I Samuel 1

 

 

    THE EARLY LIFE OF SAMUEL.

 

    THE GENEALOGY AND BIRTHPLACE OF SAMUEL (vs. 1-8)

 

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:”

There was a certain man of Ramathaim-Zophim. Though

Samuel belonged to the tribe of Levi, yet no special mention is made of the

fact, because he owed his importance and rank as a judge not to his

Levitical origin, but to the gift of prophecy, which was independent of the

accidents of birth and station. In the First Book of Chronicles, ch. 6., his

parentage is twice given, that in vs. 22-28 being apparently the family

genealogy, while that in vs. 33-38 was probably taken from the records

of the temple singers, sprung from Heman, Samuel’s grandson (v.33).

His name there appears as Shemuel, our translators not

having perceived that it is the same as that for which elsewhere they give

the familiar rendering, Samuel. The variations Elkanah, Jeroham, Elihu,

Tohu, Zuph (here); Elkanah, Jeroham, Eliab, Nahath, Zophai

(I Chronicles 6:26-27); Elkanah, Jeroham, Eliel, Toah, Zuph (ibid.

vs. 34-35), are interesting as showing that the genealogies in Chronicles.

were compiled from family documents, in which, as was usual in the case

of proper names, there was much diversity of spelling, or possibly of

interpreting the cumbrous signs used for letters in those early days. The

variations, however, in Elihu (God is He), Eliab (God is Father), and Eliel

(God is God) were probably intentional, as were certainly other changes in

names, such as that of Ishbaal into Ishbosheth. The name of Samuel’s

father, Elkanah (God is owner), is a common one among the Kohathites,

to which division of the sons of Levi Samuel belonged.  The prophet’s birthplace

was Ramathaim-Zophim, no doubt the Ramah which was Samuel s own head-

quarters (ch.7:17; 15:34; 16:13; 19:18-23; 25:1); the place where he dwelt,

wrought, died, and was buried, and the Arimathaea of the Gospels. The

Septuagint generally gives the name in full, but this is the only place where it

is so written in the Hebrew.  Ramah signifies a height, and the dual Ramathaim

the double height, the town being situated on a hill ending in two peaks. But

which it was of the many Ramahs, or hill towns, in the Holy Land, is hotly

contested; probably it was the Ramah in Benjamin, about two hours’ journey

northwest of Jerusalem. Its second name, Zophim, is taken from Zuph, Samuel’s

remote ancestor, with whom the genealogy here begins. Zuph had apparently

emigrated from Ephraim, one of the three tribes (Ephraim, Manasseh, Dan)

to which the Kohathites were attached, and was a person of sufficient

power and energy to give his name to the whole district; called the land of

Zuph in ch. 9:5. His descendants, the Zophim, had Ramah as

their center, and Elkanah, as their head, would be a man of wealth and

influence. Though actually belonging to the tribe of Benjamin, Ramah is

said to be upon Mount Ephraim, because this limestone range extended to

and kept its name almost up to Jerusalem (see Judges 4:5, and II Chronicles

13:4; 15:8, compared with 13:19). Elkanah too is called an Ephrathite, i.e. an

Ephraimite, no doubt because before Zuph emigrated the family had belonged

to Ephraim, it being apparently the practice to reckon Levites as pertaining to

the tribes to which they were attached (Judges 17:7). The Hebrews Ephrathite

is rightly rendered Ephraimite in ibid. ch.12:5, and should be so translated here,

and in I Kings 11:26. In Ruth 1:2; and ch. 17:12 it means Bethlehemite, that town

being also called Ephratah, the fruitful; Ephraim has the same meaning, but being

a dual, no adjective can be formed from it.

 

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.”

As a wealthy man, Elkanah had two wives, Hannah — the Anna of Virgil, who

very properly gives this name to the sister of the Phoenician Dido, the language

of Phoenicia being identical with Hebrew — and Peninnah. The word Hannah

signifies gracefulness, while Peulnnah is the red pearl, translated coral in

Job 28:18, but ruby in Proverbs 3:15, etc. Its ruddy color is vouched for in

Lamentations 4:7. The Hebrew names for women generally bear witness to the

affection and respect felt for them; while those for men are usually religious.

Though polygamy was a licence permitted to the Jews, it does not seem to have

been generally indulged in, except by the kings. Here, as elsewhere, it was

the ruin of family life. In Christianity it was marked for final extinction by

the rule that no polygamist should be admitted even to the diaconate, and

much less to higher office (I Timothy 3:2, 12).

 

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 man went up out of his city yearly. Once in the year

Elkanah went up to offer sacrifice before the ark. The original command

had required this thrice a year of all Israelites; but though a Levite and a

religious man, Elkanah went up but once; and such apparently was the rule

in our Lord’s time (Luke 2:41), the season preferred being naturally the

passover, while the other feasts gave opportunities for the performance of

this duty to those unable to leave their homes at so early a period of the

year. The ark was now at Shiloh, a town in Ephraim, about ten miles south

of Shechem; for Joshua had removed it from Gilgal (Joshua 18:1), not

merely because Shiloh occupied a more central position, but as marking the

primary rank of his own tribe (I Chronicles 5:1-2). Its destruction by

the Philistines after the capture of the ark (here ch. 5:1) was so complete, and

attended apparently by such barbarous cruelties (Psalm 78:60-64), that it never

recovered its importance, and Jeroboam passed it by when seeking for places where

to set up his calves.  To sacrifice unto the LORD of hosts. This title of the Deity,

“LORD (in capitals, i.e. Jehovah) of Hosts,” is a remarkable one. Fully it would be

“Jehovah God of Hosts,” and the omission of the word God shows that the

phrase was one of long standing shortened down by constant use. And yet,

though found 260 times in the Bible, this is the first place where it occurs.

 

  • “Lord of Hosts” (Lord not in capitals, and meaning master ruler) occurs

only once, in Isaiah 10:16.

  • “God of Hosts,” Elohim-Sabaoth, though rare, occurs four times in

Psalm 80:4, 7, 14, 19.

 

The word Sabaoth, hosts, does not mean armies, inasmuch as it refers to numbers,

and not to order and arrangement.. It is usually employed of the heavenly bodies

(Genesis 2:1; Deuteronomy 4:19; 17:3), which seem countless in multitude as they

are spread over the vast expanse of an Oriental sky (Genesis 15:5); and as their

worship was one of the oldest and most natural forms of idolatry (Deuteronomy 4:19;

Job 31:26-28), so this title is a protest against it, and claims for the one God dominion

over the world of stars as well as in this lower sphere. Its origin then is to be sought

at some time when there was a struggle between the worship of the sun

and stars and the pure monotheism of the Hebrews. Occasionally the angels

are called “the host of heaven” (I Kings 22:19; Psalm 103:21; 148:2), whenever

the allusion is to their number, but when the idea is that of orderly arrangement

they are called God’s armies (Genesis 32:2).  The two sons of Eli... were there.

The right translation of the Hebrew is, “And there (at Shiloh) the two sons of Eli...

were priests.” Eli apparently had devolved upon his sons his priestly functions,

while he discharged the duties only of a judge. His position is remarkable. In the

Book of Judges we find a state of anarchy. ("In those days there was no king in

Israel:  every man did that which was right in his own eyes." - Judges 21:25)

The people are rude, untutored, doing much as they pleased, committing often

atrocious crimes, yet withal full of generous impulses, brave, and even heroic.

There is little regular government among them, but whenever a great man stands

forth, the people in his district submit themselves to him. The last judge, Samson,

a man of pungent wit and vast personal prowess, seems to have been entirely

destitute of all those qualities which make a man fit to be a ruler, but he kept the

patriotism of the people alive and nerved them to resistance by the fame of

his exploits. In Eli we find a ruler possessed of statesmanlike qualities. The

country under him is prosperous; the Philistines, no longer dominant as in

Samson’s time, have so felt his power that when they gain a victory the

Israelites are astonished at it (ch. 4:3). Moreover, he is not only

judge, he is also high priest; but instead of belonging to the family of

Phinehas, the dominant house in the time of the Judges, he belongs to that

of Ithamar. When, to solve the problem, we turn to the genealogies in the

Chronicles, we find Eli’s house omitted, though, even after the massacres

at Shiloh and Nob, his grandson Ahimelech was still powerful (I Chronicles 24:3),

and one of his descendants returned from Babylon as jointly high priest with a

descendant of Phinehas (Ezra 8:2). How long a space of time elapsed between

the rude heroism of Samson’s days and Eli’s orderly government in Church and

State we do not know, but the difference in the condition of things is vast. Nor do

we know the steps by which Eli rose to power, but he must have been a man of no

common ability. Warrior as well as statesman, he had delivered the people from the

danger of becoming enslaved to the Philistines. In his own family alone he

failed. His sons, allowed to riot in licentiousness, ruined the stately edifice

of the father’s fortunes, and the Philistines, taking advantage of the general

discontent caused by their vices, succeeded in once again putting the yoke

on Israel’s neck.

 

 

Transitions (vs. 1-3)

 

The main facts implied or expressed in this section are:

 

1. A state of national degeneracy.

2. A scarcity of spiritual illumination.

3. A family morally imperfect and troubled, yet rigidly observant of

    religious duties.

4. A Divine will using that family for the further unfolding of Messianic

    purposes.

 

  • AN UNBROKEN CONTINUITY runs through the revelations of the

Old Testament, analogous to that of the physical order and the education

of the individual. It is only ignorance of the Bible that can suppose it to be

destitute of the unity in variety which is known to characterize the material

creation. Separate books, like diverse strata in the crust of the earth, are

preliminary to what is to follow; and the character of the events recorded,

and the condition of morality and religious light referred to, must be

considered as related to the one general purpose. Sometimes the transition

seems to be sudden and abrupt, and a totally new set of subjects appears;

but, as in the reference here to a “certain man,” whose life was chiefly

spent during the era covered by the latter part of the Book of Judges, so

generally connecting links may be found.

 

  • THE CONSERVATION AND DISCIPLINE OF THE CHOSEN RACE

are subservient to the development of the Divine purpose in Christ.

History is the basis of revelation. Man is not to be saved by abstract truth,

but by an historical Christ. The historical Christ is to appear in the fulness

of time”  (Galatians 4:4-5), not from the skies, but from a human line well

authenticated.  Human factors are the transitory element in the Divine unfolding

of salvation in Christ. That God should use men, during a long succession of

ages, as the channel through which His mercy should embrace all the world,

is as natural and reasonable as that He should perfect His will in the

beautiful order of the earth by a long series of changes in crude material

elements. God did not make imperfect men perfect in order to use them;

but showed His wisdom in training and holding together the chosen race

just as they were. Degenerate as they were during the period of the Judges,

they were not cut off forever, but chastened and quickened. Thus the

process was continued, until the purpose was ripe for the appearing of the

Christ, and His proper identification, by the combination of history and

prophecy.

 

  • THE FORM AND DEGREE OF REVELATION vouchsafed to an

age are largely dependent on the ideas and moral character previously

attained to. Man at first entered on life devoid of ancestral literature; and

so Adam’s descendants, in succeeding ages, inherited less of knowledge

and experience in proportion as they were nearer to the founder of the

race. It is not wise to import our modern ideas into the minds of those

who, in the days of Jacob, Moses, and the Judges, had not been fashioned

by our inheritance of knowledge. The devout men and women of Elkanah’s

time, having acquired knowledge of the existence of hosts of intelligent

beings, took a wider conception of God’s sovereignty (vs. 3, 11) than

was possible to men of an earlier age. God conveyed truth in so far as men

were able to bear it. It would be as unnatural for Isaiah’s lofty teachings to

follow at once on the scanty illumination of the era of the Judges, as for

philosophical conceptions to be set before children. Divine wisdom shines

through the graduated teaching of Israel’s history (Matthew 19:7-8).

 

  • THE EDUCATION OF A PEOPLE, with ulterior view to the world’s

instruction, by provisional, not final truth, necessitates eras of transition.

All through the ages God was educating a race for the benefit of the world;

and, as education means steady development, widening vision, the elements

of things would form the staple of early teaching. Times came when a new

feature had to be introduced, and early arrangements to give place to

something more suited to the wider truth to be taught. The occasional

vision and message, suited to patriarchal life, were followed by the

systematic symbolism and rigid rules appropriate to national consolidation

under Moses. The casual illumination of the Judgeship, also, yields to the

more steady teaching and guidance of the prophetic schools inaugurated by

Samuel. Later on, the early dawn of the prophetic ages gives place to the

“Dayspring” which reveals the Sun of righteousness. As in nature, so in

revelation, stage succeeds stage; transitions are according to law.

 

  • THE INSTRUMENTS FOR EFFECTING A TRANSITION are duly

chosen, and are silently, unconsciously prepared for their work. The world

little knew of the germinal Divine purpose working out in an obscure home

of Mount Ephraim; nor did the “certain man” know how the conflicting

elements in his home were being graciously over ruled to the development

of a piety not surpassed in Old Testament history, and the sending forth of

one who should be a blessed forerunner of One greater still. Elements of

future good lie in undreamed of places and persons. Out of the vast

storehouse of the universe the all-gracious God is constantly preparing

some new channel of good to His creatures. In the scattered villages and

towns of the land there are being nurtured, unconsciously, the lives that in

days hence shall be foremost in the Redeemer’s host. “Little Bethlehem,”

and the lowly Joseph and Mary, were in reserve for the greatest of events.

