The story of Samuel begins with a barren woman. As Louis often states, “God is in the business of making babies” thus proving He is the Creator of life. Hannah wants to have a son, but the second wife of her husband is the only one who has been able to bear babies. Therefore, she becomes embittered and sad. When they go to sacrifice to the Lord she is crying and praying in her heart. She is asking God to give her a son, and makes a vow to him. She will give her son to God if he grants her request.
Eli sees her praying and comes to tell her to stop drinking because he thinks she looks drunk. She explains to him her prayers and he blesses her and sends her on her way. After this she conceives and bears a son, Samuel. The next time her husband goes up to Shiloh to sacrifice to the Lord and to worship Him, after Samuel is weaned, she gives Samuel to Eli to serve the Lord there.
Elkanah (son of Jeroham, son of Elihu, son of Tohu, son of Zuph), Hannah, Peninnah, Peninnah’s children, Eli, Samuel
Verses 27-28 “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 1:17 “Then Eli answered, “Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant your petition that you have made to him.””
Psalm 6:9 “The Lord has heard my plea; the Lord accepts my prayer.”
Genesis 24:26-27, 52 “The man bowed his head and worshiped the Lord and said, “Blessed be the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, who has not forsaken his steadfast love and his faithfulness toward my master. As for me, the Lord has led me in the way to the house of my master’s kinsman…When Abraham’s servant heard their words, he bowed himself to the earth before the Lord.”
Everything we have comes from the Lord. And we must thank him for that, praising and worshiping him for the great things He has done for us. In reading this story I know that Hannah is overjoyed because a miracle has happened, a barren woman bore a son. For others, who were able to get pregnant easily it may not occur to them that a miracle still has occurred for that baby to be born. God has created that baby, and we must worship and thank God for our children. The cross referenced story of Abraham’s servant shows him praising God when he found the people he was supposed to find and again when he found a bride for Isaac. It works out seemingly easy and could be easily seen by us in our modern rushing about as, “Just doing my job” where the credit is on us, or forgetting God’s role just because it did turn out so well and we didn’t have to stop and pray in times of tension. Finally, the cross reference into our same book, verse 17, shows Eli joining her in her request and also his directions to have peace. Hannah was not carrying around a lot of peace, she had stopped eating, was sad, crying, and brokenhearted. But when she leaves she eats and is able to share intimacy with her husband. When we cry out to God, we know He hears us, because we are His children. We must then go in peace and faith that He will do best by us, following through on what He has called us to do, what we have promised Him, and continuing to worship Him.
Jesus in the Old Testament
“The book of 1 Samuel opens with the story of a woman in pain.”* Louis often says that the Bible is gender biased, so many stories are written in the Bible to show how much God loves women, and this is another example. Not only is this a story of redemption for a woman in pain, but also is placed right in the beginning. “Such a beginning may seem curious in a book that will go on to recount perhaps the most significant political shift in Israel’s history, from tribal society to monarchy. But in God’s economy, seemingly small things are not to be discounted (cf. Zech. 4:10). God delights in reversing expectations. He delights in choosing “what is weak in the world to shame the strong” (1 Cor. 1:27). Indeed, Christ himself is the ultimate instance of God using unimpressive weakness to accomplish a great thing (2 Cor. 13:4).”*
Zechariah 4:6-7, 10 “Then he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts. Who are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain. And he shall bring forward the top stone amid shouts of ‘Grace, grace to it!'”… For whoever has despised the day of small things shall rejoice, and shall see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel. These seven are the eyes of the Lord, which range through the whole earth.”
It is God’s might that does all things through us, conceiving and bearing children, leading small groups to leading countries. The same with this verse, God will show through one man over and over how so much can be done because it brings Him glory. In reality one man cannot do these things, but with God’s power, we can move mountains, just like is said here.
1 Corinthians 1:26-27 “For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.”
2 Corinthians 13:4 “For he was crucified in weakness, but lives by the power of God. For we also are weak in him, but in dealing with you we will live with him by the power of God.”
“Hannah is weak in several respects.” I will bullet point them instead of writing out each comment.
- Childless / Barren = Not able to fulfill her role as a wife in the culture
- Polygamous Marriage
- The Other Wife Antagonizes Her Constantly
- Husband Cannot Empathize = Besides he has children of his own, so he is doing fine
- Misunderstood = The priest, Eli, thinks she is drunk when she is praying. He should know better, but Spoiler Alert, we will soon see more evidence that Eli is not a perfect man either.
But with God, Hannah is made strong:
- Does Not Take Revenge
- Does Not Repress Pain
- Takes Sorrow To God
“Hannah must have understood that no trial, however heavy, can “outweigh” God and his grace and that God honors those who honor him (cf. 2:29-30). A word of encouragement that God has heard her prayer is all it takes to lift her spirits (1:18).”*
If Eli had come up and tried to lecture me about a drinking problem when I was weeping before the Lord I would have left upset. Instead she explains and accepts his word of encouragement. She is able to return to joy, begin eating again, and is able to share love and intimacy with her husband again. This is a strength that comes only from God.
“Dramatically demonstrated in the life of Hannah is the fact that everyday faithfulness by ordinary people can, by God’s grace, change history forever. Just such faith surrounds the eventual coming of the great King, Jesus.”*
Samuel being born of a barren woman is not the only story of this kind. As I quoted Louis before, “God is in the business of making babies.” Luke 1 shares the story of barren Elizabeth who gives birth to John the Baptist and the story of the Virgin Mary who gives birth to Jesus Christ.
Luke 1:6-7, 13-25 “In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, of the division of Abijah. And he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in his commandments and statutes of the Lord. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years…But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great before the Lord. And he must not drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.” And Zechariah said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.” And the angel answered him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time.” And the people were waiting for Zechariah, and they were wondering at his delay in the temple. And when he came out, he was unable to speak to them, and they realized that he had seen a vision in the temple. And he kept making signs to them and remained mute. And when his time of service was ended, he went to his home. After these days his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she kept herself hidden, saying, “Thus the Lord has done for me in the days when he looked on me, to take away my reproach among people.””
Luke 1:26-38 “In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.”
*Note: I am using the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible for the Jesus in the Old Testament section, so these are paraphrases and quotes from the commentary with my own ideas sprinkled in.
Thank you for reading. I am excited to hear your key verses, observations, and thoughts! Please take a moment to leave a comment to share with us.
Next Week: 1 Samuel 2:1-11
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