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1 Samuel 12:23-24; 1:10-20; 1:27-2:1comment (0)

May 10, 2012

By James R. Barnette

Related Scripture: 1 Samuel 12:23-24

Bible Studies for Life 
Associate Professor of Religion, Department of Religion, Samford University

A Legacy of Hope

1 Samuel 12:23−24; 1:10−20; 1:27–2:1

The Rest of the Story (12:23−24)
Throughout his life, Samuel had been a prophet like Moses. So it was appropriate he should follow Moses’ call as intercessor for the nation’s welfare. The statement in verse 23 opened the way for Samuel’s successors in the prophetic office. It also shows Samuel to be mediator of the covenant. Samuel is keenly aware of his responsibilities as prophet. The phrase “may it never happen to me” is an echo of words found in 1 Samuel 2:30 and 20:2, 9. Intercession (“pray”) and instruction (“teach”) are his two major roles as the prophet of the Lord, even after the inauguration of kingship. 

Since the Lord has made Israel the special chosen people for His great name’s sake, it will be His special witness to “what great things he has done for it.” 

In verse 24, Samuel commands Israel to “serve the Lord faithfully with all your heart.” Paul echoes this injunction in Colossians 3:17: “whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Both Samuel and Paul are admonishing us to do this wholeheartedly and with perseverance. 

Flashback: A Prayer of Desperation (1:10−20)
Hannah made a special plea to God for a son, which involved a vow that he would be dedicated to God from his earliest years. The passage makes clear that Samuel was the special provision of God, not only for Hannah but also for Israel as a whole. The action in this passage consists of three speeches. 

First, Hannah makes her vow that the son of her womb will be preserved for obedience only to the Lord. At the beginning we have a clue about how and why Samuel became such a champion of the faith. He was destined by his mother to be such a champion. 

The second speech of Hannah is one of self-vindication. She is not a drunken woman, as Eli supposes. Her desperation leads to an act of authentic faith, voicing her grief directly to the Lord.   

The third speech is a response of Eli, an assurance and a benediction. The priest assures her that “the God of Israel will hear and answer.” As recorded in Luke, she had no doubt that “there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord” (Luke 1:45). As a result, the grief and despair expressed in verse 8 is transformed. She is a restored woman with a new chance in life. Her faith in God’s assurance through Eli was rewarded.

A Promise Fulfilled (1:27–2:1)
Hannah comes to Shiloh to see Eli the priest. She is there to pay her vow. In offering her thanksgiving, Hannah is aware of the miracle that took her from being barren to birthing Samuel. The child whom she had asked for is now given back. Her gratitude is couched in words of submission and praise. Hers is an act of glad worship and a trusting yieldedness, which is Israel’s proper posture for the new story of monarchy about to begin. Hannah’s “so now” indicates the climax of the story and the resolution of the problem.  

Samuel’s very name represents a wordplay that combines Hebrew terms meaning “asking from” and “given over.” More than this, his name is a testament to Hannah’s strong faith. Hannah asked from God, and God gave. Now, in gratitude, Hannah is completing the story of providence by giving back her son. 

Hannah’s last recorded words and longest quotation begin in 2:1. Her prayer of thanksgiving begins on a very personal note, using four first-person references that express uninhibited delight in the Lord. Even as Peninnah had taunted Hannah (1:6−7), so now Hannah “boasts” over her enemies because of God’s “deliverance.” The word for “boast” means literally “my mouth is enlarged” (see also Ps. 35:21 and Isa. 57:4). The object of Hannah’s delight is not herself, nor is it her son, but rather her Lord Who brought her to this place of resolution and peace.

James Barnette is the teaching pastor of Brookwood Baptist Church, Birmingham.

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