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Bailey Sadler Class
SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON STUDY GUIDE – Fall 2017
Study Theme: Second
What This Lesson Is About:
week’s study will focus on helping believers to pray in all
circumstances so that prayer becomes second nature to us.
chooses prayer, not hopelessness.
1 Samuel 1:9-11,17-18,26-28;
Bring Your Needs To God (1 Sam. 1:9-11)
God Hears Your Prayers & Answers (1 Sam.
Respond To God With Thankful Praise (1 Sam. 2:1-3)
right to him” (Judg. 21:25). Without any kind of centralized leadership,
the people often fell into sin and worshipped
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.
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.
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!
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
SOURCE: Advanced Bible Study; LifeWay Christian
Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; One LifeWay Plaza,
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
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
Bible Study; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist
Convention; One LifeWay Plaza, Nashville, TN.
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.”
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.
would you summarize Eli’s perception of Hannah’s prayer (vv. 12-16)? (see
Adv. comm., pg. 5, “Eli had been
. “ )
did Eli respond to what he perceived of Hannah’s behavior (v. 14)? (see Adv.
comm., pg. 5, “He scolded Hannah
. “ )
did Eli respond to Hannah’s explanation that she wasn’t drunk (v. 17)? (see
Adv. comm., pg. 5, ”Eli’s response
. “ )
did Hannah reply to Eli’s response in verse 17? (see Adv. comm., pg. 5, “Hannah’s reply .
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
. “ )
would you compare Hannah’s attitude in verse 7 with her change in attitude in
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
. “ )
did Hannah recognize that her son Samuel was a blessing from God? (see Adv. comm., pg. 5, “Hannah’s
joyful statement .
With respect to the vow Hannah made, how did she fulfill
it? (see Adv. comm., pg. 5, “Hannah’s
What blessings has God given you that you would be willing
to share with others, especially a non-believer?
What do you do to worship God in response for His blessings
He’s given you?
When have you been blessed by an
answer to prayer?
Have you ever overlooked God’s
answer to your prayer? If so, how
did it affect you and what did you do about it?
Lessons in 1 Samuel 1:17-18,26-28:
We should share with others how God has blessed us.
Worship is the proper response to God’s blessing.
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. 3 Do 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.”
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
. “ )
the Adv. comm., pg. 6, “Hannah affirmed
. “ ) who may have been
Hannah’s enemies she said her mouth boasted over?
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 .
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
. “ )
would you describe the way God’s omniscience was demonstrated in Hannah’s
life? (see Adv. comm., pg. 7, “Hannah
affirmed that .
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 .
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?
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
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
Lessons in 1 Samuel 2:1-3:
Our hearts should always rejoice in the Lord.
No one is holy like the Lord our God.
God provides rock-solid spiritual footing for His children as they go
The Lord sees our actions, but He also knows our motives.
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.
are the implications of these truths for your life?
THE CHOICE IS YOURS, ISN’T IT!
the safest place for a believer is in the center of God’s will.
Outline, Introduction, Discussion Questions, and Conclusion adapted from the
Ventures-Bible Studies for Life; Leader Guide; LifeWay Christian Resources
of the Southern Baptist Convention; Nashville, TN.
Herschel Hobbs Commentary; Family Bible Study; by
Robert J. Dean; LifeWay Christian
Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; 1 LifeWay Plaza, Nashville,
SOURCE: Advanced Bible Study; LifeWay Christian
Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; One LifeWay Plaza,
Focal Passage from three different translations of
King James Version: 1 Samuel
1 Samuel 1:9-11 (KJV)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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
1 Samuel 1:26-28 (NIV)
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
(NOTE: Commentary for the
focal passage comes from four sources: “Advanced Bible Study
“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.
Respond To God With Thankful Praise (1 Sam.
Bible Study Commentary: 1 Samuel
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
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
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,
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
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
Pulpit Commentary: 1 Samuel
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
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
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
The Pulpit Commentary; Volume 16:
Mark & Luke; Database © 2007 WORDsearch Corp.
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
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.
Exulting in the Lord (2:1):
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
Hannah’s Extolling of the Lord
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
(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.
Ventures-Bible Studies for Life; Leader Guide; LifeWay Christian Resources
of the Southern Baptist Convention; Nashville, TN.
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,
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
SOURCE: Holman Bible Dictionary; General
Editor, David S. Dockery; Holman Bible Publishers; Nashville,
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
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.
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,
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.
Ventures-Bible Studies for Life; Leader Guide; LifeWay Christian Resources
of the Southern Baptist Convention; Nashville, TN.
By Roy E.
Lucas, Jr. is professor of Bible at Clear Creek Baptist Bible College,
Pineville, Kentucky and pastor of First Baptist Church, Loyall, Kentucky.
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.
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
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).
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
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.
Psalm 78:60 mentions Shiloh: “He
abandoned the tabernacle at Shiloh, the tent where He resided among men”
L.T. Dolphin, “Shiloh” in The
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, gen. ed., G.W. Bromiley, vol. 4
(Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 1988), 477-78.
See “Thenath” in Eusebius, Onomasticon,
Section Theta: Joshua; Jerome, Letter 108; Josephus, The Antiquities of the Jews
5:1.19  in The Works of Josephus:
Complete and Unabridged, trans. W. Whiston (Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers,
1987), 131; Talmud Yoma 39b.
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.
I. Provan, V.P. Long, and T. Longman,
III, A Biblical History of Israel
(Louisville: Westminster J. Knox, 2003), 185.
By Harold R. Mosley
R. Mosley is professor of Old Testament and Hebrew, New Orleans Baptist
Theological Seminary, New Orleans, Louisiana.
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.
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
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
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’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
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
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.
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
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.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture
quotations are the writer’s translation.
The story of Abram and Hagar is in Genesis
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.
First Samuel 3:1 mentions the lack of
“frequent vision” or “frequent revelation.”
Robert D. Bergen, 1, 2 Samuel,
vol. 7 in The New American
Commentary (Nashville: Broadman
& Holman Publishers, 1996), 89.
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’
See for example, 1 Kings 9:4; 11:38; 15:11.
See Simon J. DeVries, “Calendar” in
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.
Eli His Life and
is a retired pastor, First Baptist Church, Monroe, Louisiana.
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).
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).
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).
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.
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).
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).
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).
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.
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).
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).
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).
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?
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!”
Unless indicated otherwise, all
Scripture quotations are from the King James Version.
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;
(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
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.