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Bible Commentaries
1 Samuel 1

Everett's Study Notes on the Holy ScripturesEverett's Study Notes

Verses 1-28

Hannah’s Prayer’s 1 Samuel 1:1-28 records the story of Hannah’s prayer for a son and the birth of Samuel. Hannah must have prayed for years and wept for years from grief (1 Samuel 1:7). Leonard Ravenhill notes the increasing intensity in the order of events in Hannah's prayer vigil:

1. Hannah prayed (1 Samuel 1:10)

2. Continued praying (1 Samuel 1:12)

3. “Poured out (her) soul” (1 Samuel 1:15)


4. Hannah wept (1 Samuel 1:8)

5. Hannah wept sore (1 Samuel 1:10)

Note: She was a woman desperate for a remedy:

1. She was grieved (1 Samuel 1:10)

2. “in bitterness of soul” (1 Samuel 1:10)

3. Her state of affliction was called “my complaint and grief” (1 Samuel 1:16)

4. So, fasting food and drink (1 Samuel 1:8; 1 Samuel 1:15)

5. Made a vow (1 Samuel 1:11) [14]

[14] Leonard Ravenhill, Revival Praying (Minneapolis, Minn: Bethany House Publishers, c1962, 1999), 46.

1 Samuel 1:1 Now there was a certain man of Ramathaimzophim, of mount Ephraim, and his name was Elkanah, the son of Jeroham, the son of Elihu, the son of Tohu, the son of Zuph, an Ephrathite:

1 Samuel 1:1 “Now there was” Comments - A number of books in the Old Testament begins with the common Hebrew idiom “and it came to pass” ( וַיְהִי ), made from the conjunction ( ו ) “and” and the imperfect verb ( הָיָה ) “to be.” Douglas Stuart identifies the books that commence with this Hebrew construction as Joshua, Judges, 1 Samuel, Ruth, Esther, Jonah, and Lamentations ( LXX). [15] This phrase is used at least three hundred eighty eight (388) times in the Old Testament to begin narrative stories, and to move the plot from one scene to another within the narrative material. Although some of the books listed above are a part of a collection of narratives that follow a chronological order, Stuart believes this opening phrase is intended to begin a new book.

[15] Douglas Stuart, Hosea-Jonah, in Word Biblical Commentary: 58 Volumes on CD-Rom, vol. 31, eds. Bruce M. Metzger, David A. Hubbard and Glenn W. Barker (Dallas: Word Inc., 2002), in Libronix Digital Library System, v. 2.1c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp., 2000-2004), “Introduction: Form/Structure/Setting.”

1 Samuel 1:1 “a certain man of Ramathaimzophim, of mount Ephraim” - Comments - Ramathaim Zophim is usually referred to as “Ramah” (1 Samuel 1:19). This will become the home of Samuel during his adult life. Strong says t he name “Ramah” (H7414) means, “height,” and comes from a root word (H7311) meaning “to be high.” JFB says the towns in the Old Testament to which this title applied seem all to have stood on elevated sites. “ There were five cities of this name, all on high ground. This city had the addition of Zophim attached to it, because it was founded by Zuph, ‘an Ephrathite,’ that is a native of Ephratha. Beth-lehem, and the expression ‘of Ramathaim-zophim’ must, therefore, be understood as Ramah in the land of Zuph in the hill country of Ephratha.” [16]

[16] Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset, and David Brown. The First Book of Samuel, in Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary, Electronic Database (Seattle, WA: Hendrickson Publishers Inc., 1997), in P.C. Study Bible, v. 3.1 [CD-ROM] (Seattle, WA: Biblesoft Inc., 1993-2000), notes on 1 Samuel 1:1.

1 Samuel 1:19, “And they rose up in the morning early, and worshipped before the LORD, and returned, and came to their house to Ramah : and Elkanah knew Hannah his wife; and the LORD remembered her.”

1 Samuel 1:1 “and his name was Elkanah, the son of Jeroham, the son of Elihu, the son of Tohu, the son of Zuph” - Comments - Note this same genealogy in 1 Chronicles 6:27, “Eliab his son, Jeroham his son, Elkanah his son.” This genealogy is found within the tribe of Levi (1 Chronicles 6:1). Thus, Samuel was of tribe of Levi, since he is listed in this same passage (1 Chronicles 6:25-28).

1 Chronicles 6:1, “ The sons of Levi ; Gershon, Kohath, and Merari.”

1 Chronicles 6:25-28, “And the sons of Elkanah; Amasai, and Ahimoth. As for Elkanah : the sons of Elkanah; Zophai his son, and Nahath his son, Eliab his son, Jeroham his son, Elkanah his son. And the sons of Samuel ; the firstborn Vashni, and Abiah.”