Any new advances to be made by the Church in the future are sure to be

provided for by chosen men, possibly unknown to the world, and silently

trained by Providence for their work.

 

  • PERSONS, PLACES, AND EVENTS, IN THEMSELVES

OBSCURE, BECOME IMPORTANT when associated with the unfolding

of high spiritual purposes. It was the connection of Samuel with Christ’s

glorious kingdom that linked a “certain man” and his wife with the same,

and so raised them from obscurity. Spiritual uses give real value to things.

The frail and insignificant becomes enduring and important when blended

with the interests of the “kingdom that cannot be moved.” Every member

of Christ’s body is precious to Him. Names are recorded in heaven which

enter on no earthly roll. The life and spirit of every lowly Christian are

known by God to exercise a widespread, abiding influence in the invisible

sphere. (Just as He has purposed in His people being the “salt of the earth...

the light of the world!” Matthew 5:13-14 – CY – 2016)  As the kingdom

is to be eternal, so, whatever part each one may take in its unfolding, that

item will be saved from the transitoriness and oblivion of other toil. Fame in

the world is not the criterion and measure of REAL USEFULNESS.   The

chief concern should be so to live as to be, in some form, useable by God for

advancing the glory of Christ. All are morally great when employed in His

service to the full extent of their capacities.

 

  • A DILIGENT USE OF SUCH LIGHT AS IS BESTOWED,

especially in degenerate times, may qualify even obscure men for rendering

important service. The family religion of a “certain man” bore its fruit. The

moral ground of usefulness lies in character, and character is spiritually

strong in so far as improvement is daily made of privileges, however few

they may be. Men’s fitness to confer benefits on the world is more

connected with a wise use of what they have and know, than with the

absolute possession of knowledge. A little goodness, and a humble routine

of devotion in a dark age, shines the brighter because of the surrounding

GLOOM!  From the ranks of pious men in modern times, who cared for piety

at home, there have gone forth many sons distinguished for service in the

Church of God. It is worthy of note how fixed ordinances and seasons of

Divine worship nourish whatever of piety may be struggling here and there

against degenerate manners and official corruption. The usual services of

the tabernacle and the recurring festivals, though despised and profaned by

many, furnished comfort and cheer to the faithful few. In spite of unworthy

priests, God is found in His courts by all who seek Him.

 

 

 

Public Worship at Shiloh (v. 3)

 

Worship is worship, the honor paid to superior worth; more especially it

is the reverence and homage paid to God in religious exercises. Public

worship (as distinguished from private and family worship) is designed to

give an open expression, before men, of the praise and honor which are

HIS DUE (Psalm 145:10-12); a purpose which is not fulfilled by those

who neglect it, and is forgotten by those who observe it only as a means of

obtaining their own spiritual benefit. It is often enjoined in the word of

God, and is commended by the example of good men. The conduct of

Elkanah is suggestive of useful hints concerning:

 

  • GOING TO WORSHIP. Persuaded of the obligation and privilege, “he

went up out of his city” and home. He did “not forsake the house of the

Lord” (Nehemiah 10:39; Hebrews 10:25). Neither the distance, nor

the trouble involved, prevented him; nor did the unworthy conduct of many

of the worshippers keep him away. He took all his family with him, except

when any of them were hindered by sickness or necessary duties (v. 20).

He thought of the purpose for which he went, and made the needful

preparation for “worshipping and sacrificing unto the Lord.” He was

careful to be in time; and, doubtless, sought the blessing of God on his

service, entertained the journey with profitable conversation, and came

with reverence and self-restraint (Ecclesiastes 5:1).

 

  • THE OBJECT OF WORSHIP. “The Lord of hosts.” He did not

worship an “unknown God” like the Athenians (Acts 17:23).   Man must

worship because he is a man; but he will worship a false or unworthy object,

as well as in a wrong manner, unless he be Divinely taught, because he is a

sinner. He “knew what he worshipped” (John 4:22), even the living and

true God, who had revealed Himself to His people; Creator, Redeemer,

Ruler; holy, just, and merciful (Exodus 34:6-7). Our knowledge of God

is necessarily imperfect (Job 11:7); but it may be true as far as it goes,

and the true idea of God is “the root of all absolute grandeur, of all truth

and moral perfection” (John 17:3).

 

  • THE PLACE OF WORSHIP. He went to worship in Shiloh

(Deuteronomy 16:15), where the tabernacle, made in the wilderness,

having been first pitched at Gilgal, had now been standing 300 years. It

was the palace of the great King. Here His servants the priests ministered,

and offerings were presented by His subjects at His altar in the outer court

(ch. 2:33); the lamp of God (ch. 3:3), the altar of incense (ch. 2:28), and

the table of shew bread (ch. 21:4) stood in the holy place; and the

ark of the covenant (ch. 4:3) in the holiest of all (Hebrews 9:25). These

were symbols of spiritual truth and means of Divine communion

(Exodus 29:43; Deuteronomy 16:11). The ideas that underlay them are

fully realized in Christ and His Church, and the symbols are no longer

needed; nor is there any more one central and sacred spot “where men

ought to worship” (John 4:20, 23). God draws nigh to us, and we can call

upon Him “in every place.”  (I Corinthians 1:2)  The presence of God makes

all places holy, in so far as any place can be so called.

 

“What’s hallowed ground? ‘Tis what gives birth

To sacred thoughts in souls of worth.”

 

Common worship, however, renders necessary special places of worship,

the declared purpose and holy associations of which make them dear to

good men and helpful to their devotions, so that they are sometimes

constrained to say with Jacob, “How dreadful is this place!  this is none

other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.” (Genesis 28:17). 

It is a fearful place, indeed, and worthy of all reverence, in which saints

inhabit, holy angels frequent, and God Himself graces with His own

presence!

 

  • THE TIME OF WORSHIP. “He went up yearly,” or from year to

year, and continued several days. The Law required that the tribes should

assemble at the sanctuary three times a year; but in those unsettled times it

appears to have been the custom for them to attend only once, probably at

the passover. What acts of worship he performed, or what times he

observed at Ramah, we are not told. The Sabbath (though not mentioned

in the Books of Samuel) we may be sure was not neglected by him, nor

should it be by us. The spirit of continual Sabbath keeping (Hebrews 4:9)

is, indeed, of greater importance than the observance of one day in

seven; but its observance, with reference to the higher truths which the first

day of the week commemorates, is most needful and beneficial.

 

  • THE MANNER OF WORSHIP. “He went up to worship and

sacrifice.” His worship consisted of adoration, confession, petition,

thanksgiving. It was connected with and embodied in sacrifices of various

kinds, and of different significance:

 

Ø      expiatory (sin offerings),

Ø      self-dedicatory (burnt offerings), and

Ø      eucharistic (peace offerings).  (for a thorough study of

these - see Leviticus chapters 1-3, this web site - CY - 2016)

 

They had a real and deep relation to the sacrifice of Christ. From it they derived

their worth, and by it they have been done away. Our worship demands spiritual

sacrifices, the broken and contrite heart, the “presenting of our bodies as a

living sacrifice” (Romans 12:1), prayer, thanksgiving, holy and benevolent

dispositions and conduct. “By Him, therefore (who brings us nigh to God,

and makes, us capable of serving Him aright): let us offer the sacrifice of

praise to God continually, etc. (Hebrews 13:16.)

 

  • RETURNING FROM WORSHIP. After the sacred feast was over, he

and his family “rose up in the morning early, and worshipped before the

Lord, and returned” (v.19). Morning is a most favorable time for devotion

(Psalm 5:3); and those who are about to take a journey or enter on a new

enterprise do well to rise up early and seek the Divine guidance and help.

Elkanah showed that he was not weary of his devotions, but desired to avail

himself to the utmost of the opportunities afforded him; and, by doing so, he

obtained the greatest permanent benefit from his visit to the sanctuary. The

manner in which we return from public worship greatly influences its

permanent results (Matthew 13:4, 19; Luke 11:28). And our aim and

endeavor, when we return, should be to sanctify all places, all times, all

occupations by the spirit of unceasing prayer and thanksgiving, and so

make the whole of life a preparation for the services of the heavenly temple.

 

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.”

A worthy portion. This rendering is based upon the idea that

the Hebrew, which is literally “one portion of two faces,” may mean “one

portion enough for two persons.” But for this there is no sufficient

authority, and though the word is a dual, it really signifies the two sides of

the face, or more exactly “the two nostrils,” and so simply the

countenance. The Syriac translation, “a double portion,” is based upon an

accidental resemblance between the words. As the term sometimes signifies

anger from the swelling of the nostrils of an enraged person, the Vulgate

translates, “And Elkanah was sad when he gave Hannah her portion;

for…” The Septuagint has a different reading, epes for apaim, and though

the words look different in our writing, they are nearly identical in Hebrew.

This is probably the true reading, and the translation would then be, “And

to Hannah he gave one portion only (because she bad no child, while

Peninnah had many portions, as each son and daughter had a share); for he

loved Hannah (and did not leave her without this mark of affection),

though Jehovah had shut up her womb.” These portions were of course

taken from those parts of the victim which formed a feast for the offerers,

after Jehovah and the priests had had their dues. It is plain from this feast

that Elkanah’s annual sacrifice was a peace offering, for the law of which

see Leviticus 7:11-21.  (I like to personally study these Old Testament

lessons because I, now, through Christ, identify with them more earnestly,

since they were closer to the time which God originated all, than we are

in this 21st Century of polluted, sophisticated, and ignorant rebelliousness.

CY - 2016) 

 

     (The following excerpt taken from Leviticus 7 - CY - 2016)

 

Further Ritual of the Peace Offering (Leviticus 7:11-21)

 

11 And this is the  law of the sacrifice of peace offerings, which he shall offer unto

the LORD.  12 If he offer it for a thanksgiving, then he shall offer with the sacrifice

of thanksgiving unleavened cakes mingled with oil, and unleavened wafers anointed

with oil, and cakes mingled with oil, of fine flour, fried.  13 Besides the cakes, he

shall offer for his offering leavened bread with the sacrifice of thanksgiving of his

peace offerings.  14 And of it he shall offer one out of the whole oblation for an

heave offering unto the LORD, and it shall be the priest’s that sprinkleth the

blood of the peace offerings.  15 And the flesh of the sacrifice of his peace offerings

for thanksgiving shall be eaten the same day that it is offered; he shall not leave

any of it until the morning.  16 But if the sacrifice of his offering be a vow, or a

voluntary offering, it shall be eaten the same day that he offereth his sacrifice:

and on the morrow also the remainder of it shall be eaten:  17 But the remainder

of the flesh of the sacrifice on the third day shall be burnt with fire.  18 And if any

of the flesh of the sacrifice of his peace offerings be eaten at all on the third day,

it shall not be accepted, neither shall it be imputed unto him that offereth it: it

shall be an abomination, and the soul that eateth of it shall bear his iniquity. 

19 And the flesh that toucheth any unclean thing shall not be eaten; it shall be

burnt with fire: and as for the flesh, all that be clean shall eat thereof.  20 But the

soul that eateth of the flesh of the sacrifice of peace offerings, that pertain unto

the LORD, having his uncleanness upon him, even that soul shall be cut off from

his people.  21 Moreover the soul that shall touch any unclean thing, as the

uncleanness of man, or any unclean beast, or any abominable unclean thing, and

eat of the flesh of the sacrifice of peace offerings, which pertain unto the LORD,

even that soul shall be cut off from his people.”   There are three sorts of peace

offerings — thank offerings (vs. 12-15), votive offerings, and voluntary offerings (vs. 16-18).

Of these, the thank offerings were made in thankful memorial for past mercies;

votive offerings were made in fulfillment of a vow previously taken, that such offering

should be presented if a certain condition were fulfilled. Voluntary offerings differ from

votive offerings by not having been previously vowed, and from thank offerings by not

having reference to any special mercy received. The thank offering must be eaten by the

offerer and his friends, on the same day that it was offered; the votive and the voluntary

offerings, which were inferior to the thank offering in sanctity, on the same day or the next.

The reason why a longer time was not given probably was that the more the meal was

delayed, the less would a religious character be attached to it. The necessity of a quick

consumption also took away the temptation of acting grudgingly towards those with

whom the feast might be shared, and it likewise precluded the danger of the flesh becoming

corrupted. If any of the flesh remained till the third day, it was to be burnt with fire;

if eaten on that day, it should not be accepted or imputed unto him that offered, that is,

it should not be regarded as a sacrifice of sweet savor to God, but an abomination (literally,

a stench), and whoever ate it should bear his iniquity, that is, should be guilty of an offense,

requiring, probably, a sin offering to atone for it. The bread gift accompanying the

animal sacrifice was to consist of three kinds of unleavened cakes, and one cake of

leavened bread, and one out of the whole oblation, that is, one cake of each kind,

was to be offered by heaving and then given to the officiating priest, the remaining

cakes forming a part of the offerer’s festive meal. If any one took part of a feast on a peace

offering while in a state of Levitical uncleanness, he was to be cut off from his people,

that is, excommunicated, without permission to recover immediate communion by offering

a sin offering. Paul joined in a votive offering (Acts 21:26 – 1550 years later).

 

6 “And her adversary also provoked her sore, for to make her fret,

because the LORD had shut up her womb.  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.”  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?”

