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This Chapter opens with an account of Samuel's family; of his father Elkanah, and his mother Hannah, particularly. The distress of his mother, by reason of her being childless; the temptation of her adversary on this score: her earnest prayer to God; Eli the Priest taking notice of her fervor in prayers and mistaking for drunkenness, what he saw of her wrestling in prayer with God, reproves her; Hannah satisfies Eli, and obtains his good wishes, that the Lord might hear and answer her petition: Hannah is blessed of God, with a son, and Samuel is born; offerings are made in consequence thereof, to the Lord, in Shiloh. These are the principal things contained in this Chapter.
1 Samuel 1:1
(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:
Perhaps the pedigree of Samuel is here noticed, by way of manifesting the particular tribe of Israel, to which he belonged.
(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.
The having more wives than one, never did, nor ever can produce happiness. That it was from the lustful affections of our fallen nature, and not of divine authority, is evident from what our Lord said upon it: that from the beginning it was not so. Matthew 19:8 . And moreover, as marriage is a beautiful type of the mystical union between Christ and his Church, this sweet order is broken in upon by such means. See Ephesians 5:25 .
(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.
This is the first time, as far as I recollect, that we meet with this title of the Lord of Hosts, in the word of God, Jehovah Sabbaoth. It is a very precious one to God's people, and the believer finds great comfort in it, when he calls to mind at any time, amidst the hosts of foes be hath to encounter, that his God in covenant, is the God of all the armies of heaven, and of all the inhabitants of the earth, and that he governeth them according to his will. Daniel 4:35 . The tabernacle of the Lord was set up in Shiloh, and this explains the cause wherefore the pious Israelites went up yearly to Shiloh. Joshua 18:1 .
(4) And when the time was that Elkanah offered, he gave to Peninnah his wife, and to all her sons and her daughters, portions: (5) But unto Hannah he gave a worthy portion; for he loved Hannah: but the LORD had shut up her womb.
It is not very easy to form a clear opinion what those portions were, which Elkanah gave to his family upon those occasions. Probably it was a custom in the families of Israel, when in their yearly visits to the tabernacle, to testify their fellowship and communion with one another in this way by gifts, when assembling to enjoy communion with God.
But be those portions what they might, Hannah's was peculiarly marked, as being worthy, more distinguished, or better than the rest. Probably to testify that notwithstanding her barrenness, she was not the less lovely in her husband's eyes. Sweet thought, suggested to the Reader in this scripture! Jesus loves his church under all her weaknesses and barrenness. His love is the result of his own free grace, not her merit. And oh! what a worthy portion doth he give to his poor, empty, unprofitable, and barren followers! Dearest Jesus! he thou my portion, for thou alone art worthy. In thee, my soul will possess all things!
(6) And her adversary also provoked her sore, for to make her fret, because the LORD had shut up her womb.
Observe how Satan takes occasion to harrass God's afflicted ones. How he doth misconstrue the Lord's dealings, and tempt poor exercised souls to fret, even though the affliction is of the Lord. That the Lord had shut up the womb of Hannah, should have been enough to have reconciled her to the dispensation. But Reader, where shall you and I look for an example of one, who when the Lord appoints a trial, can readily and cheerfully adopt this language, I know O Lord, that thy judgments are right, and that thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me. Psalms 119:75 .
(7) And as he did so year by year, when she went up to the house of the LORD, so she provoked her; therefore she wept, and did not eat.
It should seem that the exercises of poor Hannah's mind, were most severe when she went up to this annual feast. Yes. Whenever the Holy Ghost more graciously calls forth the soul into devotion, then the enemy most powerfully besets the soul with his temptation, either by himself, or his agents. And as the enemy attacks most in those holy seasons, so do our own corruptions bestir themselves most at this time, from within. Paul groaned under this, when he said, I find then a law that when I would do good evil is present with me. Romans 7:8 .
(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?
I should be led to conceive, that the abstinence here spoken of concerning Hannah, did not refer to her daily, ordinary food; but the feast of the sacrifice. It was the custom in Israel, not to partake of the Lord's feast, in certain seasons of mourning. See the case of Aaron: Leviticus 10:16 . compared with Deuteronomy 26:14 . And is not the Christian's feast at the altar of commemoration of Jesus, to the same amount? As it is a feast upon a sacrifice in which the believer receives it, in token that he is accepted in the beloved, and hath found peace with God, in the blood of the cross; like the early church, every true partaker is supposed to celebrate the holy supper, as is recorded, from house to house, eating their meat with gladness, and singleness of heart. See Acts 2:46-47 . If we spiritualize the speech of Elkanah to Hannah, in this verse, and view the words as the language of Jesus to his church, how precious are they. Surely He is dearer than a thou sand: for he hath given us in himself, a name better than of sons and daughters. Isaiah 56:5 .
