1 Samuel 1

1 There was a man named Elkanah, from the tribe of Ephraim, who lived in the town of Ramah in the hill country of Ephraim. He was the son of Jeroham and grandson of Elihu, and belonged to the family of Tohu, a part of the clan of Zuph.
2 Elkanah had two wives, Hannah and Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah did not.
3 Every year Elkanah went from Ramah to worship and offer sacrifices to the Lord Almighty at Shiloh, where Hophni and Phinehas, the two sons of Eli, were priests of the Lord.
4 Each time Elkanah offered his sacrifice, he would give one share of the meat to Peninnah and one share to each of her children.
5 And even though he loved Hannah very much he would give her only one share, because [a] the Lord had kept her from having children.
6 Peninnah, her rival, would torment and humiliate her, because the Lord had kept her childless.
7 This went on year after year; whenever they went to the house of the Lord, Peninnah would upset Hannah so much that she would cry and refuse to eat anything.
8 Her husband Elkanah would ask her, "Hannah, why are you crying? Why won't you eat? Why are you always so sad? Don't I mean more to you than ten sons?"
9 One time, after they had finished their meal in the house of the Lord at Shiloh, Hannah got up. She was deeply distressed, and she cried bitterly as she prayed to the Lord. Meanwhile, Eli the priest was sitting in his place by the door.
11 Hannah made a solemn promise: "Lord Almighty, look at me, your servant! See my trouble and remember me! Don't forget me! If you give me a son, I promise that I will dedicate him to you for his whole life and that he will never have his hair cut." [b] 1
12 Hannah continued to pray to the Lord for a long time, and Eli watched her lips.
13 She was praying silently; her lips were moving, but she made no sound. So Eli thought that she was drunk,
14 and he said to her, "Stop making a drunken show of yourself! Stop your drinking and sober up!"
15 "No, I'm not drunk, sir," she answered. "I haven't been drinking! I am desperate, and I have been praying, pouring out my troubles to the Lord.
16 Don't think I am a worthless woman. I have been praying like this because I'm so miserable."
17 "Go in peace," Eli said, "and may the God of Israel give you what you have asked him for."
18 "May you always think kindly of me," she replied. Then she went away, ate some food, and was no longer sad.
19 The next morning Elkanah and his family got up early, and after worshiping the Lord, they went back home to Ramah. Elkanah had intercourse with his wife Hannah, and the Lord answered her prayer.
20 So it was that she became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, [c] and explained, "I asked the Lord for him."
21 The time came again for Elkanah and his family to go to Shiloh and offer to the Lord the yearly sacrifice and the special sacrifice he had promised.
22 But this time Hannah did not go. She told her husband, "As soon as the child is weaned, I will take him to the house of the Lord, where he will stay all his life."
23 Elkanah answered, "All right, do whatever you think best; stay at home until you have weaned him. And may the Lord make your [d] promise come true." So Hannah stayed at home and nursed her child.
24 After she had weaned him, she took him to Shiloh, taking along a three-year-old bull, [e] a bushel of flour, and a leather bag full of wine. She took Samuel, young as he was, to the house of the Lord at Shiloh.
25 After they had killed the bull, they took the child to Eli.
26 Hannah said to him, "Excuse me, sir. Do you remember me? I am the woman you saw standing here, praying to the Lord.
27 I asked him for this child, and he gave me what I asked for.
28 So I am dedicating him to the Lord. As long as he lives, he will belong to the Lord." Then they [f] worshiped the Lord there.

1 Samuel 1 Commentary

Chapter 1

In this book we have an account of Eli, and the wickedness of his sons; also of Samuel, his character and actions. Then of the advancement of Saul to be the king of Israel, and his ill behaviour, until his death made way for David's succession to the throne, who was an eminent type of Christ. David's patience, modesty, constancy, persecution by open enemies and feigned friends, are a pattern and example to the church, and to every member of it. Many things in this book encourage the faith, hope, and patience of the suffering believer. It contains also many useful cautions and awful warnings.

Elkanah and his family. (1-8) Hannah's prayer. (9-18) Samuel, Hannah presents him to the Lord. (19-28)

Verses 1-8 Elkanah kept up his attendance at God's altar, notwithstanding the unhappy differences in his family. If the devotions of a family prevail not to put an end to its divisions, yet let not the divisions put a stop to the devotions. To abate our just love to any relation for the sake of any infirmity which they cannot help, and which is their affliction, is to make God's providence quarrel with his precept, and very unkindly to add affliction to the afflicted. It is evidence of a base disposition, to delight in grieving those who are of a sorrowful spirit, and in putting those out of humour who are apt to fret and be uneasy. We ought to bear one another's burdens, not add to them. Hannah could not bear the provocation. Those who are of a fretful spirit, and are apt to lay provocations too much to heart, are enemies to themselves, and strip themselves of many comforts both of life and godliness. We ought to notice comforts, to keep us from grieving for crosses. We should look at that which is for us, as well as what is against us.