Her adversary also provoked her sore. The pleasure of

this domestic festival was spoiled by the discord of the wives. Peninnah,

triumphant in her fruitfulness, is yet Hannah’s adversary, because, in spite

of her barrenness, she has the larger portion of the husband’s love; while

Hannah is so sorely vexed at the taunts of her rival, that she weeps from

sheer vexation. In vain Elkanah tries to give her comfort. The husband

really is not “better than ten sons,” for the joy of motherhood is quite

distinct from that of conjugal affection, and especially to a Hebrew woman,

who had special hopes from which she was cut off by barrenness. In v. 7

there is a strange confusion of subject, owing to the first verb having been

read as an active instead of a passive. It should be, “And so it happened

year by year: when she (Hannah) went up to the house of Jehovah she

(Peninnah) thus provoked her, and she wept and did not eat.” It must be

remembered that the Hebrews had no written vowels, but only consonants;

the vowels were added in Christian times, many centuries after the coming

of our Lord, and represent the traditional manner of reading of one great

Jewish school. They are to be treated with the greatest respect, because as

a rule they give us a sense confirmed by the best authorities; but they are

human, and form no part of Holy Scripture. The ancient versions, the

Septuagint, the Syriac, and the Vulgate, which are all three older than the

Masoretic vowels, translate, “And so she (Peninnah) did year by year;” but

this requires a slight change of the consonants.

 

 

A Hebrew Family (vs. 1-8)

 

The family is A DIVINE INSTITUTION!   It is the most ancient, most needful,

and most enduring form of society; and, in proportion as it accords with the

plan of its original constitution, it is productive of most beneficent effects,

both temporal and spiritual, to the individual and the community. In times

of general laxity and anarchy it has been, in many instances, a little sacred

islet of purity, order, and peace, and nurtured the elements out of which a

better age has grown. The real strength of a nation lies in its domestic life,

and Israel was in this respect eminent above all other ancient nations. Even

in the days of the judges, when “there was no king in Israel,” and “every

man did that which was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25), there

were many godly families scattered through the land. One of these was that

which gave birth to SAMUEL, the last of the series of the judges, the first

of the order of the prophets, and the founder of the Hebrew monarchy.

This family is introduced with a brief description (vs. 1-2). The residence

of the family was Ramah (the Height), or, more fully described, Ramathaim

(the Two Heights). Here Samuel was born and nurtured; had his permanent

abode during the latter portion of his life; died, and was buried. There is

not a more sacred spot on earth than the home which is endeared by tender

association and religious communion.

 

“A spot of earth supremely blest;

A dearer, sweeter spot than all the rest.”

 

Things are not to be valued on account of places, but places for the good

things which they contain. “God chooses any common spot for a

mighty incident or the home of a mighty spirit. Consider the family as:

 

  • ORDERED BY A GODLY HEAD (v. 3). Elkanah’s piety was shown:

 

Ø      By his regular attendance on Divine ordinances. He worshipped “the

Lord of hosts,” not Baalim and Ashtaroth (ch. 7:4); in the way of

his appointment, at the tabernacle in Shiloh, at the proper season, and with

the prescribed sacrifices; not according to his own reason or inclination

merely, a will worship which is not acceptable to God.

Ø      By his sincere and spiritual service, in contrast to the formal, worthless,

and hypocritical service of others, especially the sons of Eli, Hophni and

Phinehas (ch. 2:12), and undeterred by their evil conduct in the priestly office.

Ø      By his faithful performance of his vows (v. 21).

Ø      By his conversation and prayer in his own house (v. 23).

Ø      By his conducting all the members of his family to “the house of the

Lord(v. 7), in the exercise of his parental authority, accompanied by

instruction and example. The words of the Law of Moses were evidently

familiar to him (Deuteronomy 6:6-9), and happy is the family in which

they are obeyed.

 

  • UNITING IN SOCIAL FESTIVITY (vs. 4-5). Once a year he took

his journey, in company with his family, from Ramah to the central

sanctuary of the Divine King of Israel, for the twofold purpose of

worshipping (literaly bowing down) and sacrificing before Jehovah. The

sacrifice he offered was a peace offering (Deuteronomy 27:7), in

which, when the animal was killed, the priest received its breast and right

shoulder as his lawful portion, whilst the rest was given back to the

worshipper that he and his family might feast on it before the Lord. Their

festivity was"

 

Ø      Religious. It was the festivity of those who were received into

communion with God. They were guests at His table, and overshadowed by

His presence. It is said of the elders of Israel that they “saw God, and did

eat and drink” (Exodus 24:11). And if no such visible sign of His glory

now appeared, yet their consciousness of His presence (according to His

promise, and symbolized by the ark of the covenant) would give solemnity

to their repast, and prevent improper indulgence and revelry, which were

but too common in this corrupt time (v. 14; Judges 21:19, 21). It

should ever be the same when Christians join in social festivity.

Ø      Joyous (Deuteronomy 12:12; 16:11). Its religiousness did not

detract from its gladness, but made it pure, elevating, and refreshing. “The

joy of the Lord is your strength.”  (Nehemiah 8:10)

Ø      Participated in by the whole family, children as well as adults. All should

take part in “feasting before the Lord.”

Ø      It also called forth expressions of affection (v. 4). The kindness of

God to all should lead to kindness one toward another, and the example of

kindness set by the head of the family should be followed by all its

members. Even the ordinary family meal may and ought to be such a scene

of sacred festivity, but the highest realization of it on earth is in “the Lord’s

Supper” (I Corinthians 11:20). And how great is the blessing which

rests upon the family, all the members of which partake together of the

“cup of blessing,” and are “all partakers of that one Bread.”

 

  • DISQUIETED BY DOMESTIC TROUBLE (vs. 5-8). It was

natural that Hannah should feel disappointed at being childless. Her

condition was deemed a reproach, and a sign of Divine displeasure. But her

grief arose chiefly from the conduct of her rival, Peninnah. There was thus

an element of discord and trouble in the family. This trouble:

 

Ø      Existed where it might have been least expected. The family was

distinguished by earthly prosperity and genuine piety. But what home is

there on earth wholly free from trouble? Beneath the fairest appearances

there is seldom wanting a cause of disquiet, to check self-complacency and

teach the soul its true rest.

Ø      Was occasioned by want of conformity to a Divine ordinance. The

introduction of a second wife by Elkanah was not according to the Divine

appointment “in the beginning” (Genesis 2:24; Malachi 2:15;

Matthew 19:4). The violation of that appointment had taken place at an

early period (Genesis 4:19); it was sanctioned by long usage; and it was

permitted under the Law “for the hardness of their hearts,” and until they

should be educated up to a higher moral condition. But it was followed by

pernicious consequences (Genesis 4:23; 30:8), as it always is in those

families and nations where it is practiced. Ignorance of the laws of God may

mitigate or exempt from guilt; but it does not do away with all the evil

consequences of their violation; for those laws are rooted in the fixed

relations and tendencies of things.

Ø      Was immediately caused by the indulgence of improper feeling and

unseemly speech. Peninnah may have been jealous of the special love

shown to Hannah by her husband (v. 5). She was proud and haughty on

account of her own sons and daughters, and, instead of sympathizing with

her who had none, she made her defect a ground of insult; and trials

ordained by Divine providence are peculiarly severe when they become an

occasion of human reproach. Finally, she gave free play to “an unruly evil”

(James 3:8), especially at those seasons when it should have been held

under restraint. Such things are the bane of domestic life.

Ø      Disturbed the proper performance of sacred duties. Peninnah could have

little peace in her own breast, and be little prepared for Divine worship or

sacred festivity. As for Hannah, although she did not angrily retaliate, but

patiently endured the reproaches cast upon her (affording an admirable

example of meekness), yet “she wept and did not eat” (v. 7), and her joy

was turned into mourning. Domestic disturbances tend greatly to hinder

prayers (I Peter 3:7).

Ø      Was alleviated by affectionate expostulation (v. 8). In Elkanah we

have an example of a most excellent husband, who patiently tolerated the

insulting humor of Peninnah, and comforted dejected Hannah with words

full of tender affection, which was truly, in Peter’s words, to dwell with

them according to knowledge. Let each member of the family

endeavor to soothe and alleviate the sorrows of the rest, and all learn to

find their own happiness in promoting the happiness of others.

Ø      Was over ruled by Divine providence for great good. In her trouble

Hannah was led to pray fervently, and her prayer was answered; sorrowing

gave place to rejoicing; the family was benefited; and the people of God

were greatly blessed. So, in His wonderful working, God “turned the curse

into a blessing” (Nehemiah 13:2).

 

 

Domestic Troubles (vs. 4-8)

 

The facts given in this section are:

 

1. Hannah’s grief and disappointment.

2. Peninnah’s cruel jealousy.

3. Elkanah’s efforts to console.

 

  • PROVIDENCE SOMETIMES SEEM TO RUN COUNTER TO WHAT IS

MOST DESIRABLE, in withholding gifts where they would be devoutly

valued and wisely used. Humanly speaking, Hannah was the most fit

person to be blessed with offspring to be nurtured. The course of nature

which finds expression in family life is of God. Though the free element of

human action plays a part, yet God is supreme. Providence is over the

home of the pious. Poverty and riches, new life and bereavement, are of the

Lord. Looked at in its early stages, and tested by our range of vision, the

course of Providence is often the reverse of what makes for the joy of the

home and the good of the world. Often the illiberal spirit holds wealth,

while the loving heart has only good wishes. Many a good, Christ-like heart

laments that it has not the means of clothing the poor, and sending forth

messengers of the cross. Men of very slender abilities and lowly position,

but of intense enthusiasm for Christ, may wonder why they have not been

endowed with the intellectual and social qualities which would enable them

to stem the tide of skepticism, and gain over to Christianity persons now

inaccessible to them.

 

  • PROVIDENCE, FOR REASONS NOT OBVIOUS SOMETIMES SEEMS

TO FAVOR INFERIOR CHARACTERS, bestowing gifts where there is not

the purest spirit to improve them. Peninnah was immensely inferior to

Hannah in all that makes character to be admired. If judged by the benefits

conferred on some persons, and the disposition to use them, Providence

would be said to have erred. The writer of Psalms 37. and 73, had once

bitter reflections on this subject. The causes of the Divine conduct lie deep

in hidden counsels. The inequalities and disproportions of life clearly show

that we see only the beginning of things, and that there is a future where

every man shall receive according to his work. It is enough to know, that in

the abundant blessings which often fall to the lot of the inferior and the

bad, they have experienced goodness and mercy, so as to be without

excuse for ingratitude, and that the Judge of all the earth cannot but do

right.

 

  • INTENSE GRIEF IS NATURAL ON THE BLIGHTING OF A

SUPREME HOPE. Every one must see the naturalness of Hannah’s grief.

The ordinary course of nature fosters hope; it is the basis of reasonable

expectations. A well balanced mind lives in strong sympathy with nature’s

ways, for they are of God, and always beneficent in final issue. God is not

displeased with grief, not discontent, when it comes in the order of

Providence, even though the grief rise from a wish that He had ordered

otherwise. Tears have been consecrated by Christ. The wail over Jerusalem

was not unconnected with blighted hope. But so far as men are concerned,

the roots of their sorrow frequently lie in their ignorance of God’s times

and methods. He doth not willingly afflict or grieve the children of men.

(Lamentations 3:33)  There is some undeveloped purpose for their good

which will yet vindicate His goodness.

 

  • TO HAVE A DEEP AND SACRED GRIEF INTENSIFIED BY

UNMERITED AND CONTINUOUS REPROACH is the climax of

domestic suffering. The griefs of private life are sacred. The wounded spirit

shuns the inquisitive eye. Sorrow often seeks sad comfort in self-isolation.

The cruel jibes of her rival were agony to Hannah’s gentle spirit. So the

Man of sorrows felt the bitter reproach of His own people as a most painful

addition to that secret sorrow He ever carried in His heart. In many an

unhappy home there is yet to be found a meek, loving soul grieving over

deferred hope of a husband or children saved, and compelled also to bear

scorn, and perhaps ill treatment, from those most dear. A patient,

Christ-like spirit is the Divine counterpoise of such suffering.

 

  • LONG YEARS OF MEEKLY ENDURED TRIAL MAY BE THE

DIVINE TRAINING for subordinating natural gratification to high

spiritual ends. Completed history gives the clue to the enigmas of its early

stages. Posterity has seen that the long trial of Hannah was not without its

blessed uses in sublimating her hopes, and deepening her piety. It is a first

principle that trial to the devout is essentially a good. The spirit of the

sufferer has to grow up to the Divine intent by meek submission. Like

many mothers, Hannah might have rested in the simple joy of bearing

offspring had not a merciful God prepared means for directing her desires

to a higher good. When sympathy with the holy purposes of Christ is

developed in the soul, natural desires will fall into harmony with His will,

and be laid at His feet. And the deepened piety of a mother tells most

powerfully on the subsequent nurture of her child.

 

  • IT IS POSSIBLE FOR A HIGH RELIGIOUS FESTIVALS TO BE:

 

Ø      embittered by the presence of wicked jealousies,

Ø      marred by an outburst of pent up grief.

 

The holy sanctuary is frequented by the devout and the profane, and the

longing heart of a Hannah is fretted by the unkind expressions of a

Peninnah. Side by side before the holy throne may be found men and

women embittered by the very presence of each other. Divine worship and

hallowed festivities should be the occasion when all animosities and

vexations of spirit are lost in the calm, holy joy of God’s favor. But when

the wounded heart is pierced afresh in the house of God, or amidst Zion’s

rejoicings, the very joyousness of the occasion makes sorrow more

sorrowful. Many are the tears shed in the sanctuary! The heart speaks its

woes the more that joy becomes the place.

