1 Samuel 1
-Introduction: The book of 1 Samuel serves the purpose in God’s plan of salvation for transitioning the nation of Israel from its original theocracy to the monarchy that was yearned for by the people during this particular time. Samuel, who probably wrote parts of this book along with perhaps the prophet Nathan and Gad (1 Chronicles 29:29), finds himself in the position of being Israel’s last judge. He is a major prophet in the nation and well respected as the text bears out. His dialog with the LORD is intimate, and this book explores God’s call on his life from even before his conception. 1 Samuel covers Israel’s first king, Saul, and the tribulations of this transition that did not go as smoothly as hoped for by the nation. It narrates the anointing of David as the future king and his battle with Goliath and the Philistines, which proved his courage and dependence on the Almighty. We then see the rising tension as King Saul remains the leader in a divided nation, which tests the young rising star, David, and culminates in Saul and his son’s downfall at Mount Gilboa according to the will of the LORD. These events take place somewhere between 1083 and 1010 B.C. as the time of change occurred in this great ancient society. Therefore, the themes of this work include but are certainly not limited to: Kingship, God’s sovereign control, Leadership, Obedience, Patience, and God’s faithfulness. The key verses of this book tell the ultimate story… “The LORD said to Samuel, ‘Listen to the voice of the people in regard to all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me from being King over them…Now then, listen to their voice; however, you shall solemnly warn them and tell them of the procedure of the king who will reign over them (1 Samuel 8:7-9).’”
(Ideas extracted from “New American Standard Bible: Life Application Study Bible.” Zondervan: Grand Rapids, MI, 1995, pgs. 436-438)
-Chapter 1: God’s timing is impeccable even though sometimes we give up hope in certain situations. Hannah found herself in one of these hopeless conundrums as the LORD had closed up her womb for a number of years. She was one of two wives that Elkanah, the Ephraimite from the hill country of Ramathaim-zophim, had. Although she was the most loved, she had been held back from bearing a child to her husband, which was absolutely disdained in this ancient culture. Elkanah was a religious man who would yearly go up to worship and sacrifice to the LORD of hosts in Shiloh, where the tabernacle, which by now was being called a temple, was located. Eli was the presiding priest, and his two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, also were priests to the LORD there. At the appropriate time, Elkanah would give the sacrificed portions to Peninnah, his one wife, and all her sons and daughters, but to Hannah, his barren wife, he would give a double portion out of his love, and perhaps pity, for her (1 Samuel 1:1-5).
-Jealousy got the best of Peninnah in this situation, and she provoked her rival bitterly to provoke her. She had children, and Hannah had none. Therefore, she tortured Hannah year after year causing Hannah to weep and refrain from eating out of sadness. Elkanah tried to console her, but to no avail. He reassured her that he was better to her than ten sons, but the grief grew and grew each year. One year, as Hannah was greatly distressed, she prayed before the LORD her God weeping so bitterly that Eli, who happened to be sitting in the vicinity by the doorpost of the temple of the LORD, heard her and thought her to be drunk with wine. Hannah was making a personal vow before the LORD that if He would look on her “affliction” and “remember” His maidservant to give her a son, she would indeed give this boy back to the LORD all the days of his life as a man of God never to be touched by a razor on his head. Eli, not knowing the truth about what was going on, rebuked her, but soon realized that she was not drunk by their conversation. Hannah had related how she was simply “oppressed in spirit” and that she was pouring out her soul before her Creator in supplication. She begged Eli not to consider her a worthless woman because she had spoken out of her “great concern and provocation.” Eli in the end blessed her, “Go in peace; and may the God of Israel grant your petition that you have asked of Him.” This greatly encouraged Hannah and she went back on her way eating once again with renewed vigor and dreams. “Her face was no longer sad (1 Samuel 1:6-18).”
-The family arose early the next morning and worshipped before the LORD before returning to their house in Ramah. Shortly afterwards, Elkanah had relations with his wife, Hannah, and they conceived, just as she had prayed. The LORD remembered her, and in due time they had a little baby boy, who was named Samuel (Shĕmuw'el- heard of God). When the time came to go back up to Shiloh for their yearly worship, offering, and paying of vows, Hannah asked permission to refrain from going there until Samuel was weaned. When he was weaned, she promised to fulfill her commitment and give her boy to the LORD forever to stay with the priests at Shiloh under the care of Eli. Elkanah told her to do what seemed best to her with the stipulation that the LORD would confirm His word in the situation. When Samuel was weaned, Hannah took him up to Shiloh with a three-year-old bull and one ephah of flour and a jug of wine to be given to the house of the LORD. Although the child was young, he was given over to the priest, Eli, after slaughtering the bull according to the Law of Moses. Hannah renewed her conversation with Eli after this elapsed time, “Oh, my lord! As your soul lives, my lord, I am the woman who stood here beside you, praying to the LORD. For this boy I prayed, and the LORD has given me my petition which I asked of Him. So I have also dedicated him to the LORD; as long as he lives he is dedicated to the LORD.” The final sentence of the chapter claims that he (not sure if this was Eli or Samuel) then worshiped the LORD in that place (1 Samuel 1:19-28).
-*Application* Waiting, agony, provocation. We’ve all been in that place where we are more than willing to make a deal with the LORD to alleviate oppression. Hannah is not alone in her struggle. Patience is a virtue; God is at work even when we feel the pain of the meantime. Let’s talk about commitment, faithfulness to a call, and integrity. Hannah showed these things along with her husband as Samuel came along. Are we responding properly after God has blessed us with the things we’ve longed and prayed for? How about giving things we love so dearly up? We know that God will bless it when we do, but the cost can seem so high. Devote your life and your family to the LORD, and see how He will work out the process. Even if you have to look like an intoxicated fool, beg God for the desires that are on your heart and within His plan.
Verses to Memorize: 1 Samuel 1:27-28