1 Samuel 1:1-28
Elkanah had two wives. Since 1
Samuel 1:5 states that Elkanah loved Hannah, we can assume
that she was his first wife. Children were extremely important to Jews since
Christ would come through the linage of the Jewish race. Moses instructed the
children of Israel
that upon the death of a married man who does not have children, the man’s
brother would take the wife, marry her and fulfill the duties of a husband. The
firstborn child would carry the brother’s name (Deuteronomy 25:5-6). Since
Hannah was barren, Elkanah probably took a second wife, Peninnah, so that he
could have children to carry on his name. Although many worthy and honorable
men of the Bible are recorded as having more than one wife, we must remember
that while God once over looked multiple wives, he never intended for man to
practice polygamy (Matthew 19:3-9). As with the many instances of polygamy
outlined in the Bible, Elkanah’s two wives did not live in harmony.
Each year Elkanah traveled about 25 miles from his
home in Ramah to Shiloh to worship God. This
was one of the three feasts all male Jews were required to attend (Deuteronomy
16:16). Since only the male Jews were required to attend this feast, Elkanah
could have taken his older sons and left the women and children behind. He
chose to include all his family members in this period of worship.
A part of this feast was to offer a thank offering
to the Lord. In Leviticus 7:11-15,
we read the details of this sacrifice. A portion of the sacrificed animal was
offered to God and the remainder was to be eaten in its entirety that day “in a
simple communion service” (Wycliffe). According to 1 Samuel 1:4-5, Elkanah gave Peninnah and her
children their portions, but to Hannah he gave a “worthy portion; for he loved
her.” The worthy portion may have been a double helping as is translated in the
New King James and the American Standard versions. However,
Matthew Henry suggests that “yet to Hannah he gave a worthy portion, the
choicest piece that came to the table, the piece (whatever it was) that used to
be given on such occasions to those that were most valued; this he did in token
of his love to her, and to give all possible assurances of it.” Whatever
Elkanah gave to Hannah was noticeably different from what he gave Peninnah and
was intended to show to Hannah how much he loved her.
The worthy portion was not a one-time act, but each
year when Elkanah and his family went to Shiloh
to worship God, Hannah received a worthy portion. Peninnah used this
opportunity to torment and taunt Hannah about her barrenness. Oh, how cruel and
unkind to provoke one to such distress while worshipping God. The place where
one should have peace and tranquility was turned into despair and remorse.
Although not recorded, I am sure Hannah prayed regularly for a child, and each
year as they traveled to Shiloh to worship, in
Hannah’s eyes, that prayer remained unanswered. Elkanah was aware of the
actions of Peninnah, and he tried to comfort Hannah with added attention and
The words of Elkanah as recorded in 1 Samuel 1:8 were intended to console and gently
rebuke. Elkanah reminded Hannah that while she may not be a mother to children,
she had the love and devotion of her husband. Hannah accepted Elkanah’s rebuke
and ate. Burton Coffman suggests that the phrase “‘After they had eaten and
drunk in Shiloh’…might mean ‘after their meal
had started,’ and that Hannah interrupted her meal to make her appeal to God.”
Hannah left the family meal to pray to God.
The term “temple” used in verse nine is referring to
the Tabernacle. The Temple
and Tabernacle were places of worship during the Mosaic Age. God gave Moses the
instructions for the Tabernacle while he was on Mount Sinai following the
Israelites’ escape from Egypt
(Exodus 25). The Tabernacle was to be a sanctuary and dwelling place for God in
the midst of the people (Exodus 25:8). This structure was a tent that was taken
apart and reassembled each time the children of God moved from one location to
another during the 40 years of wilderness wandering. After the conquest of
Canaan, the Tabernacle was assembled and left in Shiloh.
Later, when David became king, he desired to build a permanent place of
worship. However, because David was a man of war and had shed much blood, God
chose David’s son, Solomon, to build the Temple
(1 Chronicles 22:8-10).
Hannah came to the Tabernacle to plead with God.