 

  • INDISCREET FAVORS IN A HOME ONLY ADD TO TROUBLE.

Monogamy is the dictate of religion and of philosophy.

Trouble must arise in society by departure from the prime law. Elkanah’s

troubles were his own seeking, and no amount of affection ostentatiously

bestowed availed to cover the original error, or to lessen the

inconveniences of it. Persons committed to conflicting domestic

obligations, and beset with difficulty, need to exercise more than ordinary

discretion in the expression of their feelings. Even in properly constituted

homes, unwise preferences lay the foundation for alienation and strife.

 

  • MEN OF TENDEREST AFFECTION AND ORDINARY

GOODNESS MAY BE INCAPABLE OF FULLY APPRECIATING THE

GREAT SORROW OF THEIR HOME. With all his kindness, Elkanah was

unable to enter fully into the grief of his wife. Natures move in diverse

spheres. Some lack responsiveness to the deepest experiences of their

kindred and friends, or they have not the spiritual insight to recognize more

than secular elements in trouble. The full bliss of one is not a standard for

another. There are incommensurable joys, and joys inconceivable. A

husband’s love is a perfect, beautiful thing. A wife’s joy in holy offspring is

also perfect and beautiful. The presence of the one blessing may console,

but cannot compensate for the absence of the other. The “woman of

sorrowful spirit” yearned to be the means of advancing Messiah’s kingdom,

and mourned that the joy was not hers; no assurance of affection could

satisfy such an unrealized yearning. And so, good as the love of friends

may be, it can never give full rest to the souls that peer into the future, and

long to have the bliss of contributing their best to the Redeemer’s glory.

Hence the Practical suggestions:

 

Ø      Be not hasty in forming a judgment on the course of Providence.

Ø      Cherish sympathy with those whose hopes are deferred.

Ø      Be careful and sow not in the home, by some irrevocable action, the

seeds of permanent discord.

Ø      Avoid partiality where vows and relationships demand equal treatment.

Ø      Adore the wisdom that can out of our failings and errors elicit a future

blessing.

 

 

HANNAH’S PRAYER FOR A SON (vs. 9-18).

 

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.”

After they had eaten .... after they had drunk. The Hebrew

favors the translation, “After she had eaten in Shiloh, and after she had drunk;”

the somewhat forced rendering of the Authorized Version having arisen from a

supposed discrepancy between this verse and v. 7. Really there is none.

The words simply mean that Hannah took part in the sacrificial banquet,

though she did so without appetite or pleasure; and thus they connect her

visit to the temple and her prayer with the most solemn religious service of

the year. To take part in this banquet was a duty, but as soon as she had

fulfilled it she withdrew to the temple to pour out her grief before God.

There Eli, the priest, i.e. the high priest, as in Numbers 26:1; 27:2, was

seated upon, not a seat, but the pontifical throne, placed at the entrance

leading into the inner court of the tabernacle, so that all who came to

worship must pass before him. It is remarkable that the tabernacle is called

the temple (so ch. 3:3; Psalm 5:7), or, more literally, the “palace” of Jehovah,

His royal residence; and it thus appears that the name had come into use before

Solomon’s building was erected. The curtains (Exodus 26:1) also had given place

to a mezuzah, translated a post, but really a sort of porch, with doors, as appears

from ch. 3:15 (compare Exodus 21:6; I Kings 7:5). As the tabernacle remained

stationary at Shiloh for 300 years, naturally numerous buildings of a more

solid nature grew up around it.

 

 

The Temple of the Lord (v. 9)

 

Most of the religious ideas and expressions with which we are familiar had

their origin far back in distant ages; and it is interesting and instructive to

trace them to their source, and mark their alteration and expansion in the

progressive course of Divine revelation. This is the first instance in which

the expression “the temple of the Lord” occurs. Notice :

 

  • ITS SCRIPTURAL APPLICATIONS.

 

Ø      A material structure.  In the earliest ages God was worshipped without

any distinction at any time and at any place, whenever and wherever the

promptings of devotion moved in the hearts of His creatures; more

especially, however, under the shadow of embowering trees, on hills and

mountains, and in places where they had experienced some special

manifestations of His favor. The first erection (with the exception

of altars) was:

 

o        the tabernacle or tent (Exodus 25:8), here called the temple or

(more literally) the palace of Jehovah, as the royal residence of

the king of Israel. Afterwards,

o        the temple of Solomon;

o        of Zerubbabel; and

o        of Herod.

 

Ø      The incarnate Word (John 1:14; 2:21; Colossians 2:19).

Ø      Christian men. The body of each (I Corinthians 6:19). The whole

assembly (ibid. ch. 3:16; II Corinthians 6:16; Ephesians 2:20-22;

I Peter. 2:5). Observe the progress:

o        God for us,

o        God with us,

o        God in us;

§         Father,

§         Son, and

§         Spirit.

Ø      The heavenly world. Although there is no temple therein Revelation

21:22), yet heaven is altogether a temple (ibid. ch. 7:15).

 

  • ITS MAIN SIGNIFICANCE in all these applications. It is:

 

Ø      Set apart for the Lord. Selected, separated, and consecrated as His

possession, and for His use.

Ø      Inhabited by Him. His throne is there. He dwells between the cherubim,

in fellowship with the redeemed.

Ø      Manifests Him in His holiness and love. His glory appears, His voice is

heard, His will is declared (Exodus 25:22; Hebrews 4:16).

Ø      In it service is rendered to Him. At first it was chiefly in outward

symbolical acts; afterwards of the man himself, “body, soul, and spirit”

(Romans 12:1; I Peter. 2:9; Revelation 1:6). In each of these particulars

we see the principle of progress, from the natural to the spiritual

(ICorinthians 15:46).

 

  • ITS SPIRITUAL SUGGESTIONS.

 

Ø      That the place in which man worships is of far less importance than

man himself and his possession of a holy character. No place or building

can be holy in the full sense of the word. For holiness implies intelligence,

affection, freedom; and these make him unspeakably greater than all “the

gorgeous palaces and solemn temples” which the earth contains. “To this

man will I look,” Isaiah 57:15; 66:1-2; Matthew 12:6). Let

more regard be paid to the promotion of religion than the decoration of

churches; for although it is a good thing that churches should be beautiful

edifices, yet virtue forms their best crown and ornament. It seems to us

that the building of handsome churches pertains rather to the Old

Testament, whilst the improvement of character and life is the more

peculiar work of the Christian dispensation” (Charlemagne, Capitulary of

the year 811).

 

Ø      That the pattern to which the character of man must be conformed is

JESUS CHRIST!   He is not only the Living Stone to whom every one must

come that he may be built up into the “spiritual house,” the Chief

Cornerstone on which the whole building rests, but also the perfect Model

according to which each and all must be fashioned (Romans 8:29).

 

Ø      That the character of man is conformed to its Divine pattern by THE

INDWELLING OF THE HOLY GHOST!

 

That only those in whom God dwells here will be fit TO DWELL WITH

GOD HEREAFTER and constitute the heavenly tabernacle and temple

Revelation 21:3). Above all things, seek to be in the building which God

is rearing for His habitation, and for an everlasting monument to His praise.

(“In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy

temple in the Lord:  In whom ye also are builded together for an

habitation of God through the Spirit.”Ephesians 2:21-22)

 

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

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 hand-

maid, 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.”

She… prayed unto the LORD. Kneeling down in the inner court, but within sight of

Eli, whose throne in the porch probably overlooked the whole inner space, Hannah

prays unto “Jehovah of Sabaoth for a male child. Her humility appears in her 

calling herself three times,  Jehovah’s handmaid; her earnestness in the threefold

repetition of the entreaty that Jehovah would look on her, and remember her, and

not forget her. With her prayer she also makes a twofold vow in case her request is

granted. The son given her is, first, to serve not for a stipulated number of

years, as was the law with the Levites (Numbers 4:3), but for life; and,

secondly, he is to be a Nazarite. We gather from ibid. ch.6:2-8 that

Moses found this singular institution in existence, and only regulated it, and

admitted it into the circle of established and legalized ordinances.

Essentially it was a consecration to God, a holy priesthood, but not a

sacrificing priesthood nor one by right of birth, as the Aaronic, but

personal, and either for a limited period, or for life. During the continuance

of the vow, a Nazarite might:

 

  • partake of no produce of the vine, signifying thereby abstinence from

self-indulgence and carnal pleasure. He might:

 

  • take no part in mourning for the dead, even though they were his

nearest relatives, because his holier duties raised him above the ordinary

joys and sorrows, the cares and occupations of every day life. Lastly, no

razor might come upon his head, the free growing hair being at once the

distinctive mark by which all men would recognize his sacred calling, and

also a sign that he was not bound by the usual customs of life. 

 

Ø      By Hannah’s first vow Samuel was devoted to service in the sanctuary,

Ø      by the second to a holy consecrated life.

 

This institution remained in existence unto our Lord’s days; for John the Baptist

was also consecrated to God as a Nazarite by his mother, though not as Samuel,

also given to minister in the temple.

 

 

The Lord of Hosts (vs. 3,11)

 

There is no subject more worthy of study than the NATURE and CHARACTER

of God. His perfections are often called His Name, and His Name is expressed

by various words, all of which are significant. They are not merely

designations, but also descriptions. The word God is commonly supposed

to mean the Good One, but it probably denotes “He on whom one calls,” or

“He to whom one sacrifices; “the word Lord = Giver or Distributor of

bread; Deity (Sanscrit, Dyaus) = the Resplendent, Light giving Heaven, the

Shining One, showing the pure conception which the ancient Aryans (the

ancestors of the Indo-European nations) entertained of the Divine Being.

But the Bible mentions other names of God, which were either in common

use among the Semitic nations, or given by special revelation to the

Hebrews; and of these one of the most noteworthy is that of “the Lord of

hosts” (Jehovah Sabaoth), which occurs no less than 260 times, this being

the first instance of its use.  Observe:

 

  • ITS HISTORICAL USE.

 

Ø      Founded on what had been previously known or revealed.

 

o        Jehovah Sabaoth = Jehovah, Elohe (God of) Sabaoth (II Samuel 5:10).

o        El (Beth-El, Isra-El, El-kanah, Samu-El) — the Strong or Mighty One;

used in the plural as “comprehending in Himself the fullness of all

power, and uniting in Himself all the attributes which the heathen

ascribe to their divinities.”

o        Jehovah (Yahveh) = He who is, or He who will be, the Being,

the Absolute One, the Cause and Support of all other beings,

the Eternal, the Unchangeable; employed with special reference

to His personality, unity, His close relationship to His people, and

His promise to be their God; the Proper Name of Israel’s God

(Exodus 3:14; 6:3).

o        Sabaoth (hosts) = the heaven and the earth (Genesis 2:1; Deuteronomy

4:19), the angels (Genesis 32:2, where, however, another word of

similar import is used; Psalm 103:21), and more commonly armies

of men (Genesis 21:22; Exodus 6:26; Joshua 5:14). The whole name =

“Jehovah, the God of the armies of Israel, the Giver of the victory

in battle, of the stars and of the angels.”

 

Ø      First used when He was about to make a fresh display of His power and

grace to His people under their anointed king (ch. 4:4; 17:45; II Samuel

6:17). By Hannah, the most spiritually minded person of that

age.

 

Ø      It rose into new prominence in proportion as the people came into

contact with the Assyrian and Chaldaean races, by whom the worship of

the heavenly bodies was systematized into a national religion, and was

therefore perpetually on the lips of Isaiah and Jeremiah as a protest against

it” (Isaiah 6.; Jeremiah 46:18; 48:15).

 

Ø      Most frequently used by the later prophets, who doubtless sought to

counteract by this means the fear which the Jews, as a poor, despised

people, had of the power of the Gentiles, and to prove to them that the

God in whom they believed had hosts enough to protect them, though they

should be devoid of all earthly might wherewith to defend themselves

against their enemies.

 

Ø      Only once employed, in direct statement, in the New Testament

(James 5:4); other and still higher revelations of His character being

made by Jesus Christ.

 

  • ITS SUBLIME IMPORT. “God alone is great.”

 

Ø      His personality and unity, as opposed to “the gods many and lords

many” worshipped by the heathen; the keystone of the faith of Israel being,

“The Lord our God is one Lord.” This is not contradictory to the Christian

doctrine of the Trinity, which signifies a threefold distinction in the One God.

 

Ø      His supremacy. He is higher than the highest, the great King and Lawgiver,

whose will all must obey (Psalm 24:10; Malachi 1:14).

 

Ø      His immensity. He fills all space; rules over sun, moon, and stars;

myriads of angels; nations, families, and individual men. “All are thy

servants.”

 

Ø      His omnipotence. “Lord God Almighty.” “Power belongeth unto God.”

It is the flower of His crown imperial, which He will suffer none to usurp.

If the proudest of creatures go beyond the bounds and limits of His present

permission, He will send worms to eat them up, as he did Herod (Acts 12).

Thine omnipotence is not far from us when we are far from thee”

(Augustine), Other revelations have now been given. “God is spirit.” “God

is light.” “God is love.” “Our Father which art in heaven.” But His name

as the Lord of hosts ought often to be an object of devout contemplation.

