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Bailey Sadler Class



Study Theme:  Second Nature

What This Lesson Is About:

Week of:

Lesson Title:

This week’s study will focus on helping believers to pray in all circumstances so that prayer becomes second nature to us.


Oct. 15



Oct. 22



Oct. 29



Nov. 05



Nov. 12



Nov. 19



Nov. 26




Christ-centered living chooses prayer, not hopelessness.


1 Samuel 1:9-11,17-18,26-28; 2:1-3





Bring Your Needs To God (1 Sam. 1:9-11)

God Hears Your Prayers & Answers (1 Sam. 1:17-18,26-28)

Respond To God With Thankful Praise (1 Sam. 2:1-3)


The Book of Samuel begins during the period of the judges, a dark period of Israel’s history when “everyone did whatever

seemed right to him” (Judg. 21:25). Without any kind of centralized leadership, the people often fell into sin and worshipped

the idols of the peoples of Canaan. God responded to their sin by sending them suffering, usually in the form of some foreign oppressor. When the people cried out to God in repentance, He graciously provided a judge. These judges were leaders who led the people to defeat their enemies, and then the land would enjoy peace for a time. Sadly, when the judge died, the people fell back into the same pattern.

Elkanah was a man from the tribe of Levi who lived in the tribal territory of Ephraim (1:1; 1 Chron. 6:23). He would go up each year to worship the Lord at Shiloh, accompanied by his two wives Hannah and Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah did not (1 Sam. 1:2-5). Hannah hurt deeply because of her inability to conceive children. She desperately wanted children, and her rival wife Peninnah did nothing to console her. In fact, she often taunted Hannah (1:6-7). The pain was more than Hannah felt she could bear.

Elkanah tried to console his wife, assuring her of his love for her (1:8). However, Elkanah did not understand the depth of Hannah’s pain. She loved him, but she wanted children!

The Bible records that when the people of God moved into the land of Canaan, Joshua set up the tabernacle at Shiloh (Josh. 18:1), where it would remain for three centuries. Hannah was hurting, but she was in the right place. She agonized, but she agonized at Israel’s spiritual center—Shiloh—and there it was that she would take her concerns to the Lord.

SOURCE: Advanced Bible Study; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; One LifeWay Plaza, Nashville, TN.


Today’s session focuses on Hannah, the mother of Samuel, one of Israel’s great prophets and judges. Hannah faced much hardship, but she did not resign herself to that hardship. Rather, she looked to the Lord for His provision, and she trusted Him with the answers to her prayers. In the end, God rewarded her beyond her dreams, working through her faith to provide Israel a great leader.

As you study today’s session, reflect on those things for which you are thankful. Also reflect on those areas of life

for which you find it difficult to thank God. As we pause to thank God for His blessing on our lives, let’s remember that Christ-centered living chooses prayer, not hopelessness, no matter what our circumstances or challenges.

SOURCE: Advanced Bible Study; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; One LifeWay Plaza, Nashville, TN.


Bring Your Needs To God (1 Sam. 1:9-11)

9 On one occasion, Hannah got up after they ate and drank at Shiloh. The priest Eli was sitting on a chair by the doorpost of the Lord’s temple. 10 Deeply hurt, Hannah prayed to the Lord and wept with many tears. 11 Making a vow, she pleaded, “Lord of Armies, if you will take notice of your servant’s affliction, remember and not forget me, and give your servant a son, I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and his hair will never be cut.”








  1.   How bad does a circumstance have to be before you ask for help?  Why?

  2.   When does a circumstance become so bad that you turn to God for help?

  3.   Do you think there is a reluctance on the part of many Christians to ask God for help?

  4.   Why do we sometimes hide our pain or fail to acknowledge our needs, even to God?

  5.   What is the setting for this week’s study? (see “The Setting” on pg. 1.)

  6.   Who was Eli and what do we know about him? (see Digging Deeper & article “Eli His Life & Ministry”.)

  7.   What does verses 9-11 tell us about Hannah’s reason for crying out to God? (see Adv. comm., pg. 4, “As Hannah approached  .  .  .  .  )

  8.   Why was Hannah so deeply distraught at this family celebration?

  9.   What does the statement “wept with many tears” say about Hannah’s level of distress? (see Adv. comm., pg. 4, “The Hebrew Expression  .  .  .  )

10.   What was the vow Hannah made to God (v. 11)? (see Adv. comm., pg. 4, “Hannah’s making a vow  .  .  .  )

11.   What was a Nazirite? (see Digging Deeper & Adv. comm., pg. 4, “Hannah’s promise  .  .  .  )

12.   Why do you think Hannah addressed God as the ”Lord of Armies” (v. 11)? (see Adv. comm., pg. 4, “Hannah addressed God  .  .  . “)

13.   Why do you think Hannah referred to herself as “your servant” (v. 11)? (see Adv. comm., pg; 4, “As Hannah addressed  .  .  .  )

14.   Do you think humility impacts our prayers and if so, how?

15.   What are some ways people deal with deep disappointment or unresolved pain when they don’t get the answer from God they wanted?

16.   What are some ways we can overcome the disappointment or unresolved pain when we don’t get the answer from God we wanted?


Lasting Lessons in 1 Samuel 1:9-11:

1. The Bible encourages us to bring our deepest needs to God.

2. God is working in our lives even when it seems He is silent.

3. We should bring our requests with humility, for our God is a great God.



God Hears Your Prayers & Answers (1 Sam. 1:17-18,26-28)

17 Eli responded, “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant the request you’ve made of him.” 18 “May your servant find favor with you,” she replied. Then Hannah went on her way; she ate and no longer looked despondent.

26 “Please, my lord,” she said, “as surely as you live, my lord, I am the woman who stood here beside you praying to the Lord. 27 I prayed for this boy, and since the Lord gave me what I asked him for, 28 I now give the boy to the Lord. For as long as he lives, he is given to the Lord.” Then he worshiped the Lord there.

  1.   How would you summarize Eli’s perception of Hannah’s prayer (vv. 12-16)? (see Adv. comm., pg. 5, “Eli had been  .  .  .  )

  2.   How did Eli respond to what he perceived of Hannah’s behavior (v. 14)? (see Adv. comm., pg. 5, “He scolded Hannah  .  .  .  )

  3.   How did Eli respond to Hannah’s explanation that she wasn’t drunk (v. 17)? (see Adv. comm., pg. 5, ”Eli’s response  .  .  .  )

  4.   How did Hannah reply to Eli’s response in verse 17? (see Adv. comm., pg. 5, “Hannah’s reply  .  .  .  )

  5.   What did this interaction with Eli do for Hannah (v. 18)? (see Adv. comm., pg. 5, Following her conversation  .  .  .  )

  6.   How would you summarize what takes place in verses 19-25? (see Adv. comm., pg. 5, “Verses 19-25 record  .  .  .  )

  7.   How would you compare Hannah’s attitude in verse 7 with her change in attitude in verses 26-28?

  8.   Why do you think Hannah wanted to let Eli know Samuel was the child for which she had prayed (vv. 26-27)? (see Adv. comm., pg. 5, “Hannah’s conversation with Eli  .  .  .  )

  9.   How did Hannah recognize that her son Samuel was a blessing from God? (see Adv. comm., pg. 5, “Hannah’s joyful statement  .  .  .  )

10.   With respect to the vow Hannah made, how did she fulfill it? (see Adv. comm., pg. 5, “Hannah’s statement  .  .  .  )

11.   What blessings has God given you that you would be willing to share with others, especially a non-believer?

12.   What do you do to worship God in response for His blessings He’s given you?

13.   When have you been blessed by an answer to prayer?

14.   Have you ever overlooked God’s answer to your prayer?  If so, how did it affect you and what did you do about it?


Lasting Lessons in 1 Samuel 1:17-18,26-28:

1. We should share with others how God has blessed us.

2. Worship is the proper response to God’s blessing.



Respond To God With Thankful Praise (1 Sam. 2:1-3)

1 Hannah prayed: “My heart rejoices in the Lord; my horn is lifted up by the Lord. My mouth boasts over my enemies, because I rejoice in your salvation. 2 There is no one holy like the Lord. There is no one besides you! And there is no rock like our God. 3Do not boast so proudly, or let arrogant words come out of your mouth, for the Lord is a God of knowledge, and actions are weighed by him.”

  1.   When Hannah prayed to the Lord that her “horn was lifted up by the Lord,” what did she mean? (see Adv. comm., pg. 6, Her perseverance in  .  .  .  )

  2.   How would you describe Hannah’s emotions as she prayed to God? (see Adv. comm., pg. 6, Hannah was full of  .  .  .  )

  3.   Using the Adv. comm., pg. 6, “Hannah affirmed  .  .  .  ) who may have been Hannah’s enemies she said her mouth boasted over?