Verses 9-18 Hannah mingled tears with her prayers; she considered the mercy of our God, who knows the troubled soul. God gives us leave, in prayer, not only to ask good things in general, but to mention that special good thing we most need and desire. She spoke softly, none could hear her. Hereby she testified her belief of God's knowledge of the heart and its desires. Eli was high priest, and judge in Israel. It ill becomes us to be rash and hasty in censures of others, and to think people guilty of bad things while the matter is doubtful and unproved. Hannah did not retort the charge, and upbraid Eli with the wicked conduct of his own sons. When we are at any time unjustly censured, we have need to set a double watch before the door of our lips, that we do not return censure for censure. Hannah thought it enough to clear herself, and so must we. Eli was willing to acknowledge his mistake. Hannah went away with satisfaction of mind. She had herself by prayer committed her case to God, and Eli had prayed for her. Prayer is heart's ease to a gracious soul. Prayer will smooth the countenance; it should do so. None will long remain miserable, who use aright the privilege of going to the mercy-seat of a reconciled God in Christ Jesus.

Verses 19-28 Elkanah and his family had a journey before them, and a family of children to take with them, yet they would not move till they had worshipped God together. Prayer and provender do not hinder a journey. When men are in such haste to set out upon journeys, or to engage in business, that they have not time to worship God, they are likely to proceed without his presence and blessing. Hannah, though she felt a warm regard for the courts of God's house, begged to stay at home. God will have mercy, and not sacrifice. Those who are detained from public ordinances, by the nursing and tending of little children, may take comfort from this instance, and believe, that if they do that duty in a right spirit, God will graciously accept them therein. Hannah presented her child to the Lord with a grateful acknowledgment of his goodness in answer to prayer. Whatever we give to God, it is what we have first asked and received from him. All our gifts to him were first his gifts to us. The child Samuel early showed true piety. Little children should be taught to worship God when very young. Their parents should teach them in it, bring them to it, and put them on doing it as well as they can; God will graciously accept them, and will teach them to do better.

Cross References 1

  • 1. 1.11Numbers 6.5.

Footnotes 6

  • [a]. And even . . . because; [or] To Hannah, however, he would give a special share, because he loved her very much, even though.
  • [b]. never have his hair cut: [A sign of dedication to the Lord (see Nu 6.5).]
  • [c]. samuel: [This name, which in Hebrew means "name of God," is here related to the Hebrew verb for "ask."]
  • [d]. [Some ancient translations] your; [Hebrew] his.
  • [e]. [Some ancient translations] a three-year-old bull; [Hebrew] three bulls.
  • [f]. [Some ancient translations] they; [Hebrew] he.

Chapter Summary

INTRODUCTION TO THE FIRST BOOK OF SAMUEL

\\OTHERWISE CALLED\\ \\THE FIRST BOOK OF KINGS\\

This book, in the Hebrew copies, is commonly called Samuel, or the Book of Samuel; in the Syriac version, the Book of Samuel the Prophet; and in the Arabic version, the Book of Samuel the Prophet, which is the First Book of the Kings; and the Septuagint version, the Book of the Kingdom: it has the name of Samuel, because it contains an history of his life and times; and the Jews say {a} it was written by him; and as it may well enough be thought to be, to the end of the twenty fourth chapter; and the rest might be written by Nathan and Gad, as may he gathered from 1Ch 29:29 as also the following book that bears his name; and both may be called the Books of Kings, because they give an account of the rise of the kings in Israel, and of the two first of them; though some think they were written by Jeremiah, as Abarbinel; and others ascribe them to Ezra: however, there is no doubt to be made of it that this book was written by divine inspiration, when we consider the series of its history, its connection and harmony with other parts of Scripture; the several things borrowed from it, or alluded to in the book of Psalms, particularly what is observed in Ps 113:7,8, seems to be taken out of 1Sa 2:8, and the sanction which the Lord gives to it, by referring to a fact in it, whereby he stopped the mouths of the Scribes and Pharisees cavilling at his disciples, Mt 12:3,4, compared with 1Sa 21:3-6, yea, even, as Huetius {b} observes, some Heathen writers have by their testimonies confirmed some passages in these books, which they seem to have been acquainted with, as Nicolaus of Damascus {c}, and Eupolemus {d}; it contains an history of the government of Eli, and of the birth of Samuel, and his education under him; of the succession of Samuel in it, and the resignation of it to Saul, when he was chosen king; of his administration of his office, and of things done in the time of it, both before and after his rejection, and of the persecution of David by Saul, and is concluded with his death.

{a} T. Bab. Bava Bathra, fol. 14. 2. {b} Demonstrat. Evangel. Prop. 4. p. 199. {c} Apud Joseph. Antiqu. l. 7. c. 5. sect. 2. {d} Apud Euseb. Praepar. Evangel. l. 9. c. 30.

\\INTRODUCTION TO FIRST SAMUEL 1\\

This chapter gives an account of the parents of Samuel, of the trouble his mother met with from her rival, and comfort from her husband, 1Sa 1:1-8, of her prayer to God for a son, and of her vow to him, should one be given her, 1Sa 1:9-11 of the notice Eli took of her, and of his censure on her, which he afterwards retracted, and comforted her, 1Sa 1:12-18 of her conception and the birth of her son, the nursing and weaning of him, 1Sa 1:19-23 and of the presentation of him to the Lord, with a sacrifice, 1Sa 1:24-28.

1 Samuel 1 Commentaries