1 Samuel 1
The history of Samuel here begins as early as that of Samson did, even
before he was born, as afterwards the history of John the Baptist and
our blessed Saviour. Some of the scripture-worthies drop out of the
clouds, as it were, and their first appearance is in their full growth
and lustre. But others are accounted for from the birth, and from the
womb, and from the conception. What God says of the prophet Jeremiah is
true of all: "Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee,"
But some great men were brought into the world with more observation
than others, and were more early distinguished from common persons, as
Samuel for one. God, in this matter, acts as a free agent. The story of
Samson introduces him as a child of promise,
But the story of Samuel introduces him as a child of prayer. Samson's
birth was foretold by an angel to his mother; Samuel was asked of God
by his mother. Both together intimate what wonders are produced by the
word and prayer. Samuel's mother was Hannah, the principal person
concerned in the story of this chapter.
I. Here is her affliction--she was childless, and this affliction
aggravated by her rival's insolence, but in some measure balanced by
her husband's kindness,
1 Samuel 1:1-8.
II. The prayer and vow she made to God under this affliction, in which
Eli the high priest at first censured her, but afterwards encouraged
1 Samuel 1:9-18.
III. The birth and nursing of Samuel,
1 Samuel 1:19-23.
IV. The presenting of him to the Lord,
1 Samuel 1:24-28.
|Parentage of Samuel; Elkanah, Hannah, and Peninnah.
||B. C. 1140.|
1 Now there was a certain man of Ramathaim-zophim, of mount
Ephraim, and his name was Elkanah, the son of Jeroham, the son
of Elihu, the son of Tohu, the son of Zuph, an Ephrathite:
2 And he had two wives; the name of the one was Hannah, and
the name of the other Peninnah: and Peninnah had children, but
Hannah had no children.
3 And this man went up out of his city yearly to worship and to
sacrifice unto the LORD of hosts in Shiloh. And the two sons of
Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, the priests of the LORD, were there.
4 And when the time was that Elkanah offered, he gave to
Peninnah his wife, and to all her sons and her daughters,
5 But unto Hannah he gave a worthy portion; for he loved
Hannah: but the LORD had shut up her womb.
6 And her adversary also provoked her sore, for to make her
fret, because the LORD had shut up her womb.
7 And as he did so year by year, when she went up to the
house of the LORD, so she provoked her; therefore she wept, and
did not eat.
8 Then said Elkanah her husband to her, Hannah, why weepest
thou? and why eatest thou not? and why is thy heart grieved? am
not I better to thee than ten sons?
We have here an account of the state of the family into which Samuel
the prophet was born. His father's name was Elkanah, a Levite, and of
the family of the Kohathites (the most honourable house of that tribe)
1 Chronicles 6:33,34.
His ancestor Zuph was an Ephrathite, that is, of Bethlehem-Judah, which
was called Ephrathah,
There this family of the Levites was first seated, but one branch of
it, in process of time, removed to Mount Ephraim, from which Elkanah
descended. Micah's Levite came from Bethlehem to Mount Ephraim,
Perhaps notice is taken of their being originally Ephrathites to show
their alliance to David. This Elkanah lived at Ramah, or Ramathaim,
which signifies the double Ramah, the higher and lower town, the
same with Arimathea of which Joseph was, here called
Ramathaim-zophim. Zophim signifies watchmen; probably
they had one of the schools of the prophets there, for prophets are
called watchmen: the Chaldee paraphrase calls Elkanah a
disciple of the prophets. But it seems to me that it was in Samuel
that prophecy revived, before his time there being, for a great while,
no open vision,
1 Samuel 3:1.
Nor is there any mention of a prophet of the Lord from Moses to Samuel,
So that we have no reason to think that there was any nursery or
college of prophets here till Samuel himself founded one,
1 Samuel 19:19,20.
This is the account of Samuel's parentage, and the place of his
nativity. Let us now take notice of the state of the family.