  4.   What do you think Hannah meant when she said that she “rejoiced in your salvation” (v. 1)? (see Adv. comm., pg. 6, “The words I rejoice  .  .  .  )

  5.   Based on these verses, how would you describe Hannah’s attitude when she praised God for answered prayer? (see Adv. comm., pg. 6, Hannah’s words there  .  .  .  )

  6.   How would you describe Hannah’s meaning in verse 2? (see Adv. comm., pg. 6, “Hannah also affirmed  .  .  .  )

  7.   What was Hannah’s warning to those who are proud? (see Adv. comm., pg. 6, “Hannah’s words communicate  .  .  .  )

  8.   How would you describe the way God’s omniscience was demonstrated in Hannah’s life? (see Adv. comm., pg. 7, “Hannah affirmed that  .  .  .  )

  9.   Instead of having the last laugh, how would you describe Hannah’s attitude toward those who tormented her because of her barrenness? (see Adv. comm., pg. 7, “The psalmist also affirmed  .  .  .  )

10.   Do you believe that most people, including some believers, look to other humans as a source of hope when facing dilemmas in their daily lives? If so, why do you think that may be so?

11.   Scripture is filled with examples of God answering His people’s prayers—then why do you think so many of us find it hard to believe God will answer our prayers today?

12.   Thinking about the focal passages for this week’s study, what do you find in them that may give you insight as to why the prayers of many Christians go unanswered today?


Lasting Lessons in 1 Samuel 2:1-3:

1. Our hearts should always rejoice in the Lord.

2. No one is holy like the Lord our God.

3. God provides rock-solid spiritual footing for His children as they go through life.

4. The Lord sees our actions, but He also knows our motives.



  Early in their marriage Dr. Herschel Hobbs and his wife lived in a boarding house.  Another resident in the boarding house did not believe in God.  He and Dr. Hobbs had many discussions, but the man refused to budge from his unbelieving position.  One evening he became painfully ill.  Dr. Hobbs went by his room to check on him.  He paused outside the door before knocking because he heard the man talking.  Over and over he kept saying, “Oh, Lord!  Oh, Lord!”  Apparently in this time of distress, the man had come to see the Lord as the true source of hope and was praying for His touch on his life.  We often say there is power in prayer.  Perhaps we need to say more.  There is power in prayer when it is lifted up to the One Lord God.  He alone is all-powerful and worthy of our trust.  In Him is our hope—and Him alone!  Will you put your trust in Him?

Think about these statements as you reflect on the content of this week’s study?

·   Remember that your God is great and wants to meet your needs.

·   Resolve to bring your deepest longings to God.

·   Trust that God hears and will answer your prayers.

What are the implications of these truths for your life?  THE CHOICE IS YOURS, ISN’T IT!

REMEMBER, the safest place for a believer is in the center of God’s will.


Lesson Outline, Introduction, Discussion Questions, and Conclusion adapted from the following sources:

SOURCE: Life Ventures-Bible Studies for Life; Leader Guide; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; Nashville, TN.

SOURCE: The Herschel Hobbs Commentary; Family Bible Study; by Robert J. Dean; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; 1 LifeWay Plaza, Nashville, TN.

SOURCE: Advanced Bible Study; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; One LifeWay Plaza, Nashville, TN.



Focal Passage from three different translations of God’s Word:

King James Version:  1 Samuel 1:9-11,17-18,26-28; 2:1-3

1 Samuel 1:9-11 (KJV)

9 So Hannah rose up after they had eaten in Shiloh, and after they had drunk. Now Eli the priest sat upon a seat by a post of the temple of the LORD. 10 And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the LORD, and wept sore. 11 And she vowed a vow, and said, O LORD of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the LORD all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come upon his head.

1 Samuel 1:17-18 (KJV)

17 Then Eli answered and said, Go in peace: and the God of Israel grant thee thy petition that thou hast asked of him. 18 And she said, Let thine handmaid find grace in thy sight. So the woman went her way, and did eat, and her countenance was no more sad.

1 Samuel 1:26-28 (KJV)

26 And she said, Oh my lord, as thy soul liveth, my lord, I am the woman that stood by thee here, praying unto the LORD. 27 For this child I prayed; and the LORD hath given me my petition which I asked of him: 28 Therefore also I have lent him to the LORD; as long as he liveth he shall be lent to the LORD. And he worshipped the LORD there.

1 Samuel 2:1-3 (KJV)

1 And Hannah prayed, and said, My heart rejoiceth in the LORD, mine horn is exalted in the LORD: my mouth is enlarged over mine enemies; because I rejoice in thy salvation. 2 There is none holy as the LORD: for there is none beside thee: neither is there any rock like our God. 3 Talk no more so exceeding proudly; let not arrogancy come out of your mouth: for the LORD is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed.


New King James Version:  1 Samuel 1:9-11,17-18,26-28; 2:1-3

1 Samuel 1:9-11 (NKJV)

9 So Hannah arose after they had finished eating and drinking in Shiloh. Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat by the doorpost of the tabernacle of the LORD. 10 And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed to the LORD and wept in anguish. 11 Then 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 male child, then I will give him to the LORD all the days of his life, and no razor shall come upon his head."

1 Samuel 1:17-18 (NKJV)

17 Then Eli answered and said, "Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant your petition which you have asked of Him." 18 And 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.

1 Samuel 1:26-28 (NKJV)

26 And she said, "O my lord! As your soul lives, my lord, I am the woman who stood by you here, praying to the LORD. 27 For this child I prayed, and the LORD has granted me my petition which I asked of Him. 28 Therefore I also have lent him to the LORD; as long as he lives he shall be lent to the LORD." So they worshiped the LORD there.

1 Samuel 2:1-3 (NKJV)

1 And Hannah prayed and said: "My heart rejoices in the LORD; My horn is exalted in the LORD. I smile at my enemies, Because I rejoice in Your salvation. 2 "No one is holy like the LORD, For there is none besides You, Nor is there any rock like our God. 3 "Talk no more so very proudly; Let no arrogance come from your mouth, For the LORD is the God of knowledge; And by Him actions are weighed.


New International Version:  1 Samuel 1:9-11,17-18,26-28; 2:1-3

1 Samuel 1:9-11 (NIV)

9 Once when they had finished eating and drinking in Shiloh, Hannah stood up. Now Eli the priest was sitting on a chair by the doorpost of the LORD's temple. 10 In bitterness of soul Hannah wept much and prayed to the LORD. 11 And she made a vow, saying, "O LORD Almighty, if you will only look upon your servant's misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the LORD for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head."   

1 Samuel 1:17-18 (NIV)

17 Eli answered, "Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him." 18 She said, "May your servant find favor in your eyes." Then she went her way and ate something, and her face was no longer downcast.

1 Samuel 1:26-28 (NIV)

26 and she said to him, "As surely as you live, my lord, I am the woman who stood here beside you praying to the LORD. 27 I prayed for this child, and the LORD has granted me what I asked of him. 28 So now I give him to the LORD. For his whole life he will be given over to the LORD." And he worshiped the LORD there.

1 Samuel 2:1-3 (NIV)

1 Then Hannah prayed and said: "My heart rejoices in the LORD; in the LORD my horn is lifted high. My mouth boasts over my enemies, for I delight in your deliverance. 2 "There is no one holy like the LORD; there is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God. 3 "Do not keep talking so proudly or let your mouth speak such arrogance, for the LORD is a God who knows, and by him deeds are weighed.



(NOTE:  Commentary for the focal passage comes from four sources: “Advanced Bible Study Commentary,” The Pulpit Commentary,and “The Bible Knowledge Commentary,” and is provided for your study.)


Lesson Outline — “Hannah” — 1 Samuel 1:9-11,17-18,16-28; 2:1-3




Bring Your Needs To God (1 Sam. 1:9-11)

God Hears Your Prayers & Answers (1 Sam. 1:17-18,26-28)

Respond To God With Thankful Praise (1 Sam. 2:1-3)


Advanced Bible Study Commentary:  1 Samuel 1:9-11,17-18,26-28; 2:1-3

I. Bring Your Needs to God  (1 Sam. 1:9-11)  Verses 9-18 shift the narrative’s focus to the woman who needed to pour out her heart to God. Hannah got up after they ate and drank at Shiloh. The text does not reveal whether their eating and drinking was merely a regular meal or some kind of worship experience. Perhaps they shared in a fellowship sacrifice, which included a sacrificial meal shared by priest and worshiper (Lev. 7:11-21). The priest Eli was the patriarch of Israel’s priesthood (1 Sam. 1:3).

As Hannah approached the house of God, Eli was sitting on a chair by the doorpost of the Lord’s temple. He thus was close enough to observe her as she prayed. The words translated deeply hurt literally can be rendered “bitter of soul” (“in bitterness of soul,” KJV; “greatly distressed,” NASB). Hannah’s inability to have children painfully impacted her self-image in a society where childbearing was so important. Hannah prayed to the Lord from the depth of her affliction. Her example reminds us that we need to bring our needs to God. Sometimes in difficult circumstances, people choose to get angry at God and refuse to pray. They forget that times of difficulty are when they need Him the most.

The Hebrew expression translated wept with many tears stresses the depth of Hannah’s agony. Hannah’s body likely shook with emotion. This conclusion is especially likely in view of Eli’s assessment of Hannah’s situation (1 Sam. 1:12-14).