(9) ¶ So Hannah rose up after they had eaten in Shiloh, and after they had drunk. Now Eli the priest sat upon a seat by a post of the temple of the LORD.
It is more than probable, that Hannah moved by her husband's remonstrance, or what is yet more likely still, awakened by grace in the heart, from an higher authority than her husband, had been won over to partake of the feast of sacrifice. And as this sacrifice had wholly an eye to Jesus, perhaps his blessed Spirit awakened her to devotion. You may always mark it down as a most unquestionable truth, that whenever the Lord is about to visit, and bless any of his people, he pours out, sooner or later, a spirit of grace, to incline them to prayer.
(10) And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the LORD, and wept sore.
The Holy Ghost hath been very particular, to mark the earnestness of Hannah's soul, in prayer. Reader! you will not overlook I hope, who it was that, being in an agony, prayed more earnestly. Oh! thou precious Lamb of God! how lovely art thou, in every renewed view! Luke 22:44 .
(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.
God is pleased, sometimes, that we should be particular in our askings. See Isaiah 45:11 ; John 16:24 . The dedication of this man-child, which Hannah prayed for to God, as a Nazarite, perhaps was taken from Hannah's knowledge of the story of Samson. There was some similarity in the cases. Samson was a child of promise, and Samuel a child of prayer. See Judges 13:0 .
(12) And it came to pass, as she continued praying before the LORD, that Eli marked her mouth. (13) Now Hannah, she spake in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard: therefore Eli thought she had been drunken.
The great earnestness Hannah used in prayer, called forth the attention of Eli. No doubt it must have been very earnest. Her whole soul was convulsed and engaged in it. And her wrestling was like that of Jacob; I will not let thee go except thou bless me. See Genesis 32:26 , compared with Hosea 12:3-4 .
(14) And Eli said unto her, How long wilt thou be drunken? put away thy wine from thee.
It, is worthy the Reader's remark, that when the Holy Ghost was poured out with such a fulness of power, on the minds of the apostles, at the day of Pentecost; the lookers on, had the same thought as Eli, here had, that the apostles were full of new wine. Oh! for such an effusion of the blessed Spirit upon my soul, that my whole frame might feel this precious warmth, as one beyond himself. Acts 2:13 .
(15) And Hannah answered and said, No, my lord, I am a woman of a sorrowful spirit: I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but have poured out my soul before the LORD. (16) Count not thine handmaid for a daughter of Belial: for out of the abundance of my complaint and grief have I spoken hitherto.
How evidently was the mind of Hannah under the gracious influence of the Spirit; and how meek an answer did grace enable her to make, to the unjust charge. Reader! depend upon it, nothing can induce this, but the sweet teachings of God the Holy Ghost. If you or I at any time, are enabled to subdue our angry passions, or curb our unruly lusts, it is by the Spirit alone, that we mortify the deeds of the body. Romans 8:13 .
(17) Then Eli answered and said, Go in peace: and the God of Israel grant thee thy petition that thou hast asked of him.
Observe, how her meek answer wrought upon the mind of Eli. A soft answer turneth away wrath. But in all this, as in every other instance, how doth the matchless example of Him, who when he was reviled, reviled not again, meet our observation in every direction. 1 Peter 2:23 .
(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.
Reader! I do beg you to remark the blessed effects of prayer, on the mind of Hannah. After she had poured out her heart in prayer to God, she went her way, and her countenance was no more sad. Such should be the uniform conduct of God's people. When I have committed my cause to Him, faith should act with firmness, in the assurance that believing I shall receive. Luke 11:9-10 .
(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.
Doth not this pious family set an example to every traveller? You see they would not set out upon their journey until they had first asked a blessing on their journey. See Jacob's conduct on this occasion: Genesis 28:20-21 . The Lord's remembrance of Hannah, is a short, but expressive account of his mercy. The prophet Malachi uses a beautiful figure, when he calls it a book of remembrance. Malachi 3:16 .
(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.
I would have the Reader to notice in this verse, the expression, when the time was come about. There is a time to favor Zion. We are in haste for all we ask. But the Lord's time is the best time. The Lord waits this time to be gracious. If the Reader would mark this in his memorandums, it would be of great use to him, in waiting the Lord's answers to prayer. Isaiah 30:18 . Samuel signifies asked. So that Hannah called the child by this name, to remind both him, and her, that being thus given in answer to prayer, every motive of gratitude demanded his being dedicated to the service of the great Giver. Reader! if you and I were thus to name our blessings, which the Lord bestows upon us in answer to prayer, should we not have many that we might also properly call our Samuels?