I. It was a devout family. All the families of Israel should be so, but
Levites' families in a particular manner. Ministers should be patterns
of family religion. Elkanah went up at the solemn feasts to the
tabernacle at Shiloh, to worship and to sacrifice to the Lord of
hosts. I think this is the first time in scripture that God is
called the Lord of hosts--Jehovah Sabaoth, a name by which
he was afterwards very much called and known. Probably Samuel the
prophet was the first that used this title of God, for the comfort of
Israel, when in his time their hosts were few and feeble and those of
their enemies many and mighty; then it would be a support to them to
think that the God they served was Lord of hosts, of all the hosts both
of heaven and earth; of them he has a sovereign command, and makes what
use he pleases of them. Elkanah was a country Levite, and, for aught
that appears, had not any place or office which required his attendance
at the tabernacle, but he went up as a common Israelite, with his own
sacrifices, to encourage his neighbours and set them a good example.
When he sacrificed he worshipped, joining prayers and thanksgivings
with his sacrifices. In this course of religion he was constant, for he
went up yearly. And that which made it the more commendable in him
1. That there was a general decay and neglect of religion in the
nations. Some among them worshipped other gods, and the generality were
remiss in the service of the God of Israel, and yet Elkanah kept his
integrity; whatever others did, his resolution was that he and his
house should serve the Lord.
2. That Hophni and Phinehas, the sons of Eli, were the men that were
now chiefly employed in the service of the house of God; and they were
men that conducted themselves very ill in their place, as we shall find
afterwards; yet Elkanah went up to sacrifice. God had then tied his
people to one place and one altar, and forbidden them, under any
pretence whatsoever, to worship elsewhere, and therefore, in pure
obedience to that command, he attended at Shiloh. If the priests did
not do their duty, he would do his. Thanks be to God, we, under the
gospel, are not tied to any one place or family; but the pastors and
teachers whom the exalted Redeemer has given to his church are those
only whose ministration tends to the perfecting of the saints
and the edifying of the body of Christ,
None have dominion over our faith; but our obligation is to those that
are the helpers of our holiness and joy, not to any that by their
scandalous immoralities, like Hophni and Phinehas, make the sacrifices
of the Lord to be abhorred, though still the validity and efficacy of
the sacraments depend not on the purity of him that administers
II. Yet it was a divided family, and the divisions of it carried with
them both guilt and grief. Where there is piety, it is a pity but there
should be unity. The joint-devotions of a family should put an end to
divisions in it.
1. The original cause of this division was Elkanah's marrying two
wives, which was a transgression of the original institution of
marriage, to which our Saviour reduces it.
From the beginning it was not so. It made mischief in Abraham's
family, and Jacob's, and here in Elkanah's. How much better does the
law of God provide for our comfort and ease in this world than we
should, if we were left to ourselves! It is probable that Elkanah
married Hannah first, and, because he had not children by her so soon
as he hoped, he married Peninnah, who bore him children indeed, but was
in other things a vexation to him. Thus are men often beaten with rods
of their own making.
2. That which followed upon this error was that the two wives could not
agree. They had different blessings: Peninnah, like Leah, was fruitful
and had many children, which should have made her easy and thankful,
though she was but a second wife, and was less beloved; Hannah, like
Rachel, was childless indeed, but she was very dear to her husband, and
he took all occasions to let both her and others know that she was so,
and many a worthy portion he gave her
(1 Samuel 1:5),
and this should have made her easy and thankful. But they were of
different tempers: Peninnah could not bear the blessing of
fruitfulness, but she grew haughty and insolent; Hannah could not bear
the affliction of barrenness, but she grew melancholy and discontented:
and Elkanah had a difficult part to act between them.
(1.) Elkanah kept up his attendance at God's altar notwithstanding this
unhappy difference in his family, and took his wives and children with
him, that, if they could not agree in other things, they might agree to
worship God together. If the devotions of a family prevail not to put
an end to its divisions, yet let not the divisions put a stop to the
(2.) He did all he could to encourage Hannah, and to keep up her
spirits under her affliction,
1 Samuel 1:4,5.
At the feast he offered peace-offerings, to supplicate for peace in his
family; and when he and his family were to eat their share of the
sacrifice, in token of their communion with God and his altar, though
he carved to Peninnah and her children competent portions, yet to
Hannah he gave a worthy portion, the choicest piece that came to the
table, the piece (whatever it was) that used to be given on such
occasions to those that were most valued; this he did in token of his
love to her, and to give all possible assurances of it. Observe,
[1.] Elkanah loved his wife never the less for her being barren.
