1Now there was a certain man from Ramathaim-zophim from the hill country of Ephraim, and his name was Elkanah the son of Jeroham, the son of Elihu, the son of Tohu, the son of Zuph, an Ephraimite.
1Now there was a certain man from Ramathaim-zophim from the hill country of Ephraim, and his name was Elkanah the son of Jeroham, the son of Elihu, the son of Tohu, the son of Zuph, an Ephraimite.
The history of Samuel begins with the presentation of his father Elkanah. Elkanah lives in Rama, here called “Ramathaim-zophim”. “Ramathaim-zophim” means “the two heights (of the) Zophites”. It seems that the city is so named, to distinguish it from other cities called Ramah; the addition may have been derived from the Levitical family of Zophai or Zuph (1Chr 6:26,3526[As for] Elkanah, the sons of Elkanah [were] Zophai his son and Nahath his son,35the son of Zuph, the son of Elkanah, the son of Mahath, the son of Amasai,). In the rest of this book only Ramah is mentioned. This is the place where Samuel not only is born (1Sam 1:1919Then they arose early in the morning and worshiped before the LORD, and returned again to their house in Ramah. And Elkanah had relations with Hannah his wife, and the LORD remembered her.), but where he also lives, works, dies (1Sam 7:1717Then his return [was] to Ramah, for his house [was] there, and there he judged Israel; and he built there an altar to the LORD.; 15:3434Then Samuel went to Ramah, but Saul went up to his house at Gibeah of Saul.; 16:1313Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon David from that day forward. And Samuel arose and went to Ramah.; 19:18-1918Now David fled and escaped and came to Samuel at Ramah, and told him all that Saul had done to him. And he and Samuel went and stayed in Naioth.19It was told Saul, saying, “Behold, David is at Naioth in Ramah.”; 19:22-2322Then he himself went to Ramah and came as far as the large well that is in Secu; and he asked and said, “Where are Samuel and David?” And [someone] said, “Behold, they are at Naioth in Ramah.”23He proceeded there to Naioth in Ramah; and the Spirit of God came upon him also, so that he went along prophesying continually until he came to Naioth in Ramah.) and is buried (1Sam 25:1a1Then Samuel died; and all Israel gathered together and mourned for him, and buried him at his house in Ramah. And David arose and went down to the wilderness of Paran.; 28:3a3Now Samuel was dead, and all Israel had lamented him and buried him in Ramah, his own city. And Saul had removed from the land those who were mediums and spiritists.).
Elkanah’s family is given back up to four generations. That corresponds to the two times that the ancestors of Elkanah are mentioned in 1 Chronicles. First the family of Elkanah is mentioned in the genealogy of Kohath (1Chr 6:2626[As for] Elkanah, the sons of Elkanah [were] Zophai his son and Nahath his son,) and then in that of Heman, the leader of the singers, a grandson of Samuel (1Chr 6:3333These are those who served with their sons: From the sons of the Kohathites [were] Heman the singer, the son of Joel, the son of Samuel,). Elkanah is a Levite of the rebellious Korah family (1Chr 6:27,34,3727Eliab his son, Jeroham his son, Elkanah his son.34the son of Elkanah, the son of Jeroham, the son of Eliel, the son of Toah,37the son of Tahath, the son of Assir, the son of Ebiasaph, the son of Korah,; Num 16:1-31Now Korah the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, with Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, and On the son of Peleth, sons of Reuben, took [action],2and they rose up before Moses, together with some of the sons of Israel, two hundred and fifty leaders of the congregation, chosen in the assembly, men of renown.3They assembled together against Moses and Aaron, and said to them, “You have gone far enough, for all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the LORD is in their midst; so why do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the LORD?”). Korah perished, but his children were spared by grace (Num 26:1111The sons of Korah, however, did not die.). Samuel, the son of Elkanah, is a Levite. Therefore, he can serve in the tabernacle.
Elkanah is called an “Ephraimite” because, as far as his civil place is concerned, he belongs to the tribe of Ephraim. The Levites are counted among the tribes in the midst of which they live, so that they are also named after that tribe (cf. Jdg 17:77Now there was a young man from Bethlehem in Judah, of the family of Judah, who was a Levite; and he was staying there.).
2He had two wives: the name of one was Hannah and the name of the other Peninnah; and Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children.
