by Linda Claassen Mitchell
1 Samuel: 1 & 2 Hannah prays to have a son – Day 1
For the past week I have been studying the scriptures about prayer. One thing that keeps coming up is the need to keep a right relationship with God, keeping His commands. Today I am reading in 1 Samuel using the IEB and following the footnotes as I go.
The IEB introduction to 1 Samuel indicates that 1st and 2nd Samuel with 1st and 2nd Kings form one continuous story about total dedication toward God. “Samuel (which means ‘heard by God’) was a young boy who was given to God by his mother Hannah, for God’s service under the direction of Eli, the old priest, judge, and leader of God’s people. Samuel was destined to become one of the greatest leaders in the Old Testament. He was a judge, a prophet, and a priest. In the Old Testament God communicated directly to the prophets and they, in turn, spoke to the people.” Today’s study starts with Hannah.
1 Samuel 1:2 (IEB): Elkanah (a Levite) had two wives (b). The name of one was Hannah, and the name of the other one was Peninnah. Peninnah had children; but Hannah had no children.
Following the footnotes (b) “Though polygamy was often practiced in Old Testament times, Gen. 2:18-25 plainly shows that God created one woman for the first man (Adam). Therefore, monogamy was the divinely-approved precedent. Also, the prophet Hosea was faithful to one woman, Gomer, which was a figure of Yahweh’s faithfulness to Israel (Hosea 1-3).
1 Samuel 1:6-7 (IEB): “But, because Hannah couldn’t have children, Peninnah, her rival, would torment Hannah to the point of humiliating her. In fact, Hannah was trembling. This happened again and again, every year when they went up to the Holy Tent of Yahweh at Shiloh. Peninnah would taunt Hannah until Hannah wept and could not eat anything.”
It is already apparent that Elkanah’s choice to have two wives rather than one as God approved created strife in his household. It brought out the worst in Peninnah and created grief for Hannah. God wants us to be obedient so that it will go well for us.
1 Samuel 1:9-11 (IEB): “One time, after they had their meal in Shiloh, Hannah got up and left. Now Eli the high priest was sitting on a chair near the entrance to Yahweh’s Holy Tent. Hannah was very sad. She prayed to Yahweh, and she travailed. She made a vow. She said, ‘O Yahweh of the armies of heaven, surely You can see that I am absolutely miserable?! Remember me! Don’t forget me! If You will only give me a son, then I will donate him back to You for his entire life (for divine service in the tabernacle). And no one will ever cut his hair'(he will become a Nazirite).”
I notice that even though Hannah was tormented by Peninnah, she didn’t respond with hatefulness. She turned to God and poured her heart out to Him. Her actions clearly show her obedience to God, and her understanding that He is in control of everything.
1 Samuel: 1 & 2 – Samuel is born – Day 2
Yesterday I started a study of 1 Samuel with the story of Hannah. She kept a right relationship with God by not being hateful to Peninnah and by going to the Lord in prayer with her heartache. Today I will continue the story of Hannah with God’s answer to her prayer.
1 Samuel 1:20 (IEB): “So, Hannah (had relations with her husband and) became pregnant, and, in time, she gave birth to a son. (b) She named him ‘Samuel’. (c) She said, ‘His name is Samuel because I asked Yahweh for him.”
Following the footnotes (b) Conceiving and bearing children is a gift from God.
Genesis 33:5; “Then Esau looked up and saw the women and children. He asked, ‘Who are these with you?’ Jacob answered, ‘They are the children whom God has freely given to me’.”
Genesis 48:9; “Joseph said to his father, ‘They are my sons whom God has given to me here'”.
Psalms 127:3; “Look, children are a gift from Yahweh. Babies are a reward.”
Isaiah 8:18; “Look, I am here. And, with me are the children (believers) whom Yahweh has given me. We are signs and proofs for the people of Israel…”
Luke 1:25; Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist said, “Look what the Lord God has done for me! My people were ashamed of me, but now the Lord God has taken that shame away.”