 

  • ITS PRACTICAL INFLUENCE. It is adapted:

 

Ø      To correct error: atheism, polytheism, pantheism, positivism, skepticism,

secularism, etc.

 

Ø      To elevate our conceptions of Him, and fill us with humility, reverence,

and adoration.

 

Ø      To encourage us to pray to him, with strong confidence that we shall be

heard |(v. 11; Zechariah 8:21; Matthew 26:53; Ephesians 3:20).

 

Ø      To strengthen us in labour. “Work: for I am with you, saith the Lord of

hosts” (Haggai 2:4).

 

Ø      To incite us to contend against his foes, to “fight the good fight of

faith.” (I Timothy 6:12); “I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts”

( ch. 17:45).

 

Ø      To console us in trouble. “The Lord will protect His own” (Psalm 34:7;

Isaiah 8:13). He is the Protector and Avenger of the oppressed

(James 5:4). He calls God the Lord of hosts in order to strike terror

into those who think that the poor have no protector

.

Ø      To warn all who disobey his voice, and set themselves in opposition to

Him and His people. “Beware, therefore.”

 

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.  14 “And Eli said unto her, How long wilt thou be drunken?

put away thy wine from thee.”  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.”  17 “Then Eli answered and said,

Go in peace: and the God of Israel grant thee thy petition that thou hast asked

of Him.”  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.”

She continued praying. Hannah’s prayer was long and earnest, but in silence. She

spake not in, but “to her heart,” to herself. It was an inward supplication, which only

her own heart and God heard. Eli watched, and was displeased. Possibly silent prayer

was something unusual. It requires a certain advance in civilization and refinement

to enable a supplicant to separate the petition from the outward expression of

it in spoken words, and a strong faith before any one can feel that God

hears and knows the silent utterances of the heart (compare Matthew 8:8-10).

Naturally men think that they shall be heard for their much speaking,

and for speaking aloud. Unused then to such real prayer, Eli, as he marked

the quivering lips, the prostrate form, the face flushed with earnestness,

came to the coarse conclusion that she was drunken, and with equal

coarseness bids her “put away her wine from her,” that is, go and sleep off

the effects of her debauch. Hannah answers indignantly, “No, my lord.”

She is “a woman hard of spirit;’ (see margin), heavy hearted, as we should

say, and she had been lightening her heart by pouring out her troubles

before Jehovah. She is no “worthless woman;” for Belial is not a proper

name, though gradually it became one (II Corinthians 6:15), but means

worthlessness, and “a daughter of worthlessness” means a bad woman.

“Grief” is rather provocation, vexation. Hannah cannot forget the triumph

of her rival, exulting over her many portions, while for her there had been

only one. Convinced by the modesty and earnestness of her answer, Eli

retracts his accusation, gives her his blessing, and prays that her petition

may be granted. And Hannah, comforted by such words spoken by the high

priest (John 11:51), returned to the sacrificial feast, which apparently

was not yet finished, and joined in it, for “she did eat, and her countenance

was to her no more,” that is, the grieved and depressed look which she had

so long borne had now departed from her. There is no reason for the

insertion of the word sad.

 

 

Effectual Prayer (vs. 9-13)

 

Prayer is converse with God. The general principles which are necessary

that it may be acceptable and effectual were exemplified by Hannah in the

prayer which she offered at the porch of the tabernacle in Shiloh, whilst

other and more special principles were contained therein. She was

possessed of great intelligence, sensibility, meekness, and spirituality of

mind, and embodied the noblest spiritual element existing amongst her

people, even as she was a type of their history (ever rising out of weakness

and distress through humiliation, faith, and prayer, into strength, and joy,

and triumph). Consider her prayer as:

 

  • BORN OF DEEP SORROW. “She was in bitterness of soul, and wept

sore “(v. 10). Seemingly forgotten of God, an object of reproach and

scorn, without indulging feeling’s of resentment, unable to tell her trouble

to any one else, she betook herself to Him who is “a Refuge for the

oppressed in times of trouble.” (Psalm 9:9)  Prayer is the best resource at such

times; and grief of heart, together with the loneliness which it usually causes,

often lead to “the pouring out of the soul before the Lord.” (Psalm 62:8)

What a beneficent power is sorrow in a world like this! And how blessed are

the fruits which, through Divine grace, it produces! (Psalm 55:22; Hosea 2:15;

I Peter 5:7).

 

  • UTTERED ONLY IN THE HEART (v. 13). The first recorded

instance of silent or mental prayer. The ordinary worshippers at the

tabernacle prayed with audible words, and significant gestures; and in the

East to this day the people pray in the same manner, and have little or no

idea of praying only in the mind. They are more demonstrative than

ourselves. “Mental prayer is a lifting up of the mind to God in actual or

virtual supplication for what we desire.” It is:

 

Ø      Frequently a necessity; inasmuch as it would not be always proper to

express in the presence of others the desires of the heart.

 

Ø      Presumptively sincere; inasmuch as it consists of direct intercourse with

the Invisible and Omniscient One, and cannot spring from a desire to be

seen or heard of men.

 

Ø      Highly beneficial; inasmuch as it serves to strengthen the spirit of

prayer, and is heard of God (Nehemiah 2:4). Even when it does not

shape itself in words within the mind, but consists of aspirations and

groanings which cannot be uttered,” “He that searcheth the hearts

knoweth what is the mind of the spirit, because He maketh

intercession for the saints according to the will of God.” (Romans 8:26-27).

 

  • EXPRESSIVE OF FERVENT DESIRE. Desire is the soul of prayer.

It arises from, and is proportionate to, the sense of need. Its intensity is not

always manifested by audible words; for sometimes its strength is dispersed

and exhausted thereby; whereas silence condenses and increases it.

“Deepest waters stillest flow.” Our desires cannot be too fervent, or our

requests too importunate, provided they be for things which are according

to the will of God (Romans 12:12; I John 5:14-15).

 

“Fervent love

And lively hope with violence assail

The kingdom of the heavens, and overcome

The will of the Most High; not in such sort

As man prevails o’er man; but conquers it

Because ‘tis willing to be conquer’d; still,

Though conquer’d by its mercy conquering.”

Dante, ‘Div. Com.,’ Par. 20.

 

  • EXHIBITING GENUINE FAITH. “O Lord of hosts,”etc. (v. 11).

Like Abraham, she “believed in the Lord” (Genesis 15:6); trusted, leaned

on Him, as a child rests on the bosom of a parent. She had exalted

conceptions of His character; believed in:

 

Ø      His living personality, supreme dominion, power, goodness, faithfulness

(Hebrews 11:6); relied on

Ø      His promises, summed up in the assurance, “I will be your God”

(Exodus 6:7; Leviticus 26:12); and

Ø      although she had no express promise of the particular blessing which

she desired, yet, inwardly taught, she applied the general promise to

herself, and had “confidence respecting things hoped for” (Hebrews

11:1). When express promises are wanting, it behoves us to seek particular

blessings with the utmost dependence and submission; but, so far from

being prohibited from seeking them, we are encouraged to do so by the

unlimited range of such directions as this: What things soever ye desire,

when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.”

(Mark 11:24).

 

  • DISTINGUISHED BY ENTIRE SELF-SURRENDER. Once and

again she called herself the “handmaid” of the Lord, as belonging to Him,

and wholly devoted to His service. Her will she freely offered up in sacrifice

to His, and made a fresh surrender of herself in her solemn engagement to

render back to Him the gift He might bestow. She sought not her own

gratification, but His glory and the welfare of His people. The vow of the

Nazarite embodied the yearning of the better part of the nation for a moral

and religious reformation, as the only hope of Israel. It symbolized Israel’s

perfect calling of voluntary self-surrender to God.  When we seek not our

own, but make it subservient to higher and larger good, we place ourselves

in a line with the Divine purposes, and may entertain sure and steadfast

hope of success.

 

  • OFFERED WITH STEADFAST PERSEVERANCE. “She continued

praying before the Lord” (v. 12). It was not a momentary bubbling of

feeling, but the fixed direction of her whole soul (Genesis 32:26;

Luke 11:8; 18:1; Ephesians 6:18).

 

  • FOLLOWED BY AN ABUNDANT BLESSING. The benediction of

the high priest (v. 17) was to her an oracle of God, to be in due time

fulfilled; whilst the immediate effect on her heart was peace and gladness,

and “she went away, and did eat, and her countenance was no more sad.”

Prayer is heart’s ease to the gracious soul.

 

“Lord, what a change within us one short hour,

    Spent in thy presence, will prevail to make;

    What heavy burdens from our bosoms take;

What parched grounds refresh as with a shower!”

(Trench).

 

 

 

Trial Sanctified (vs. 9-18)

 

The main facts are:

 

1. Hannah, impelled by trouble, goes to the sanctuary and records her wish

    in a vow.

2. Eli misjudges her character, but hearkens to her self-defense.

3. Eli discovers therefrom her real piety, and helps to create within her

    heart an assurance of answer to prayer.

4. Hannah enters on a brighter path.

 

  • IT BRINGS THE SOUL DIRECT TO GOD. It was doubtless good for

Hannah to join the family worship, and derive all possible comfort from the

festivals which to the devout mind told of a “mercy” which “endureth

forever;” but when sorrow is of the godly sort, when the gentle or heavy

hand of God has been duly recognized in trial, the soul needs more than the

prayers of others. Heart and flesh then cry out for the living God. There are

clearly traceable stages in trial before this result ensues. In the case of

Hannah, which is typical of many others, it began with a fond hope

deferred, awakening only the anxiety common to such domestic incidents.

Then, as time wore on, grief was generated, wearing away the strength of

the spirit. Years of silent waiting on Providence followed — wonder,

doubt, occasional hope, and corresponding despair filling up the

experience. The weary heart would turn sometimes to God, and social

worship would be valued as a means of grace, but without relief. Sadder

and sadder, increasingly sensible of dependence on God, and impelled by

the discovery that not even a husband’s love can enter into the deepest

sorrow, a strong resolve is taken to seek refuge in God by an act of urgent

appeal to Him. Such is the proper issue of all trials when sanctified. There is:

 

Ø      no morose repining,

Ø      no internal war against the Supreme Will,

Ø      no utter abandonment to despair,

Ø      no resting in the sympathy and counsel, or even

prayers, of the Church;

 

the soul wants God, and, as never before, carries its load straight to Him.

 

  • IT LEADS TO THE MERCY SEAT. There is all the difference

between fleeing to God in ignorant desperation, and recognizing His

covenant mercies in Christ. No doubt there is compassion for every poor

dark creature who under the impulse of trouble cries out to the invisible

God; but it was not without a reason that the devout Hebrew preferred to

retire to the place where the ark of the covenant and the mercy seat were

kept. She knew, as the most enlightened of her people knew, that there

was a way to God, and drawing nigh towards the mercy seat was a distinct

recognition of One in whom the troubled might expect to be blessed. Trial

still leads us to God, not trusting in our righteousness, but by the “new and

living way” consecrated by Christ. And though that invisible mercy seat is

ever near, it is the wont of those who are being blessed by trial to seek the

house of God, and there, pleading His mercy, find relief and lay off their

burdens.

 

  • IT MAKES NATURAL DESIRES FOR AN EARTHLY GOOD

SUBORDINATE TO HIGH RELIGIOUS FEELING. It is not certain at

what stage in the providential discipline the event occurred, but the fact is

clear that there was a time in the process when a natural love of offspring,

per se, became absorbed in a passion for devoting the most precious of

gifts to God. It is difficult to trace the purifying process by which pure and

lofty spiritual feeling emerges out of the fires, but experience in all ages

attests the fact that it does. It is an evidence that trouble is blessed when

one can say, “There is none on the earth that I desire beside thee.” (Psalm

73:25)  All good things are intended to be helpful to our higher spiritual life,

and it is a sign of spiritual health when the possession of them is sought

primarily for the furtherance of religious ends, either in self or in the world.

Religion is not in antagonism with nature. It rather purifies and ennobles it.

Personal endowments, reasonable desires for family, or influence, or wealth,

are laid at the cross when self is lost in zeal for God. There were a few

features in Hannah’s experience which correspond with the action of

 sanctified trial on others.

 

1. She learned the vanity of life apart from GOD’S BLESSING!  Unless He

made life rich with the desired good, there was no sense of joy or perfection

in life. It is a great gain to learn the lesson of our need of God in order to feel

life to be a daily bliss.

 

2. She, by the action of long trial, was being weaned from dependence on

earthly good for the joy of life, and hence was more free to cherish

awakening sympathy with the enduring kingdom of God. Disappointment

in temporal affairs has often been blessed to a deepened interest in the

unseen realities of Christ’s kingdom.

 

3. Her religious sensibilities, being gradually quickened and refined,

rendered her increasingly sensitive to the terrible abominations of the age,

and hence opened her eyes to see the need of some great reformer of the

nation. Thus would the natural desire for offspring merge into the hope

that she might send forth the man. It is when souls are more alive to their

own spiritual condition that they long also for means by which to check

prevailing sin.

 

  • IT ISSUES IN THE HIGHEST FORM OF PERSONAL CONSECRATION.

Solemn vows are the strongest expression of self-surrender.