Elkana’s wife, Hannah, is barren. This is also the case with Sarah (Gen 16:11Now Sarai, Abram’s wife had borne him no [children], and she had an Egyptian maid whose name was Hagar.), Rebekah (Gen 25:2121Isaac prayed to the LORD on behalf of his wife, because she was barren; and the LORD answered him and Rebekah his wife conceived.) and Rachel (Gen 29:3131Now the LORD saw that Leah was unloved, and He opened her womb, but Rachel was barren.), the women of the patriarchs. Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, is also infertile (Lk 1:77But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both advanced in years.). God uses this fact to make His work visible and that its results may be to His credit. In these cases of infertility God works great things. If nothing can be expected of man, God is given the opportunity to fulfill His plans of grace. He does not do this without practicing His instruments.
Elkanah is a believer, but he is not a ‘man of God’. He gives the impression of being a man who faithfully fulfils his religious obligations, as many do today. Much spiritual exercise is not perceptible. It does not mean that he is without spiritual exercise, but Hannah still stands out far above him spiritually. The fact that he has two wives does not plead for him either, although he could point to men like Abraham and Jacob who also had two or even more wives.
Of his two wives Hannah is mentioned first, which makes it likely that he married her first. Later in this chapter his love for her is shown. Yet he took a second wife, Peninnah. It may be that he also took Peninnah as a wife because of the barrenness of Hannah. He will have thought up a good reason for himself, but it is against God’s intent (Mt 19:4-84And He answered and said, “Have you not read that He who created [them] from the beginning MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE,5and said, ‘FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH’?6So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.”7They *said to Him, “Why then did Moses command to GIVE HER A CERTIFICATE OF DIVORCE AND SEND [her] AWAY?”8He *said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses permitted you to divorce your wives; but from the beginning it has not been this way.). For family life it always means misery.
Hannah means ‘grace’, with which she is clothed. Peninnah means ‘shiny’ or ‘pearl’, but she only radiates herself. Peninnah lives in the same environment, but there is no spiritual life to be seen in her. She mocks Hannah and reveals herself as her opponent. Peninnah can point to ‘success’, she has children, perhaps even ten (verse 88Then Elkanah her husband said to her, “Hannah, why do you weep and why do you not eat and why is your heart sad? Am I not better to you than ten sons?”). In this way we too can easily measure spiritual blessing by the supporters of a movement. If you compare Hannah with that, what does she represent, without ‘success’ and miserable? But God does not judge that way. He brings her into exercise, that she may produce fruit for Him.
From a prophetic point of view, the feelings of a God-fearing remnant are not primarily to be found with Samuel, but with Hannah. Her soul exercises should be those of the whole people. We are here with the few faithful. This is just as in the beginning of the Gospel according to Luke, where we meet an unknown and insignificant number of people in the midst of an apostate people, with whom the longing for blessing is present for the whole people (Luke 1-2). Among them is Mary, the mother of the Lord Jesus, who sings a hymn of praise (Lk 1:46-5546And Mary said:
“My soul exalts the Lord,
47And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.
48“For He has had regard for the humble state of His bondslave;
For behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed.
49“For the Mighty One has done great things for me;
And holy is His name.
50“AND HIS MERCY IS UPON GENERATION AFTER GENERATION
TOWARD THOSE WHO FEAR HIM.
51“He has done mighty deeds with His arm;
He has scattered [those who were] proud in the thoughts of their heart.
52“He has brought down rulers from [their] thrones,
And has exalted those who were humble.
53“HE HAS FILLED THE HUNGRY WITH GOOD THINGS;
And sent away the rich empty-handed.
54“He has given help to Israel His servant,
In remembrance of His mercy,
55As He spoke to our fathers,
To Abraham and his descendants forever.”
) much like the hymn of Hannah that we will hear in the next chapter.
3Now this man would go up from his city yearly to worship and to sacrifice to the LORD of hosts in Shiloh. And the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were priests to the LORD there.
In Shiloh is the tent with the ark in it. The tent is the visible sign of God’s presence. Elkanah goes there. He does not only sacrifice, he also worships. The faithful performance of his religious obligations does not make him a formalist, who without thinking performs a meaningless ceremony. He is aware of the grace, of which he is the object as a descendant of Korah. That makes him a worshipper. So it is for us. Although he does not understand the deep exercises of Hannah, he is upright in what he believes.