(c) Samuel means “heard by God.”
1 Samuel 1:21-22 (IEB): “Every year, Elkanah (Hannah’s husband) went up to Shiloh to offer sacrifices and to keep his vow to God (d) And, he brought almost is whole family with him. But Hannah did not go up with him. (e) She told her husband, ‘When the boy is old enough to eat solid food, I will take him to Shiloh. Then he will be presented in front of the Always-Present one. And, he will always live there at Shiloh!”
Following the footnotes:
(d) “Elkanah had ratified Hannah’s own vow by making it his vow as well. See Numbers 30:6-7, 10-15” for the Mosaic laws regarding vows made by wives. Elkanah had the option of nullifying Hannah’s vow to God as soon as he knew about it, but he chose to honor it knowing that he would be giving up this long awaited son.
(e) “Only the men were required to go up to the festival (Exo. 23:17), but pious women often accompanied their husbands.”
I leave my study today impressed by the example of Hannah and Elkanah. Hannah wanted to spend every possible moment with her son until the time came that she would honor her vow and leave him at Shiloh under Eli’s care. Elkanah could have selfishly nullified Hannah’s vow and kept Samuel, but instead he honored her and God by honoring her vow.
1 Samuel: 1 & 2 – Hannah praises God – Day 3
Today I am finishing 1 Samuel chapter 1. Earlier in the chapter, Hannah prayed to God for a son, and he granted her prayer. She made God a promise “If You will only give me a son, then I will donate him back to You for his entire life (for divine service in the tabernacle). And no one will ever cut his hair.” The time has come for Hannah and Elkanah to honor her promise.
1 Samuel 1:24-28 (IEB): “When Samuel was old enough to eat solid food, Hannah took young Samuel up with her to the Holy Tent (the tabernacle) of Yahweh at Shiloh. She also brought along a 3-year-old bull, half a bushel of flower, and a leather container of wine. They killed the bull for the sacrifice. Then Hannah brought the little boy to Eli. She said to Eli, ‘As surely as you live, my lord, I am the same woman who stood here near you, praying to Yahweh. I prayed to give birth to this child. The Always-Present One has answered my prayer! He will belong to Yahweh for his entire life!’ And they worshiped there in the presence of Yahweh.”
Hannah prayed for a son and promised if God would grant her prayer she would give him back to serve the Lord. God granted her prayer and she honored her promise. I can’t help thinking how hard that would be! But look what Hannah does next; she “worshiped there in the presence of Yahweh”!
1 Samuel 2:1-2 (IEB) “Hannah prayed: ‘Yahweh has filled my heart with joy. My strength is exalted in Yahweh, I am more confident than my enemies. I am glad because You, O God, have rescued me! (a) There is no one holy like Yahweh. There is no God but You. There is no Rock like our God.”
Following the footnotes:
(a) Literally, “because I rejoice in Your deliverance.” Hannah now knows that she is no longer barren.
1 Samuel 2:5 (IEB): In her prayer Hannah continues: “…The woman who was unable to have children now has seven children! (b) But the woman who had many sons now grieves. (c)”
Following the footnotes:
(b) “literally, ‘The barren (woman) has borne seven (children)!’ = Hannah. (compare 1 Samuel 1:20; 2:21). The number “seven” was symbolic of perfection.”
(c) “probably referring to Peninnah, Elkanah’s other wife (1 Samuel 1:2,4,6). Peninnah could no longer give birth to any more children; she was not being blessed anymore.”
1 Samuel 2:21 (IEB): “And Yahweh was kind to Hannah. She became the mother of three sons and 2 daughters. But Samuel grew up in the service of Yahweh.”
Hannah trusted God, she kept her promise to Him, and rejoiced in the Lord. And He continued to bless her. In this world of instant gratification it is sometimes hard to see that God has a bigger plan. I leave my study today grateful for this reminder and for Hannah’s example.
