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Bible Commentaries

Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible

1 Samuel 1

Verse 1

1 Samuel 1:1. A certain man of Ramathaim-zophim This might be translated, the Ramahs of the guards; possibly because the village was divided into two parts, situated each upon a hill, where there might be a watch-tower, and centinels placed. Various other reasons are given for the name; for which see Buddaeus, Hist. 5: tom. 2. By comparing the words in this verse with those in 1 Chronicles 23:32; 1Ch 23:32 and the following, it appears, that Elkanah was of the tribe of Levi and of the family of Kohath, and consequently was not a priest, as some have supposed, much less the high-priest. See Selden de Success. in Pontif. lib. 1: cap. 18.

Verse 5

1 Samuel 1:5. But the Lord, &c.— For he loved Hannah, though the Lord, &c. Waterland.

Verse 6

1 Samuel 1:6. Her adversary also provoked her Houbigant renders this very well, her rival also provoked her even to wrath on this very account, because the Lord had shut up her womb. The word rendered adversary, or rival, signifies a person that distresses or afflicts. See Parkhurst on צר.

REFLECTIONS.—This chapter opens,

1. With an account of Samuel's parentage and birthplace. His father was of the family of Korah—a good branch from a bad stock.
2. He was the son of pious parents. His father Elkanah, signifying God hath possessed, a Levite, went up annually with his family to sacrifice at Shiloh unto the Lord of Sabaoth, or hosts, (which title of God here first occurs,) a rare instance of adherence to God when Israel in general had apostatized from him. Note; (1.) It is among the greater blessings, to be the child of pious parents. (2.) The more others turn away from God, the closer should we cleave to him.

3. Notice is taken of Elkanah's two wives; one ought to have sufficed him. Probably, as he had no children by the first, he was tempted to take a second; but though he obtained his wish on one hand, his comfort was greatly embittered on the other, by the contests and vexations occasioned between Hannah and Peninnah. Hannah signifies beautiful, and she had engaged Elkanah's best affections; Peninnah, a diamond; she enriched his family with children, but was rough and sharp in her temper. She could not bear Elkanah's partiality to her rival, and therefore took every occasion to provoke and exasperate her. Note; (1.) When we step out of the way of God's providence to gather worldly comforts, we shall find the sweet we expected embittered with gall. (2.) Jealous love cannot bear a rival; let it admonish us to keep our hearts single for God.

4. The quarrel breaks out between the two wives, even before the Lord in Shiloh, for what place is there so sacred as to exclude the intrusion of human corruption! Peninnah, envious of Hannah's interest in her husband, upbraids her with her barrenness, seeking maliciously to destroy her comfort, if she cannot engage his regard. And this she did at each returning feast, when the appearance of Elkanah's partial love to Hannah roused her jealousy and resentment. Hannah, unable to bear the aggravating taunts, and afflicted beyond measure under her barrenness, too easily gratified her rival's malice, by the sensibility she expressed at her reproaches. Melancholy and discontented, she would not eat, and did nothing but weep, instead of rejoicing before the Lord, and counting herself happy in the blessing of her husband's affection. Note; (1.) A malicious spirit, like the devil, takes delight in the miseries that others suffer by its means. (2.) Those who are of a fretful temper lay themselves open to continual uneasiness. (3.) Most of our miseries we make ourselves by our unthankfulness: did we weigh our mercies, we should be ashamed to complain.

5. Elkanah by every kind endearment seeks to soothe the sorrows of her heart. His love to her was not at all affected by her barrenness. He carves the nicest part of the festal board to testify his fond regard, and with soft tenderness gently chides the uneasiness that he with grief beheld. Why weepest thou? Why eatest thou not these offerings of peace with a grateful heart to the God of thy mercies? Is not my love better to thee than ten sons? Note; (1.) Love hides all blemishes, and sees no faults. (2.) As barrenness is from God, it ill becomes us to quarrel with him; and it were cruel in a husband to add affliction to the afflicted. (3.) We cannot see those whom we love weeping, without feeling for them the tenderest distress, and eagerly longing to relieve them. (4.) Many of our sorrows are of our own making. It were well if we asked ourselves often, Why weepest thou? (5.) That sorrow is to be condemned as sinful, which unfits us for, or diverts us from, the worship of God. (6.) Religion and reason will afford us a cure for all our distresses: if we possess the one, and exercise the other aright, we shall soon dry up our tears.