Hannah was very upset and prayed a reverent, silent prayer. As she prayed, she
moved her lips to form the words to God, but she did not audibly speak the
words for others to hear. Her prayer was intended for God. Only God can answer
our prayers, and God was the only one who needed to hear her request. In the
prayer, Hannah begged God for a son. Then, she promised God that if he would
grant her request, she would return him to the Lord.
Eli, the high priest, was sitting in a chair by the
doorpost of the Tabernacle when Hannah came to pray. Eli observed Hannah as she
prayed. He saw her lips moving and heard no sound coming from her mouth. Since
these were immoral times, Eli assumed Hannah came to the Tabernacle to pray
while intoxicated with alcoholic beverages. Drinking alcoholic beverages was
strictly prohibited in the Old Testament (Proverbs 23:31). Eli rebuked Hannah
for what he assumed was her drunken state. Hannah quickly denied the accusation
and explained she was broken hearted.
Hannah’s demeanor must have conveyed to Eli the truthfulness
of her words. Eli told Hannah to go in peace. He further suggested that God
would grant her request. The Scriptures do not indicate that Eli knew what
Hannah asked from God. Her behavior must have portrayed a godly woman worthy of
answered prayers. Hannah accepted Eli’s words and left the Tabernacle. Upon
returning to her family, she ate her meal with a renewed spirit.
The next morning, Elkanah and his family rose early to
worship God before their journey home to Ramah. Sometime later, God remembered
Hannah and she conceived. God granted Hannah’s prayer for a son and Samuel was
born. When time for the yearly trip arrived, Hannah asked Elkanah to excuse her
from this trip. She had not forgotten her promise to God, but wished to wait
until Samuel was weaned before attending another feast in Shiloh.
She knew that when Samuel was weaned, she would fulfill her promise by leaving
Samuel at the Tabernacle to serve God. Elkanah granted her request.
From the genealogies in 1 Chronicles 6:33-34, we learn
that Samuel was from the family of Kohath, a son of Levi. God chose the sons of
Levi to serve him as priests (Numbers 3:6-8). Further, the sons of Kohath were
to be in charge of the items within the Tabernacle (Numbers 3:29-31). “Samuel,
as a descendant of the house of Levi, was the Lord’s property from twenty-five
years of age till fifty” (Adam Clarke).
When Samuel was about three years old, Hannah and
Samuel traveled with the rest of the family for the yearly feast. Upon their
arrival in Shiloh, sacrifice was made at the Tabernacle.
Hannah reminded Eli of her petition to God at her last visit, acknowledged that
the young boy was the answer to that prayer, and Hannah presented Samuel to Eli
for a lifelong service to God in accordance with the vow Hannah made about four
Since Samuel was a Levite, he already belonged to God.
Hannah’s vow to “give him unto the LORD all the days of his life” was extending
the duration of his service. Hannah promised Samuel from the time he was able
to be useful until his death. First Samuel Chapter One concludes with, “And he
worshipped the Lord there.” Jamieson,
Fausset and Brown makes the following observation about this phrase, “And
he worshipped…there—namely, the child Samuel, who was at an age capable of some
external service; otherwise he must have been an incumbrance and a burden.” At
a young age (verse 24) Samuel was capable of serving and worshipping God. The
young age was about three years old.
The first ten verses of Chapter Two record the prayer
Hannah sang with rejoicing. This prayer was one of thanksgiving to God for
fulfilling her petition for a son. It was also a prophecy of the coming Messiah
and his church. At the conclusion of the feast, Elkanah and his family, minus
Samuel, returned to Ramah. Hannah left her son in Shiloh
to serve God. However, she did not forget about him. Each year when Elkanah and
his family traveled to Shiloh to worship,
Hannah brought a new coat for Samuel.
Eli was aware of the devotion Hannah exhibited toward
the son she saw once a year. Because Hannah kept her promise to God, Eli
blessed Elkanah and Hannah and requested that God give them more children. God
heard Eli’s prayer and blessed Hannah with three more sons and two daughters (1
Samuel 2:19-21). This is the last reference to Hannah in the Bible. However,
her legacy lives on throughout all times. The simple prayer of a godly woman
gave rise to Samuel, the last judge of Israel, one of the great prophets
of the Old Testament and a priest to God.