For the first time the expression “the LORD of host” is used here. This points to the kingship of the LORD over the universe, over the angels, over the stars, and also over His people. He reigns over all powers, both visible and invisible, good and evil, wherever they may be in heaven and on earth. This name, mentioned here by the Spirit of God, is mentioned by Hannah in verse 1111She made a vow and said, “O LORD of hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your maidservant and remember me, and not forget Your maidservant, but will give Your maidservant a son, then I will give him to the LORD all the days of his life, and a razor shall never come on his head.”. She speaks to Him in His royal dignity.
At the place where Elkanah goes to worship, Eli’s sons work as priests. Here only their names are mentioned. The way they exercise their priesthood is described later.
4When the day came that Elkanah sacrificed, he would give portions to Peninnah his wife and to all her sons and her daughters; 5but to Hannah he would give a double portion, for he loved Hannah, but the LORD had closed her womb. 6Her rival, however, would provoke her bitterly to irritate her, because the LORD had closed her womb. 7It happened year after year, as often as she went up to the house of the LORD, she would provoke her; so she wept and would not eat.
It seems that when they go to Shiloh they always have a common sacrificial meal. On that occasion, Elkanah gives each of his family members a part of the peace offering. Elkanah’s love goes particularly to Hannah, which he shows by giving her a double part of the sacrifice of the peace offering (cf. Gen 43:3434He took portions to them from his own table, but Benjamin’s portion was five times as much as any of theirs. So they feasted and drank freely with him.). It seems that this is also the reason for Peninnah’s hateful behavior. Every time Elkanah Hannah shows his love, Peninnah repeats her vicious, agonizing remarks.
Because of Peninnah’s hateful behavior, going up to Shiloh is always a torment for Hannah. Peninnah behaves like this year after year. Peninnah provokes Hannah mainly by mocking her because of her childlessness, as the end of verse 66Her rival, however, would provoke her bitterly to irritate her, because the LORD had closed her womb. seems to indicate. She may suggest that Hannah is childless as a result of a judgment of the LORD and that her piety will therefore not be sincere. Her behavior is reminiscent of Hagar looking at Sara with contempt from that moment on (Gen 16:44He went in to Hagar, and she conceived; and when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress was despised in her sight.), while Sarah, like Hannah, later has a son.
From Hannah we don’t read that she scolds Peninnah for her nagging. She endures the libel. She is able to do so because she has the mind of the Lord Jesus, “while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting [Himself] to Him who judges righteously” (1Pet 2:2323and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting [Himself] to Him who judges righteously;). Yet her grief is so great that she cannot participate in the meal (cf. Deu 26:14a14I have not eaten of it while mourning, nor have I removed any of it while I was unclean, nor offered any of it to the dead. I have listened to the voice of the LORD my God; I have done according to all that You have commanded me.).
8Then Elkanah her husband said to her, “Hannah, why do you weep and why do you not eat and why is your heart sad? Am I not better to you than ten sons?”
Elkanah means well, but his reaction shows that he has no insight into Hannah’s grief. He does not understand the cause. Hannah is alone and misunderstood with her exercises. She does not react like Rachel did, who also wanted children, but blames Jacob for not doing so (Gen 30:11Now when Rachel saw that she bore Jacob no children, she became jealous of her sister; and she said to Jacob, “Give me children, or else I die.”). Hannah does not want anything for herself, she wants something for God. She is prepared to give directly to the LORD what she gets. Hannah does not want to prove herself against Peninnah, but seeks the welfare of the people. She feels what it must mean to God that His people have deviated so far from Him.
Elkanah finds it sufficient that they have each other. Hannah looks further. The satisfaction of Elkanah only concerns himself and brings us nothing further. He doesn’t think so much about Hannah’s well-being, but about the value he would have to have for her anyway. What he says can be felt as a reproach by a woman. He does not realize that Hannah’s feelings should be feelings of the whole people. The Lord finds such feelings more often in women than in men.
9Then Hannah rose after eating and drinking in Shiloh. Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat by the doorpost of the temple of the LORD. 10She, greatly distressed, prayed to the LORD and wept bitterly. 11She made a vow and said, “O LORD of hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your maidservant and remember me, and not forget Your maidservant, but will give Your maidservant a son, then I will give him to the LORD all the days of his life, and a razor shall never come on his head.”