In Hannah’s case a mother gives up her body and soul, her

present powers and future possessions and influence, specifically to God. It

was not possible for female service to go further. The routine service of the

Levite, to be entered on at a definite age, was not enough for the now

sanctified woman. Her heart was not satisfied even with the prospect of a

son who should grow up in blamelessness of life. It was not the personal

comfort of the presence in the house of a loving, pious child that stirred the

soul to pray: a vision, given of God, of the coming Messiah imparted

spiritual tone to her nature, and nothing would, therefore, give satisfaction

short of the consecration from infancy, to the service of the sanctuary, of a

son, to be thus prepared for holy labors among the degenerate people,

and to be a faint type and useful forerunner of a still more blessed Child.

Thus, the limits set by nature, the requirements of an emergency, and the

prospective honor of Christ are recognized in an intelligent consecration

brought about by the all-wise discipline of Him who knows how to qualify

for noble service. The exalted ideal of life attained to by this “sorrowful

woman” bespeaks the thoroughness of the discipline through which she

passed. A young life habituated to the calm and elevating influences of the

sanctuary, separated from the sad and sorrow producing evils of the age,

untouched by the artificial appliances of man, and nourished in health

without the man created stimulants which give so much unreality to

conduct — a very Nazarite in spirit and in body — this rose before the

mind as an object of fond desire, and was laid lovingly at the throne of

God; doubtless, also, in prediction of the One true and perfect life.

 

  • IT QUALIFIES FOR RENDERING CONTINUOUSLY IMPORTANT

SERVICE TO THE CHURCH. No better service can be

rendered to the Church than to nurture a life in such a way as to impart to

it a tone far above the average of spirituality, and while doing that to pour

forth from the heart sentiments that shall act as an inspiration to the wise

and good in all ages. It was worth while for Hannah to spend years of

sorrow, to issue, under the blessing of God, in the superbly beautiful

nurture of a son like Samuel, and in the lofty strains of her celebrated song.

Sanctified affliction enriches the soul with qualities permanent in value. The

invalid gains spiritual power which in daily prayer brings down blessings on

those nigh and afar off. (My grandmother, Clara Moreland Simpson Yahnig,

was an invalid for her last sixteen years of her life.  She was a devout

Christian and God used her to be an influence in my life.  I have never

forgotten her or the God she trusted!  She died December 28, 1954 - CY –

2016) The devout mother who has quietly borne reproach for Christ’s sake,

sweetens home all the rest of her days by her calm faith in God and ever

present gentleness. The merchant who has endured adversity

as befits a child of God, gathers from the deep sorrows of his life power to

pray and live for imperishable good far in excess of his former capacity. It

is good to be afflicted.  (Psalm 119:71)

 

If these things be so, there arise several Practical questions deserving

conscientious replies:

 

1. Is desire for temporal good toned and regulated by regard for spiritual

usefulness?

2. Do the private unspeakable sorrows of life draw us nearer to God, or

render us sullen and bitter?

3. In our approaches to God do we sufficiently recognize the mercy seat of

the New Testament?

4. Have we ever consecrated ourselves or our belongings to God by

deliberate vow, and as far as nature permits, and the claims of religion

require?

5. Does our personal consecration, or the devotion of our offspring to

God, approach toward the Nazarite ideal consecration of perfect freedom

of life from all that is artificial and unwholesomea holy simplicity?

 

 

 

Character Misjudged (vs. 9-18)

 

  • A RARE FORM OF WORSHIP. It was a rare thing for a solitary

woman to be seen offering prayer without audible words and with a

semblance of folly. The vicinity of the sanctuary was the scene of many

strange and painful events in those days; but here was singularity combined

with and expressive of the deepest piety. Prayer, though not in form of set

phrase, is true worship when characterized by the features seen in that of

the “sorrowful” woman, such as:

 

Ø      longing of the heart for a definite object,

Ø      intense fervor of spirit,

Ø      reverent submission to the will of God,

Ø      profound regard in what is sought for the Divine glory, and

Ø      directed to the Source of all power through the mercy seat in Christ.

 

 

The question of set forms of utterance for public worship must be settled by

considerations covering the range of history, and the order and welfare of the

Church. The heart of the true Christian will contain petitions which no words

can anticipate or express. It is not just to prescribe how individuals shall pray,

for a living piety must grow according to its inner laws, which partake of our

own individuality. Sometimes the Church may witness the spectacle of

unusual acts of worship, and it is good for the world when they arise. Spurious

worship, eccentricity in the name of religion, can be readily detected.

Deviation from ordinary forms where piety is sincere may occur when

intense feeling precludes or subdues utterance. Sighs, tears, groans may be

prayers. Or the privacy of the request, though it be made under the eye of

worshipers in the house of God, is unsuited to the public ear. Many a

secret vow is made on the Sabbath in the sanctuary. And sometimes the

spirit may know its want, but cannot speak to God for very awe of the

Divine presence.

 

  • A MISTAKEN JUDGMENT. Eli erred in judgment when he classed

among the vile the most devout and holy of the age. Here was an instance

of the guardian of the sanctuary, and the chief authority in law and religion,

judging from appearance, and not from the heart. The causes of the error

were probably such as frequently act among men.

 

Ø      Natural inability of man to read the real character by casual outward

appearances. The heart is too deep to be penetrated by aid of occasional

signs, for the same outward action may proceed from diverse internal

motions.

Ø      Strong tendency in some persons to estimate others by the standard of

their own experience. The area of one man’s life may be much broader

than that of another. The form, therefore, of religion in the one may be

far beyond the appreciation of the other.

Ø      The strong hold on some good men of conventional modes of worship.

Religion in some instances has been trained to find outward expression for

itself by rule, and hence whatever expression deviates from the

conventional type is liable to be regarded with suspicion.

Ø      In some cases men hold office in connection with public worship whose

sympathies are not broad enough for the varieties of character and want

that come under their observation.

 

  • A NOBLE SELF-VINDICATION. The “sorrowful spirit” of the

worshiper shrinks from the very thought of being counted vile and a

defamer of the place she loved. The cruel pang of the accusation only

developed the strength and beauty of her piety. The depth of her sorrow

and the utter absorption of her spirit in the one longing of her life, coupled

with a sense of her unworthiness to be used in the high service of Messiah,

checked any tendency to anger and recrimination. True self-vindication can

dispense with passion. Its qualities are calm self-possession even under

cruel wrong, a gentleness of spirit which knows how to be firm, a

respectful deference to authority when confronting it, a delicate reference

to self and the private sorrows that may have occasioned the

misapprehension, an abstention from all that would exasperate, and a plain

and fearless assertion of innocence. The comfort of the misjudged lies

much in the conviction that God knows all. Religion gains much when the

injured exhibit the spirit inculcated and exemplified by Christ. It requires

much grace to be a Christian indeed. The world is slow to practice what it

always in its heart admires, when the misjudged vindicate themselves after

the Saviour’s example.

 

  • A LIGHTENED HEART. It was a morn of joy after the long night of

sorrow, when, giving a true interpretation to the official words of the high

priest, Hannah rose from prayer and went her way. The free, joyful heart

shone forth in the countenance, and gave ease to every common duty of

life. When God makes us glad, new energy enters into our nature. Hence,

true religion, bringing to men elasticity of spirit, increases a man’s power

as a citizen, improves his capacity for business, lends luster to the home,

and, in fact, becomes an important element in the material wealth of

nations. And what is most important is, the joy which God gives is real,

permanent, resting on foundations which abide amid all change. In so far as

the really devout are concerned, the lightened heart is the result of:

 

Ø      The relief natural to true prayer. Even when specific answers are not

obtained, the believer is rested and relieved by laying the burden before

the mercy seat.

Ø      Clear indications of God’s acceptance. These vary with the age and

circumstances. The high priest was endowed under special conditions with

the power of indicating the Divine approval. External channels may convey

unmistakably the will of God. The immediate course of events may be seen

to correspond to the request. God is at no loss to convey outward

intimations that the prayer of faith is not in vain.

Ø      The inward witness may be given, clear and strong, when God has

important ends to accomplish thereby. The Spirit of God is in direct

contact with the human, and can make known a truth. (“Howbeit when

He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth.” 

John 16:13)  Christ’s people know His voice. As the Spirit moved Paul

to go to definite places, so He moves the true heart to believe in coming

answer to prayer.

 

Practical suggestions:

 

1. Much prayer may be offered when forms of worship are lacking, in the

    sanctuary, in the city, on the open sea, and at daily toil.

2. Encouragement may be found in remembering that God understands our

    thoughts “afar off,” and when words fail.  (Romans 8:26-27)

3. We should not estimate the value of prayer in others by what we can

    ascertain of it by our observation.

4. The guardians of pure worship have much need of charity and a

    discriminating spirit.

5. Errors of judgment should be freely admitted when ascertained.

6. The quiet dignity of truth befits all acts of self-defense.

7. The joy coming from GOD is the real strength and beautifier of life.

 

 

Undeserved Rebuke (vs. 13-18)

 

The duty of rebuking others when they do evil is often enjoined

(Leviticus 19:17; I Thessalonians 5:14), and is especially incumbent

on those who occupy positions of authority. But how seldom is rebuke

given or received aright! Eli, the aged judge and high priest, sitting on the

judgment seat, “by a post of the temple of the Lord,” and observing a

woman exhibiting signs of excited feeling, severely rebuked her for being

intoxicated with wine. In his words, and what followed, we have rebuke:

 

  • UTTERED WITHOUT JUSTICE (vs. 13-14). There was certainly

apparent ground for the judgment he formed; for excitement caused by

wine was probably no uncommon thing at the tabernacle in those corrupt

times. But he did not “judge righteously” (John 7:24). Learn:

 

Ø      That apparent ground for censure is often found on inquiry to be really

groundless. Therefore there should be proof before reproof.

Ø      That the most excellent are often the most misjudged, especially in

religious matters. Whilst sensual excitement was often seen, spiritual

excitement was rare. Religious services were formal, cold, and dead; and

holy fervor was naturally misunderstood and misinterpreted by superficial

observers. So they who were filled with the Spirit on the day of Pentecost

were accused of being filled with new wine. And men of large views,

disinterested motives, and exalted aims are often condemned by the

ignorant, selfish, and unspiritual.

Ø      That the highest in authority are liable to err in judgment. Infallibility

belongs to God alone. The assumption of it by men is rebuked by their own

manifest mistakes and failings, and is an insult to heaven.

Ø      That persons who think that they see clearly the faults of others are

commonly blind to their own transgressions (Matthew 7:3; Romans 2:1).

Eli was unconscious of his own easily besetting sin, which consisted

in his indulgent treatment of his children and their vices.

Ø      That those who censure others should themselves be undeserving of

censure.

Ø      That our own exposure to judgment should make us cautious in passing

judgment on others (Matthew 7:1-5).

Ø      That it is the part of charity to put the best construction on their

conduct. “Believeth all things; hopeth all things.” (I Corinthians 13:7)

Eli exhibited a want of knowledge, consideration, charity, and tenderness.

How different the High Priest and Judge, Jesus Christ,  “with whom we

have to do”!

 

  • BORNE WITH MEEKNESS. Hannah was not only innocent of the

vice for which she was rebuked, but was at the time uttering a vow that if

the Lord would give her a son he should be a Nazarite, and a life long

protest against that vice and other prevailing evils. Her fervor of spirit

was equalled by her calmness, self-control, and discreet answer to the

reproach of Eli (vs. 15-16). Learn:

 

Ø      That resentment and retaliation toward unjust accusers afford no

evidence of innocence. Some persons when rebuked fly into a passion, and

utter worse judgments on others than have been pronounced on themselves.

Ø      That a good conscience can be calm under accusation.

Ø      That appearances which seem to justify censure should be as fully as

possible explained.

Ø      That those who say they are not guilty of sin should show their

abhorrence of sin. “Call not thine handmaid a daughter of Belial” (a

worthless woman’). In her view intoxication was a great sin, and deserving

of severe condemnation.

Ø      How beautiful is “the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which in the

sight of God of great price.” (I Peter 3:4)

Ø      To look to Christ as the perfect pattern of the spirit here exhibited, and

the source of the grace which is needed for its exercise (I Peter 2:20-23).

“Let me find grace in thy sight.”

 

  • TURNED INTO BENEDICTION (vs. 17-18). Learn:

 

Ø      That those who see that they have erred in judgment should be ready to

acknowledge their error.

Ø      That meekness and patience are adapted to change a severe critic

into a kind friend.

Ø      That the endurance of rebuke in a right spirit is often a means of

obtaining a favorable answer to prayer. God Himself spoke through the

voice of the high priest (v. 17; John 11:51).

Ø      That it also causes perturbation and sorrow to give place to peace and

joy (Matthew 5:5, 11). “Strive to rejoice when others use towards thee

words of injury or rebuke, or despise thee. For a rich treasure lies hid

beneath this dust; and, if thou take it willingly, thou wilt soon find thyself

rich unperceived by those who have bestowed this gift upon thee”

(Scupoli).

 

 

Harsh Judgment Meekly Answered (vs. 13-18)

 

We hear much of the mothers of eminent men, and it is easy to see whence

Samuel derived his elevation of mind, his religious temperament, and the

natural aptitude to be a seer and prophet of God. It was from his mother

— the sensitive, poetical, devout, unselfish Hannah. Her prayer at the

house of the Lord in Shiloh shows her in a noble light. She asked for no

vengeance on her adversary Peninnah, who had so often taunted her, but

only for a son whom she might devote as a pure Nazarite to Jehovah’s

service. Her thought recurred to the last great judge of Israel — the

Nazarite Samson. The work which he might have performed had been very

imperfectly done; and Hannah’s devout and patriotic wish Was to give

birth to one who might repair the failure of Samson, as well as remedy the

evil wrought by the sons of Eli, and work a great deliverance for Israel.

