Samuel – A Lifetime Serving God
· On the one hand, the family can be one of the greatest sources of frustration and anger, yet it can also be the greatest source of happiness and peace. The Bible tells it like it is.
· Samuel came from a Levite family (1:1; I Chron. 6:34,35). They lived near Ramah, an area at the center of many important places in Israel's history.
· Elkanah had two wives. We've already seen the trouble this can cause in a household, especially when one wife has children and the other does not. Why did God tolerate this?
· In spite of this shortcoming, Elkanah seemed to be a religious man. He faithfully observed the three special feasts outlined in Exodus 23:15-17. He took his family to Shiloh as commanded, and observed the sacrifices. (Notice to whom they sacrificed in v. 3)
· Twice we're told "the Lord had closed" Hannah's womb. Is it because of sin, and the curse of Deut. 28:4,18, or is God's sovereignty at work, as in John 9:1-3?
· Elkanah obviously cared for Hannah, for we see him giving her double portions (v. 4,5) This might have antagonized Peninnah, for she mercilessly torments Hannah (v. 6,7). This causes great anguish for Hannah (v. 7,8), and it goes on for years.
· In. v. 8, Elkanah asks 4 questions that might be described as typically male. The first three he asks as if he didn't already know, and the fourth puts the focus on him. He only added to Hannah's emotional turmoil. How should he have reacted to Hannah?
· Driven to her knees by the emotional battering, Hannah cries out to the Lord in "bitterness of soul" (v. 10). Her prayer is one of the most emotional in the Bible.
· Hannah asks for a son, but in a moment of remarkable unselfishness, she offers to give the son back to the Lord. (v. 11). She refers to the Nazarite vows in Numbers 6. Those vows could be only for a time, but Hannah is willing to make them binding for "all his days" (v.12)
· Her prayers are so intense, Eli thinks she is drunk (v. 13). Great, another insensitive man. First her husband, now her own "pastor" tells her to clean up her act. Hannah defends herself well, and Eli quickly sees her sincerity and pain, and joins her in prayer (v. 17)
· Hannah leaves with feeling better (v. 18) Funny how sincere prayer can do that. Hannah conceived, gave birth to a son, and named him so all would know that prayer was answered.
#1) It's easy to carry out the external requirements of Christianity, but neglect the internal commitments
#2) Husbands should not be threatened by their wives' emotional states, but should be understanding
#3) God responds to prayer that flows from a heart that is broken and sincere
#4) All Christian should dedicate their children to the Lord, praying they will follow God's will
For next week, read I Samuel 1:21 - I Samuel 2:10