1 Samuel 1:1 “an Ephrathite” Comments - Bethlehem Ephratah was later called Bethlehem Judah. Note the following passages:

Micah 5:2, “But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah , though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.”

Ruth 1:2, “And the name of the man was Elimelech, and the name of his wife Naomi, and the name of his two sons Mahlon and Chilion, Ephrathites of Bethlehemjudah .”

1 Samuel 17:12, “Now David was the son of that Ephrathite of Bethlehemjudah , whose name was Jesse;”

Jeroboam was an Ephrathite:

1 Kings 11:26, “And Jeroboam the son of Nebat, an Ephrathite of Zereda, Solomon's servant, whose mother's name was Zeruah, a widow woman, even he lifted up his hand against the king.”

1 Samuel 1:2 Comments - From the context of the book of 1 Samuel, this lengthy genealogy opening the book is probably placed there in order to establish Samuel’s Levitical lineage, since he became a priest/judge over the nation of Israel.

1 Samuel 1:2 And he had two wives; the name of the one was Hannah, and the name of the other Peninnah: and Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children.

1 Samuel 1:3 And this man went up out of his city yearly to worship and to sacrifice unto the LORD of hosts in Shiloh. And the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, the priests of the LORD, were there.

1 Samuel 1:3 “And this man went up out of his city yearly to worship and to sacrifice unto the LORD of hosts” - Comments - The Hebrew term “Lord of Hosts” is translated “Lord of the Sabaoth” in the New Testament (Romans 9:29, James 5:4). Its first use in the Old Testament is found in 1 Samuel 1:3. During the period of the judges the nation of Israel needed a deliverer from the oppressive armies of surrounding nations. They continually depended upon the Lord of Hosts to defeat these armies in battle.

Romans 9:29, “And as Esaias said before, Except the Lord of Sabaoth had left us a seed, we had been as Sodoma, and been made like unto Gomorrha.”

James 5:4, “Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth.”

1 Samuel 1:3 “in Shiloh” Comments - Shiloh is the place where the Tabernacle was set up after the conquest of Joshua (Joshua 18:1). Strong says the name “Shiloh” (H7887) means, “tranquil.” The children of Israel were commanded to worship the Lord at one place (Deuteronomy 12:5; Deuteronomy 16:16).

Joshua 18:1, “And the whole congregation of the children of Israel assembled together at Shiloh, and set up the tabernacle of the congregation there. And the land was subdued before them.”

Deuteronomy 12:5, “But unto the place which the LORD your God shall choose out of all your tribes to put his name there, even unto his habitation shall ye seek, and thither thou shalt come:”

Deuteronomy 16:16, “ Three times in a year shall all thy males appear before the LORD thy God in the place which he shall choose ; in the feast of unleavened bread, and in the feast of weeks, and in the feast of tabernacles: and they shall not appear before the LORD empty:”

1 Samuel 1:5 But unto Hannah he gave a worthy portion; for he loved Hannah: but the LORD had shut up her womb.

1 Samuel 1:5 “but the Lord had shut up her womb” - Comments - Note other places in Scripture where the Lord shut or opened the womb of women.

Genesis 20:18, “For the LORD had fast closed up all the wombs of the house of Abimelech, because of Sarah Abraham's wife.”

Genesis 29:31, “And when the LORD saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb: but Rachel was barren.”

Genesis 30:22, “And God remembered Rachel, and God hearkened to her, and opened her womb.”

Luke 1:36, “And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren.”

1 Samuel 1:8 Then said Elkanah her husband to her, Hannah, why weepest thou? and why eatest thou not? and why is thy heart grieved? am not I better to thee than ten sons?

1 Samuel 1:8 Word Study on “ten sons” - The phrase “ten sons” is similar to the phrase “ten times” and both probably mean a great number of sons or occurrences. The Hebrew phrase “ten times” ( פְּעָמִ֔ים עֶ֣שֶׂר ) is made up of two words, “ten” ( עֶשֶׂר ) (H6235), and “times” ( פַּעַם ) (H6471). Although the literal translation is, “ten times,” John Gill understands the phrase “ten times” in Numbers 14:22 as an idiom to mean a rounded number, which is equivalent to “time after time,” thus “numerous times.” He says that although the Jews counted ten literal occasions when Israel tempted the Lord during the wilderness journeys, Aben Ezra gives this phrase a figurative meaning of “many times.” [17] T. E. Espin adds to the figurative meaning of Numbers 14:22 by saying that Israel had tempted the Lord to its fullness, so that the Lord would now pass judgment upon them, even denying them access into the Promised Land, which is clearly stated in the next verse. [18] We can see this same phrase used as an idiom in several passages in the Scriptures:

[17] Gill lists ten literal occasions, “twice at the sea, Exodus 14:11; twice concerning water, Exodus 15:23; twice about manna, Exodus 16:2; twice about quails, Exodus 16:12; once by the calf, Exodus 32:1; and once in the wilderness of Paran, Numbers 14:1, which last and tenth was the present temptation.” John Gill, Numbers, in John Gill’s Expositor, in e-Sword, v. 7.7.7 [CD-ROM] (Franklin, Tennessee: e-Sword, 2000-2005), comments on Numbers 14:22.

[18] E. T. Espin and J. F. Thrupp, Numbers, in The Holy Bible According to the Authorized Version (A.D. 1611), with an Explanation and Critical Commentary and a Revision of the Translation, by Bishops and Clergy of the Anglican Church, vol. 1, part 2, ed. F. C. Cook (London: John Murray, 1871), 702.

Genesis 31:7, “And your father hath deceived me, and changed my wages ten times; but God suffered him not to hurt me.”

Numbers 14:22, “Because all those men which have seen my glory, and my miracles, which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have tempted me now these ten times, and have not hearkened to my voice;”

Nehemiah 4:12, “And it came to pass, that when the Jews which dwelt by them came, they said unto us ten times , From all places whence ye shall return unto us they will be upon you.”

The NAB translates this phrase in Genesis 31:7 as “time after time.”

NAB, “yet your father cheated me and changed my wages time after time . God, however, did not let him do me any harm.”

The number ten represents a counting system that is based on ten units. Thus, the number ten can be interpreted literally to represent the numerical system, or it can be given a figurative meaning to reflect the concept of multiple occurrences.

1 Samuel 1:7-8 Comments The Jewish Festival was a Time to Rejoice - The annual trip to Shiloh for the Jewish people was a festive season in which they ate and rejoiced for the blessings that God had bestowed upon them, but Hannah carried a sorrowful spirit in the midst of these events.

1 Samuel 1:10 And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the LORD, and wept sore.

1 Samuel 1:10 Illustration - A woman in the New Testament prayed like this. See Mary in John 11:32-33.

John 11:32-33, “Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled,”

Is not God’s heart moved at a prayer like this? John chapter eleven reveals clearly how God’s heart is moved at this attitude of prayer.

1 Samuel 1:11 And she vowed a vow, and said, O LORD of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the LORD all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come upon his head.

1 Samuel 1:11 “And she vowed a vow” Comments - Note laws regulating a vow that someone makes unto God:

Leviticus 27:1-4, “And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When a man shall make a singular vow, the persons shall be for the LORD by thy estimation. And thy estimation shall be of the male from twenty years old even unto sixty years old, even thy estimation shall be fifty shekels of silver, after the shekel of the sanctuary. And if it be a female, then thy estimation shall be thirty shekels.”

Deuteronomy 23:21-23, “When thou shalt vow a vow unto the LORD thy God, thou shalt not slack to pay it: for the LORD thy God will surely require it of thee; and it would be sin in thee. But if thou shalt forbear to vow, it shall be no sin in thee. That which is gone out of thy lips thou shalt keep and perform; even a freewill offering, according as thou hast vowed unto the LORD thy God, which thou hast promised with thy mouth.”

1 Samuel 1:11 “O LORD of hosts” Comments - Hannah is the first person to use the title “Lord of Hosts.” She gives a prophecy in 2 Samuel 2:1-10 when little Samuel is brought to the Tabernacle and handed over to the high priest. We see within this prophecy a description of the Messiah as a man of war who would conquer His enemies and bring restitution to the poor and oppressed.

1 Samuel 1:11 “but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child” Comments - Leonard Ravenhill says that Hannah did not just pray for a child, but for higher stakes. A child would remove her shame, but a man-child would bring her honour. Yet, it is God that works in us both to will and to do of his good pleasure (Philippians 2:13). God wanted a prophet. [19]

[19] Leonard Ravenhill, Revival Praying (Minneapolis, Minn: Bethany House Publishers, c1962, 2005), chapter 4.

Philippians 2:13, “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.”

1 Samuel 1:11 “and there shall no razor come upon his head” Comments - 1 Samuel 1:11 describes a Nazarite who separates himself in a vow for service to God (Numbers 6:5).