Christ loves his church, notwithstanding her infirmities, her
barrenness; and so ought men to love their wives,
To abate our just love to any relation for the sake of any infirmity
which they cannot help, and which is not their sin but their
affliction, is to make God's providence quarrel with his precept, and
very unkindly to add affliction to the afflicted.
[2.] He studied to show his love so much the more because she was
afflicted, insulted, and low-spirited. It is wisdom and duty to support
the weakest, and to hold up those that are run down.
[3.] He showed his great love to her by the share he gave her of his
peace-offerings. Thus we should testify our affection to our friends
and relations, by abounding in prayer for them. The better we love them
the more room let us give them in our prayers.
(3.) Peninnah was extremely peevish and provoking.
[1.] She upbraided Hannah with her affliction, despised her because she
was barren, and gave her taunting language, as one whom Heaven did not
[2.] She envied the interest she had in the love of Elkanah, and the
more kind he was to her the more was she exasperated against her, which
was all over base and barbarous.
[3.] She did this most when they went up to the house of the
Lord, perhaps because then they were more together than at other
times, or because then Elkanah showed his affection most to Hannah. But
it was very sinful at such a time to show her malice, when pure hands
were to be lifted up at God's altar without wrath and quarrelling. It
was likewise very unkind at that time to vex Hannah, not only because
then they were in company, and others would take notice of it, but then
Hannah was to mind her devotions, and desired to be most calm and
composed, and free from disturbance. The great adversary to our purity
and peace is then most industrious to ruffle us when we should be most
composed. When the sons of God come to present themselves
before the Lord Satan will be sure to come among them,
[4.] She continued to do this from year to year, not once or twice, but
it was her constant practice; neither deference to her husband nor
compassion to Hannah could break her of it.
[5.] That which she designed was to make her fret, perhaps in hopes to
break her heart, that she might possess her husband's heart solely, or
because she took a pleasure in her uneasiness, nor could Hannah gratify
her more than by fretting. Note, It is an evidence of a base
disposition to delight in grieving those that are melancholy and of a
sorrowful spirit, and in putting those out of humour that are apt to
fret and be uneasy. We ought to bear one another's burdens, not add to
(4.) Hannah (poor woman) could not hear the provocation: She wept,
and did not eat,
1 Samuel 1:7.
It made her uneasy to herself and to all her relations. She did not eat
of the feast; her trouble took away her appetite, made her unfit for
any company, and a jar in the harmony of family-joy. It was of the
feast upon the sacrifice that she did not eat, for they
were not to eat of the holy things in their mourning,
Yet it was her infirmity so far to give way to the sorrow of the world
as to unfit herself for holy joy in God. Those that are of a fretful
spirit, and are apt to lay provocations too much to heart, are enemies
to themselves, and strip themselves very much of the comforts both of
life and godliness. We find that God took notice of this ill effect of
discontents and disagreements in the conjugal relation, that the
parties aggrieved covered the altar of the Lord with tears, insomuch
that he regarded not the offering,
(5.) Elkanah said what he could to her to comfort her. She did not
upbraid him with his unkindness in marrying another wife as Sarah did,
nor did she render to Peninnah railing for railing, but took the
trouble wholly to herself, which made her an object of much compassion.
Elkanah showed himself extremely grieved at her grief
(1 Samuel 1:8):
Hannah, why weepest thou?
[1.] He is much disquieted to see her thus overwhelmed with sorrow.
Those that by marriage are made one flesh ought thus far to be of one
spirit too, to share in each other's troubles, so that one cannot be
easy while the other is uneasy.
[2.] He gives her a loving reproof for it: Why weepest thou? And why
is thy heart grieved? As many as God loves he rebukes, and so
should we. He puts her upon enquiring into the cause of her grief.
Though she had just reason to be troubled, yet let her consider whether
she had reason to be troubled to such a degree, especially so much as
to be taken off by it from eating of the holy things. Note, Our sorrow
upon any account is sinful and inordinate when it diverts us from our
duty to God and embitters our comfort in him, when it makes us
unthankful for the mercies we enjoy and distrustful of the goodness of
God to us in further mercies, when it casts a damp upon our joy in
Christ, and hinders us from doing the duty and taking the comfort of
our particular relations.