In these verses we hear the prayer of Hannah in the temple. She doesn’t go to Elkanah with her need, because she knows he doesn’t understand her. She can’t go to Eli either. But she can go to the LORD. While others come with sacrificial animals, Hannah comes with a broken spirit and a contrite heart. God does not despise that (Psa 51:1717The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.
She cannot go to Eli because he represents a priesthood that is not directed toward God, but toward himself. Priests are expected to stand up to serve, but Eli sits on a chair. He put it there himself, because in the description of the tabernacle we don’t read about a chair. He can no longer see well (1Sam 3:22It happened at that time as Eli was lying down in his place (now his eyesight had begun to grow dim [and] he could not see [well]),) and he is old and fat (1Sam 4:1818When he mentioned the ark of God, Eli fell off the seat backward beside the gate, and his neck was broken and he died, for he was old and heavy. Thus he judged Israel forty years.). These physical characteristics also indicate his mental state. He represents the priesthood as it is frequently found today.
The praying Hannah forms a great contrast with him. Hannah is the woman of whom it can be said: “Her worth is far above jewels” (Pro 31:10b10An excellent wife, who can find?
For her worth is far above jewels.). She is a praying mother. That marks the life of the child she asks for. In the book 1 Kings and 2 Kings we often read in addition to the name of a king that “the name of his mother was …”. Timothy also owes a lot to his mother and grandmother (2Tim 1:55For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that [it is] in you as well.).
Hannah asks not just for a child, but for “a son”. The masculinity takes precedence. This man must stand before the LORD, to look after the interests of His people. Faith is clear and simple. Hannah prays specifically, targeted, with a purpose. Our prayers are often general, aimless and therefore cannot be answered. That they are not heard should not surprise us.
As Levite, Samuel only has to serve from the age of twenty-fifth, a service that ends when he turns fifty (Num 8:23-2623Now the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,24“This is what [applies] to the Levites: from twenty-five years old and upward they shall enter to perform service in the work of the tent of meeting.25But at the age of fifty years they shall retire from service in the work and not work any more.26They may, however, assist their brothers in the tent of meeting, to keep an obligation, but they [themselves] shall do no work. Thus you shall deal with the Levites concerning their obligations.”). This is not in the mind of Hannah. She gives him to the LORD for all his life. We see the development of the whole life of Samuel. It is closely followed from its earliest years and is described to us, with its first formation taking place in a godless environment.
When we pray for a blessing, we can learn here from Hannah that in our prayers we also say that what we desire we want to use for the Lord’s honor. Of course, this is only valuable if it is the real desire of our heart. Then we will dedicate what we receive through faithful prayer to Him and joyfully use it in His service. It makes the enjoyment of what we have asked and received all the greater. The true joy in everything we have lies in the communion we have in it with the Father and the Son (1Jn 1:3-43what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.4These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete.).
Even as a Nazarite Samuel does not necessarily have to devote his whole life to God. The Nazarite vow is taken for a certain period (Num 6:1-81Again the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,2“Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘When a man or woman makes a special vow, the vow of a Nazirite, to dedicate himself to the LORD,3he shall abstain from wine and strong drink; he shall drink no vinegar, whether made from wine or strong drink, nor shall he drink any grape juice nor eat fresh or dried grapes.4All the days of his separation he shall not eat anything that is produced by the grape vine, from [the] seeds even to [the] skin.5‘All the days of his vow of separation no razor shall pass over his head. He shall be holy until the days are fulfilled for which he separated himself to the LORD; he shall let the locks of hair on his head grow long.6‘All the days of his separation to the LORD he shall not go near to a dead person.7He shall not make himself unclean for his father or for his mother, for his brother or for his sister, when they die, because his separation to God is on his head.8All the days of his separation he is holy to the LORD.). That can be a short time. Hannah however dedicates her son for his whole life. As a trademark of this he will not cut his hair. Long hair is a picture of devotion and dependence, self-subservience. For Samuel this is for the sake of God.
