As we begin yet another chapter from the Old Testament, Israel finds itself once again in disarray.
In order, after the Book of Ruth, comes 1 Samuel.
As you may already know from the Book of Judges, Israel fell away from God time and time again.
And, this book is no different.
So, let’s take a look at the book of great beginnings.
The Book of 1 Samuel – Last Judge of Israel
First, this is an exciting Book of the Bible. It tells the stories of the incarnation of King Saul; the king Israel didn’t really want.
Then, we’ll trek through the amazing story of David and Goliath.
So, I’ll let you in on a little secret. I can’t wait to see what happens in 1 Samuel, although I’ve heard these stories at least a hundred times, haven’t you?
Let’s get started from the first “new beginning“. Chapter one of course begins with Samuel’s birth.
1 Samuel – Hannah Gives Birth to Samuel
Now 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.
He 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.
Now 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.
When the day came that Elkanah sacrificed, he would give portions to Peninnah his wife and to all her sons and her daughters; but to Hannah he would give a double portion, for he loved Hannah, but the Lord had closed her womb.
Her rival, however, would provoke her bitterly to irritate her, because the Lord had closed her womb.
It 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.
Then 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?”
Then 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.
She, greatly distressed, prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly.
She 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.”
Now it came about, as she continued praying before the Lord, that Eli was watching her mouth.
As 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. Then Eli said to her, “How long will you make yourself drunk? Put away your wine from you.”
But 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.
Do not consider your maidservant as a worthless woman, for I have spoken until now out of my great concern and provocation.”
Then Eli answered and said, “Go in peace; and may the God of Israel grant your petition that you have asked of Him.”
She said, “Let your maidservant find favor in your sight.” So the woman went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad.
Samuel Is Born to Hannah
Then 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.
It 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.”
Then the man Elkanah went up with all his household to offer to the Lord the yearly sacrifice and pay his vow.
But 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.”
Elkanah 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.
Now 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.
Then they slaughtered the bull, and brought the boy to Eli.
She said, “Oh, my lord! As your soul lives, my lord, I am the woman who stood here beside you, praying to the Lord. For this boy I prayed, and the Lord has given me my petition which I asked of Him.
So 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. – 1 Samuel 1:1-28
Elkanah’s Two Wives – Hannah and Peninnah
First, polygamy did exist throughout the Old Testament. Yes, even David, Jacob & Abraham had multiple wives.
But, this was not the intention God meant for marriage. If you read Genesis 2:24, It says;
“For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.”
So, why did Elkanah and others from Israel marry more than once? It was mostly because of land, money and prestige.
More sons meant more workers for the family land. I won’t go into great detail here.
The Barren Hannah – Jeers from Peninnah
Hannah could not bear children. So, Peninnah (the other wife) teased Hannah and made her life miserable.
Today, a woman who cannot have children can adopt, support herself and still become a valued person in a community.
Not so in the time of Hannah. During Bible times, any affliction was considered punishment for something you did wrong. So, Hannah was thought of as a failure.
The great love story here is, although Elkanah had every right to divorce Hannah, he chose not to – because of love.
God Has a Plan for Hannah
Everyone, especially Peninnah knew there was no hope for Hannah. She was a disgrace to her family, and the community.
But, God had His plan for this “barren” woman.
He disregarded all the ridicule and embarrassment and moved forward with His ultimate plan.
Why? Because Hannah offered her prayers with humility and honesty.
Through praying without ceasing, Hannah caught the eye of Eli. He misunderstood her situation at first.
But, in the end, Eli gave his blessing.
When we face times of hopelessness, prayer becomes the only answer. Family and friends can’t always help.
Consider this, God knows exactly what we need and, if it’s in His will, He will answer in time.
Hannah prayed for a son. She received more than she ask for. Samuel became one of the greatest judges of the Bible.
So begins a new beginning…
Love in Christ,
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