[3.] He intimates that nothing should be wanting on his part to balance
her grief: "Am not I better to thee than ten sons? Thou knowest
thou hast my entire affection, and let that comfort thee." Note, We
ought to take notice of our comforts, to keep us from grieving
excessively for our crosses; for our crosses we deserve, but our
comforts we have forfeited. If we would keep the balance even, we must
look at that which is for us, as well as at that which is against us,
else we are unjust to Providence and unkind to ourselves. God hath
set the one over-against the other
and so should we.
||B. C. 1140.|
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.
12 And it came to pass, as she continued praying before the
LORD, that Eli marked her mouth.
13 Now Hannah, she spake in her heart; only her lips moved, but
her voice was not heard: therefore Eli thought she had been
14 And Eli said unto her, How long wilt thou be drunken? put
away thy wine from thee.
15 And Hannah answered and said, No, my lord, I am a woman of
a sorrowful spirit: I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink,
but have poured out my soul before the LORD.
16 Count not thine handmaid for a daughter of Belial: for out
of the abundance of my complaint and grief have I spoken
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
Elkanah had gently reproved Hannah for her inordinate grief, and here
we find the good effect of the reproof.
I. It brought her to her meat. She ate and drank,
1 Samuel 1:9.
She did not harden herself in sorrow, nor grow sullen when she was
reproved for it; but, when she perceived her husband uneasy that she
did not come and eat with them, she cheered up her own spirits as well
as she could, and came to table. It is as great a piece of self-denial
to control our passions as it is to control our appetites.
II. It brought her to her prayers. It put her upon considering, "Do I
well to be angry? Do I well to fret? What good does it do me? Instead
of binding the burden thus upon my shoulders, had I not better easy
myself of it, and cast it upon the Lord by prayer?" Elkanah had said,
Am not I better to thee than ten sons? which perhaps occasioned
her to think within herself, "Whether he be so or no, God
is, and therefore to him will I apply, and before him will I pour out
my complaint, and try what relief that will give me." If ever she will
make a more solemn address than ordinary to the throne of grace upon
this errand, now is the time. They are at Shiloh, at the door of the
tabernacle, where God had promised to meet his people, and which was
the house of prayer. They had recently offered their
peace-offerings, to obtain the favour of God and all good and in token
of their communion with him; and, taking the comfort of their being
accepted of him, they had feasted upon the sacrifice; and now it was
proper to put up her prayer in virtue of that sacrifice, for the
peace-offerings, for by it not only atonement is made for sin, but the
audience and acceptance of our prayers and an answer of peace to them
are obtained for us: to that sacrifice, in all our supplications, we
must have an eye. Now concerning Hannah's prayer we may observe,
1. The warm and lively devotion there was in it, which appeared in
several instances, for our direction in prayer.
(1.) She improved the present grief and trouble of her spirit for the
exciting and quickening of her pious affections in prayer: Being in
bitterness of soul, she prayed,
1 Samuel 1:10.
This good use we should make of our afflictions, they should make us
the more lively in our addresses to God. Our blessed Saviour himself,
being in an agony, prayed more earnestly,
(2.) She mingled tears with her prayers. It was not a dry prayer: she
wept sore. Like a true Israelite, she wept and made supplication
with an eye to the tender mercy of our God, who knows the troubled
soul. The prayer came from her heart, as the tears from her eyes.
(3.) She was very particular, and yet very modest, in her petition. She
begged a child, a man-child, that it might be fit to serve in the
tabernacle. God gives us leave, in prayer, not only to ask good things
in general, but to mention that special good thing which we most need
and desire. Yet she says not, as Rachel, Give me children,
She will be very thankful for one.
(4.) She made a solemn vow, or promise, that if God would give her a
son she would give him up to God,
1 Samuel 1:11.
He would be by birth a Levite, and so devoted to the service of God,
but he should be by her vow a Nazarite, and his very childhood should
be sacred. It is probable she had acquainted Elkanah with her purpose
before, and had had his consent and approbation. Note, Parents have a
right to dedicate their children to God, as living sacrifices and
spiritual priests; and an obligation is thereby laid upon them to serve
God faithfully all the days of their life. Note further, It is
very proper, when we are in pursuit of any mercy, to bind our own souls
with a bond, that, if God give it us, we will devote it to his honour
and cheerfully use it in his service. Not that hereby we can pretend to
merit the gift, but thus we are qualified for it and for the comfort of
it. In hope of mercy, let us promise duty.