In the time of the church the woman may show this to the man (1Cor 11:1-161Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.2Now I praise you because you remember me in everything and hold firmly to the traditions, just as I delivered them to you.3But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ.4Every man who has [something] on his head while praying or prophesying disgraces his head.5But every woman who has her head uncovered while praying or prophesying disgraces her head, for she is one and the same as the woman whose head is shaved.6For if a woman does not cover her head, let her also have her hair cut off; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, let her cover her head.7For a man ought not to have his head covered, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man.8For man does not originate from woman, but woman from man;9for indeed man was not created for the woman’s sake, but woman for the man’s sake.10Therefore the woman ought to have [a symbol of] authority on her head, because of the angels.11However, in the Lord, neither is woman independent of man, nor is man independent of woman.12For as the woman originates from the man, so also the man [has his birth] through the woman; and all things originate from God.13Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a woman to pray to God [with her head] uncovered?14Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him,15but if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her? For her hair is given to her for a covering.16But if one is inclined to be contentious, we have no other practice, nor have the churches of God.). For every Christian, since his conversion, he has been spiritually committed and submissive to the Lord Jesus, completely dependent on Him. It is a life based on the question: “What shall I do, Lord?” (Acts 22:10a10And I said, ‘What shall I do, Lord?’ And the Lord said to me, ‘Get up and go on into Damascus, and there you will be told of all that has been appointed for you to do.’).
12Now it came about, as she continued praying before the LORD, that Eli was watching her mouth. 13As for Hannah, she was speaking in her heart, only her lips were moving, but her voice was not heard. So Eli thought she was drunk. 14Then Eli said to her, “How long will you make yourself drunk? Put away your wine from you.” 15But Hannah replied, “No, my lord, I am a woman oppressed in spirit; I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have poured out my soul before the LORD. 16Do not consider your maidservant as a worthless woman, for I have spoken until now out of my great concern and provocation.”
The high priest Eli has no knowledge of God’s thoughts. He who, as a high priest, should intervene most of all for the greatest difficulties of the people, understands the least of a sorrowful woman. He treats Hannah mercilessly, while he should be merciful just like a high priest. He brutally breaks off her fellowship with the LORD. She prays intensely and long, because her grief and need are great.
Eli proves his incompetence as a high priest by not recognizing a praying woman as such. Apparently he is more used to drunk women. But he should see the difference between a really drunk woman, who behaves uncontrollably, and the praying Hannah. He has no insight into what occupies the heart of Hannah. He is incapable of sympathizing with the best spirit and disposition of his time.
When the church is born and the believers are filled with the Holy Spirit, the unbelieving people also think that the first Christians are drunk (Acts 2:13-1513But others were mocking and saying, “They are full of sweet wine.”14But Peter, taking his stand with the eleven, raised his voice and declared to them: “Men of Judea and all you who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you and give heed to my words.15For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is [only] the third hour of the day;). The spiritual man is always fooled by those who have no knowledge of the power of God in the inner man. If the highest priest already has such a misjudgment, how should the condition of the people be?
Hannah is here the true priest who prays for the people. She is in the true priestly mind, for her desire is that the people return to God. Therefore she prays for a male child. To bring the people back to God, she asks if God wants to raise up a man for this.
She pours out her heart, but Eli only pays attention to her mouth. He goes off on the outside and thereby comes to the wrong verdict that she is drunk. Hanna’s reaction to the accusation is gentle and lovely. She addresses him with all the respect he deserves for his age and position. She does not blame him for the behavior of his sons and his failure to punish them. She does not throw at him of having to put his own house in order first before he accuses and condemns others in a hard way. Instead of rebelling against him, she bows down before him. All she does is explain her behavior and asking for understanding.
She has been more than just fervent in her prayer to God, and that, she tells him, is the true reason for the disorder in which she seemed to be. If we are unjustly reprimanded, we may try to declare our conduct is pure before the Lord. At the same time, by explaining our conduct, we must try to convince our brothers to what they have misunderstood.
17Then Eli answered and said, “Go in peace; and may the God of Israel grant your petition that you have asked of Him.” 18She said, “Let your maidservant find favor in your sight.” So the woman went her way and ate, and her face was no longer [sad].
Eli does not ask what is going on. His spiritual feeling is too numb to invite Hannah to tell him what concerns her so much, what great care and grief torments her. Yet God uses Eli to make Hannah the requested promise. As a compensation for his hasty, unfriendly reprimand, Eli blesses her kindly and fatherly.
He did not regard Hannah’s statement as an insult, as many are all too inclined to do if they are shown to be mistaken. He was convinced by Hannah and now encouraged her as strongly to believe in her prayer as he had previously hindered her in her prayer. By the words “go in peace”, he not only indicates that he is convinced of her innocence, but he blesses her as authoritative, because he is high priest, in the name of the LORD.