Hannah was a worshipper of God.
Only the male Jews were required to attend the annual
feasts. Hannah accompanied her husband on the long journey to Shiloh
each year to worship God. This trip was not an easy task. They traveled by foot
or rode donkeys a minimum of 25 miles one way. This would necessitate a
multiple day journey, probably sleeping in tents or in the open air.
Restaurants were not available so that meant food and cooking utensils must be
packed for the journey. Besides the difficult physical journey, Hannah had to
endure the emotional pain inflicted by Peninnah. Oh, how much easier it would
have been to stay home and worship God by herself in peace and solitude.
Despite the obstacles, Hannah worshipped God at the appointed place and at the
Many times Christians must travel great distances to
worship God at the appointed place and at the appointed times. It is not always
easy. Advance preparation must be made to arrive on time. It would be easy to
say, “It’s just too far. God will understand if we do not return for evening
services. It is just too far. God will understand if we miss Wednesday evening
Bible Study. After all, the children are in school all day; they have homework,
and they have to be in bed early or they are tired for school the next day.”
Does God understand? God commands that we worship him on the first day of the
week (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:1-2).
The writer of the Hebrew letter rebuked those Christians for missing the
assembly of the saints (Hebrews 10:25). This verse still applies to all
Christians everywhere. Advance preparation and planning will allow Christians
to assemble at the appointed times and at the appointed place.
Hannah did not let the unpleasant behavior of Peninnah
keep her from worshipping God. Difficulties with other Christians can create a
less than peaceful gathering of the Lord’s church. We cannot allow the
attitudes and behavior of others to keep us from worshipping God at the
appointed times. We must assemble with the saints for worship regardless of the
emotional discomfort that may prevail.
Are you like Hannah? Will you travel to worship God?
Will you ignore the unpleasantness of the others to gather with the saints to
Hannah turned the other cheek.
Peninnah was unkind, unjust and hostile toward Hannah.
Instead of comforting Hannah in her barrenness, Peninnah flaunted her many
children. Perhaps if Peninnah had treated Hannah better, Elkanah would not have
openly shown his favoritism for Hannah at the yearly feast in Shiloh.
Hannah did not respond to Peninnah’s taunts in an unfavorable manner. The
insults from Peninnah caused Hannah to grow sullen, but she did not retaliate
with unkind and harsh words or actions. She could have responded with her own
insults and the fact that Elkanah loved her more than he loved Peninnah.
Instead, she responded to Peninnah with prayer. Jesus taught in Matthew 5:39 to turn the other cheek. We should
make a greater effort to ignore unjust treatment from others. Hannah turned the
Are you like Hannah? Do you walk away from those who
are unkind or do you retaliate with unkind words?
Hannah accepted and applied criticism when received.
Elkanah gently rebuked Hannah for her sullen
disposition. He reminded her that while she may not have a child of her own she
had his love. His love should be enough to make her happy. Hannah accepted this
gentle rebuke. She made herself eat at least a portion of the meal then went to
the Tabernacle to pray.
As Christians, we sometimes receive just and unjust
criticism. Some criticism is given with good intentions. Some criticism is
given with malicious intentions. Some criticism is based on a misunderstanding
of what was said or observed. We should graciously accept all criticism,
evaluate the comments and make appropriate application as necessary.
Are you like Hannah? Do you evaluate the criticism you
receive and make appropriate application? Do you become insulted and upset when
someone suggests that something you said or did was inappropriate?
Hannah was a prayerful woman.
Hannah turned to God in times of distress and in times
of rejoicing. When Hannah so desperately wanted a child, she prayed to God. Her
prayer was specific and in a sense bargaining. She prayed for a son who she
could give back to God. The moral fiber of the Israelites was evil. The time
period of the Judges, with Samuel being the last judge, was a pendulum swing of
good and evil. Lengthy periods of knowing and obeying God then forgetting and
disobedience lasted for about 350 years. The sons of Eli, the high priest, were
corrupting the Tabernacle with their evil ways. Perhaps one of the reasons
Hannah so desperately wanted a son was to train a child in God’s Word in hope
of bringing some morals back to Israel.