Hannah’s making a vow reflected her deep desire that God would answer her prayer. The Old Testament did not require people to make vows, but people were to honor any vows they made (Num. 30:2). Hannah’s husband also had the right to negate her vow on the day he heard of it; if he did not, the vow would stand (30:10-15). However, the text gives no hint that Elkanah disapproved of Hannah’s vow. The Hebrew word translated “pleaded” literally means “said” (ESV, KJV, NASB), but the context certainly supports the CSB nuance. Hannah was desperate.

Hannah addressed God as Lord of Armies, a name for God that reflected His great sovereignty. She is the first person recorded in Scripture who addressed Him by this name. Hannah took her prayer to the One she knew oversaw even the details of her own life. The Hebrew expression translated take notice denotes a thorough viewing and understanding of Hannah’s circumstances. Hannah needed deliverance from her affliction—a term that designates a serious emotional struggle, no doubt due to her humbling circumstance. The Hebrew word translated remember denotes both the act of remembering and the intent to take action. The word is used of God remembering His covenant with His people before He delivered them from Egypt (Ex. 2:24). Likewise, 1 Samuel 1:19 mentions the Lord remembering Hannah and granting her conception. In similar fashion, the Hebrew word translated forget suggests not only forgetting, but taking no action (Gen. 40:23).

As Hannah addressed the Lord, she referred to herself as your servant. This manner of speaking showed respect for someone in authority (33:5; 44:18; 2 Sam. 14:6-7). Hannah placed herself in a position of humility and dependence before God; she knew He could answer her prayer if He so chose. The word translated son literally means “seed of men” (“man child,” KJV) but the pronouns in the rest of the verse make it clear Hannah was asking for a son.

Hannah’s promise I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life should naturally have been something any mother and father would do with their children. Psalm 127 describes children as a gift from God (v. 3), but they belong to God first. However, Hannah’s statement that his hair will never be cut reveals she was dedicating him to the Lord by a Nazirite vow. In the Law of Moses, a person could be consecrated as a Nazirite (Hebrew nazir, “consecrated one”) either for a period of time or for life (Num. 6). Samson was a Nazirite (Judg. 13:3-5), and some commentators believe John the Baptist also may have been. The apostle Paul also took a Nazirite vow for a period of time, then ended his vow and cut his hair (Acts 18:18; 21:23-24). Nazirites could be men or

women who dedicated themselves to God or whose parents dedicated them to God. We need to take our needs to God, no matter how great they may appear. The prophet Isaiah later challenged an unbelieving people that God in fact could bring them back home from exile (Isa. 40:27-31). What challenge do you need to take to God?

II. God Hears Your Prayers and Answers (1 Sam. 1:17-18,26-28) Eli had been watching Hannah as she prayed, and as he saw her lips moving (perhaps quivering), he misread the situation and thought she was drunk (vv. 12-13).

He scolded Hannah and urged her to rid herself of her wine (v. 14). A rebuke from God’s high priest was the last thing Hannah wanted, and she quickly and respectfully clarified the situation for Eli (vv. 15-16). She was in fact bringing her petition to the Lord from the depth of her anguish.

Eli’s response go in peace (v. 17) reveals he now understood the actual situation. The Hebrew word translated “peace” is shalom, a word that carries the sense of completeness or wholeness. Hannah believed her life would not be complete, and she could not experience real shalom, without having children. Eli’s further response may the God of Israel grant the petition you’ve requested from him pronounced a blessing on her that God might meet her request. He initially had misread her situation, but he

understood better now.

Hannah’s reply May your servant find favor with you acknowledged Eli’s statement, and also politely stated her hope his words would come true. She desperately wanted children, to the point that she was willing to surrender her firstborn to the Lord’s service.

Following her conversation with Eli, Hannah went on her way and returned to Elkanah and Peninnah. In contrast to her demeanor in verse 7, now she ate and no longer looked despondent. Hannah had good reason to be hopeful; Israel’s high priest had just pronounced a blessing over her.

Verses 19-25 record the fulfillment of God’s work, including Samuel’s birth and dedication. The Lord blessed Hannah with a son, and she named him Samuel (v. 20). Hannah then stayed home to care for Samuel until he was weaned—probably at least three years of age (vv. 21-22). At last the day came when Elkanah and Hannah brought Samuel to Shiloh, along with appropriate sacrifices to offer to the Lord (vv. 24-25).

As Hannah again addressed Eli, her respectful words please, my lord, re-introduced her to him. We do not know whether Eli remembered the encounter, but Hannah certainly did. Her statement as surely as you live, my lord, emphasized the certainty of what happened.

Hannah’s conversation with Eli proved a defining moment in her life. Israel’s high priest had offered his blessing upon her, and she connected that blessing with God’s blessing and with her conceiving Samuel. Hannah’s affirmation I am the woman who stood here beside you was important because her appearance with Samuel marked her intention to keep the vow she had made (v. 11). Hannah had been praying to the Lord when Eli observed her. His blessing had encouraged her as she went home to Ramah (v. 18). Hannah was ready to fulfill the vow she had made.

Many parents can identify with Hannah’s words I prayed for this boy (v. 27). My wife and I prayed early in our marriage that God would one day give us children, and we prayed for them as they grew in my wife’s womb. We asked God to have His hand on them for good, all the days of their lives. Today, it is a joy to see our children walking with the Lord.

Hannah’s joyful statement the Lord gave me what I asked him for affirmed her recognition that Samuel was a gift from God. She recognized the Lord as the One ultimately responsible for this great blessing. Today, many couples who desire children come to Shiloh to pray. I personally have been at Shiloh when women came to pray near the place they believe the tabernacle once stood, and it’s a moving experience. Why not take a moment and pray for a couple you know who struggles with infertility?

Hannah’s statement I now give the boy to the Lord demonstrated the completion of her vow. The Hebrew word used for “give” is related to the word “ask.” Hannah had asked the Lord for a son, and now she gave back her requested son to the Lord, from whom she had asked him. She had promised to give her son to the Lord all his days, and we should understand her words in that way. Hannah wanted him to belong to God For as long as he lives. She then restated her commitment—he is given to the Lord. Hannah had conceived him, carried him in the womb, delivered him, and cared for him in his early years. However,

Samuel ultimately belonged to God, so Hannah was giving him back to the One who had given him to her.

Bible manuscripts differ on whether Hannah or Samuel bowed in worship to the Lord there. Some manuscripts contain the masculine form of the verb, while others contain the feminine form. It’s possible that both mother and son bowed before God to worship and to thank Him for this moment in their lives. Certainly Elkanah and Eli had reason to worship too. In any case, Hannah’s act of great sacrifice demonstrated that she knew God had heard her prayer and answered it to the full.

III. Respond to God with Thankful Praise (1 Sam. 2:1-3)  Hannah was full of emotion as she dedicated Samuel to the Lord before Eli. She had prayed for this son, and determined she would make good on her vow, even if it meant she would miss Samuel’s formative years. Hannah had other children later (1 Sam. 2:21), but she always would remember this moment. Hannah affirmed My heart rejoices in the Lord. Her perseverance in prayer made experiencing God’s answer all the more joyful. The word horn here figuratively denotes strength, just as an animal’s horns represent its strength. The words suggest the image of an animal standing high on a mountain with his head held high. Hannah felt grateful as she celebrated God’s goodness in her life.

Hannah affirmed My mouth boasts over my enemies. We do not know if she had particular people in mind, though we do know Elkanah’s other wife Peninnah had taunted Hannah about her inability to conceive (1:6-7). Perhaps other women in their hometown of Ramah had also wondered aloud whether Hannah would ever have children, and perhaps their comments also hurt deeply. However, she now celebrated God’s victory, and she could rejoice in the face of those who had taunted her.

The words I rejoice in your salvation refer to Hannah’s celebration over God’s rescuing her from her pain by providing her a son. The Hebrew word translated “salvation” is yeshua, the word from which we get the name “Jesus.” In the Old Testament, salvation was often physical deliverance from trouble or an enemy. In the New Testament the term usually denotes spiritual salvation. When Simeon, an old man in the temple, blessed the infant Jesus, he affirmed, “My eyes have seen your salvation” (Luke 2:30). He was referring to Jesus as the One who would bring spiritual salvation to the world.

Hannah’s words there is no one holy like the Lord expressed another profound truth. The term holy fundamentally connotes the idea of separation. God is utterly separate from His creation, infinitely beyond it. When Hannah felt the first movement in her womb, she likely felt awe and humility before God. However, the Bible also calls us to be holy, as God is holy (Lev. 19:2; 1 Pet. 1:15-16). When we receive Christ as our Lord and Savior, the Holy Spirit takes up residence within us and enables us to live holy lives (Rom. 8:4; 2 Cor. 3:18).

Hannah also affirmed there is no Rock like our God. The Hebrew word here translated “rock” means an immovable rock formation or cliff. Hannah was declaring that the Lord provides an unshakable foundation for life. Someone standing atop a solid rock has a great foundation, and those who trust in God have an eternal, immovable foundation.

Hannah’s words communicate powerful truth. We seek God, not simply because He does good things for us, but because He is God. We must remember this when we are tempted to become prideful. Hannah warned those who would think too highly of themselves—Do not boast so proudly, or let arrogant words come out of your mouth. Who dared speak of their own accomplishments in the face of God’s majesty? Even as we serve the Lord, we can only do what He enables us to do by His grace. At the same time, we know God is able to take our relatively small efforts and magnify them for His glory.