(21) And the man Elkanah, and all his house, went up to offer unto the LORD the yearly sacrifice, and his vow. (22) But Hannah went not up; for she said unto her husband, I will not go up until the child be weaned, and then I will bring him, that he may appear before the LORD, and there abide forever. (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.
I only detain the Reader with one observation on these verses, which is just to remark, that while ungodly mothers may find reproof from Hannah's conduct, in that her absence from the house of God, in her nursery, was only for a season, in order that she might better rear this child for God's service forever; whereas carnal parents stay away under pretence of family concerns, and neither go themselves nor send their little ones to his worship. Pious mothers may here learn how, when their detention at home is with an eye to the future glory of God, Hannah's example becomes their pattern. Paul's advice is worth regarding, in this instance particularly. 1 Timothy 5:14 .
(24) And when she had weaned him, she took him up with her, with three bullocks, and one ephah of flour, and a bottle of wine, and brought him unto the house of the LORD in Shiloh: and the child was young.
It is not certain at what age Samuel was first presented. The weaning here spoken of, doth not perhaps mean from the breast only: but as he was to be the Lord's servant, Hannah weaned him as much as possible from her over affections. Creature comforts should all be so weaned, by those who would find suitable room, for the great Creator's love.
(25) And they slew a bullock, and brought the child to Eli.
The offerings were costly. Here was the sin-offering, and the burnt offering, and the peace offering, all presented. It was the custom in the Church of God, to make dedications with sacrifice. See Psalms 1:5 .
(26) And she said, Oh my lord, as thy soul liveth, my lord, I am the woman that stood by thee here, praying unto the LORD. (27) For this child I prayed; and the LORD hath given me my petition which I asked of him: (28) Therefore also I have lent him to the LORD; as long as he liveth he shall be lent to the LORD. And he worshipped the LORD there.
With what humbleness did Hannah remind Eli of the past, in order that she might praise the Lord yet more for the present. Lending her child to the Lord is a more suited term, than giving. For what have we to give, that are but tenants of a day? Reader! it is sweet to observe, that though all the gifts of our God to us, are but as things lent, and which the bountiful giver may recall again whenever he pleaseth; yet there is one precious, blessed Gift he cannot, he will not recall, and that is, his Christ. Every other gift we may lose. But God our Father gives us Jesus to have, and to hold forever. Oh! precious, precious Gift! Precious, precious Giver! Some have thought that what is said here, in the close of the chapter, that he worshipped the Lord there; means, that the child Samuel is the person spoken of. No doubt a child so wonderfully distinguished, as his afterlife shows, might from his very earliest years, and under such godly parents, be taught to pray. O that parents would teach their little ones, with the first dawn, of apprehension, to lisp out the praises of Jesus! Is it not out of the mouth of babes, and sucklings the Lord ordaineth strength? Psalms 8:2 .
How sweetly the Holy Ghost teacheth the Church in the history of all characters, the universal taint which marks our poor fallen nature! Elkanah, though a pious man, cannot be content without breaking the order of God, in a double marriage. And Hannah, though a partaker of grace, must have a child, or she is a woman of a sorrowful spirit. Oh! how fully doth God the Spirit teach us, by such views, the necessity of redemption by Jesus. Dearest Redeemer! we humbly feel our need of thee, and earnestly pray to be interested in thee. Lord! without thee, and thy righteousness, what are the best of men, but sin and corruption!
See Reader in this verse of Hannah's petition, the blessed effects of prayer! What cannot prayer accomplish! Prayer can shut up, and open again the windows of heaven. For Elias we are told, was a man of like passions with ourselves; and yet at his cry, so the Lord answered. Hannah was one also partaking of human infirmity. And yet the Lord proved himself a prayer-hearing, and a prayer-answering God. Oh! for faith, to plead with God in Jesus's name, nothing doubting, and our Lord Jesus hath said, that all things we ask believing we shall receive.
I detain the Reader with one observation more, in the dedication of Samuel to the Lord, to remark the sweetness, and graciousness of pious parents making a solemn surrender of their little ones to the Lord. To whom shall we commit them, but to Him from whom we have received them? May not every pious parent say; 'All cometh, Lord, from thine hand, all is thine own, and of thine own do I give thee'. But how is this subject heightened to the soul of the believer, in the recollection that such was the unequalled love of the Father to a lost world, that he gave his only begotten Son, to the end, that all that believe in him should not perish, but have everlasting life: Oh! forever blessed be God for Jesus Christ!
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 1". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany