. . . they shall mount up with wings as eagles . . . Isaiah 40:31

The Birth of Samuel

1 Samuel 1:27 For this child I prayed; and the LORD hath given me my petition which I asked of him:

1 Samuel 1:28 Therefore also I have lent him to the LORD; as long as he liveth he shall be lent to the LORD. And he worshiped the LORD there.

God's Book, the Bible

One outstanding characteristic of human beings is that we love stories. Just look at the motion picture industry. It’s built into the human DNA to love a story.

I remember, before I got born again, I had a thought that it would be a crying shame for a person to live their entire life and never read the story of the Bible, the very book that God Himself wrote for us to read. How would you explain that to the Lord?

And so, I started at Genesis chapter one and began to read. In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth.

And after I plowed through the first 6 chapters or so, I began to think, this is a great story. And so, I read about the tower of Babel, and the great flood of Noah’s day.

And I worked my way through Leviticus and Deuteronomy, which was somewhat boring, but I was determined. Then I got to Joshua and Judges and Ruth, and into the stories of Israel possessing the land of Canaan.

And I came to the stories of the kings of Israel, which had some exciting moments.

Reading the Word of God

The point I’m making here is that it’s important for us to actually read and understand the story of the Bible for ourselves. We learn so much from it.

So, I believe it will help us to look at the story of First Samuel. So, let’s take a look at one of the most fascinating stories in the Bible. I think we’ll find it enjoyable and also learn some good things from it.

Samuel’s Parents

1 Samuel 1:1 Now there was a certain man of Ramathaim Zophim, [otherwise known as Ramah] 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: [the tribe of Ephraim.]

1 Samuel 1:2 And he [Elkanah] 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.

Now, in Bible times, we understand, much of a woman’s perceived worth was based on her ability to have children, which is not such a big issue these days, but it was a reproach to be barren back in those days.

And two wives would naturally be at odds with each other, for the attention of their husband. But Peninnah had the upper hand, she had children and Hannah didn’t. So, Hannah is the underdog in this story, you might say.

The Tabernacle at Shiloh

1 Samuel 1:3 And this man [Elkanah] went up out of his city [once a year] 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.

The tabernacle of Moses, containing the ark of the Covenant, had been with Israel during their 40 years of wandering in the wilderness, and now it was located at Shiloh, and the people brought their sacrifices and offerings to Shiloh every year.

And it mentions here that the High Priest, Eli, and his two “wayward” sons, Hophni and Phineus, were there at Shiloh, whom we will discuss later.

Elkanah loved Hannah

1 Samuel 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: [of the offerings.]

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

Does this sound like another story? How about Jacob, who had married two wives, Leah and Rachel, and Leah had children, but Rachel didn’t. Yet it says that Jacob loved Rachel. This is a scriptural parallel. And we’ll see that this book is filled with scriptural parallels, which makes it especially fascinating.

In this case, Pininnah had children, but Elkanah loved Hannah, who was barren. What a mess! But notice, the verse points out that the Lord Himself had shut up Hannah’s womb. Interesting! Why would He do that?

The Provoking of Pininnah

1 Samuel 1:6 And her adversary, [Pininnah] also provoked [or picked on] her sorely, for to make her fret, [or to be angry and upset] because the LORD had shut up her womb.

Notice, it says again that the LORD had shut up her womb. That begs the question, what was the Lord doing? Was this part of His plan, or just an unfortunate condition that Hannah was in? Evidently it was part of His plan.

And Pininnah loved to give Hannah a hard time about it, to make her frustrated and angry that the Lord had shut up her womb. She would, in effect, say, the Lord has blessed me, but not you. How do you feel about that? And it caused Hannah to be upset.

It’s easy to get bitter at the Lord when things just don’t seem to be going right? But had the Lord really forsaken Hannah? Maybe not. He was preparing her to give Him something He needed for that moment in history, a prophet He could use to restore integrity to Israel during a time of great backsliding and corruption.

Hannah reaches her breaking point

1 Samuel 1:7 And as he [Elkanah] did so year by year, when she went up to the house of the LORD, so she [picked on] her; therefore [Hannah] wept, and did not eat.

Constant harassment can tear a person down. Hannah would cry and become despondent, to the point that she couldn’t even eat.

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?

Elkanah knew what the issue was. And he said, don’t I treat you better than if you had given me ten sons?

And don't I love you, Hannah, more than ten children could love you? Yes, he’s a sweet guy. Maybe not very smart in having two wives, but still a sweet guy. The Bible says Solomon had 700 wives. Did his life have any drama in it? Most certainly.

Hannah prays to the LORD

1 Samuel 1:9 So Hannah rose up after they had eaten in Shiloh, and after they had drunk. Now Eli the [High] priest sat upon a seat by a post of the temple of the LORD.

1 Samuel 1:10 And [Hannah] was in bitterness of soul, [this thing was eating her alive] and [she] prayed unto the LORD, and wept sore. [She was desperate.]

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.

Please, Lord, give me a son, and I’ll give Him back to You for Your service all the days of his life. He’ll be a Nazarite unto God, consecrated to You, his whole life.

Do we ever strike up a deal with the Lord? Lord, if you’ll get me out of this mess, I promise I’ll do thus and so. The Bible says to be sure to keep your vows to the Lord.

And, you know, the Lord took her up on her proposition. She had offered Him something He wanted. Notice. Being harassed by Pininnah did not kill Hannah. It just made her desperate enough to pray the right prayer.

Eli agrees with Hannah’s prayer

1 Samuel 1:12 And it came to pass, as she continued praying before the LORD, that Eli marked her mouth. [He just happened to notice.]

1 Samuel 1:13 Now Hannah, she spake in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard: therefore Eli thought [oh, yeah, she’s drunk.]

1 Samuel 1:14 And Eli said unto her, How long wilt thou be drunken? put away thy wine from thee.

1 Samuel 1:15 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.

1 Samuel 1:16 Count not thine handmaid for a daughter of Belial: [or a worthless person] for out of the abundance of my complaint and grief have I spoken hitherto.

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.

He blessed her. Doesn’t that sound like Jesus? Go thy way, daughter, thy faith has made thee whole.

Eli agreed with her. Jesus said, if two of you shall agree on earth, as touching anything you shall ask of God, it shall be done for them. Eli had inadvertently come into agreement with her that God would give her a child, and he didn’t even know what she was praying about.

We will find out in this story that Eli had become corrupt in God’s sight, but he was still standing in the office of High Priest, a position of authority that allowed him to intercede for the people. And, you know, God honored Eli’s intercession for Hannah.

God will bless through corrupt people

That’s sort of strange, but if you stay around church life long enough, you’ll find out that the Lord will even use corrupt vessels, like Eli, to bless His people, if necessary . . . FOR A SEASON.

We’ve seen some crazy things over the years. It’s hard to believe, but we came across a pastor years ago, who turned out to be a scoundrel, a wolf in sheep’s clothing. To put it mildly, he was cavorting with the women in his church.

And yet, strangely enough, his ministry was anointed of God and blessed FOR A WHILE. When he ministered, people were blessed. Why? Because God wants to bless and encourage His people. And He’ll use whoever He can to do it, But He won’t put up with sin forever.

God is merciful, but He’s also holy. He is longsuffering. He will give people a chance to repent, but if they don’t, then judgment will inevitably come, as we’ll soon see happen in this story.

1 Samuel 1:18 And she [Hannah] 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.

Hannah left that time of prayer in faith. She ate something, she wasn’t sad anymore. She had a belief in her heart that something had taken place. In her heart of hearts, she had a child.

Hannah bears a child

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. [She conceived.]

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, [which means “his name is El, or God”] saying, Because I have asked him of the LORD.

1 Samuel 1:21 And the man Elkanah, and all his house, went up to offer unto the LORD the yearly sacrifice, and his vow.

1 Samuel 1:22 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 for ever. [I’m going through with this thing.]

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.

Was it going to be easy for Hannah and Elkanah to give up their son? Of course not. But she had vowed a vow. And her husband was a godly man who was careful to honor any vows made to the Lord. And so, the day did eventually come.

Samuel moves to Shiloh

1 Samuel 1:24 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 [the tabernacle]: and the child was young. [barely more than a toddler.]

1 Samuel 1:25 And they slew a bullock, and brought the child to Eli. [the High Priest.]

1 Samuel 1:26 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. [Do you remember me?]
1 Samuel 1:27 For this child I prayed; and the LORD hath given me my petition which I asked of him: [God has answered my prayer.]

1 Samuel 1:28 Therefore also I have lent him [or granted him] to the LORD; as long as he liveth he shall be lent [or given] to the LORD. And he [Samuel] worshiped the LORD there.