Hannah affirmed that the Lord is a God of knowledge. The Scriptures affirm God’s knowledge of everything, and Hannah knew this to be true firsthand. The Lord had intimate knowledge of her own sadness, but He answered her prayers in an incredible way. The psalmist also affirmed that the Lord knows the way of the righteous (Ps. 1:6). Likewise, actions are weighed by him. He knows the intents of our hearts, and He also knew the actions of those who opposed Hannah and taunted her. Hannah did not need to have “the last laugh”; rather God needed to receive the glory. Many times, when we look at the actions of others, we

really do not know their motives. However, the Lord God knows their hearts and the motives behind their actions. We can thank God because He is there for us, and we can thank Him because He is there to oppose evil.

Today’s session highlighted the story of Hannah, a seemingly ordinary Israelite woman with a deep desire to have children. In the end, as she took her trust-filled prayers to the Lord, He answered them and let her become the mother of one of Israel’s greatest servants and prophets. There also may be areas of your life in which you need to trust Him more fully. The challenges may even seem insurmountable, but God is able to do beyond what you can even imagine (Eph. 3:20-21).

SOURCE: Advanced Bible Study; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; One LifeWay Plaza, Nashville, TN.

The Pulpit Commentary:   1 Samuel 1:9-11,17-18,26-28; 2:1-3

Verse 9:  After they had eaten .... after they had drunk. The Hebrew favours the translation, “After she had eaten in Shiloh, and after she had drunk;” the somewhat forced rendering of the A.V. having arisen from a supposed discrepancy between this verse and ver. 7. Really there is none. The words simply mean that Hannah took part in the sacrificial banquet, though she did so without appetite or pleasure; and thus they connect her visit to the temple and her prayer with the most solemn religious service of the year. To take part in this banquet was a duty, but as soon as she had fulfilled it she withdrew to the temple to pour out her grief before God. There Eli, the priest, i.e. the high priest, as in Numbers 26:1; 27:2, was seated upon, not a seat, but the pontifical throne, placed at the entrance leading into the inner court of the tabernacle, so that all who came to worship must pass before him. It is remarkable that the tabernacle is called the temple (so 1 Samuel 3:3; Psalm 5:7), or, more literally, the “palace” of Jehovah, his royal residence; and it thus appears that the name had come into use before Solomon's building was erected. The curtains (Exodus 26:1) also had given place to a mezuzah, translated a post, but really a sort of porch, with doors, as appears from 1 Samuel 3:15 (comp. Exodus 21:6; 1 Kings 7:5). As the tabernacle remained stationary at Shiloh for 300 years, naturally numerous buildings of a more solid nature grew up around it.

Verses 10, 11:  She... prayed unto the LORD. Kneeling down in the inner court, but within sight of Eli, whose throne in the porch probably overlooked the whole inner space, Hannah prays unto “Jehovah of Sabaoth” for a male child. Her humility appears in her thrice calling herself Jehovah's handmaid; her earnestness in the threefold repetition of the entreaty that Jehovah would look on her, and remember her, and not forget her. With her prayer she also makes a twofold vow in case her request is granted. The son given her is, first, to serve not for a stipulated number of years, as was the law with the Levites (Numbers 4:3), but for life; and, secondly, he is to be a Nazarite. We gather from Numbers 6:2 that Moses found this singular institution in existence, and only regulated it, and admitted it into the circle of established and legalised ordinances. Essentially it was a consecration to God, a holy priesthood, but not a sacrificing priesthood nor one by right of birth, as the Aaronic, but personal, and either for a limited period, or for life. During the continuance of the vow, a Nazarite might

(1) partake of no produce of the vine, signifying thereby abstinence from self-indulgence and carnal pleasure. He might

(2) take no part in mourning for the dead, even though they were his nearest relatives, because his holier duties raised him above the ordinary joys and sorrows, the cares and occupations of every day life. Lastly, no razor might come upon his head, the free growing hair being at once the distinctive mark by which all men would recognise his sacred calling, and also a sign that he was not bound by the usual customs of life. By Hannah's first vow Samuel was devoted to service in the sanctuary, by the second to a holy consecrated life. This institution remained in existence unto our Lord's days; for John the Baptist was also consecrated to God as a Nazarite by his mother, though not as Samuel, also given to minister in the temple.

Verses 12-18:  She continued praying. Hannah's prayer was long and earnest, but in silence. She spake not in, but “to her heart,” to herself. It was an inward supplication, which only her own heart and God heard. Eli watched, and was displeased. Possibly silent prayer was something unusual. It requires a certain advance in civilisation and refinement to enable a supplicant to separate the petition from the outward expression of it in spoken words, and a strong faith before any one can feel that God hears and knows the silent utterances of the heart (comp. Matthew 8:8-10). Naturally men think that they shall be heard for their much speaking, and for speaking aloud. Unused then to such real prayer, Eli, as he marked the quivering lips, the prostrate form, the face flushed with earnestness, came to the coarse conclusion that she was drunken, and with equal coarseness bids her “put away her wine from her,” that is, go and sleep off the effects of her debauch. Hannah answers indignantly, “No, my lord.” She is “a woman hard of spirit;’ (see marg.), heavy hearted, as we should say, and she had been lightening her heart by pouring out her troubles before Jehovah. She is no “worthless woman;” for Belial is not a proper name, though gradually it became one (2 Corinthians 6:15), but means worthlessness, and “a daughter of worthlessness” means a bad woman. “Grief” is rather provocation, vexation. Hannah cannot forget the triumph of her rival, exulting over her many portions, while for her there had been only one. Convinced by the modesty and earnestness of her answer, Eli retracts his accusation, gives her his blessing, and prays that her petition may be granted. And Hannah, comforted by such words spoken by the high priest (John 11:51), returned to the sacrificial feast, which apparently was not yet finished, and joined in it, for “she did eat, and her countenance was to her no more,” that is, the grieved and depressed look which she had so long borne had now departed from her. There is no reason for the insertion of the word sad.

Verses 26,27: At Shiloh Samuel was to abide forever; his dedication was to be for his whole life. And when Elkanah prays, Only the Lord establish his word, it is evident that he and Hannah expected that a child born under such special circumstances would, like so many children of mothers long barren, be intended for some extraordinary work. The word of Jehovah referred to is that spoken by Eli in ver. 17, which contained not merely the assurance of the birth of a son, but a general confirmation and approval of all that Hannah had prayed for. In ver. 24 the Septuagint reads, “a bullock of three years old,” probably on account of the one bullock mentioned in ver. 25; but as three-tenths of an ephah of flour formed the appointed meat offering for one bullock (Numbers 15:8-10), the mention of a whole ephah confirms the reading three bullocks. Probably the one bullock in ver. 25 was the special burnt offering accompanying the solemn dedication of Samuel to Jehovah's service, while the other two were for Elkanah's usual yearly sacrifice, and the thank offering which he had vowed. At the end of the verse the Hebrews reads, “And the child was a child,” the word in both places being na’ar, which may mean anything up to fifteen years of age. The child really was about three years old, and the Sept. is probably right in reading, “And the child was with them.” Both the Vulgate, however, and the Syriac agree with the Hebrew.

Verse 28: I have lent him. The word lent spoils the meaning: Hannah really in these two verses uses the same verb four times, though in different conjugations, and the same sense must be maintained throughout. Her words are, “For this child I prayed, and Jehovah hath given me my asking which I asked of him: and I also have given back what was asked to Jehovah; as long as he liveth he is asked for Jehovah.” The conjugation translated to give back what was asked literally means to make to ask, and so to give or lend anything asked. The sense here requires the restoration by Hannah of what she had prayed for (comp. Exodus 12:35, 36), but which she had asked not for herself, but that she might devote it to Jehovah's service. At the end of ver. 28 the sing. “he worshipped” is rendered in the pl. by all the versions except the Sept., which omits it. But he, i.e. Elkanah, includes all his household, and it may be correctly translated in the pl., because the sense so requires, without altering the reading of the Hebrew. In the sing. it puts an unnecessary difficulty in the way of the ordinary reader.

1 Samuel 2:1-3:  And Hannah prayed and said. Like the Magnificat, Hannah's hymn of thanksgiving begins with the temporal mercies accorded to herself, but rises immediately into the realms of prophecy, foretelling Christ's kingdom and the triumphs of the Church. From this prophetic element, common more or less to all the hymns of the Bible, most of them have been used in Christian worship, and still merit a place in it, though we in the liturgy of the Church of England now use only two, taken both from the New Testament. In ver. 1, in four strophes of equal length, Hannah declares how, first, her heart, the centre with the Hebrews, not merely of the physical, but also of the moral and intellectual life, rejoices in Jehovah; while the exaltation of her horn, the symbol of strength and vigour, signifies that this inward joy is accompanied, or even occasioned, by the changed circumstances of her outward lot. Her mouth, therefore, is opened wide over her enemies, yet not for cursing and in bitterness, but for joyful praise of the God who has answered her prayers. It is his salvation, the being delivered by him, that makes her thus burst forth into thanksgiving. It is a proof also of her faith and spirituality that she thus refers all to Jehovah.