(5.) She spoke all this so softly that none could hear her. Her lips
moved, but her voice was not heard,
1 Samuel 1:13.
Hereby she testified her belief of God's knowledge of the heart and its
desires. Thoughts are words to him, nor is he one of those gods that
must be cried aloud to,
1 Kings 18:27.
It was likewise an instance of her humility and holy shamefacedness in
her approach to God. She was none of those that made her voice to be
heard on high,
It was a secret prayer, and therefore, though made in a public place,
yet was thus made secretly, and not, as the Pharisees prayed, to be
seen of men. It is true prayer is not a thing we have reason to be
ashamed of, but we must avoid all appearances of ostentation. Let what
passes between God and our souls be kept to ourselves.
2. The hard censure she fell under for it. Eli was now high priest, and
judge in Israel; he sat upon a seat in the temple, to oversee what was
1 Samuel 1:9.
The tabernacle is here called the temple, because it was now
fixed, and served all the purposes of a temple. There Eli sat to
receive addresses and give direction, and somewhere (it is probable in
a private corner) he espied Hannah at her prayers, and by her unusual
manner fancied she was drunken, and spoke to her accordingly
(1 Samuel 1:14):
How long wilt thou be drunken?--the very imputation that Peter
and the apostles fell under when the Holy Ghost gave them
Perhaps in this degenerate age it was no strange thing to see drunken
women at the door of the tabernacle; for otherwise, one would think,
the vile lust of Hophni and Phinehas could not have found so easy a
1 Samuel 2:22.
Eli took Hannah for one of these. It is one bad effect of the abounding
of iniquity, and its becoming fashionable, that it often gives occasion
to suspect the innocent. When a disease is epidemical every one is
suspected to be tainted with it. Now,
(1.) This was Eli's fault; and a great fault it was to pass so severe a
censure without better observation or information. If his own eyes had
already become dim, he should have employed those about him to enquire.
Drunkards are commonly noisy and turbulent, but this poor woman was
silent and composed. His fault was the worse that he was the priest of
the Lord, who should have had compassion on the ignorant,
Note, It ill becomes us to be rash and hasty in our censures of others,
and to be forward to believe people guilty of bad things, while either
the matter of fact on which the censure is grounded is doubtful and
unproved or is capable of a good construction. Charity commands us to
hope the best concerning all, and forbids censoriousness. Paul had very
good information when he did but partly believe
(1 Corinthians 11:18),
hoping it was not so. Especially we ought to be cautious how we
censure the devotions of others, lest we call that hypocrisy,
enthusiasm, or superstition, which is really the fruit of an
honest zeal, and it is accepted of God.
(2.) It was Hannah's affliction; and a great affliction it was, added
to all the rest, vinegar to the wounds of her spirit. She had been
reproved by Elkanah because she would not eat and drink, and now to be
reproached by Eli as if she had eaten and drunk too much was very hard.
Note, It is no new thing for those that do well to be ill thought of,
and we must not think it strange if at any time it be our lot.
3. Hannah's humble vindication of herself from this crime with which
she was charged. She bore it admirably well. She did not retort the
charge and upbraid him with the debauchery of his own sons, did not bid
him look at home and restrain them, did not tell him how ill it became
one in his place thus to abuse a poor sorrowful worshipper at the
throne of grace. When we are at any time unjustly censured we have need
to set a double watch before the door of our lips, that we do not
recriminate, and return censure for censure. Hannah thought it enough
to vindicate herself, and so must we,
1 Samuel 1:15,16.
(1.) In justice to herself, she expressly denies the charge, speaks to
him with all possible respect, calls him, My lord, intimates how
very desirous she was to stand right in his opinion and how loth to lie
under his censure. "No, my lord, it is not as you suspect; I have drunk
neither wine nor strong drink, not any at all" (though it was proper
enough to be given to one of such a heavy heart,
"much less to any excess; therefore count not thy handmaid for a
daughter of Belial." Note, Drunkards are children of Belial
(women-drunkards, particularly), children of the wicked one, children
of disobedience, children that will not endure the yoke (else they
would not be drunk), more especially when they are actually drunk.