1 Samuel: 1 & 2 – Eli’s sons Hophni and Phinehas – Day 4
Samuel has been left in Eli’s care in Shiloh. Today I am reading about Eli’s two sons Hophni and Phinehas who were priests at Shiloh.
1 Samuel 2:12-17 (IEB): “However, Eli’s two sons were evil men. (c) They did not respect Yahweh. The custom of the priests with the people was ordinarily as follows: Every time someone brought a sacrifice, (d) the meat would be ready to cook in a container. The priest’s servant boy was supposed to come over with a three-pronged hook in his hand. And, the boy would normally plunge the hook into the pan, the kettle, the caldron, or the pot. And, whatever that hook brought up out of the container belonged to the priest. That’s how they usually treated all the Israelites who came to Shiloh to offer sacrifices. But even before the fat began to smoke, Hophni and Phinehas’ servant boy would come over to the one who was offering sacrifices and say to that man: ‘Give the priest some meat to roast! The priest won’t accept boiled meat from you! He will only accept raw meat!’ (e) But the man who was offering the sacrifice might say to the boy: ‘Let the fat begin to smoke first, as usual. Then you may take what ever you want!’ But the priest’s servant boy would answer, ‘No! Give me the meat right now! If you don’t, then I will take it by force!’ (f) So, the sin of the young men was very great in the presence of Yahweh. They did not show any respect at all for the offerings which were being made to Yahweh.
Following the footnotes:
(c) “literally, ‘sons of Belial’ = worthless sons”. See also: 2 Corinthians 6:15 “How can Christ and Satan (literally ‘Beliar’ without worth) agree? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?”
(d) “See Leviticus. 7:31-35. Verses 11-36 give the law governing a peace offering sacrifice. Verse 31 says “Then the priest must offer up the fat in smoke on the alter….” Specific portions were to be given as a gift to the priest who offered the blood and the fat of the peace offering.
(e) “These evil priests wanted to cook the meat their own way, not God’s way.”
(f) “Hophni and Phinehas wanted to take more than the Low of Moses allowed. The people knew what the Torah said, and they were indignant about the naked greed of Hophni and Phinehas.
These were the sons of Eli! They should have been totally dedicated to God, but they put their own will above the will of God. The people brought their sacrifices to God, and these men stole it right out of their hands! Right in the place of worship, literally thumbing their noses at the Always-Present One – Yahweh!
1 Samuel 2:18 (IEB): “However, Samuel was serving faithfully in the presence of Yahweh.”
I leave my study today examining my life; Christ made the final sacrifice for everyone who would believe in Him and obey His commands. Do I treat that sacrifice with the respect and reverence it deserves? Do I make every effort to spend time in His word and be obedient to His will? Am I doing what He wants me to do?
1 Samuel: 1 & 2 – Eli’s response to his son’s behavior – Day 5
Yesterday I read about Eli’s sons Hophni and Phinehas, and the shameful way they treated the sacrifices meant for Yahweh. Today I’m reading about Eli their father and his response to what his sons were doing.
1 Samuel 2:21-25 (IEB): “Now, Eli was very old. He heard about everything that his sons were doing to all the Israelites. He also heard about how his sons were having sex with the women who assisted at the entrance to the Meeting Tent.(a) Eli said to his two sons, ‘All the people here tell me about the terrible things that you are doing. Why do you do such evil things?! No, my sons! The people of the Always-Present One are saying awful things about you! The news is spreading! If someone sins against another person, God can act as a go-between for him.(b) But, if that individual sins against Yahweh Himself, there is no one who can pray for him!'(c) However, Eli’s sons would not listen to their father’s advice. (Yahweh had decided to put them to death!)(d)”
Following the footnotes:
(a) “This was the sacred tent of God. This movable tent-temple was constructed for holy service to God, according to the ‘pattern’ which God Himself showed to Moses on Mount Sinai. (See Exodus 25:9; Hebrews 8:5)
Exodus 25:9 (IEB): “You must make it according to everything that I will show you, after the pattern of the Holy Tent and the pattern of all of its furniture.”