In ver. 2 she gives her reasons for this holy joy. The first is God's absolute holiness; the second his absolute existence, in which she finds the proof of his holiness. Hannah may have meant to express only the language of piety, but she also stated a primary philosophical truth, which was early grasped by the deeply religious instinct of the Hebrews, that outside of God is no existence. Many necessary deductions follow from this fundamental truth, that God alone absolutely exists, and that all other existence is secondary and derived; but no deduction is more certain than Hannah's own, that such a Being must be absolutely holy. In calling him a rock she assigns to him strength, calm, immovable, enduring, but a strength which avails for the safety of his people (comp. Deuteronomy 32:4, 15; Psalm 18:2). For rocks, as being capable of easy defence, formed the nucleus of most ancient towns, and continued to serve as their citadels.

In ver. 3 she appeals to God's omniscience, “for Jehovah is a God of knowledges,” the pl. being intensive, and signifying every kind of knowledge. As too he weighs and judges human actions, how can men venture to talk so arrogantly before him, lit. so proudly, proudly. The last clause is one of those numerous places in which there is a doubt whether the Hebrew word lo means not, or by him. If the negative sense be taken, which the Hebrew spelling favours, the rendering will be “though actions be not weighed.” Though wicked actions be not immediately punished, yet Jehovah is cognisant of them, and in due time will requite.

SOURCE:  The Pulpit Commentary; Volume 16: Mark & Luke; Database © 2007 WORDsearch Corp.


The Bible Knowledge Commentary: 1 Samuel 1:9-11,17-18,26-28; 2:1-3

Hannah’s Prayer (1:9-18):

1:9-18. The Law required all adult Hebrew males to appear at the tabernacle or temple of the Lord for the three major religious festivals of the year (Ex. 23:14-17). At this period of history the tabernacle was at Shiloh about 15 miles north of Ramah. Elkanah regularly attended the festivals with his wives, and Hannah there poured out her soul to God in petition for a son. On one such occasion Hannah made a vow that if God would grant her request she would give her son to the Lord for as long as he lived. This dedication of her son was a commitment to the Nazirite vow, described in Numbers 6:1-8. It was the same vow undertaken by the parents of Samson whom they dedicated to the Lord under nearly identical circumstances (Judges 13:2-5). So intense was Hannah’s silent prayer that Eli, the high priest who was seated nearby, noted the movement of her lips and assumed she was intoxicated. When the priest learned about her true plight, he assured her that God would answer her prayer.

Samuel’s Presentation to God (1:24-28):

1:24-28. After Hannah had weaned her son, she fulfilled her pledge and took him to Shiloh to offer him to the Lord as a lifelong Nazirite. Since it was customary for a child to be nursed until he was about three years of age (see the apocryphal 2 Maccabees 7:27), the lad Samuel would be no unusual burden for Eli and the priestly staff at Shiloh. Also Samuel would be old enough to learn the rudiments of tabernacle service.

Hannah’s Exulting in the Lord (2:1):

2:1. Hannah, with clear reference to her rival Peninnah, spoke of her joy in the Lord who had helped her achieve satisfaction at last. Horns, used by animals for defense and attack, symbolized strength. Thus Hannah spoke of her horn in describing the strength that had come to her because God had answered her prayer.

Hannah’s Extolling of the Lord (2:2-8):

2:2-8. Through His attributes such as holiness, strength (a Rock), knowledge, and discernment (vv. 2-3), and in view of His actions toward both the ungodly and the godly (vv. 4-8), the Lord demonstrates His awesome sovereignty in human affairs. Especially pointed is Hannah’s reference (v. 5) to herself and Peninnah respectively: She who was barren has borne seven children, but she who has had many sons pines away. Hannah eventually had five other children (v. 21), but the expression “seven children” here symbolizes the full granting of her desire for a son. The breaking of the bows (v. 4), satisfying of the hungry (v. 5), raising of the dead (v. 6), and elevating of the poor (vv. 7-8) refer to the principle that the final disposition of all things is in the hand of the Lord. He who created the world (v. 8) was able to cause Hannah to triumph.

SOURCE: The Bible Knowledge Commentary; An Exposition of the Scriptures by Dallas Seminary Faculty; Old Testament; Based on the New International Version ; VICTOR BOOKS, A Division of Scripture Press Publications, Inc., USA Canada England



Shiloh (1:9)—The name may mean “tranquil,” “secure.” It was a city in the territory of Ephraim. From Joshua’s time the tabernacle and the ark of the covenant were located there.

SOURCE: Life Ventures-Bible Studies for Life; Leader Guide; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; Nashville, TN.

Shiloh (Sshi’ Loh) (1:9)—Place name perhaps meaning, “tranquil, secure.” About thirty miles north of Jerusalem sat the city which would be Israel’s religious center for over a century after the conquest, being the home of Israel’s tabernacle (Josh. 18:1). Judges 21:19 described Shiloh’s location as “on the north side of Bethel, on the east side of the highway that goeth up from Bethel to Shechem, and on the south of Lebonah.” Twelve miles south of Shechem, Shiloh was in a fertile plain at 2,000 feet elevation. This is apparently modern Seilun, where archaeologists have unearthed evidence of Canaanite settlement by 1700 B.C. Perhaps when Israel chose a spot for the tabernacle, Shiloh was available for Joshua to use as the place to allot land to the tribes (Josh. 18).

Tribal annual pilgrimages to the tabernacle set the scene for another incident in Shiloh. The tribe of Benjamin had a dilemma in that no other tribe would give them their daughters for wives (Judg. 21). Because of this, the men of Benjamin waited in the vineyards (v. 20) until the dancing women went out of Shiloh where they were then captured and taken as wives.

Samuel’s early years provided another connection with Shiloh (1 Sam. 1-4). At the tabernacle, Hannah vowed to the Lord that if He would give her a son she would give him back to God (1 Sam. 1). After the birth of Samuel, Hannah brought him to Shiloh in gratitude to God (1 Sam. 1:24-28). Thus, Shiloh became home for Samuel as he lived under the care of Eli, the high priest, and his two wicked sons, Hophni and Phinehas. Later, Samuel received the Lord’s message that the priesthood would be taken from Eli’s family (1 Sam. 3). Years later, following a defeat at Aphek, the Israelite army sent for the ark of the covenant from Shiloh. Mistakenly thinking that the ark would bring victory, the Israelites lost the second battle of Aphek to the Philistines. Results included losing the ark; the deaths of Hophni, Phinehas, and Eli; and the apparent conquering of Shiloh (1 Sam. 4).

No explicit biblical reference was made to Shiloh’s final fate. According to archaeological evidence, Shiloh apparently was destroyed about 1050 B.C. by the Philistines. Supporting this was the fact that when the Philistines finally returned the ark of the covenant, it was housed at Kiriath-jearim rather than Shiloh (1 Sam. 7:1). Also, Jeremiah warned Jerusalem that it might suffer the same destructive fate as Shiloh (7:12).

Centuries later, Jeremiah used Shiloh and the tabernacle as illustrations to warn Jerusalem that it was not safe merely because it housed the Temple (7:12-14). Hearing the same message again, the people sought to kill Jeremiah (26:6-9). Jeremiah mentioned some men from Shiloh as late as 585 B.C. (41:5), indicating some occupation at that time.

SOURCE: Holman Bible Dictionary; General Editor, David S. Dockery; Holman Bible Publishers; Nashville, Tennessee.

Eli (ee’ li) (v. 9)—Personal name meaning, “high.” The priest at Shiloh who became the custodian of the child Samuel (1 Sam. 1:3). He was the father of Hophni and Phinehas. After Samuel’s birth Hannah, his mother, brought him to the sanctuary at Shiloh in fulfillment of a vow she had made to the Lord. Eli thereby became the human agent largely responsible for the religious and spiritual training of the boy. When Samuel mistook the voice of God for the voice of Eli, Eli instructed him to ask the Lord to speak the next time he heard the voice (1 Sam. 3). Eli’s death was precipitated by the news of the death of his sons and the capture of the ark of God by the Philistines (1 Sam. 4:18).

SOURCE: Holman Bible Dictionary; General Editor, David S. Dockery; Holman Bible Publishers; Nashville, Tennessee.

Nazirite (naz’ uh rite) (v. 11): Member of a class of individuals especially devoted to God. The Hebrew term means consecration, devotion, and separation. Two traditional forms of the Nazirite are found. One was based on a vow by the individual for a specific period; the other was a lifelong devotion following the revelatory experience of a parent which announced the impending birth of a child.

The Nazirite’s outward signs—the growth of hair, abstention from wine and other alcoholic products, the avoidance of contact with the dead—are illustrative of devotion to God. Violation of these signs resulted in defilement and the need for purification so the vow could be completed. Numbers 6:1-21 regulated the practice and lined the phenomenon to cultic law and locality. Verses 1-8 show how the Nazirite’s period was begun. In case of defilement, a method of purification was given (vv. 9-12). The status was terminated (vv. 13-21) by the burning of shaven hair and the giving of various offerings. Parallels exist between the cultic purity of the high priest and the Nazirite.