In a short time he has received a totally different and this time correct opinion from her wisdom and Godliness. He promises her that the God of Israel will give her the prayer – whatever it may be – which she has prayed from Him. Hannah accepts in confidence what Eli gives her and does not despise it. She takes his blessing as the voice of God for her soul.
Hannah is an example that we can win those who have reproached us because they did not know us by showing a gentle and humble attitude towards them. We may even be able to make them our friends, and turn their reprimands to us into prayers for us.
Hannah has left her burden with the LORD and returns home enlightened. The prayer has changed her. Peninnah must have been surprised to find out what happened to Hannah, how that great change came about.
Hanna’s exercises are a great encouragement to all who are in great spiritual need. For years there can be felt a deep, sharp pain, a hunger of the heart that just doesn’t’ get satisfied, a disappointed hope. There is nothing but a quiet waiting. If it has the effect it has with Hannah, then it is through these circumstances that we learn how to pray. We will then discover the secret of childlike faith. We will also discover that we are being made fit to become the recipient of some invaluable gift to the world.
19Then they arose early in the morning and worshiped before the LORD, and returned again to their house in Ramah. And Elkanah had relations with Hannah his wife, and the LORD remembered her. 20It came about in due time, after Hannah had conceived, that she gave birth to a son; and she named him Samuel, [saying], “Because I have asked him of the LORD.”
When Elkanah and his family have finished sacrificing, they go home. They have a long journey ahead of them, but they don’t want to leave before they’ve worshipped as a family. It is an example for us personally and as a family. The strength of the spiritual life of the family lies in praying and worshipping together. There is no better start of the day than to worship the Lord, to tell Him that we admire Him for Who He is, what He has done and will do. To Him, Who is first in all things and takes the first place, should also be dedicated our first time and attention.
The birth of Samuel does not happen by supernatural means, but by the way God has given for it. He does, however, give this pregnancy because He remembered Hannah, that is to say that He remembers Hannah’s prayer and that He will now hear it. For God, remembrance is not to suddenly remember something that has forgotten, but to basis of a previous request because the time has now come. What happens is connected to something in the past.
Samuel is born. In the name she gives him, she expresses God’s great goodness to her in the answer to her prayer. “Samuel” means “prayed of God” or “answered by God” – because she has prayed for him to the LORD. This name also indicates the character of Samuel. He will be a man of prayer, his service will be marked by prayer (1Sam 7:55Then Samuel said, “Gather all Israel to Mizpah and I will pray to the LORD for you.”; 8:66But the thing was displeasing in the sight of Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” And Samuel prayed to the LORD.; 12:19,2319Then all the people said to Samuel, “Pray for your servants to the LORD your God, so that we may not die, for we have added to all our sins [this] evil by asking for ourselves a king.”23Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by ceasing to pray for you; but I will instruct you in the good and right way.; 15:1111“I regret that I have made Saul king, for he has turned back from following Me and has not carried out My commands.” And Samuel was distressed and cried out to the LORD all night.).
A woman of prayer brings forth a son of prayer. Hannah has begged, Samuel does intercession. Bringing the people back under the authority of God is only possible through prayer and the Word of God. For Hannah the word applies: “Those who sow in tears shall reap with joyful shouting” (Psa 126:55Those who sow in tears shall reap with joyful shouting.
Whenever she calls the name “Samuel”, she honors God for His goodness and grace. In the same way, we should always express our gratitude for the blessings we have received (Psa 116:1-21I love the LORD, because He hears
My voice [and] my supplications.
2Because He has inclined His ear to me,
Therefore I shall call [upon Him] as long as I live.
). How many situations can we call ‘Samuel’? Whenever we are saved from a need or when there is provided in a need on the basis of prayer, we can write ‘Samuel’ on it. We will then particularly consecrate these situations to God, honoring Him for them.
21Then the man Elkanah went up with all his household to offer to the LORD the yearly sacrifice and [pay] his vow. 22But Hannah did not go up, for she said to her husband, “[I will not go up] until the child is weaned; then I will bring him, that he may appear before the LORD and stay there forever.” 23Elkanah her husband said to her, “Do what seems best to you. Remain until you have weaned him; only may the LORD confirm His word.” So the woman remained and nursed her son until she weaned him.
Samuel will appear before the LORD as a priest according to Hannah’s intention. In practice, he performs the priestly service. Hannah has high thoughts of her son in connection with God. She is not satisfied with an ordinary life for her son. This is not a natural pride. It stems from her desire that only the LORD will be central in his life.