Hebrews 8:5 (IEB): “Those priests worship at a temple which is only a copy of what is in heaven. It is not the original one. When Moses was about to build the holy tent, God warned him: ‘Be careful! You must make everything like the pattern which I showed you on the mountain’.” (Exodus 25:40)
(b) or, “be a mediator for him.” Compare 1 Timothy 2:5
1 Timothy 2:5 (IEB): “There is one God. There is one go-between between God and human beings – the man Christ Jesus.”
(c) “Hophni and Phinehas had desecrated the sacred sacrifices which were offered to God, and they fornicated on holy ground. God is the Plaintiff, and since there is no higher Power in the universe, then divine punishment is inevitable.”
(d) “Their destruction was determined by their own willful, impenitent disobedience. They were so entrenched in their sinful practices that they ignored Eli’s pleas. They were hardened against God.”
1 Samuel 2:26 (IEB): “The boy Samuel kept on growing up; he pleased Yahweh and the people.(e)”
Following the footnotes:
(e) Literally, “continued to grow both in stature and in favor with Yahweh and also with human beings” = Samuel was accepted by God and his fellowman. Compare the similar language about the development of Jesus of Nazareth (Luke 2:40,52.)
I leave my study today convinced that God demands that I show Him proper respect, that willful unrepentant disobedience will be punished, but pleasing God will be rewarded.
1 Samuel: 1 & 2 – Eli falls from God’s favor – Day 6
Today I am continuing in 1 Samuel chapter 2. God was disgusted with Eli’s sons because they showed no respect for Him, or the sacrifices to Him, or for His tabernacle. At the end of chapter 2 the prophet says this to Eli, their father;
1 Samuel 2:30-31 (IEB): “So, here is what Yahweh, the God of Israel, says: ‘Indeed I promised that your family and your ancestor’s family would serve Me forever. (b) But now Yahweh says this: “That will NEVER be! I will honor only those who honor Me. But I will take honor away from those who do NOT honor Me! Look, the time is coming when I will destroy the descendants of both you and your father! – No man will grow old in your family.”
Following the footnotes for 1 Samuel 2:30:
(b) “But all of God’s promises are conditional, depending on the faithfulness of people who received God’s promises (See Jer. 18:7-10).”
Jeremiah 18:7-10 (IEB): “There may come a time when I will speak about a nation or a kingdom. I might say that I would pull up that nation by its roots. Or, I might say that I would break the nation down and destroy it. However, if the people of that nation were sorry for the evil they have done, then I would revoke My plans to bring disaster to them. There may come another time when I will speak about a nation or about a kingdom. I might say that I would build up and plant it. But, if I see it doing evil by not obeying Me, then I would revoke My plans to do good to them (f).”
Following the footnotes for Jer.18:10 (f) Compare Numbers 23:19. God does not revise His principles every time the situation changes like King Hezekiah’s political advisors (Isaiah 31:2). Compare also Hebrews 13:8; James 1:17. As human beings, God gives us the power of choice, and God reacts to us accordingly.
Isaiah 31:2 (IEB): “Nevertheless, it is Yahweh who is wise and who can bring disaster. He will rise up and fight against the evil people. And, He will fight against those who try to help evil people.”
Hebrews 13:8 (IEB): “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”
James 1:17 (IEB): “Every good and perfect gift comes down to us from God, the Source of truth. The Father of lights is always consistent and changeless.”
1 Samuel 2:34 (IEB): “And this will be the sign to you. Both of your sons – Hophni and Phinehas will die on the same day”(f)
Following the footnotes for 1 Sam. 2:34; This was fulfilled in 1 Sam.4:10-11.
Eli lost favor with the Lord because he allowed his sons to dishonor Him. It’s clear to me from these passages that God expects my total dedication toward Him. As a parent, I need to do everything in my power to encourage my children to do the same. I need to bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. If I don’t teach them to please the Lord, the world will teach them to please themselves.