Those that cannot govern themselves will not bear that any one else
should. Hannah owns that the crime would have been very great if she
had indeed been guilty of it, and he might justly have shut her out of
the courts of God's house; but the very manner of her speaking in her
own defence was sufficient to demonstrate that she was not drunk.
(2.) In justice to him, she gives an account of her present behaviour,
which had given occasion to his suspicion: "I am a woman of a
sorrowful spirit, dejected and discomposed, and that is the reason
I do not look as other people; the eyes are red, not with wine, but
with weeping. And at this time I have not been talking to myself, as
drunkards and fools do, but I have been pouring out my soul before the
Lord, who hears and understands the language of the heart, and this out
of the abundance of my complaint and grief." She had been more than
ordinarily fervent in prayer to God, and this, she tells him, was the
true reason of the transport and disorder she seemed to be in. Note,
When we are unjustly censured we should endeavour, not only to clear
ourselves, but to satisfy our brethren, by giving them a just and true
account of that which they misapprehended.
4. The atonement Eli made for his rash unfriendly censure, by a kind
and fatherly benediction,
1 Samuel 1:17.
He did not (as many are apt to do in such a case) take it for an
affront to have his mistake rectified and to be convinced of his error,
nor did it put him out of humour. But, on the contrary, he now
encouraged Hannah's devotions as much as before he had discountenanced
them; not only intimated that he was satisfied of her innocency by
those words, Go in peace, but, being high priest, as one having
authority he blessed her in the name of the Lord, and, though he knew
not what the particular blessing was that she had been praying for, yet
he puts his Amen to it, so good an opinion had he now conceived
of her prudence and piety: The God of Israel grant thee thy
petition, whatever it is, that thou hast asked of him. Note,
By our meek and humble carriage towards those that reproach us because
they do not know us, we may perhaps make them our friends, and turn
their censures of us into prayers for us.
5. The great satisfaction of mind with which Hannah now went away,
1 Samuel 1:18.
She begged the continuance of Eli's good opinion of her and his good
prayers for her, and then she went her way and did eat of what remained
of the peace-offerings (none of which was to be left until the
morning), and her countenance was no more sad, no more as it had
been, giving marks of inward trouble and discomposure; but she looked
pleasant and cheerful, and all was well. Why, what had happened? Whence
came this sudden happy change? She had by prayer committed her case to
God and left it with him, and now she was no more perplexed about it.
She had prayed for herself, and Eli had prayed for her; and she
believed that God would either give her the mercy she had prayed for or
make up the want of it to her some other way. Note, Prayer is
heart's-ease to a gracious soul; the seed of Jacob have often found it
so, being confident that God will never say unto them, Seek you me
in vain, see
Prayer will smooth the countenance; it should do so.
|The Birth of Samuel; Samuel Presented to the Lord.
||B. C. 1137.|
19 And they rose up in the morning early, and worshipped before
the LORD, and returned, and came to their house to Ramah: and
Elkanah knew Hannah his wife; and the LORD remembered her.
20 Wherefore it came to pass, when the time was come about
after Hannah had conceived, that she bare a son, and called his
name Samuel, saying, Because I have asked him of the LORD.
21 And the man Elkanah, and all his house, went up to offer
unto the LORD the yearly sacrifice, and his vow.
22 But Hannah went not up; for she said unto her husband, I
will not go up until the child be weaned, and then I will
bring him, that he may appear before the LORD, and there abide
23 And Elkanah her husband said unto her, Do what seemeth thee
good; tarry until thou have weaned him; only the LORD establish
his word. So the woman abode, and gave her son suck until she
24 And when she had weaned him, she took him up with her, with
three bullocks, and one ephah of flour, and a bottle of wine, and
brought him unto the house of the LORD in Shiloh: and the child
25 And they slew a bullock, and brought the child to Eli.
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
I. The return of Elkanah and his family to their own habitation, when
the days appointed for the feast were over,
1 Samuel 1:19.
Observe how they improved their time at the tabernacle. Every day they
were there, even that which was fixed for their journey home, they
worshipped God; and they rose up early to do it. It is good to begin
the day with God. Let him that is the first have the first. They had a
journey before them, and a family of children to take with them, and
yet they would not stir till they had worshipped God together. Prayer
and provender do not hinder a journey. They had spent several days now
in religious worship, and yet they attended once more. We should not be
weary of well-doing.