The lifelong Nazirite in biblical tradition included Samson (Judg. 13), Samuel (1 Sam. 1), and John the Baptist (Luke 1:15-17). In the New Testament, Paul took the Nazirite vow for a specific period of time (Acts 18:18; 21:22-26). Amos 2:12 shows an ethical concern for protecting the status of the Nazirite.

SOURCE: Holman Bible Dictionary; General Editor, David S. Dockery; Holman Bible Publishers; Nashville, Tennessee.

My horn (2:1)—The word horn was used as a metaphor for power or strength. Behind the term may have been the image of oxen’s horns as implements of their strength.

SOURCE: Life Ventures-Bible Studies for Life; Leader Guide; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; Nashville, TN.



At Shiloh

By Roy E. Lucas, Jr.

Roy E. Lucas, Jr. is professor of Bible at Clear Creek Baptist Bible College, Pineville, Kentucky and pastor of First Baptist Church, Loyall, Kentucky.


HIRTY TWO TIMES THE OLD TESTAMENT mentions Shiloh, primarily in four books: Joshua, Judges, 1 Samuel, and Jeremiah.1  In addition to what we know from Scripture, understanding Shiloh’s geographical location and knowing its archaeological contributions can give us a better appreciation of this ancient site’s significance.

Geographical Location

On the edge of Mount Ephraim, Shiloh was “north of Bethel, east of the highway that goes up from Bethel to Shechem, and south of Lebonah” (Judg. 21:19, HCSB).  Although the site had been long abandoned, literature from the Middle Ages mentioned Shiloh.  In the nineteenth century, scholars identified the ancient site with Khirbet Seilun, which is about 20 miles north of Jerusalem.  Topographical position, material scatterings along the site, and the name support this as indeed being the geographical location of biblical Shiloh.  The ancient city occupied about 12 acres.2 

Other sources mentioned Shiloh.  Eusebius states the city was 10 miles east of Neapolis.  Jerome located the ruins of an altar at Shiloh.  This information corresponds with Josephus, who wrote that Joshua “placed the tabernacle in the city of Shiloh.”  The Madaba Map places Shiloh west of Gilgal.  Finally, rabbis in the Talmud claimed that an elder visited the site and could still smell the incense odor in the walls.3

Biblical Connections

Shiloh’s importance arose when Joshua placed the tabernacle here (Josh. 18:1).  Joshua cast lots to distribute land among the tribes (vv. 2-10) and established the Levitical cities (21:2-3).  At Shiloh Joshua addressed the dispute between the tribes of Gad, half of Manasseh, the Reubenites, and the remaining tribes (22:9,12).

The continuation of Hebrew worship at the site further solidified Shiloh’s importance.  As a part of an annual celebration, the daughters of Shiloh danced as an act of worship (Judg. 21:19-21).  Tragically, one year during this observance, the Benjaminites abducted wives for themselves (vv. 22-23).  Eli and his sons officiated before the house of God in Shiloh.  God revealed Himself here (1 Sam. 1:19; 3:1).  Hannah and her husband, Elkanah, worshiped at Shiloh; and here Hannah promised her son, Samuel to the Lord (chs. 1—2).  Here Eli’s sons sinned and the Lord called Samuel to serve Him (ch. 3).

While engaged in battle against the Philistines, the Israelites transported the ark of the covenant from Shiloh to the battlefield at Ebenezer.  The Philistines captured the ark and killed Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas (4:1-5,11; 5:1).  A Benjamite returned from battle to Shiloh and told Eli the tragic news.  Upon hearing the report, Eli died (4:12-18).  The ark never returned to Shiloh.

Shiloh was burned and later rebuilt (Ps. 78:60; Jer. 7:12-14; 26:6,9).  Ahijah, son of a Shiloh priest, Ahitub, appeared in Saul’s camp before the battle of Micmash with the ephod (1 Sam. 14:3).  Solomon ended the priestly family of Shiloh (1 Kings 2:27).

Ahijah, the Shilonite, prophesied Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, would rule over the ten northern tribes (1 Kings 11:29-31; 12:15; 15:29; 2 Chron. 9:29).  Most likely, Jeroboam’s wife was at Shiloh when she received this information from the prophet that the kingdom was doomed (1 Kings 14:2-16).

Jeremiah prophesied that God would destroy Jerusalem and its temple just as He had destroyed Shiloh (Jer. 7:12-14; see Ps. 78:60).  The people, including the priests and the prophets, accused him of blasphemy when he prophesied the destruction of Jerusalem along with the temple (Jer. 26:6-9).  Jeremiah details that after Jerusalem fell to the Babylonians, some of the inhabitants of Shiloh traveled to Jerusalem to offer sacrifices (41:5).

Shiloh existed as a village during the Roman and Byzantine periods.  Giving evidence, albeit in passing, of the site’s continued existent, the early church historian Eusebius (c.a. 260-339) stated that Shiloh was about 12 miles from Shechem.

Archaeological Contribution

Archaeological excavations were conducted in 1922 at Shiloh.4  Other excavations occurred in 1926 to 1932, and again a short dig season happened in 1963.  Israel Finkelstein conducted recent archaeological work from 1981 to 1984.  What did their work show?

During the Middle Bronze Ages II and III (1750-1550 BC), Shiloh was heavily fortified with a large wall (10-18 feet/3-5.5 meters wide) with parts of this wall standing over 26 feet/8 meters tall.  An extensive glacis (an earthen rampart), which was in places 82 feet/25 meters wide, supported this wall on the eastern slope.  These ramparts, increasingly used during this period, helped increase the amount of land on top of the tel.  Ancient societies formed the glacis by compacting earth on an existing hill and slanting it to an average of 30 degrees.  Shiloh’s glacis was coated with lime to create a smooth, steep surface.

These massive construction projects at Shiloh point to the development of a centralized government, social organization, and challenges between various city-states.  Large rectangular city gates had towers incorporated; these strengthened Shiloh’s defenses.  Storage rooms and cultic vessels were found that indicate some kind of worship took place here.  Also found at Shiloh were tools made of bronze.  Also, excavators found at Shiloh a large bronze axe, shaped like a palm of a hand.

Shiloh served as the central settlement of the central hills of Israel from 1200 to 1000 BC.  The population surrounding Shiloh was “two to three times denser” than that of the other areas in the hills.5  The presence of the tabernacle may have contributed to this more-crowded habitation.  The unfortunate problem is archaeologists cannot determine whether the worship center atop the tel was actually a permanent building (1 Sam. 3:15) or a portable shrine (2 Sam. 7:6-7).  The precise location of the tabernacle remains disputed.  No solid evidence has been found.  But it is possible that the tabernacle stood within the city walls.

Discoveries at Shiloh from this period include 20 silos for grains.  One had carbonized wheat in it.  Public buildings with columns were excavated.  Some buildings had two levels with a division made by a terraced wall.  A single building possessed a paved courtyard, and more than 20 rimmed jars were found in a number of buildings.  These were surmised to be part of the worship center’s complex.  The Philistines probably destroyed Shiloh’s buildings from this period; erosion added to the destruction along with Byzantine constructions.

Early in Israel’s history, Shiloh was a place of worship and celebration.  In the last days of Israel’s history, though, Jeremiah used Shiloh as a warning (Jer. 7:12-14; 26:6-9).  Prior to Jerusalem’s fall to the Babylonians in 586 BC, Jeremiah cautioned the Hebrews to learn from Shiloh—the presence of the house of worship would not guarantee the city’s safety.                                                 

1.  Psalm 78:60 mentions Shiloh: “He abandoned the tabernacle at Shiloh, the tent where He resided among men” (HCSB).

2.  L.T. Dolphin, “Shiloh” in The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, gen. ed., G.W. Bromiley, vol. 4 (Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 1988), 477-78.

3.  See “Thenath” in Eusebius, Onomasticon, Section Theta: Joshua; Jerome, Letter 108; Josephus, The Antiquities of the Jews 5:1.19 [68] in The Works of Josephus: Complete and Unabridged, trans. W. Whiston (Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 1987), 131; Talmud Yoma 39b.

4.  A. Kempinski and I. Finkelstein, “Shiloh” in The New Encyclopedia of Archaeological Excavaions in the Holy Land, ed. E. Stern, vol. 4 (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1993)(, 1364-70.

5.  I. Provan, V.P. Long, and T. Longman, III, A Biblical History of Israel (Louisville: Westminster J. Knox, 2003), 185.

SOURCE: Biblical Illustrator; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; Nashville, TN 37234; Summer 2016.

SAMUEL  A Biography

By Harold R. Mosley

Harold R. Mosley is professor of Old Testament and Hebrew, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, New Orleans, Louisiana.


 REMEMBER THE SCENE  from my childhood.  I was a young boy in a Sunday School class at a rural Baptist church listening as my teacher told the story of God speaking to the child Samuel.  I imagined the thrill Samuel must have felt as he realized God was calling his name.  The young child Samuel answered God’s call, and he grew into adulthood to become one of Israel’s greatest leaders.  The story challenged my heart, just as it has challenged the hearts of countless others throughout the centuries.