Verse 9

1 Samuel 1:9. Now Eli the priest sat upon a seat, &c.— Eli, who was of the family of Ithamar, was both high-priest and judge at this time. He was born in the end of Gideon's judicature, and died in the middle of the Philistines' tyranny over the Israelites, according to Sir John Marsham, who observes, that his judicature consisted only in hearing and judging causes by his pontifical authority. He did not signalize himself by any victories: he was such a judge as Samuel's sons were, chap. 1Sa 8:1 and Samuel himself, after Saul began to reign. See chap. 1 Samuel 7:15; 1 Samuel 7:17. Of the temple of the Lord, in this verse, would be better rendered, Of the tabernacle of the Lord. It appears from the first words of this verse, that Hannah rose up to go to the tabernacle at the time of the evening-sacrifice, for it was after they had dined.

Verse 17

1 Samuel 1:17. Eli answered and said, Go in peace Satisfied by her modest and respectful answer, Eli dismisses her with a blessing; which appears to have given Hannah so much gratification, that she departed in perfect complacence, nothing doubting of the completion of her petition, which the high-priest had condescended himself to enforce. The Chaldee renders it, go in peace; and the God of Israel will grant thee, &c.

REFLECTIONS.—1. Hannah took the first opportunity of retiring, to pour out her complaints into the bosom of a compassionate God. She felt a bitterness which only he could remove, and mingled her tears with her prayers in the fervour of her devotion. Note; (1.) No relief like prayer for an afflicted soul. (2.) The tears we shed upon our knees are those flittings that God puts in his bottle, and which this Father of Mercies will wipe away by an answer of peace to the burdened soul.

2. Eli observing her move her lips, but not hearing her voice, (for her prayer was mental, and the Lord, who saw her heart, read her importunate desires,) hastily concludes her drunken, and gives her a sharp rebuke for her supposed impiety. Note; (1.) Hasty suspicions and rash censures are very sinful. (2.) The prayer of the heart is that which God chiefly regards, and without words he can read our desires.

3. Hannah's answer is as respectful and humble, as Eli's charge was hasty and censorious. Far from being provoked at an accusation so contrary to the truth, she with reverence addresses him, My Lord, and meekly explains the true cause of her behaviour. She begs him not to have so ill an opinion of her, as to think her such a daughter of Belial. It was not wine, but the bitterness of her affliction, that made her appear discomposed and disordered. Her cry was internal to the God of mercy, and her lips moved not in folly, but in prayer. Note; (1.) Every drunkard is a child of Belial; but a drunken woman is doubly infamous. (2.) When unjustly censured, let us never return railing for railing. (3.) We do well to explain the motives of our conduct; and to remove those prejudices of our brethren which may be entertained against us, however unjustly.

4. Eli readily receives her plea, rejoices in her vindication, is sorry for his own rashness, and makes her amends by the benediction he bestows, and his earnestly seconding her prayers by his supplication to God in her behalf for an answer of peace. Note; (1.) We should be pleased to find ourselves mistaken in our misapprehension of our brethren, and endeavour to repair the error immediately. (2.) A good man's benediction and prayers are valuable blessings.

5. Hannah, having now cast her care upon God, puts off her sorrow, and regains a peaceful mind, departing in faith that the Lord had heard, and would answer the voice of her humble petitions. Note; The prayer of faith can cheer the sinking heart, and smooth the discomposed countenance of the afflicted.

