Study Notes

1Samuel 1:1-2:11

1:1-2 Elkanah And His Two Wives

The book of Samuel begins with the man El-kaw-NAW. His genealogy is listed in 1Chronicles 16:34-38. It tells us that he is a Levite, specifically a Kohathite. Remember that the Kohathites were the Levites that served in the tabernacle.

You may recall from our study in Joshua that the Levites received cities within the other tribes borders.

Josh. 21:4-5 Then the lot came out for the families of the Kohathites. And the sons of Aaron the priest, who were of the Levites, received thirteen cities by lot from the tribe of Judah and from the tribe of the Simeonites and from the tribe of Benjamin. And the rest of the sons of Kohath received ten cities by lot from the families of the tribe of Ephraim and from the tribe of Dan and from the half-tribe of Manasseh.

El-kaw-NAH is here called an Ephraimite because he is living in the land of Ephraim.

His Two Wives

El-kaw-NAW had two wives, Hannah and Pen-in-NAW. The question of how God feels about polygamy often arises among Christians as they study the Bible and see so many men with more than one wife.

Believe it or not, the law of God does not outwardly forbid polygamy. Only for the king of Israel did the Lord command not to have many wives.

Deut. 17:14-17 "When you enter the land which the LORD your God gives you, and you possess it and live in it, and you say, 'I will set a king over me like all the nations who are around me,' you shall surely set a king over you whom the LORD your God chooses, {one} from among your countrymen you shall set as king over yourselves; you may not put a foreigner over yourselves who is not your countryman. Moreover, he shall not multiply horses for himself, nor shall he cause the people to return to Egypt to multiply horses, since the LORD has said to you, 'You shall never again return that way.' Neither shall he multiply wives for himself, lest his heart turn away; nor shall he greatly increase silver and gold for himself.

However, Jesus did make it clear that God's ideal for marriage is one husband for one wife.

Matt. 19:5-6 "...'A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER, AND SHALL CLEAVE TO HIS WIFE; AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH'. Consequently they are no longer two, but one flesh."

The numbers there are clearly one husband, one wife. You will always find conflict when there is more than one wife, as we are about to see.

1:3 Shiloh

Shiloh was a city in Ephraim. It was the place that the congregation of Israel had set up the tabernacle).

Josh. 18:1 Then the whole congregation of the sons of Israel assembled themselves at Shiloh, and set up the tent of meeting there

Judg. 18:31 So they set up for themselves Micah's graven image which he had made, all the time that the house of God was at Shiloh.

It remained there for nearly four hundred years. But that spiritual city would eventually be abandoned by God because of Israel's apostasy. Asaph wrote in Psalm 78,

Ps. 78:58-60 For they provoked Him with their high places, and aroused His jealousy with their graven images. When God heard, He was filled with wrath, and greatly abhorred Israel; So that He abandoned the dwelling place at Shiloh, the tent which He had pitched among men

Later, when the temple was in Jerusalem, the prophet Jeremiah was told to stand in the gate of the temple and say, "If you repent of your wickedness, I'll let you stay here."

Jer. 7:11-14 "Has this house, which is called by My name, become a den of robbers in your sight? Behold, I, even I, have seen {it,"} declares the LORD. But go now to My place which was in Shiloh, where I made My name dwell at the first, and see what I did to it because of the wickedness of My people Israel. And now, because you have done all these things," declares the LORD, "and I spoke to you, rising up early and speaking, but you did not hear, and I called you but you did not answer, therefore, I will do to the house which is called by My name, in which you trust, and to the place which I gave you and your fathers, as I did to Shiloh."

If they didn't repent, Jerusalem would become just as barren as Shiloh had become.

But during the time we're studying, the tabernacle was still in Shiloh, and every year, El-kaw-NAW would travel to Shiloh to worship and sacrifice.

1:4-8 Rival's Provocation

Pen-in-NAW had at least four children, but Hannah had none - she was barren. Being her rival, Pen-in-NAW would provoke her continually.

The fruitfulness of bearing children was considered to be a blessing from God, therefore, being barren was a reproach. But Hannah was a godly woman. Why was her womb closed? Remember that Zacharias and Elizabeth were faithful, obedient, godly people - but they too had not been able to have children.

With precision timing, God opened Elizabeth's womb in her her old age that she would give birth to John the Baptist. The same held true for Hannah, who would one day give birth to Samuel.

1:9-11 Hannah's Vow

Hannah went to the tabernacle to cry out to the Lord over this situation. She vowed that if the Lord would give her a son, she would give him to God.

Making a vow or an oath to the Lord is no small thing. An entire chapter - Numbers 30 - is devoted to how serious God takes vows made to Him. Ecclesiastes says,

Eccl. 5:4-5 When you make a vow to God, do not be late in paying it, for {He takes} no delight in fools. Pay what you vow! It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay.

Hannah has made a vow to dedicate her first son to the Lord's service.

Son A Nazirite?

Hannah prayed in her vow,

1Sam. 1:11 "...a razor shall never come on his head."

This might seem like a strange promise: "Lord, if you give me a son, I'll make sure he never gets a haircut." It could be that she is promising that he will be a Nazirite for life. Remember that the Nazirite vow was first brought up back in Numbers 6. It was made by a man or woman to dedicate themselves to the Lord. It was a time of separating oneself unto the Lord. The Nazirite abstained from the fruit of the vine: not only alcohol, but also vinegar, grape juice, grapes, and raisins. He did not cut his hair during the time of his vow, and he was not to be defiled by touching a corpse.

It is possible, though not conclusive here, that Hannah was promising the Lord that this boy would be a Nazirite for life, just as Samson had been called to be (though didn't do a very good job of it).

1:12-14 Eli's Mistake

Hannah was praying at the tabernacle - moving her lips, but making no sound. The priest of that time, Eli, was so carnal that he immediately assumed the worst - that this woman was drunk. Then he rebuked her for her supposed intoxication.

1:15-18 Eli's Blessing

Hannah explained that she was not drunk, but poured out before the Lord. When Eli found out that she was actually seeking the Lord, he pronounced a blessing on her, saying,

1Sam. 1:17 ..."Go in peace; and may the God of Israel grant your petition that you have asked of Him."

Notice her response: She..

1Sam. 1:18 ...went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad.

What faith this woman had! This reminds me of the kind of faith in prayer that Jesus told us to have.

Mark 11:22-24 And Jesus answered saying to them, "Have faith in God. Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, 'Be taken up and cast into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it shall be {granted} him. Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they shall be {granted} you."

Hannah had faith that her prayer had been heard.

1:19-23 Samuel Is Born

Hannah did give birth to a boy, and named him Samuel. At first, it seems a mystery why she named him this. The name Samuel means, "name of God," and was a common name among the Israelites. But why does it say,

1Sam. 1:20 ...she named him Samuel, {saying,} "Because I have asked him of the LORD."

What does that have to do with the name Sehm-oo-ALE? Because the word "asked" in Hebrew is "Shaw-ALE." She figured that the name Sehm-oo-ALE would remind her that she had Shaw-ALE - asked for him from the Lord.

When the time of year came to go up to Shiloh again, Hannah decided to stay home until Samuel was weaned (about two or three years old in that culture). Afterwards, she would take him to the tabernacle and leave him there permanently.

1:24-28 Samuel Is Dedicated

Hannah offered sacrifices to the Lord when she dropped off Samuel.

2:1 Hannah's Prayer

Then she begins to pray a wonderful prayer of worship.

My Horn Is Exalted

The horn in Scripture speaks of strength. I think this was more obvious in those days, before man had guns. The animals with horns, tusks, and teeth were the ones with the power.

This is the first time that this word is used in this context, but it becomes more prevalent from here on out. For example,

2Sam. 22:3 My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge; My savior, Thou dost save me from violence.

Jer. 48:25 "The horn of Moab has been cut off, and his arm broken," declares the LORD.

So don't let that throw you - it refers to strength.