This must have been a sad moment, for the parents and for the child. Hannah had wanted a child so badly, and now she has one, whom she loves dearly, and he’s barely a toddler. And now she’s going to leave her child in this strange place with this 75-year-old priest of the Lord. What kind of a life is he going to have?

But evidently there was much grace for it, because it says that the child, Samuel, worshiped the Lord there.

Hannah’s prophetic prayer

To wrap up the story of the birth of Samuel, let’s look at the first part of chapter 2.

Hannah has just left Samuel to live with Eli, the High Priest, and she prays a prayer, or we might say, she prophesied a prayer, because it is more of a prophesy than a prayer.

Remember in the Christmas story when Mary went to visit her cousin, Elizabeth, and Elizabeth said the baby leaped in her womb when she heard Mary’s voice? And both Mary and Elizabeth were ecstatic, and they prophesied and rejoiced with each other.

Hannah’s prayer is amazingly similar to the prayer of Mary. It’s another one of those scriptural parallels.

1 Samuel 2:1 And Hannah prayed, and said, My heart rejoiceth in the LORD, mine horn is exalted in the LORD: my mouth is enlarged over mine enemies; because I rejoice in thy salvation.

Mary, in her prayer, said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.

1 Samuel 2:2 There is none holy as the LORD: for there is none beside thee: neither is there any rock like our God.

1 Samuel 2:3 Talk no more so exceeding proudly; let not arrogancy come out of your mouth: for the LORD is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed. [Hannah feels vindicated.]

1 Samuel 2:4 The bows of the mighty men are broken, and they that stumbled are girded with strength. [God had girded Hannah with strength.]

1 Samuel 2:5 They that were full have hired out themselves for bread; and they that were hungry ceased: so that the barren hath born seven; and she that hath many children is waxed feeble. [She’s bubbling over with joy.]

Likewise, Mary said in her prayer, He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree. Very similar prayers.

1 Samuel 2:6 [Back to Hannah] The LORD killeth, and maketh alive: he bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up.

1 Samuel 2:7 The LORD maketh poor, and maketh rich: he bringeth low, and lifteth up.

Mary prayed, He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away. These prayers are so similar. It’s uncanny.

1 Samuel 2:8 He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory: for the pillars of the earth are the LORD'S, and he hath set the world upon them. [She’s bubbling over.]

1 Samuel 2:9 He will keep the feet of his saints, and the wicked shall be silent in darkness; for by strength shall no man prevail.

God will give strength to HIs King

Now, look at what she says in verse 10.

1 Samuel 2:10 The adversaries of the LORD shall be broken to pieces; out of heaven shall he thunder upon them: [and this actually happened later in the story, the Lord thundered out of heaven] the LORD shall judge the ends of the earth; and he shall GIVE STRENGTH UNTO HIS KING, and EXALT THE HORN OF HIS ANOINTED.

He shall give strength unto His King. That’s an interesting statement, since at that time, Israel had never had a king, other than the Lord, and there had been no one anointed to be king.

But Hannah prophecies of a king that God would give strength to, and an anointed one whom the Lord would exalt. And this speaks prophetically of David, the king whom God would raise up within the next century or so, and ultimately of the King of Kings, and the Lord of Lords, the anointed One, the Lord Jesus Christ, whose kingdom would be forever.

Was doing something awesome during this time in Israel’s history? Yes.

1 Samuel 2:11 And Elkanah went to Ramah to his house. And the child did minister unto the LORD before Eli the priest.

Well, there’s a lot more to the story. This was a time of great transition in Israel. There was a corrupt priesthood to deal with, the Philistines were in a place of dominance over Israel, and Israel was in a severely back-slidden condition, following after other gods.

That sounds sort of like the condition Israel was in when John the Baptist showed up, baptizing people a few centuries later. Another scriptural parallel.

So, as we continue this story, we will see how the Lord begins to deal with all these issues, bringing Israel into a time of repentance, and a time of great victory over their enemies, and a time of great spiritual awakening.

It has great similarities to the time when Christ came to Israel a millennium later, bringing deliverance from sin, defeating the true enemy of the people, the devil, and restoring relationship with God, the Father.

It is nearly impossible to talk about the story in First Samuel without talking about the redemptive work of Christ and the deliverance from sin that He provided at Calvary, though it came at a much later time. It would be difficult to deny that the two are connected in some way.

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