Verse 20

1 Samuel 1:20. Called his name Samuel, &c.— We have often had occasion to observe, that the reason of names imposed is given in the context; which being the case here, it is surprising that interpreters should have wearied themselves in search of other etymologies. According to Marsham, Samuel was born in the interval of the forty years that the people of Israel served the Philistines. Vignoles thinks that Eli had abdicated the high-priesthood, that he was only judge when Samuel was born, and that he was born in the third year of Eli's administration. See his Chronol. tom. 1: p. 76.

Verse 21

1 Samuel 1:21. And his vow It is most likely that Elkanah had united with Hannah in the vow she made, 1Sa 1:11 and moreover had promised, in case of its completion, to offer some extraordinary sacrifice.

Verse 22

1 Samuel 1:22. I will not go up until, &c.— There is nothing in the Hebrew for, I will not go up. It has been observed, that Elkanah and Hannah treat one another with the greatest propriety and tenderness, and present us with a fine example of a sensible and affectionate couple.

Verse 23

1 Samuel 1:23. Only the Lord establish his word Houbigant renders this, only the Lord establish that which thou hast said. We prefer, says he, to the common reading דברו debaro, his word, דברךֶ debarek, thy word, which the LXX, Syriac, and Arabic follow; for it does not appear that God had promised Hannah any thing concerning the condition and future life of her son. Therefore the words, may the Lord establish what thou hast spoken, signify "may the Lord grant that what thou hast vowed may be fulfilled, and that the child may live which is born to us."

Verse 24

1 Samuel 1:24. With three bullocks As one bullock only is mentioned in the next verse, the LXX, Syriac, and Arabic, read one bullock of three years old, which Houbigant approves and follows; observing, that in the 25th verse the demonstrative ה he, being prefixed, particularizes this very bullock, i.e. of three years old. And the child was young, Houbigant renders, was yet a crying infant; puerum vagientem.

Verse 28

1 Samuel 1:28. Therefore also I have lent him to the Lord, &c.— Therefore also I have given him, according to my petition, unto the Lord, for as long as I promised in my petition to give him unto the Lord, &c. Waterland. This version of Dr. Waterland's seems perfectly conformable to the original; from a survey of which it appears evident, that Hannah herein refers to the petition which she made for a son, to whom also she gave a name agreeable to this petition. The Vulgate, Syriac, and Arabic, instead of, and he worshipped, read, and they worshipped.

REFLECTIONS.—The day of the solemn feast being accomplished, we have,

1. The return of Elkanah and his family, after having risen up early to worship God, before they proceeded on their journey. Note; (1.) Early devotions promise a happy day. (2.) However urgent our journey, we shall lose nothing by taking God's blessing along with us before we set off.

2. Hannah becomes a joyful mother. God answers her according to her prayers, and she acknowledges the mercy in the name she gives her son, Samuel, as asked of the Lord. Note; God's mercies deserve to be kept in everlasting remembrance.

3. The care she took in nursing the infant. She was not unnatural, like some mothers, who deny their breasts to the fruit of their womb, but suckled him herself. Note; (1.) When we have a lawful hindrance from the house of God, such as suckling an infant, we may look up with comfort to him over the cradle, and expect God's blessing and presence there. (2.) The best improvement of our mercies received from God is to devote them to God.

4. When the child is weaned, as it is generally thought at three years old, Hannah performs her vows, goes up with her son, and takes along with her sacrifices and offerings, as grateful acknowledgments of the mercy that God had bestowed. Presenting him to Eli, she reminds him of what had passed, and surrenders up the precious gift to the perpetual service of the God that gave him; then offers her sacrifice, and rejoices before the Lord. Note; (1.) Though we may have just reason to delay, yet must we in their season pay our vows. (2.) They who are surrendered up to God, must henceforth regard themselves no longer as their own, but his for ever.

5. Samuel was early taught: no sooner had he learned to lisp, than prayer was the language. Though a child, he worshipped before the Lord. Note; (1.) Children should early be taught the way to a throne of grace. (2.) The minds of little ones are very early susceptible of religious impressions.

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Bibliographical Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 1". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/tcc/1-samuel-1.html. 1801-1803.