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1 Samuel 1:12, 67, 1218, 20, 2428 comment (0)

September 4, 2008

By Doug Wilson

Related Scripture: 1 Samuel 1:12, 67, 1218, 20, 2428

Explore the Bible
Associate Professor of Christian Studies, School of Christian Studies, University of Mobile

1 Samuel 1:1–2, 6–7, 12–18, 20, 24–28

A woman longs to bear a child. For years, she prays God would grant her this deep desire. With her infertility problems, she knows that only the Lord can make it possible for her to conceive. Her question is will God ever grant me a child? This story is a real picture of life in many families today, but it is actually an account from the time of the judges.

Elkanah had two wives, Hannah and Peninnah. Hannah’s rival provided Elkanah children, but Hannah was unable to conceive until the Lord intervened. Just as God responded to Hannah’s prayer, He still hears and answers according to His will as we approach Him in the name of Jesus.

Acknowledge the Lord’s Sovereignty (1–2, 6–7)
Elkanah pursued God but he had taken a second wife. Perhaps this was a second marriage due to Hannah’s infertility, which she may have regarded as a curse from God (see Deut. 28:4, 18). Even Abraham took a second wife to produce an heir.
The passage indicates Elkanah’s family’s devotion to the Lord, for it made the pilgrimage in order to worship and offer sacrifices. These verses also indicate that Hannah was deeply loved by Elkanah, though he could not understand her God-given desire to have a baby. Their recognition that God is sovereign was their foundation, and this recognition becomes more evident as the account continues.

Seek Strength in the Lord’s Presence (12–16)
Verses 9–11 present Hannah in such soul anguish that she made an unnecessary vow. If God will grant her a son, then she will surrender him for service to the Lord. In addition, he will be a Nazirite (also Nazarite; see Num. 6:5), demonstrated by his uncut hair. Although he will be set apart for service to God, he will also be separated from his family.

These next verses indicate that Eli the priest was not overly sensitive to Hannah’s commitment to God or to her heavy heart. In fact, when he observed that her lips were moving without any audible words, he assumed that she was drunk.

Hannah was broken by Peninnah’s taunting, she longed to bear a son and then she was accused of drunkenness.
She responded to the priest, however, not with angry, bitter words but with honest humility. Hannah explained that she was laying her soul open before the Lord. When her husband could not understand and her rival would not back off, her only solace was entering into the Lord’s presence.

Experience the Lord’s Peace (17–18)
When Eli observed that Hannah was broken before God, he told her to go in peace, as if to say, “May the wholeness and contentment of God go with you.” He also gave a pronouncement of blessing, emphasizing God’s response to her request. Once she found God’s peace, she broke her fast, ate something and changed her demeanor. Her brokenness before God resulted in experiencing His peace.

Tell Others About God’s Grace (20, 24–28)

Samuel’s name is based on the verb meaning “to hear” and the name for God, “El.”  Together, it means “God listened.” His very name, given to him on the day of his circumcision, was a testimony of God’s grace.

Following the birth, Hannah did not attend the annual pilgrimage to Shiloh until Samuel was weaned. When he was old enough, Samuel was taken to the tabernacle and placed under the guardianship of Eli. Through her testimony in the closing verses of chapter one and subsequent prayer in the next chapter, Hannah bore witness to the grace of God.

Whether we present our children to the Lord in the privacy of a delivery room or on a platform for a baby dedication, parents make a declaration of gratitude for God’s grace in granting us children. We also have the opportunity to testify that our children are only a glimpse of His grace. His greatest demonstration of grace was when God the Son willingly took on our death sentence so that we might live eternally.

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