 

  • PIOUS EMOTION HARSHLY CENSURED. If Hannah’s prayer had

been mocked by the profane, it had not surprised her; but this was her trial,

that the venerable priest, whose duty it was to recognize and encourage

religious aspiration, cruelly misconstrued her agitation, and charged her

with wickedness. Eli was weak towards men, stern to a woman. He could

not restrain his own sons, but he could speak sharply and severely to

Hannah. The only palliation of his readiness to impute evil to her lies in the

fact that, through his weakness, there had come to be a great license of

manners at the time, and women of Israel misconducted themselves at the

very seat of worship. Eli took Hannah for one of these, and her holy ardor

for the agitation of one unduly excited by wine. Religious emotion,

especially in persons of a sensitive and pensive nature, may resemble the

effect of “wine wherein is excess” (Ephesians 5:18) in the eyes of a careless

or unsympathetic observer. And this applies to the joyful as well as to the

sorrowful in spirit. On the day of Pentecost, when the power of the Spirit

descended on the disciples of our Lord, and joy in the Holy Ghost

expressed itself in their looks and words, some of the bystanders began to

mock and say, “These men are full of new wine.” That religious fervor

should be unappreciated by worldly minds need cause no wonder. That

tears and prayers poured forth before the unseen God should be despised

as driveling superstition, or the flush of spiritual gladness derided as

irrational frenzy, by persons of a cold, unbelieving temper, is what may be

expected. But it is hard to bear misconstruction from men like Eli, who

ought to understand that the spirit of man or woman sometimes faints,

sometimes leaps for joy before the Lord.

 

  • THE EQUANIMITY OF A GOOD CONSCIENCE. When one is quite

conscious of innocence he can meet accusations with calmness, and repel

them without passion or bitterness. If Hannah had been unguarded in

eating or drinking at the feast after the sacrifice in Shiloh, she would

probably have given a sharp answer to Eli, and exonerated herself from his

charge with some heat of temper. But her conscience was quite clear in the

matter. From her vow to make the son for whose birth she prayed a

Nazarite, we infer that she was strongly sensible of the evils which

indulgence in wine, and consequent licentious excess, had brought on the

nation. So her answer to the priest, while firm, was calm, and even meek:

“No, my Lord, I am a woman of a sorrowful spirit.”

 

  • THE TRUE RESOURCE OF THE SORROWFUL. “I have poured

out my soul before the Lord.” Hannah abhorred the kind of evil of which

Eli accused her. “Count not thine handmaid for a daughter of Belial.” Alas,

how many, because they are in low spirits, or vexed with their lot, seek

exhilaration in wine or strong drink! It is a gross and dangerous

consolation, fit for children of Belial, not for children of God. “Is any

afflicted? Let him pray.” (James 5:13)  Is any anxious? Let him by prayer

and supplication, with thanksgiving, make his request known to God.  And

the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts

and minds through Christ Jesus.”  (Philippians 4:6-7)  To be

excited with wine is to have the imagination and passions fired through the

flesh and the senses. For a time care or grief may be forgotten, and the

mind may seem to become happy and brilliant; but as the appetite grows, and

the fallacious pleasure beguiles, there ensues degradation and sorrow upon

sorrow; the mind is clouded and enfeebled, and the heart made selfish and

gross. How different from the excitement of the praying heart that is

“filled with the Spirit!” This takes hold of the best and highest part of our

nature, and from this acts on the whole man:

 

Ø      subdues sensual passion,

Ø      scatters delusion, and

 

while it may for a time agitate the frame, as Hannah’s was agitated, never

disturbs or unhinges:

 

Ø      the regulative principles of reason and

Ø      conscience within.

 

·         THE COMFORT AFTER PRAYER. Whatever the worth of Eli’s

personal character, his office gave weight to his words; and when he

invoked from the God of Israel an answer to Hannah’s petition, she

received his words with reverence, and went home with a glad assurance in

her heart. We have a great High Priest who misunderstands no one,

requires no corrective explanation, discourages no suppliant; and who has

said, “What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that

ye receive them, and ye shall have them”? Look to Jesus, and where is

your burden? It is gone. Where are your tears? They are wiped away.

Where is your desired thing, your Samuel? It is at hand. Go your way

when you have poured out your prayer, for HE HAS HEARD YOU and

“let your countenance be no more sad.” “Why art thou cast down, O my

soul?  and why art thou disquieted within me?  Hope thou in God:  for

I shall yet praise Him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God!”

(Psalm 42:5,11)

 

 

HANNAH’S PRAYER ANSWERED (vs. 19-20).

 

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.

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.”

They rose up. After solemn worship early the next

morning Elkanah returned to his home at Ramah, and God answered

Hannah’s prayer, and gave her the wished for son. She calls him Samuel,

lit. Shemuel (Numbers 34:20; I Chronicles 7:2), which was an ordinary Hebrew

name, and means “heard of God,” not “asked of God,” as in the margin of the

Authorized Version. It seems to have been the mother’s right to give

names to her children (Luke 1:60), and Hannah saw in Samuel, whom

she had asked of God, a living proof that she had been heard by Him. The

name, therefore, is of fuller significance than the reason given for it.

Ishmael has virtually the same meaning, signifying “God heareth.”

 

 

Vows (vs. 11, 21, 23, 28)

 

“And she vowed a vow.” The first recorded instance of a religious vow is

that of Jacob (Genesis 28:20; 31:13). Under a sense of obligation to

God, he entered into a spontaneous and solemn engagement before Him to

do what he believed would be pleasing in His sight, joining with it the desire

of obtaining certain benefits at His hand. He did not, as it has been said,

make a bargain with God; but gratefully repeated what had been virtually

promised (“if” or “since God will be with me,” etc.), and simply desired

those blessings, without which it would be impossible for him to fulfil his

purpose. Directions concerning the practice of making vows were given in

the Law (Leviticus 27.; Numbers 6., 30.). The age of the judges was an age

of vows. “Then appears a new power of the age, the binding vow — a

spasmodic impulse, dangerous to many, yet in the greatest emergencies of

life indispensable; bracing up the deepest energies, and working the

greatest marvels; often renovating, or else entirely transforming, whole

nations and religions; assuming a thousand forms, and in all, while the first

fidelity endures, exercising an indomitable power” (Ewald). Jephthah

Samson — Samuel. Vows are seldom alluded to in the New Testament

(Luke 1:15; Acts 18:18; 21:23). In some of their forms, and in so

far as they might embody a legal spirit, they are done away. But they are

not prohibited; and, understood as denoting a solemn binding of ourselves

to the service of God, or resolutions and engagements made before Him to

perform or omit certain definite acts, they are often needful and beneficial.

Consider that:

 

  • THERE ARE CERTAIN THINGS TO WHICH THEY MAY

LAWFULLY PERTAIN.

 

Ø      Things over which we possess a rightful authority. We may not vow

what does not belong to us.

Ø      Things which ought to be done, independently of vows; but the

obligation of which is felt for the first time, or with unusual force.

Ø      Things which are in themselves indifferent; being right or wrong

according to the individual conscience, but with reference to which a vow

creates a new obligation. The vow of a Nazarite to abstain from wine, etc.

Ø      Things, more particularly, that relate to the use of:

o        property (Genesis 28:22; I Corinthians 16:2);

o        time;

o        influence over others, especially in the training of children;

o        the various powers of body and soul (Romans 12:1).

 

  • THERE ARE SPECIAL OCCASIONS ON WHICH THEY ARE

APPROPRIATELY MADE.

 

Ø      Severe trouble — personal affliction, nearness to death, bereavement;

bringing the invisible and eternal nigh, teaching dependence on God, and

exciting desire for His help (Isaiah 66:13-14).

Ø      Singular prosperity — unexpected recovery from illness, extraordinary

deliverance from danger, unusual providential and spiritual benefits,

temporal success.

Ø      Spiritual exercises — in public worship, private meditation, religious

profession.

Ø      Starting points of life — a birthday, the first day of a new year, the

commencement of a fresh enterprise. These things are often occasions of

spiritual illumination and impression, mountain heights that rise above the

mists of ordinary life; and it is well to embody the views and feelings then

entertained in fixed purposes, definite resolutions, solemn vows for future

guidance and help. “Vow, and pay unto the Lord your God” (Psalm 76:11).

 

  • THEY SHOULD ALWAYS BE MADE IN A PROPER SPIRIT.

With:

 

Ø      Due deliberation (Ecclesiastes 5:2), so as to ascertain “what the will

of the Lord is,” and what we may reasonably hope to accomplish, lest they

should become a burden and temptation.

Ø      A sense of dependence on Divine grace; and not in a self-righteous

spirit, as if our service were exceedingly meritorious, and deserved to be

richly rewarded.

Ø      Humble and earnest prayer for the aid of the Divine Spirit. Vows made

in our own strength are “as the morning cloud and the early dew.”

(Hosea 6:4)

Ø      Faith in Christ, the perfect pattern of self-surrender and self-sacrifice,

the way of approach to God, the medium of Divine blessing. “Bind the

sacrifice with cords, even unto the horns of the altar” (Psalm 118:27).

 

  • WHEN MADE THEY OUGHT TO BE STRICTLY FULFILLED.

Their making is optional, voluntary; not so their performance. Their

obligation:

 

Ø      Changes not with a change of feeling, even with respect to those things

which are, in themselves, indifferent.

“The things which are in insight willed

Must be in hours of gloom fulfilled.”

Ø      Rests upon the same ground as that of the obligation of promises

generally, and is specially strong because of their sacred character.

Ø      Is enforced by the consequences of their observance or neglect. Their

fulfilment is a means of grace. Broken vows:

o        undermine the foundations of character,

o        interfere with Divine fellowship, and

o        pave the way to destruction (Ecclesiastes 5:4-6).

Ø      Requires their performance with sincerity (in the sense intended, not by

the substitution of something else, not in part merely), cheerfulness

(Psalm 116:16-19), and promptitude. “Defer not.” “There is a Greek

mythical story of the treatment of the goddess Juno by Mandrabulus the

Samian. This man had, under her auspices, and by her directions,

discovered a golden mine. In the first flush of gratitude he vowed to her a

golden ram; however, he presently exchanged that for a silver one, and

again that for a very small brass one, and that for nothing at all” (Trench).

“It is storied of a merchant that in a great storm at sea vowed to Jupiter, if

he would save him and his vessel, to give him a hecatomb. The storm

ceaseth, and he bethinks that a hecatomb was unreasonable; he resolves on

seven oxen. Another tempest comes, and now again he vows the seven at

least. Delivered, then also he thought that seven were too many, and one

ox would serve his turn. Yet another peril comes, and now he vows

solemnly to fall no lower; if he might be rescued, an ox Jupiter shall have.

Again freed, the ox sticks in his stomach, and he would fain draw his

devotion to a lower rate; a sheep was sufficient. But at last, being set

ashore, he thought a sheep too much, and purposeth to carry to the altar

only a few dates. But by the way he eats up the dates, and lays on the altar

only the shells. After this manner do many perform their vows” (Adams,

vol. 1. p. 112).

 

 

THE VOW FULFILLED (vs. 21-28).

 

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 for ever.  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.

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.

25 And they slew a bullock, and brought the child to Eli.  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:”  Elkanah... went up. When at the

return of the year Elkanah went up as usual to Shiloh, Hannah remained at home,

purposing to wait there till her son was old enough to be given to the Lord. This

followed soon after his weaning, which in the East is delayed much longer than

with us. In II Maccabees 7:27 we find three years mentioned as the usual period of

lactation, but the chief Jewish authorities make the time one year shorter.

At three years old a child in the East would cease to be troublesome; but

besides this, there was an order of women attached to the sanctuary (see

on ch. 2:22), and probably regulations for the training of children

devoted to the temple service. The yearly sacrifice, lit. “sacrifice of days,”

would include among its duties the carrying to Shiloh of the tithes which

were to be consumed before the Lord (Deuteronomy 12:17-18), and

the payment of those portions of the produce which belonged to Jehovah

and the priests, and had become due during the year. His vow shows that

Elkanah had ratified Hannah’s words, by adding thereto a thank-offering

from himself.  At Shiloh Samuel was to abide forever; his dedication was to be

for his whole life. And when Elkanah prays, Only the Lord establish His word, it

is evident that he and Hannah expected that a child born under such special

circumstances would, like so many children of mothers long barren, be

intended for some extraordinary work. The word of Jehovah referred to is

that spoken by Eli in v. 17, which contained not merely the assurance of

the birth of a son, but a general confirmation and approval of all that

Hannah had prayed for. In v. 24 the Septuagint reads, “a bullock of three

years old,” probably on account of the one bullock mentioned in v. 25;

but as three-tenths of an ephah of flour formed the appointed meat offering

for one bullock (Numbers 15:8-10), the mention of a whole ephah

confirms the reading three bullocks. Probably the one bullock in v. 25

was the special burnt offering accompanying the solemn dedication of

Samuel to Jehovah’s service, while the other two were for Elkanah’s usual

yearly sacrifice, and the thank offering which he had vowed. At the end of

the verse the Hebrews reads, “And the child was a child,” the word in both

places being na’ar, which may mean anything up to fifteen years of age.