Samuel’s Heritage

The story of Samuel starts with his parents’ example of faithfulness and prayer.  The narrative of 1 Samuel 1—2 introduces his parents.  Samuel’s father, Elkanah, was a faithful worshiper of God.  He fulfilled his obligations to God, as is evidenced in his pattern of faithful sacrifices before the Lord.  Because the specific statement in the Hebrew text is an idiom, 1 Sam. 1:3 is translated somewhat differently in various translations.1 However, the statement’s intent is clear.  Elkanah regularly went from his home to worship the Lord at Shiloh.  Every Hebrew man was to appear before God three times a year during specific festivals (Deut. 16:16-17).  Probably Elkanah sacrificed before God as part of his faithful attendance at these religious feasts.

Samuel’s mother, Hannah, was also godly.  The text first mentions her in the midst of the heartache of her inability to have children.  Another wife of Elkanah,2 Peninnah, had children, and Peninnah regularly provoked Hannah be reminding Hannah of her lack of children.  Some aspects of the story, however, seem to be implied by the way the narrative is told.  The text introduces the wives as: “the name of the one was Hannah, and the name of the second was Peninnah” (1 Sam. 1:2).3 This order in the introduction of the wives implies Hannah was the first wife.  She also was the favorite wife, as the story relates in verse 5 that Elkanah loved Hannah.  Elkanah may have married Peninnah for the same reason Abram married Hagar;4 that is, because his first wife was unable to bear children.

Peninnah’s persistent attempts to provoke Hannah served to frustrate even more Hannah’s intense desire for children.  Hannah broke into bitter weeping as her heart ached.  She prayed to God for children.  On one occasion, Hannah prayed at Shiloh, where the priest Eli observed her.  Her lips moved, but no words came forth.  Eli, assuming such action could only come from a drunk person, rebuked her.  However, after hearing Hannah’s story, Eli assured her that God had heard her prayer.  Hannah returned home with a renewed hope and faith in God.

Hannah’s prayer to God included two vows.  First, she vowed that should God give her a son, she would give him to the Lord all his life.  This was more than an empty promise.  Indeed, after she had weaned Samuel, she presented him at Shiloh, where he remained with Eli.  The second vow was that “no razor shall come upon his head” (v. 11).  This vow was in reference to the Nazirite vow.

The Nazirite Vow

Numbers 6:1-21 records the specific nature of the Nazirite vow.  This vow could be taken by either a man or woman (v. 2) and could be for a determined length of time (vv. 6,13) or for a lifetime.5 The Hebrew word from which the name “Nazirite” derives denotes the idea of separation.  The particular significance of the vow was that the Nazirite was separated or dedicated to God.  A Nazirite made a commitment of separation from the ordinary life.  Instead, the Nazirite led a life of consecrated service and obedience to God.

The vow actually consisted of three separate elements.  The best known of the elements dealt with the prohibition of cutting the hair during the time of the separation.  However, two other aspects were part of being a Nazirite.  The Nazirite could not partake of any part of the fruit of the vine.  Specific prohibitions included not only wine, strong drink, and vinegar derived from grapes, but also grape juice, grapes, raisins, or even the skin and seeds of grapes (Num. 6:3-4).  The third aspect of the Nazirite vow prohibited contact with a dead body.  Even if the contact with a dead body was unintentional, special steps were needed to restore the Nazirite to the state of separation (vv. 9-12).

Hannah’s vow that her son would be a Nazirite from birth points to her intention to dedicate him to God for all his life.  Hannah’s prayer was answered when God blessed her with a son she named Samuel.

Samuel’s Early Years

Scripture does not record Samuel’s exact age when Hannah brought him to Shiloh.  The story seems to indicate Hannah brought him immediately after he was weaned.  Although an age is not mentioned, the indication is that he was indeed still quite young (1 Sam. 1:24).

Eli served as Samuel’s mentor during the early years of the boy’s life.  Apparently, Eli in many was honorable on a personal level.  However, one glaring weakness caused his ministry to be ineffective:  Eli honored his sons more than he honored God (2:29).  Because of Eli’s refusal to discipline his sons for their evil behavior, God said He would bring judgment on Eli’s family and would raise up a “faithful priest” in Eli’s stead (2:30-35).  Samuel grew to fill that role for the nation.

Under Eli, the word from God to Israel had become infrequent.6 The problem was not that God had become distant.  The problem was that Israel as a whole, and Eli and his family specifically as leaders within the nation, had become sinful.  Thus, God ceased to speak through Eli.  Samuel’s experience, however, was different.  Although Samuel was still a young man, God began to speak to Israel through Samuel (3:19—4:1).  The statement, “the Lord was with him,” indicates God blessed Samuel’s life and his work and ministry as a prophet.  Similar statements refer to God using Joseph (Gen. 39:2,21,23).  God used Samuel because of his faithfulness and obedience.  That none of Samuel’s words fell “toward the ground” gives evidence both of the Lord’s faithfully using Samuel and of Samuel’s faithfulness to God (1 Sam. 3:19).  Because he faithfully delivered God’s words, Samuel’s reputation as a genuine prophet spread throughout “all Israel from Dan even to Beersheba” (v. 20, NASB).  “For the first time since Moses, Israel had a national prophet.”7

Samuel and the Monarchy

Samuel judged Israel for many years until he grew old.  Unfortunately, Samuel’s sons, like those of Eli, did not follow God (8:1-5).  The people of Israel approached Samuel about establishing a king over them.  The three specific reasons for this request were: (1) that Israel might be “like all the nations”; (2) that the king might govern the nation; and (3) that the king would fight their battles—that is, he would be a military leader (v. 20).  The request displeased Samuel.  However, God assured Samuel that the request was not a rejection of Samuel.  Rather, it was a rejection of God’s kingship over the nation and an embracing of idolatrous practices (vv. 7-8).

God granted Israel’s request by commanding Samuel to anoint Saul.  From all outward appearances, Saul showed promise.  He was tall, handsome, and had a striking physical presence.  However, the most important characteristics needed for Israel’s king—faithfulness and obedience to God—were lacking.  Saul’s repeated refusals to obey God caused the Lord to cease using Saul.8 Because of this disobedience, the Lord sought a man after His own heart (13:14).

God then sent Samuel to the house of Jesse, where he was to anoint Israel’s second king.  Jesse’s elder sons came before Samuel, but God had not chosen any of them.  To the surprise of all involved, the youngest son was God’s choice.  The theme of God choosing David echoes the problem associated with Saul.  Rather than looking on the outward appearance, God looks at the heart (16:7).  Anointing David as king became the single most important act of Samuel’s ministry.  David went on to become the standard by which later kings were measured.  All the subsequent kings who obeyed God were said to be “like David.”9

Samuel’s Last Days

As Samuel came to the end of his ministry, he gave a farewell address to the nation (1 Sam. 12).  He recounted God’s gracious deeds of deliverance and provision throughout the years.  He also admonished the nation concerning the blessings of obeying God and the disasters of turning from God.  As proof of God’s power and His displeasure over Israel’s sinfulness, specifically the sin of requesting a king to rule over them in God’s stead, Samuel called upon God to send thunder and rain during the wheat harvest (v. 17).  The impact of this event was indeed a “great thing” (v. 16).  The wheat harvest lasted from late May into early June.  This was a time when the rains in Israel had already ceased for the summer months.  Rain in Israel occurs normally from mid-October through mid-April.10 During the intervening months, no rain falls at all.  The rare event of thunder and rain during the time of wheat harvest reinforced Samuel’s warning concerning sin.  This event also illustrated Samuel’s usefulness and power as God’s servant to Israel.

Scripture gives us no details about Samuel’s death.  When he died, though, “all Israel had lamented him and buried him in Ramah, his own city” (28:3, NASB).

The last event in Samuel’s ministry came after his death (1 Sam. 28).  Saul was facing what was likely the most serious battle of his kingship—a battle against the Philistines.  God had ceased to answer Saul because of Saul’s disobedience.  In a frantic effort to gain some word from God, Saul sought the advice of a medium he had earlier outlawed, the “witch of Endor.”  Saul asked the witch to bring Samuel from the dead.11 When Samuel appeared, apparently to the great surprise of the witch, the message to Saul was not one of assurance.  The message was the same one Samuel had earlier announced to the king: Saul’s disobedience had caused God to take the kingdom from him.  Saul would die in the battle with the Philistines, and David would become king.  Indeed, Samuel’s prophecy came true.

A Model of Faithfulness

Samuel undoubtedly was a man of great energy and ability.  Those traits, however, were not what made him a great leader.  Rather, Samuel’s faithfulness to God was the key to his usefulness.  The model of faithfulness patterned by Samuel’s parents had been followed by their son.  The choice Samuel made to follow God as a child changed not only the course of his own life, it changed the course of the history of the nation.

God used Samuel as the key figure in the transition from the period of the judges to the era of monarchy in Israel.  Although Samuel recognized Israel’s failure in requesting a king, he was obedient to God in anointing Israel’s first two kings.  Samuel became the greatest leader for Israel since Moses.  Samuel’s faithfulness to God continues to make him a model for all who aspire to be used by God for service.

1.    The Hebrew literally reads, “And that man went up from his city from days to days.”  The idea of the idiom is that his was a pattern of regular observance in his life.