Hannah prayed to God when she left Samuel with Eli at
the Tabernacle. This prayer was one of rejoicing. She happily fulfilled her vow
and realized the long-range impact her selfless act would have on times
First Thessalonians 5:17 reminds all Christians to
“Pray without ceasing.” Always have an attitude acceptable to prayer. Remember
to pray morning, noon, night and at times in between. Pray in times of distress
and in times of rejoicing. Thank God for the good times and ask him for
guidance in times of distress. As we pray, we must be willing to accept the
answer God gives. Sometimes we ask for things that are not in our best
interest. We should always pray that God’s will, not ours, be done. God hears
the prayers of the righteous (James 5:16).
Hannah prayed a specific prayer. She asked God for a
son, not a baby. She outlined what she would do if God granted her a son. We
should be specific in our prayers to God and acknowledge to God our need for
our request. If we would like a larger home, we could pray that God help us
secure that home so that it would be easier to show hospitality. If we desire
another car, we could pray that God help us secure a vehicle that will better
serve providing transportation to others for worship services. If God grants
the request, we better follow through with using the items as we outlined. Our
prayers can be general in nature. When we pray that God will use us in his
service, our prayer is general in that we have not been specific as to where or
how God is to use us. When we pray this prayer, we need to accept the guidance
he gives and follow wherever he leads.
Do you pray as Hannah prayed? Do you only pray when
you have a need? Do you remember God in prayer during the good times? Do you
pray specific and general prayers? Are you prepared to accept God’s answer to
your prayers? Do you accuse God of not answering your prayer when it is not
answered according to your timeframe? Will you leave God and the church when
God has not answered your prayer according to your desires?
Hannah kept her promises.
Hannah prayed for a son and promised God that she
would give him back to God. As soon as Samuel was old enough to be of service
to God, she kept that promise. She left Samuel with Eli to serve in the Tabernacle.
As Christians, we should keep our promises. Solomon taught
in Ecclesiastes 5:4 that when
one fails to fulfill a vow or promise to God, one is as a fool. Ecclesiastes 5:5 advises that it would be better not
to make a vow than to make a vow and be unable to keep it. When we obeyed the
Gospel, we were telling God that we would serve him. When we fail to serve God,
we are failing to keep our promise to God. In addition, we should keep the
promises we make to others. When we agree to something, we should make every
effort to complete the agreed upon task.
Are you like Hannah? Do you keep the promises you make
to others? If you have promised God something, have you kept that promise? Are
you like those, who in times of distress, bargain with God then fail to fulfill
your end of the bargain when God grants the request?
Hannah taught Samuel how to worship God.
“…And he worshipped the LORD there” (1 Samuel 1:28).
Hannah must have taught Samuel about God and how to worship, since he
worshipped God on his first trip to Shiloh. At
the young age of three, Samuel knew about worshipping God. Samuel “ministered
unto the Lord before Eli the priest” (1 Samuel 2:11). Samuel knew about serving
Just as Hannah taught Samuel from a very young age, we
need to teach our children from a very young age. Most congregations have Bible
classes for infants and toddlers where they are taught about God.
Unfortunately, many times we fail at teaching our toddlers how to worship God.
Most children learn from what they observe. Toddlers can begin to learn the
importance of worship by observing those around them. When they see adults and
older children fidgeting, talking, looking around and making frequent trips out
of the auditorium, they learn that worship is not important. When they see
older children and adults singing, turning in the Bible to the Scriptures being
read, bowing their heads in prayer and sitting attentively, they learn that
worship is important. We need to train our children from infancy to worship
Are you like Hannah? Do you teach your children the
importance of worshipping God? Is your behavior during worship helpful or
hindering to the young mothers trying to train their children to worship God?
Clarke, Adam. Adam