The child really was about three years old, and the Septuagint is probably right

in reading, “And the child was with them.” Both the Vulgate, however, and

the Syriac agree with the Hebrew.

 

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.”

I have lent him. The word lent spoils the meaning: Hannah

really in these two verses uses the same verb four times, though in different

conjugations, and the same sense must be maintained throughout. Her

words are, For this child I prayed, and Jehovah hath given me my asking

which I asked of Him: and I also have given back what was asked to

Jehovah; as long as he liveth he is asked for Jehovah.” The conjugation

translated to give back what was asked literally means to make to ask, and

so to give or lend anything asked. The sense here requires the restoration

by Hannah of what she had prayed for (compare Exodus 12:35-36), but

which she had asked not for herself, but that she might devote it to

Jehovah’s service. At the end of v. 28 the singular “he worshipped” is

rendered in the plural by all the versions except the Septuagint, which omits it.

But he, i.e. Elkanah, includes all his household, and it may be correctly

translated in the plural, because the sense so requires, without altering the

reading of the Hebrew. In the singular it puts an unnecessary difficulty in the

way of the ordinary reader.

 

 

Conjugal Sympathy (vs. 19-28)

 

The facts are:

 

1. Hannah, having independently fixed the future of her offspring, reveals

the vow to her husband.

 

2. Elkanah acquiesces in her vow, and allows her will in respect of time and

method of perfecting it.

 

3. A united and solemn surrender of Samuel to his life work.

 

  • QUALIFIED WIFELY INDEPENDENCE. Although Elkanah knew his

wife’s great sorrow, yet in the matters connected with its removal and in

the subsequent transactions she evidently followed her own course. It was

a great decision to fix a child’s lot in life apart from consultation and

consent. The spontaneous choice of a name, though harmonious with a

mother’s secret knowledge of past experiences, was in any case, and more

so in Hebrew instances, a bold undertaking. The event of naming furnished,

most probably, the occasion for explanation and revelation of the anterior

vow, and was faced with the most perfect composure. The mother’s

feelings are ever to be considered in parting with children as they enter on

life’s work (I say, Except for Abortion – CY – 2016)  ; but here the time and

method appear to have been fixed by the mother taking the initiative, and,

contrary to rule, the wife is the prominent figure in the religious ceremonial

of dedication, whose set purpose throughout therein attains its goal. No law

of social and domestic life is more clearly laid down in Scripture than the

subordination of the wife to the husband, and though there are principles

which limit the subordination, and sentiments which convert it into blissful

freedom, yet independence of action where offspring are concerned, is as

rare as it is, per se, undesirable.  The high intellectual and moral qualities

which render wifely action free and firm within the sphere of private affairs,

are perverted when applied to the independent determination of the destiny

of a son. The spirit of self-assertion will have no place in a well ordered home.

The grace and the moral power of woman vanish or become enfeebled when

deeds are done in secret, and the natural authority of the head of the house is

anticipated. Yet there are conditions which render such independence for a

season both necessary and even religious.

 

Ø      Hannah’s conduct was connected with an event in her religious

experience too sacred even for a loving husband to be acquainted with.

One cannot unbosom, even to the dearest earthly friend, the deep and

passionate longings of the soul after God. The child of promise belongs

primarily to the one to whom the promise is made, and so a special

proprietorship is created which gives right to choice as to the use to be

made of the gift.

 

Ø      Confidence in a husband’s sympathy with lofty religious aims will justify

wifely freedom, when that freedom is employed to perfect holy purposes.

There are great and noble deeds within the proper right of a husband which

he would only rejoice to see independently performed by a confiding wife.

Where mutual confidence is fortified by years of common sorrow, no great

error will be committed in interpreting religious wishes.

 

Ø      The soul that is bent on the realization of a great religious hope, and has

pondered it for years, best knows the means by which it may be secured.

None but Hannah could see clearly the need of winning over the assistance

of Eli, and the previous interview of the woman of “sorrowful spirit” with

the high priest required that she should figure in the great ceremonial of

devoting a child to God.

 

  • WISE HUSBANDLY CONSIDERATION. The legal rights secured by

Divine law (Numbers 30:6-8) are at once surrendered by acquiescence

in a holy, God-honoring vow; acceptance of a memorial name; deference

to wishes in matters of detail, and cheerful cooperation in completing the

vow. Piety and prudence combine in making concessions where pure

motives have influenced conduct, and where the ends sought are wise and

useful. Exacting men never enjoy the full love and confidence of their

home. It would be blessed for many homes were the holy daring of Hannah

and the wise, gentle bearing of Elkanah more frequent. The key to such

conduct lies not in rigid conformity to excellent rules prescribing spheres of

action, nor in mutual watchfulness, but:

 

Ø      in pure affection for a loving, faithful wife;

Ø      a quick perception of the special providence which overrules

earthly trials;

Ø      sympathy with the noble piety that could so spontaneously

and cheerfully surrender the realized hope of many a weary year;

Ø      a conviction that a devout soul so evidently led on by God is by

far the safest guide in matters pertaining to completed vows, and

Ø      an unexpressed joy in the honor of being permitted to join in offering

to God the precious treasure He had given.

 

Hence we may learn a few general lessons:

 

1. Personal and private decisions based on a supreme regard for the glory

    of God, and free from selfishness, are sure to be appreciated in a pious

    home.

2. A loving recognition of individuality and force of character is essential to

    perfect domestic harmony.

3. Personal influence in the sphere of home becomes powerful when holy

    discipline has purged selfishness and brought the spirit into deep sympathy

    with the kingdom of God.

4. There is no pain, but joy, in sacrifice when our possessions are

    recognized as truly God’s, and we perceive the honor of their being

    employed in His name.

5. It is a blessed thing for children to be spontaneously consecrated to God

    by the prayers of self-sacrificing parents.

6. Those who by reason of circumstances cannot serve in the sanctuary,

    may perhaps be permitted to nurture children for the ministry of the word.

 

 

Samuel’s Birth and Infancy (vs. 19-28)

 

(References - I Chronicles 29:29, “the seer;” Psalm 99:9; Jeremiah 15:1; Acts 3:24;

13:20; Hebrews 12:32; Apocrpha  Ecclesiasticus 46:13-20.) Consolation and hope

were from the first associated with the birth of children (Genesis 3:15; 4:1, 25; 5:29;

21:6). More than ordinary joy (John 16:24) was felt at the birth of Samuel by his

mother, because of the peculiar circumstances connected therewith, and the

expectations entertained by her of the good which he might effect for

Israel. Often as she looked upon her God-given infant she would think,

“What manner of child shall this be?” (Luke 1:66), and ask, “How shall

we order the child, and how shall we do unto him?” (Judges 13:12).

Nor did she fail to do her utmost towards the fulfilment of her exalted

hopes. The child was:

 

  • REGARDED AS A DIVINE GIFT (Psalm 127:4). Every little infant

bears the impress of the “Father of spirits” (James 3:9).

 

“Trailing clouds of glory do we come

From God, who is our home.

 

The gift of a fresh, new, mysterious human life, with its vast capabilities, is

a great gift, and demands grateful acknowledgment of the Divine

goodness; but it is not an absolute gift; it is rather a trust which involves

serious responsibilities on the part of those into whose hands it is placed.

God says in effect, “Take this child,” etc. (Exodus 2:9).

 

  • DESIGNATED BY AN APPROPRIATE NAME (v. 20). Samuel =

heard of God. The mother names, the father assents, God approves, and

time confirms the nomination. Like other personal names in the

Bible, it was full of significance; being a grateful memorial of the goodness

and faithfulness of God in the past, and a constant incentive to faith and

prayer in the future. Our very names should mind us of our duty. The

name “Samuel” was uttered by the Lord as mindful of his history, and

recognizing his special relation to Himself (I Samuel 3:10). The name of

a child is not an unimportant matter, and it should be given with due

consideration. When parents give their children names borne by excellent

men, they should train them to follow in the footsteps of such men.

 

  • NURTURED WITH MOTHERLY TENDERNESS (vs. 22-25).

His mother was herself his nurse (v. 23), not intrusting him to others, and

not neglecting him, whereby many young lives are sacrificed; but

thoughtfully, carefully, and constantly ministering to his physical needs,

praying over him, and directing his thoughts, with the earliest dawn of

reason, toward THE LORD OF HOSTS!   That she might the more perfectly

fulfill her trust, she remained at home, and went not up to Shiloh until he was

weaned. Her absence from the sanctuary was justifiable, her worship at

home was acceptable, and the service which she rendered to her child was

a service rendered to God and to His people. A mother’s teachings have a

marvelous vitality in them; there is a strange living power in that good

seed which is sown by a mother’s hand in her child’s heart in the early

dawn of the child’s being, when they two are alone together, and the

mother’s soul gushes forth on her child, and the child listens to his mother

as a God; and there is a deathless potency in a mother’s prayers and tears

for those whom she has borne which only God can estimate” (W.L.

Alexander). “Who is best taught? He that is taught of his mother”

(‘Talmud’).

 

  • PRAYED OVER WITH FATHERLY SOLICITUDE. Elkanah

consented to the vow of his wife (Numbers 30:6-7), and appears to

have made it his own (v. 21). He was zealous for its performance, and

whilst he agreed with her in the desire of its postponement for a brief

period, he expressed the wish in prayer, “Only the Lord establish His word”

(v. 23). “Word", that is, may He fulfil what He designs with him, and has

promised by his birth (vs. 11, 20). The words refer, therefore, to the

boy’s destination to the service of God; which the Eternal has in fact

acknowledged by the partial fulfillment of the mothers wish. His

prayer indicates, with respect to the Divine word:

 

Ø      Confidence in its truth. He believed:

 

o        that it was His word which had been uttered by the high priest (v. 17);

o        that its Divine origin and faithfulness had been in part confirmed by

His own act (v. 20); and

o        that it would be completely established by His bringing about the end

designed.

 

Ø      Desire of its fulfilment.

 

o        As a matter of great importance.

o        Deeply felt. “Only the Lord establish His word.”

o        Through the continued and gracious operation of God. “The Lord

establish His word.”

 

Ø      Obedience to its requirements. In order to its establishment, cooperation

on their part was:

 

o        Necessary. God’s purposes and promises are fulfilled in connection

with human endeavor, and not independently of it.

o        Obligatory. It had been solemnly promised by them, and was a

condition of the bestowment of the Divine blessing.

o        Fully resolved upon. “His father used to open his breast when he was

asleep and kiss it in prayer over him, as it is said of Origen’s father,

that the Holy Ghost would take possession thereof” (‘Life of

Sir Thomas Browne’).

 

  • CONDUCTED TO THE HOUSE OF THE LORD. As soon as he was

weaned (the first step of separate, independent life) “she took him up with

her (v. 24), and “they brought the child to Eli” (v. 25). Children are in

their right place in the temple (Matthew 21:15-16), and their praises

are acceptable to the Lord. Even infants (sucklings) belong to the kingdom

of heaven, and are capable of being blessed by Him (ibid. ch. 19:13-14).

Therefore the “little ones” should be brought unto Him (ibid. ch.18:14).

 

  • DEDICATED TO A LIFE-LONG SERVICE (vs. 25-28), i.e. a

continual (and not a limited or periodical) service at the sanctuary as a

Levite, and an entire (and not a partial) service as a Nazarite. It was done:

 

Ø      with a burnt offering,

Ø      accompanied by a thankful acknowledgment of the goodness of God in

answer to prayer offered on the same spot several years previously, and

Ø      in a full surrender of the child. “My child shall be entirely and absolutely

thy servant. I give up all my maternal rights. I desire to be his mother only

in so far as that he shall owe his existence to me; after that I give him up to

thee” (Chrysostom). “For this child I prayed, and the Lord hath granted me

my request which I asked of him; therefore I also make him one asked of

the Lord all the days that he liveth; he is asked of the Lord” (Keil). So the

vow was performed. And in the spirit of this dedication all parents should

give back to God “the children which He hath given them.”

 

  • FOLLOWED BY PARENTAL PRAYERS AND THANKSGIVINGS.

“He (Elkanah) worshipped the Lord there” (v. 28).

“And Hannah prayed, and said, My heart rejoiceth in the Lord.” (ch. 2:1).

“And Elkanah went to Ramah to his house” (ibid. v. 11). The sacrifice made

in leaving the child behind was great, but it was attended, through Divine grace,

with great joy. The more any one gives to God, the more God gives back to

him in spiritual blessing. Hannah felt little  anxiety or fear for the safety of

her child, for she believed that He would “keep the feet of his saints” (ch. 2:9).

What holy influences ever rest on children whose parents pray for them

without ceasing!” and what multitudes have by such means been

eternally saved!

 

        “The boy was vowed

Unto the temple service. By the hand

She led him, and her silent soul, the while,

Oft as the dewy laughter of his eye

Met her sweet serious glance, rejoiced to think

That aught so pure, so beautiful, was hers,

To bring before her God.

 

I give thee to thy God — the God that gave thee,

A wellspring of deep gladness to my heart!

And precious as thou art,

And pure as dew of Hermon, he shall have thee,

My own, my beautiful, my undefiled!

And thou shalt be His child.

 

Therefore, farewell! — I go, my soul may fail me,

As the stag panteth for the water brooks,

Yearning for thy sweet looks.

But thou, my firstborn, droop not, nor bewail me!

Thou in the Shadow of the Rock shalt dwell,

The Rock of Strength. — Farewell!”

(Mrs. Hemans)

 

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