2.    We as twenty-first century Christians must recognize that characters of the Bible were people of their time and of their culture.  Although Elkanah was a godly man, he was not perfect.  Culture in the patriarchal period allowed the plurality of wives, even though God never approved of the practice.

3.    Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are the writer’s translation.

4.    The story of Abram and Hagar is in Genesis 16.

5.    Samson (Judg. 13:5) and John the Baptist (Luke 1:15) were to be Nazirites from birth, that is, for their lifetimes.  See Nazirite” in Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary  (HIBD), ed. Chad Brand, Charles Draper, and Archie England (Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers, 2003), 1178-79.

6.    First Samuel 3:1 mentions the lack of “frequent vision” or “frequent revelation.”

7.    Robert D. Bergen, 1, 2 Samuel,  vol. 7 in The New American Commentary  (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1996), 89.

8.    Two serious instances of Saul’s disobedience are recorded.  First Samuel 13 notes Saul’s intrusion into the office of the priesthood, and 1 Samuel 15 relates Saul’s refusal to destroy all of the Amalekites’ livestock.

9.    See for example, 1 Kings 9:4; 11:38; 15:11.

10.   See Simon J. DeVries, “Calendar” in HIBD, 251-53.

11.   This story has been interpreted in a variety of ways.  Some argue the figure who appeared to Saul after the death of Samuel was not Samuel, but rather some demonic apparition representing the prophet.  The story as it is presented is indeed difficult to understand.  However, the fact that the text specifically mentions Samuel as the one who appeared should be taken at face value.

SOURCE: Biblical Illustrator; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; Nashville, TN 37234; Fall 2008.

Eli  His Life and Ministry

By John Traylor

John Traylor is a retired pastor, First Baptist Church, Monroe, Louisiana.


WILL HONOR THOSE WHO HONOR ME,” God declared to Eli, “but those who despise Me will be disgraced” (1 Sam. 2:30, HCSB).1  Eli honored his wicked sons above God and disgraced himself with his posterity.  In stark contrast to Eli’s sons, his protégé, Samuel, as a child and throughout his life, walked obediently in God’s ways and became the honored prophet through whom God’s Word came to all Israel (3:10—4:1; 12:1-5).

Eli, the High Priest at Shiloh

Eli, whose name probably is a short form of “My God is Exalted,” was “the Lord’s priest in Shiloh” (14:3), where God’s tabernacle had resided for years (Josh. 18:1).  Apparently, Eli was the first of Aaron’s house through Ithamar to serve as high priest, othersbeing of Aaron’s house through Eleazar (Num. 3:4; 20:23-28; 25:11-13).  Eli also combined the role of judge with that of high priest and judged Israel for 40 years (1 Sam. 4:18).

As high priest, Eli would have been responsible for maintaining the sanctity of the tabernacle where God met with His people (Ex. 29:43).  Eli’s chief duties would have included caring for the ark of the covenant (25:10,16,21-22; Num. 3:31-32; 1 Kings 8;9), presiding over the functions of the priesthood (Ex. 28:30; Num. 3:31-32; 27:18-23; 1 Sam. 2:28), and maintaining the godliness of the priests who ministered at the tabernacle (Lev. 10:1-3; 21:6-8).

Eli, who was nearly blind when he died at 98 (1 Sam. 4:15-18), was old when 1 Samuel opens.  He showed devotion to duty in his ministry to Hannah (1:9-18), his nurture of Samuel who as a child was put in his care (vv. 24-28), his humble acceptance of God’s chastisement (3:18), and his concern for the ark (4:12-18).  Eli brought judgment upon himself and his house, however, by failing to remove his wicked sons from their priestly duties (2:27-36; 3:11-14).

Eli’s Wicked Sons

The Book of 1 Samuel identifies Eli’s sons Hophni and Phinehas as “the priests of the Lord” (1:3) before Eli, probably because the infirmed Eli had put them in charge of the tabernacle’s priestly duties.  However, “the sons of Eli were sons of Belial; they knew not the Lord” (2:12).  In later usage, “Belial” denotes one who worked evil against God and is a name for Satan (Nah. 1:11; 2 Cor. 6:15).

Hophni and Phinehas desecrated God’s worship and corrupted God’s people in two ways.  First, their actions caused men to abhor God’s altar; the two  forcibly took whatever portions of the sacrifices and offerings they desired without regard for God’s instructions (1 Sam. 2:13-17).  In the original provision of “all the offerings made by fire” (2:28), the worshiper would have presented to the priests the fat of the sacrifice along with the breast and the shoulder.  The priests would have sacrificed the fat to the Lord.  The breast and the shoulder would then have been dedicated to the Lord through the wave ceremony and given back to the priests for their part (Lev. 3:3-5; 7:29-34).

Second, Hophni and Phinehas profaned God’s worship by committing harlotry with the women who served at the tabernacle’s door (1 Sam. 2:22).  “Ye make the Lord’s people to transgress” (v. 24) may mean Eli’s sons made God’s worship like the whoredom related to Baal worship (Num. 25:1-3).  Ultimately, God destroyed Shiloh because of His people’s wickedness (Jer. 7:12).

We do not know if Eli previously had called his sons to repent to defiling God’s worship and warned them their sin against God Himself would be without intercession for forgiveness (1 Sam. 2:24-25).  But Hophni and Phinehas had now sinned away their day of grace, and God had determined to kill them (v. 25; Deut. 17:12-13).  By hardening their hearts from heeding Eli’s call to repent, God sealed them unto destruction in the arrogant path they had chosen for themselves (see Ex. 4:21; 14:4; Josh. 11:20; 1 John 5:16).

Eli’s Judgment Announced

The Lord announced His judgment of Eli and his house through an unnamed man of God (1 Sam. 2:27-36).  Chiefly, judgment would come because Eli had honored his sons above God by allowing them to continue to desecrate God’s worship (2:29-30; 3:13).  God’s Law required Eli to remove them as priests and to deliver them to death (Num. 15:30-31; Deut. 17:12-13; 21:18-21).

The various translations of 1 Samuel 2:30-36 show the difficulty of interpreting judgment specifics.  Chief features, however, would be God’s removal of Eli’s house from serving as high priest and establishing a faithful high priest to walk before His anointed.  Other features would be enemies violating God’s sanctuary, Eli’s male descendants being cut off in the flower of their age, Eli’s grief over the demise of his posterity, and the reduction of his descendants to begging for any priestly dity to satisfy their hunger.  The death of his two sons on the same day would be a sign to Eli the prophesied judgment would be fulfilled.

Eli’s Judgment Fulfilled

God affirmed to Samuel through a night vision the certainty and reason for the judgment Eli and his house would bear forever (3:11-15).  Fulfillment began when Hophni and Phinehas carried the ark of the covenant into battle as a fetish—a religious good-luck charm—to assure an Israelite victory over the Philistines.  Instead, the Philistines routed the Israelites, killed Hophni and Phinehas in one day as prophesied, and captured the ark (4:10-11).  Then Eli fell backward from his seat and died of a broken neck when told of the ark’s capture (v. 18).

Other fulfillments followed.  Samuel replaced Eli’s house as Israel’s religious leader.  Saul slew many male descendants of Eli at Nob, the city of the priests, in the flower of their age, with only Abiathar escaping (22:19-20).  Solomon fulfilled God’s word to remove Eli’s house as high priests when he thrust Abiathar from his office (1 Kings 2:27).  Moreover, the final roll call of God’s high priest excluded the house of Ithamar through Eli (1 Chron. 6:1-15).

Fulfillment of God’s promise to raise up a faithful priest began when Solomon established Zadok, who was of the house of Aaron through Eleazar, as high priest in the place of Abiathar (1 Kings 2:35).  Other details are unknown, but in the vision of the restored temple, only Zadok’s seed are seen to serve as priests (Ezek. 43:19; 44:15-16).

Life’s Lesson

What is it like to be an Eli—loving father, high priest, and judge—who was required by God’s Law to deliver his wicked sons to death?  Dare we honor God in life’s hard choices?

Eric Liddell honored God by refusing to compete in the 100 meter race of the 1924 Olympics—the race he was favored to win—because doing so would have required him to run on Sunday, the Lord’s Day.  Instead, he trained for the 400 meter race to run on a weekday.  As he left the race, Eric received a note from his masseur stating God’s promise to honor those like Eric who honor Him.  No one expected Eric to win, but he claimed the 400 meter Olympic gold medal, winning by five meters in a new world record time of 47.6 seconds.2  “I will honor those who honor Me!”                                                                                                                

1.  Unless indicated otherwise, all Scripture quotations are from the King James Version.

2.  Sally Magnusson, The Flying Scotsman: The Eric Liddell Story, (Stroud, UK: Tempus Publishing, 2007), 40, 51-53.

SOURCE: Biblical Illustrator; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; Nashville, TN 37234; Summer 2016.




(13, 109)  What is the Answer To & Where in The Bible is This Week’s Trivia Question Found: What king was confronted by a prophet posing as a wounded soldier?   Answer Next Week:  

Last Week’s Question: What kinsman of Jesus was imprisoned for criticizing King Herod’s marriage to Herodias?  Answer: John the Baptist; Matthew 14:3-5.