

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

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