II. The birth and name of this desired son. At length the Lord
remembered Hannah, the very thing she desired
(1 Samuel 1:11),
and more she needed not desire, that was enough, for then she conceived
and bore a son. Though God seem long to forget his people's burdens,
troubles, cares, and prayers, yet he will at length make it to appear
that they are not out of his mind. This son the mother called
1 Samuel 1:20.
Some make the etymology of this name to be much the same with that of
Ishmael--heard of God, because the mother's prayers were
remarkably heard, and he was an answer to them. Others, because of the
reason she gives for the name, make it to signify asked of God.
It comes nearly to the same; she designed by it to perpetuate the
remembrance of God's favour to her in answering her prayers. Thus she
designed, upon every mention of his name, to take the comfort to
herself and to give God the glory of that gracious condescension. Note,
Mercies in answer to prayer are to be remembered with peculiar
expressions of thankfulness, as
How many seasonable deliverances and supplies may we call Samuels,
asked of God; and whatever is so we are in a special manner engaged
to devote to him. Hannah intended by this name to put her son in mind
of the obligation he was under to be the Lord's, in consideration of
this, that he was asked of God and was at the same time dedicated to
him. A child of prayer is in a special manner bound to be a good child.
Lemuel's mother reminds him that he was the son of her vows,
III. The close attendance Hannah gave to the nursing of him, not only
because he was dear to her, but because he was devoted to God, and for
him she nursed him herself, and did not hang him on another's breast.
We ought to take care of our children, not only with an eye to the law
of nature as they are ours, but with an eye to the covenant of grace as
they are given up to God. See
This sanctifies the nursing of them, when it is done as unto the Lord.
Elkanah went up every year to worship at the tabernacle, and
particularly to perform his vow, perhaps some vow he had made distinct
from Hannah's if God would give him a son by her,
1 Samuel 1:21.
But Hannah, though she felt a warm regard for the courts of God's
house, begged leave of her husband to stay at home; for the women were
not under any obligation to go up to the three yearly feasts, as the
men were. However Hannah had been accustomed to go, but now desired to
1. Because she would not be so long absent from her nursery. Can a
woman forget her sucking child? We may suppose she kept constantly
at home, for, if she had gone any where, she would have gone to Shiloh.
Note, God will have mercy and not sacrifice. Those that are detained
from public ordinances by the nursing and tending of little children
may take comfort from this instance, and believe that, if they do that
with an eye to God, he will graciously accept them therein, and though
they tarry at home they shall divide the spoil.
2. Because she would not go up to Shiloh till her son was big enough,
not only to be taken thither, but to be left there; for, if once she
took him thither, she thought she could never find in her heart to
bring him back again. Note, Those who are stedfastly resolved to pay
their vows may yet see good cause to defer the payment of them.
Every thing is beautiful in its season. No animal was accepted
in sacrifice till it had been for some time under the dam,
Fruit is best when it is ripe. Elkanah agrees to what she proposes
(1 Samuel 1:23):
Do what seemeth thee good. So far was he from delighting to
cross her that he referred it entirely to her. Behold how good and
pleasant a thing it is, when yoke-fellows thus draw even in the
yoke, and accommodate themselves to one another, each thinking well of
what the other does, especially in works of piety and charity. He adds
a prayer: Only the Lord establish his word, that is, "God
preserve the child through the perils of his infancy, that the solemn
vow which God signified his acceptance of, by giving us the child, may
be performed in its season, and so the whole matter may be
accomplished." Note, Those that have in sincerity devoted their
children to God may with comfort pray for them, that God will establish
the word sealed to them at the same time that they were sealed for
IV. The solemn entering of this child into the service of the
sanctuary. We may take it for granted that he was presented to the Lord
at forty days old, as all the first-born were
but this is not mentioned, because there was nothing in it singular;
