The Birth of Samuel
1 There was a certain man of Ramathaim-zophim of the hill country of Ephraim whose name was Elkanah the son of Jeroham, son of Elihu, son of Tohu, son of Zuph, an Ephrathite. He had two wives. The name of the one was Hannah, and the name of the other, Peninnah. And Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children.
Now this man used to go up year by year from his city to worship and to sacrifice to the LORD of hosts at Shiloh, where the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were priests of the LORD. On the day when Elkanah sacrificed, he would give portions to Peninnah his wife and to all her sons and daughters. But to Hannah he gave a double portion, because he loved her, though the LORD had closed her womb. And her rival used to provoke her grievously to irritate her, because the LORD had closed her womb. So it went on year by year. As often as she went up to the house of the LORD, she used to provoke her. Therefore Hannah wept and would not eat. And Elkanah, her husband, said to her, “Hannah, why do you weep? And why do you not eat? And why is your heart sad? Am I not more to you than ten sons?”
After they had eaten and drunk in Shiloh, Hannah rose. Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat beside the doorpost of the temple of the LORD. She was deeply distressed and prayed to the LORD and wept bitterly. And she vowed a vow and said, “O LORD of hosts, if you will indeed look on the affliction of your servant and remember me and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a son, then I will give him to the LORD all the days of his life, and no razor shall touch his head.”
As she continued praying before the LORD, Eli observed her mouth. Hannah was speaking in her heart; only her lips moved, and her voice was not heard. Therefore Eli took her to be a drunken woman. And Eli said to her, “How long will you go on being drunk? Put your wine away from you.” But Hannah answered, “No, my lord, I am a woman troubled in spirit. I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have been pouring out my soul before the LORD. Do not regard your servant as a worthless woman, for all along I have been speaking out of my great anxiety and vexation.” Then Eli answered, “Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant your petition that you have made to him.” And she said, “Let your servant find favor in your eyes.” Then the woman went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad.
They rose early in the morning and worshiped before the LORD; then they went back to their house at Ramah. And Elkanah knew Hannah his wife, and the LORD remembered her. And in due time Hannah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Samuel, for she said, “I have asked for him from the LORD.”
Samuel Given to the Lord
The man Elkanah and all his house went up to offer to the LORD the yearly sacrifice and to pay his vow. But Hannah did not go up, for she said to her husband, “As soon as the child is weaned, I will bring him, so that he may appear in the presence of the LORD and dwell there forever.” Elkanah her husband said to her, “Do what seems best to you; wait until you have weaned him; only, may the LORD establish his word.” So the woman remained and nursed her son until she weaned him. And when she had weaned him, she took him up with her, along with a three-year-old bull, an ephah of flour, and a skin of wine, and she brought him to the house of the LORD at Shiloh. And the child was young. Then they slaughtered the bull, and they brought the child to Eli. And she said, “Oh, my lord! As you live, my lord, I am the woman who was standing here in your presence, praying to the LORD. For this child I prayed, and the LORD has granted me my petition that I made to him. Therefore I have lent him to the LORD. As long as he lives, he is lent to the LORD.”
And he worshiped the LORD there.
1 Samuel 1 Commentary
by Hank Workman
The ache of sorrow finds its ways to the deepest parts of our hearts. When it comes, we feel it as we breathe, pressed into our thoughts as it’s always on our mind. Such sorrow seems inescapable and suffocating. It’s the sorrow that comes from unfulfilled dreams. The sorrow that takes over through the death of someone we’re very close to. It is the sorrow that penetrates when relationships die, loneliness presses in when hopes never come to pass.
Sadly in ancient days, women held not much worth. They had no rights, no say in who they married even, and were often overlooked. In rare and wonderful stories found throughout Scripture, we see where God raised them up to be leaders of nations, judges and used in instances of speaking wisdom to leaders and people where the trajectory of their lives were forever changed. But these are somewhat rare cases. For the most part, they were treated as an object by the husband and had one sole purpose in bringing forth children for the man’s name to go forward.
In fact, consider genealogies within the Old Testament. Women are scantly mentioned unless there was a scandal or a story of greatness. Even the long brood of sons Jacob had, not one woman is mentioned until later when a terrible rape takes place and Simeon and Levi take things into their own hands. Dinah would have never been mentioned nor the story told had it not involved these brothers. Genealogies simply record all the boys, never the many daughters which shows the worth of the woman back then.
These thoughts set the stage for a great movement of God within the people of Israel. Moses had led the people to their land; Joshua had conquered and taken it. When he died, the people fell into chaos. There was no noted ongoing leader. The period of the Judges had the nation struggling as when a leader was raised up they flourished but when he or she died, they floundered. The final verse of the book of Judges profoundly states, “In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit.”
As 1 Samuel 1 opens, we are introduced to a woman named Hannah. She is married to a man who loves her deeply but also shares her husband with another. The other wife is able to bear children, Hannah is barren. Every aspect of her life is empty and her role for those ancient days is nothing. The deepest sorrow of unfulfilled wants and desires is overlooked. The ache is ever upon her as the years pass.
But God would use these things, even the deepest longings of her heart to dedicate herself to Him and bring forth a son who would change the future of Israel. In time her sorrow would be overtaken by joy.
The ache we have can do two things. It can drive us further away or drive us to Him. God is always aware and always smack in the middle of our mess and hurt. For the current pain we may be enduring, where are we turning? More to the point, what does God want to do in us and through that sorrow for a greater work of His glory and plan? Like Hannah, turn to Him.
1 Samuel 1 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
Historically, Israel was on the ropes. The Philistines were growing and becoming stronger because of their modern Greek military technology. They were the first in the region to discover and use iron, and it helped them tremendously in battles. They were closing in on Israel with both their military strength and large numbers.
In addition, sin was running rampant. As we will read in the first several chapters, the priesthood was corrupt, and Samuel’s family was part of the faithful remnant. The beauty of the story here in 1 Samuel 1 is that God is already beginning to prepare and protect his people.
“The First Book of Samuel records the rise of a new political and spiritual order represented by the kings and the prophets. The establishment of the monarchy, with Saul as the first king, is an epochal event in the development of Israel’s national life. Of no less importance is the appearance of the “schools of the prophets” under the leadership of Samuel. In these institutions we see the beginning of the movement which made Israel spiritually supreme among the nations.”-F.B. Meyer
Samuel was a great man of God with a miraculous birth. His mother, Hannah, was barren and ridiculed for it. At that time, it was much worse for a barren woman because many had the dream that the Messiah would come from her womb. After making a vow to God, and turning to him for comfort, God answers her prayer with a son. Hannah would then turn around and glorify God by naming this boy Samuel, which means “Name of God.”
Hannah’s suffering turned to joy and in her joy, she dedicated her son back to God. This is a model of a Christian life. This is a testimony!