Speaking Boldly Against Enemies

Hannah was able to speak boldly against her enemies. Why? Because she rejoiced in God's salvation.

We will always have enemies. People that judge what we do and say, people that come against us. When you're not walking right with God, you don't have the authority, the confidence, or the assurance to stand up and say, "I'm in the will of God, I'm a child of God," boldly against your enemies.

A major point that Paul makes regarding the full armor of God is that it allows you to stand up and be bold.

Eph. 6:11 Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.

When you're not living righteously, speaking truthfully, walking preparedly, and walking faithfully, you're not able to stand firm against your enemies. Hannah was able to stand firm against her enemies because she rejoiced in God's salvation.

2:2-9 Opposites

God has a way of making the weak strong, the strong weak, the hungry full, and the full hungry, the barren produce, and the productive barren. The key is to live godly lives. Jesus taught,

Luke 6:20-28 And turning His gaze on His disciples, He {began} to say, "Blessed {are} you {who are} poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed {are} you who hunger now, for you shall be satisfied. Blessed {are} you who weep now, for you shall laugh. Blessed are you when men hate you, and ostracize you, and cast insults at you, and spurn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man. Be glad in that day, and leap {for joy,} for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for in the same way their fathers used to treat the prophets. But woe to you who are rich, for you are receiving your comfort in full. Woe to you who are well-fed now, for you shall be hungry. Woe {to you} who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep. Woe {to you} when all men speak well of you, for in the same way their fathers used to treat the false prophets. But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.

The kingdom of God is a kingdom of opposites. May we live godly so that our curses turn to blessings, and our afflictions turn to strengths.

2:10 His King, His Anointed

Hannah's prayer becomes a prophecy! She begins to refer to the Lord giving strength to His king - there was no king in Israel in those days. And God would exalt the horn - the strength - of His anointed. The word "anointed" in Hebrew is "Maw-SHEE-akh" - His Messiah! Hannah is speaking directly of Jesus Christ!

John the Baptist's father Zacharias prophesied, saying,

Luke 1:68-79 "Blessed {be} the Lord God of Israel, for He has visited us and accomplished redemption for His people, and has raised up a horn of salvation for us In the house of David His servant - as He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from of old - salvation FROM OUR ENEMIES, And FROM THE HAND OF ALL WHO HATE US; To show mercy toward our fathers, And to remember His holy covenant, the oath which He swore to Abraham our father, to grant us that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, Might serve Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him all our days. And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; For you will go on BEFORE THE LORD TO PREPARE HIS WAYS; To give to His people {the} knowledge of salvation By the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, With which the Sunrise from on high shall visit us, TO SHINE UPON THOSE WHO SIT IN DARKNESS AND THE SHADOW OF DEATH, To guide our feet into the way of peace."

Jesus Christ, the horn of salvation.

2:11 Samuel Ministers

Young Samuel ministered to the Lord. Everyone can minister to the Lord - young or old, weak or strong. How can we minister to the Lord? Many ways - I'll pick three:

We can minister to the Lord through service in His house.

1Chr. 15:2 Then David said, "No one is to carry the ark of God but the Levites; for the LORD chose them to carry the ark of God, and to minister to Him forever."

1Chr. 26:12 To these divisions of the gatekeepers, the chief men, {were given} duties like their relatives to minister in the house of the LORD.

Whether we are carrying the ark or watching the gate, we can minister to the Lord in our service.

We can minister to the Lord through intercessory prayer.

2Chr. 29:11 "My sons, do not be negligent now, for the LORD has chosen you to stand before Him, to minister to Him, and to be His ministers and burn incense."

The priests burning incense spoke of praying for the nation. As you intercede in prayer for others, you are ministering to the Lord.

You can minister to the Lord through faithfulness:

Ezek. 44:15 "But the Levitical priests, the sons of Zadok, who kept charge of My sanctuary when the sons of Israel went astray from Me, shall come near to Me to minister to Me; and they shall stand before Me to offer Me the fat and the blood," declares the Lord GOD.

When even the Christians of the world fall away into sin, you stay faithful. That will minister to the Lord more than anything.

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