First he must be fed by her. Under her influence and through her nutrition and education he will receive the basic formation necessary for his stay with the LORD in an ungodly environment. Therefore she stays at home when Elkanah goes on his way to make the annual sacrifice. Elkanah shows his faith by agreeing with Hanna’s desire to wait until Samuel is able to join them and stay there.
Elkanah has confirmed the vow of Hannah (Num 30:13-1413“Every vow and every binding oath to humble herself, her husband may confirm it or her husband may annul it.14But if her husband indeed says nothing to her from day to day, then he confirms all her vows or all her obligations which are on her; he has confirmed them, because he said nothing to her on the day he heard them.), and also makes a vow himself. He is encouraged by the faith of Hannah. He trusts that the LORD will do what He has said. This seems to indicate that he has come to share the expectation of the blessing that will come to Israel through this child as a result of Hanna’s prayer.
Hannah stays at home because the child needs milk. The time will come when the child no longer needs the milk. Our children need our help in their spiritual growth, but there must come a time when they themselves take spiritual food. We teach them to read and pray and we read and pray with them, but there comes a time when they have to do this themselves. They must learn to stand before the Lord independently.
24Now when she had weaned him, she took him up with her, with a three-year-old bull and one ephah of flour and a jug of wine, and brought him to the house of the LORD in Shiloh, although the child was young. 25Then they slaughtered the bull, and brought the boy to Eli. 26She said, “Oh, my lord! As your soul lives, my lord, I am the woman who stood here beside you, praying to the LORD. 27For this boy I prayed, and the LORD has given me my petition which I asked of Him. 28So I have also dedicated him to the LORD; as long as he lives he is dedicated to the LORD.” And he worshiped the LORD there.
When the time has come – Samuel is about three years old – Hannah gives him to the LORD. She entrusts him to Eli’s care, from whom he would receive his further formation and training for the tabernacle service. She has received him from the LORD and gives him back to the LORD (1Chr 29:14b14“But who am I and who are my people that we should be able to offer as generously as this? For all things come from You, and from Your hand we have given You.).
She brings the son of her vow to the house of the LORD, together with a sacrifice. Her sacrifice consisted of “a three-year-old bull and one ephah of flour and a jug of wine”. The bull serves as a peace offering or votive offering, the flour as a grain offering and the wine as a drink offering. The purpose of her vow is Christ, for that is what the whole sacrifice speaks of.
The bull is often used as a sin offering and also as a peace offering. This speaks of the work of the Lord Jesus on the cross through which He has put sin away and made fellowship with God possible. Hanna realizes – in pictures – that it is only on this basis that she can offer her son to God. The number three is the number of the resurrection(Mt 16:2121From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day.; Lk 24:4646and He said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day,; 1Cor 15:3-43For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,4and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,; 1Pet 1:2121who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.). The fine flour of the grain offering speaks of the Lord Jesus as true Man Who lived in humility on earth in full dedication to God until death. Wine speaks of the joy that God finds in His Son. He also finds this joy in all those in whom the Son becomes visible on earth, as with Paul (Phil 2:1717But even if I am being poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with you all.) and as it will also happen in Samuel’s life.
With the words “as your soul lives”, Hannah want to say ‘as true it is that your soul lives so true it is that I stood here with you then to pray to the LORD’. She tells Eli about their first meeting and the hearing by the LORD. That will be more than three years ago. She still remembers exactly where she stood. This is often the case with special events in someone’s (spiritual) life, whether it is about suffering or a special word from the Lord or a special meeting. Hannah rejoices in the same place where she has spoken to the LORD in her sadness.
Even now, there is no blame in the direction of Eli. She doesn’t come triumphantly to tell her right. It seems as if she has forgotten all. At this place she only thinks of her prayer. Her triumph is in God. She knows Him as the abundant Giver of all good. She comes to fulfil her vow. Hannah teaches us how to overcome and forget the injustice done to us by people.
The first act we read of Samuel is that he worships the LORD. That is the result of the milk Hannah gave him. He learned this from his mother. She is a woman of prayer. We will see this in the next chapter. Her hymn of praise is a prayer. Her prayer is worship or prophecy. Often she will have prayed with Samuel, often he will have heard and seen her pray. The impressions he gained in his first years have shaped him.