but now that he was weaned he was presented, not to be redeemed. Some
think it was as soon as he was weaned from the breast, which, the Jews
say, was not till he was three years old; it is said she gave him suck
till she had weaned him,
1 Samuel 1:23.
Others think it was not till he was weaned from childish things, at
eight or ten years old. But I see no inconvenience in admitting such
an extraordinary child as this into the tabernacle at three years old,
to be educated among the children of the priests. It is said
(1 Samuel 1:24),
The child was young, but, being intelligent above his years, he
was no trouble. None can begin too soon to be religious. The child
was a child, so the Hebrew reads it, in his learning-age. For
whom shall he teach knowledge but those that are newly
weaned from the milk and drawn from the breasts?
Observe how she presented her child,
1. With a sacrifice; no less than three bullocks, with a meat-offering
1 Samuel 1:24.
A bullock, perhaps, for each year of the child's life. Or one for a
burnt-offering, another for a sin-offering, and the third of a
peace-offering. So far was she from thinking that, by presenting her
son to God, she made God her debtor, that she thought it requisite by
these slain offerings to seek God's acceptance of her living sacrifice.
All our covenants with God for ourselves and ours must be made by
sacrifice, the great sacrifice.
2. With a grateful acknowledgement of God's goodness in answer to
prayer. This she makes to Eli, because he had encouraged her to hope
for an answer of peace
(1 Samuel 1:26,27):
"For this child I prayed. Here it was obtained by prayer, and
here it is resigned to the prayer-hearing God. You have forgotten me,
my lord, but I who now appear so cheerful am the woman, the very same,
that three years ago stood by thee here weeping and praying, and this
was the child I prayed for." Answers of prayer may thus be humbly
triumphed in, to the glory of God. Here is a living testimony for God.
"I am his witness that he is gracious (see
for this mercy, this comfort, I prayed, and the Lord has given me my
Hannah does not remind Eli of it by adverting to the suspicion he had
formerly expressed; she does not say, "I am the woman whom you passed
that severe censure upon; what do you think of me now?" Good men ought
not to be upbraided with their infirmities and oversights. They have
themselves repented of them; let them hear no more of them.
3. With a full surrender of all her interest in this child unto the
(1 Samuel 1:28):
I have lent him to the Lord as long as he liveth. And she
repeats it, because she will never revoke it: He shall be (a
deodand) lent or given to the Lord. Not that she designed
to call for him back, as we do what we lend, but she uses this word
Shaol, lent, because it is the same word that she had used
(1 Samuel 1:20,
I asked him of the Lord), only in another conjugation. And
(1 Samuel 1:27)
the Lord gave me the petition which I asked (Shaalti, in
Kal), therefore I have lent him (Hishilti, the same word
in Hiphil), and so it gives another etymology of his name
Samuel, not only asked of God, but lent to God.
(1.) Whatever we give to God, it is what we have first asked and
received from him. All our gifts to him were first his gifts to us.
Of thy own, Lord, have we given thee,
1 Chronicles 29:14,16.
(2.) Whatever we give to God may upon this account be said to be
lent to him, that though we may not recall it, as a thing lent,
yet he will certainly repay it, with interest, to our unspeakable
advantage, particularly what is given to his poor,
When by baptism we dedicate our children to God, let us remember that
they were his before by a sovereign right, and that they are ours still
so much the more to our comfort. Hannah resigns him to the Lord, not
for a certain term of years, as children are sent apprentices, but
durante vita--as long as he liveth, he shall be lent unto the
Lord, a Nazarite for life. Such must our covenant with God be, a
marriage-covenant; as long as live we must be his, and never forsake
Lastly, The child Samuel did his part beyond what could have
been expected from one of his years; for of him that seems to be
spoken, He worshipped the Lord there, that is he said his
prayers. He was no doubt extraordinarily forward (we have known
children that have discovered some sense of religion very young), and
his mother, designing him for the sanctuary, took particular care to
train him up to that which was to be his work in the sanctuary. Note,
Little children should learn betimes to worship God. Their parents
should instruct them in his worship and bring them to it, put them upon
engaging in it as well as they can, and God will graciously accept them
and teach them to do better.