Numbers 6:5, “All the days of the vow of his separation there shall no razor come upon his head: until the days be fulfilled, in the which he separateth himself unto the LORD, he shall be holy, and shall let the locks of the hair of his head grow.”

1 Samuel 1:11 Comments - There are numerous examples of people making vows in the Scriptures. We can read about the vows of Jephthah (Judges 11:30), Hannah (1 Samuel 1:11), Absalom (2 Samuel 15:8), David (Psalms 56:12), Solomon (Proverbs 7:14), Jonah (Jonah 2:9), and Paul (Acts 18:18).

Judges 11:30, “And Jephthah vowed a vow unto the LORD, and said, If thou shalt without fail deliver the children of Ammon into mine hands,”

1 Samuel 1:11, “And she vowed a vow, and said, O LORD of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the LORD all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come upon his head.”

2 Samuel 15:8, “For thy servant vowed a vow while I abode at Geshur in Syria, saying, If the LORD shall bring me again indeed to Jerusalem, then I will serve the LORD.”

Psalms 56:12, “Thy vows are upon me, O God: I will render praises unto thee.”

Proverbs 7:14, “I have peace offerings with me; this day have I payed my vows.”

Jonah 2:9, “But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that that I have vowed. Salvation is of the LORD.”

Acts 18:18, “And Paul after this tarried there yet a good while, and then took his leave of the brethren, and sailed thence into Syria, and with him Priscilla and Aquila; having shorn his head in Cenchrea: for he had a vow.”

1 Samuel 1:11 Comments - Leonard Ravenhill says that Hannah offered herself as a means to answer the prayer. She offered nine months of gestation and enduring, then two years of days and nights ministering to raise the child. It involved much suffering, and it affected her whole manner of life. Like revival praying, we offer ourselves at a cost of changing our lives and suffering. Prayer not only changes things, prayer changes people. As Hannah was provoked to desire a child, we also must be provoked by God doing so much in other churches and desire that in our live. This is like Rachel’s cry, “Give me children lest I die.” (Genesis 30:1)

Genesis 30:1, “And when Rachel saw that she bare Jacob no children, Rachel envied her sister; and said unto Jacob, Give me children, or else I die.” [20]

[20] Leonard Ravenhill, Revival Praying (Minneapolis, Minn: Bethany House Publishers, c1962, 2005), chapter 4.

1 Samuel 1:11 Comments - The story of Hannah’s prayer illustrates the divine principle of prayer and giving. Hannah had prayed for a son for years, but it was not until she gave a gift in the form of a vow that God answered her prayer. The vow mixes prayer with giving. We see how God also responded to Cornelius because he also was a man of prayer mixed with giving (Acts 10:1-2). In addition, Hannah wept before the Lord. Prayer with tears moves the heart of God. One of the quickest ways to receive from God is to mix tears with your prayers.

Acts 10:1-2, “There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band, A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway.”

1 Samuel 1:13 Comments - Eli thought Hannah to be drunken because this was a festive season.

1 Samuel 1:17 Then Eli answered and said, Go in peace: and the God of Israel grant thee thy petition that thou hast asked of him.

1 Samuel 1:17 Comments - We see in 1 Samuel 1:17 that Eli came into agreement with the prayer of Hannah. We know that when two agree on earth, a matter is established (2 Corinthians 13:1). This is called the prayer of agreement (Matthew 18:19).

2 Corinthians 13:1, “This is the third time I am coming to you. In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.”

Matthew 18:19, “Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.”

1 Samuel 1:18 And she said, Let thine handmaid find grace in thy sight. So the woman went her way, and did eat, and her countenance was no more sad.

1 Samuel 1:18 “and her countenance was no more sad” - Comments - Hannah had faith that God had heard her prayer, especially after Eli’s blessing.

1 Samuel 1:20 Wherefore it came to pass, when the time was come about after Hannah had conceived, that she bare a son, and called his name Samuel, saying, Because I have asked him of the LORD.

1 Samuel 1:20 Word Study for “Samuel” Gesenius says the name “Samuel” (H8050) means either “heard of God,” or “name of God.” Strong says it means, “heard of God.” The context of 1 Samuel 1:20 seems to better support the meaning, “heard of God.”

1 Samuel 1:23 And Elkanah her husband said unto her, Do what seemeth thee good; tarry until thou have weaned him; only the LORD establish his word. So the woman abode, and gave her son suck until she weaned him.

1 Samuel 1:23 Comments - Elkanah honored his wife's vow. According to Numbers 30:1-16, he could have annulled his wife's vow, but, in divine respect, he honoured her vow.

Bibliographical Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 1". Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghe/1-samuel-1.html. 2013.
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