1 Samuel 1

1:1 There was [context: during the time of the judges (at this particular time characterized by anarchy and immorality as per Judg. 21:25)] a certain man from Ramathaim [or Ramah (cf. 1 Sam. 1:19; 2:11)], a Zuphite from the hill country of Ephraim, whose name was Elkanah [a religious man as per v. 3] son of Jeroham, the son of Elihu, the son of Tohu, the son of Zuph, an Ephraimite.

1:2 He had two wives; one was called Hannah [possibly the first wife; name means grace] and the other Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah had none [childlessness viewed as a sign of divine disapproval; possible reason why Elkanah had also married Peninnah].

About Hannah
• only woman in OT shown going up to the Lord’s house
• only woman shown making and fulfilling a vow to the Lord
• only woman who is specifically said to pray (her prayer among the longest in OT)

1:3 Year after year this man went up from his town to worship and sacrifice to the LORD Almighty at Shiloh, where Hophni and Phinehas, the two sons of Eli, were priests of the LORD.

1:4 Whenever the day came for Elkanah to sacrifice [see v. 3], he would give [indicates offering where worshipers would eat part of the animal offered in sacrifice] portions of the meat to his wife Peninnah and to all her sons and daughters.

1:5 But to Hannah he gave a double portion because he loved her, and the LORD had closed her womb.

1:6 And because the LORD had closed her womb [afflictions call for endurance], her rival [Heb. “sara” which means adversary or “one who inflicts or troubles someone else”] kept provoking [Heb. kaas means “to provoke to anger”] her in order to irritate [hurts inflicted by others call for forbearance] her.

Note: In what areas of life do you face opposition? In what ways can perseverance during difficult times strengthen our faith?

1:7 This [provocation] went on year after year [prolonged ridicule indicates Peninnah was either jealous of Hannah (cf. 1:5a) or that she had a mean spirit (or both)]. Whenever Hannah [continued to worship God despite ridicule/verbal abuse from Peninnah] went up to the house of the LORD, her rival provoked [read Prov. 18:21 re: the power of words to hurt or to help] her till she wept and would not eat.

1:8 Elkanah her husband would say [his words indicate that he failed to understand the depth of Hannah’s misery] to her, “Hannah, why are you weeping? Why don’t you eat? Why are you downhearted? Don’t I mean more to you than ten sons?”

1:9 Once when they had finished eating and drinking in Shiloh, Hannah stood up. Now Eli the priest was sitting on a chair by the doorpost of the LORD’S temple.

1:10 In bitterness [Heb. mara; cf. Ruth 1:13,19-20; Job 3:20] of soul Hannah wept [v. 8 seems to indicate that Elkanah was insensitive to Hannah’s pain] much and prayed to the LORD.

Note: Hannah turned to the Lord in her time of need. Who do you turn to when you face difficulties? Why do you think we sometimes turn to God as a “last resort” instead of as a “first choice”?

1:11 And she made a vow [not an attempt to bargain with God; rather a promise of what she would do if God gave her a son], saying, “O LORD Almighty [or Lord of hosts; a recognition of and appeal to God’s power], if you will only look upon your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then [1] I will give him to the LORD [Hannah fulfilled this vow after Samuel was weaned (1 Sam. 1:24-28)] for all the days of his life, and [2] no razor will ever be used on his head [implied her son would be a Nazirite (from Heb. “nazar” meaning “to separate” or “to consecrate”)].”

Elements of a Nazirite vow (read Num. 6:1-8)
• avoiding a razor
• abstaining from wine and other products of the grapevine
• avoiding contact with the dead

1:12 As she kept on [persistence in prayer (cf. Lk. 18:1)] praying to the LORD, Eli observed her mouth.

1:13 Hannah was praying in her heart, and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard [Hannah was praying silently]. Eli thought [misjudged Hannah’s behavior/jumped to conclusions] she was drunk

1:14 and said to her [Eli should have spoken these words to his evil sons instead (cf. 1 Sam. 2:12-17)], “How long will you keep on getting drunk? Get rid of your wine.”

1:15 “Not so, my lord,” Hannah [Eli’s hasty words to Hannah show that sometimes even church people have bad experiences] replied, “I am a woman who is deeply troubled. I have not been drinking wine or beer; I was pouring out my soul [indicates earnestness] to the LORD.

Note: How can we know that God cares for us even when our prayers are not answered in the way we want? How do you respond when your prayers are not answered in the way you want? How long do you pray for something before you get discouraged and give up?

1:16 Do not take your servant for a wicked woman; I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief.”

1:17 Eli [recognized his mistake] answered, “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him.” [cf. 1:18 re: impact of Eli’s words of blessing]

1:18 She said, “May your servant find favor in your eyes.” Then she went her way and ate something, and her face was no longer downcast.

1:19 Early the next morning they [Elkanah and his family] arose and worshiped before the LORD and then went back to their home at Ramah. Elkanah lay with Hannah his wife, and the LORD remembered [cf. 1:11] her.

1:20 So in the course of time Hannah conceived and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel [Heb. name sounds like word for “heard of God”], saying, “Because I asked the LORD for him.”

About Samuel
• key figure in transition period between the judges and the kings
• the last judge
• a priest and a prophet
• anointed Israel’s first two kings, Saul and David

1:21 When the man Elkanah went up with all his family to offer the annual sacrifice to the LORD and to fulfill his vow,

1:22 Hannah did not go. She said to her husband, “After the boy is weaned, I will take him and present him before the LORD, and he will live there always.”

1:23 “Do what seems best to you,” Elkanah her husband told her. “Stay here until you have weaned him; only may the LORD make good his word.” So the woman stayed at home and nursed her son until she had weaned him.

1:24 After he was weaned, she took the boy with her, young as he was, along with a three-year-old bull, an ephah of flour and a skin of wine, and brought him to the house of the LORD at Shiloh.

1:25 When they had slaughtered the bull, they brought the boy to Eli,

1:26 and she said to him, “As surely as you live, my lord, I am the woman who stood here beside you praying to the LORD.

1:27 I prayed for this child, and the LORD has granted me what I asked of him.

1:28 So now I give him to the LORD. For his whole life he will be given over to the LORD.” And he worshiped the LORD there.

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