Elkanah and his family. (Verse 1-8.)
Hannah’s prayer. (Verse 9-18.)
Samuel, Hannah presents him to the Lord. (Verse 19-28.)
This book continues the history of the nation of Israel where the book of Judges leaves off. It records the
transition from the point in Israel’s history where judges ruled to the establishment of the monarchy (rule by a king).
The years of the judges were ones of spiritual decline among the Jews. When the time came that Israel felt
they needed a king, God objected to their request – this was not because God objected to the idea of a king, but because
they had rejected him from being their king.
The central figure in the early chapters of the book is Samuel – the great prophet after whom the book is
named. Up until the time of Samuel the main channel of revelation from God was through the priests – that now
changed to prophets. Eli is the last priest-judge and Samuel stands alone as the last judge and the first major prophet.
There is a note of failure that runs through this book – under Eli the priesthood sank to a new low. Saul, the
first recognised king of Israel failed to obey God and suffered all of his life because of it. Even the great prophet
Samuel failed to train up his sons in the right way and was partly responsible for the move toward a monarchy in Israel.
These failures lend a very practical element to the book as an example and warning in our lives as well as magnifying
the Perfect One who never fails, the Lord Jesus Christ!
Who actually wrote this book is anyone’s guess. Because the events covered go well beyond the death of
Samuel, he was obviously not the author. As David’s death is not recorded in I or II Samuel, he or more likely one of
his prophets (Gad or Nathan – compare I Chron. 29:29), is the probable author.
This book covers everything from the birth of Samuel to the death of Saul. It is written in an historical
narrative style that is quite self-explanatory – our comments therefore will be kept to a minimum
In this book we have an account of Eli, and the wickedness of his sons; also of Samuel, his character and actions. Then of the advancement of Saul to be the king of Israel, and his ill behaviour, until his death made way for David’s succession to the throne, who was an eminent type of Christ. David’s patience, modesty, constancy, persecution by open enemies and feigned friends, are a pattern and example to the church, and to every member of it. Many things in this book encourage the faith, hope, and patience of the suffering believer. It contains also many useful cautions and awful warnings.
1 Now there was a certain man of Ramathaimzophim, 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.
“two wives” – nowhere is polygamy (more than one wife at a time) ever condoned by God in the Bible. It seems
to have been allowed by God in the OT, but this was never his ideal.
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.
What was in “Shiloh”? (see Joshua 18:1)
4 And when the time was that Elkanah offered, he gave to Peninnah his wife, and to all her sons and her daughters, portions:
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?
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.
[Num 6:2, Jud 13:5, Isa 11:1, Matt 2:23, Mark 1:24, Luke 1:26]
give him unto the Lord…no razor come upon his head” – what was Hannah promising to make this child if God
should give her a man son?
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 drunken.
silent prayer! God hears the heart.
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 hitherto.
17 Then Eli answered and said, Go in peace: and the God of Israel grant thee thy petition that thou hast asked of him.
18 And she said, Let thine handmaid find grace in thy sight. So the woman went her way, and did eat, and her countenance was no more sad.
note how Hannah IMMEDIATELY claims the promise from the man of God as an answer to prayer. When we
pray we should tell the Lord what is on our heart and leave the matter with him rather than continuing to worry about
whether he really heard us, or if he will answer, etc. TRUST HIM!!!
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.
[Gen 8:1, Gen 19:29, Exod 2:24, Psa 105:42, Psa 136:23]
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 for ever.
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 weaned him.
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 was young.
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 there.
Commentary by Matthew Henry, 1710.
In this book we have an account of Eli, and the wickedness of his sons; also of Samuel, his character and actions. Then of the advancement of Saul to be the king of Israel, and his ill behaviour, until his death made way for David’s succession to the throne, who was an eminent type of Christ. David’s patience, modesty, constancy, persecution by open enemies and feigned friends, are a pattern and example to the church, and to every member of it. Many things in this book encourage the faith, hope, and patience of the suffering believer. It contains also many useful cautions and awful warnings.Elkanah and his family. (1-8) Hannah’s prayer. (9-18) Samuel, Hannah presents him to the Lord. (19-28)1-8 Elkanah kept up his attendance at God’s altar, notwithstanding the unhappy differences in his family. If the devotions of a family prevail not to put an end to its divisions, yet let not the divisions put a stop to the devotions. To abate our just love to any relation for the sake of any infirmity which they cannot help, and which is their affliction, is to make God’s providence quarrel with his precept, and very unkindly to add affliction to the afflicted. It is evidence of a base disposition, to delight in grieving those who are of a sorrowful spirit, and in putting those out of humour who are apt to fret and be uneasy. We ought to bear one another’s burdens, not add to them. Hannah could not bear the provocation. Those who are of a fretful spirit, and are apt to lay provocations too much to heart, are enemies to themselves, and strip themselves of many comforts both of life and godliness. We ought to notice comforts, to keep us from grieving for crosses. We should look at that which is for us, as well as what is against us.
9-18 Hannah mingled tears with her prayers; she considered the mercy of our God, who knows the troubled soul. God gives us leave, in prayer, not only to ask good things in general, but to mention that special good thing we most need and desire. She spoke softly, none could hear her. Hereby she testified her belief of God’s knowledge of the heart and its desires. Eli was high priest, and judge in Israel. It ill becomes us to be rash and hasty in censures of others, and to think people guilty of bad things while the matter is doubtful and unproved. Hannah did not retort the charge, and upbraid Eli with the wicked conduct of his own sons. When we are at any time unjustly censured, we have need to set a double watch before the door of our lips, that we do not return censure for censure. Hannah thought it enough to clear herself, and so must we. Eli was willing to acknowledge his mistake. Hannah went away with satisfaction of mind. She had herself by prayer committed her case to God, and Eli had prayed for her. Prayer is heart’s ease to a gracious soul. Prayer will smooth the countenance; it should do so. None will long remain miserable, who use aright the privilege of going to the mercy-seat of a reconciled God in Christ Jesus.
19-28 Elkanah and his family had a journey before them, and a family of children to take with them, yet they would not move till they had worshipped God together. Prayer and provender do not hinder a journey. When men are in such haste to set out upon journeys, or to engage in business, that they have not time to worship God, they are likely to proceed without his presence and blessing. Hannah, though she felt a warm regard for the courts of God’s house, begged to stay at home. God will have mercy, and not sacrifice. Those who are detained from public ordinances, by the nursing and tending of little children, may take comfort from this instance, and believe, that if they do that duty in a right spirit, God will graciously accept them therein. Hannah presented her child to the Lord with a grateful acknowledgment of his goodness in answer to prayer. Whatever we give to God, it is what we have first asked and received from him. All our gifts to him were first his gifts to us. The child Samuel early showed true piety. Little children should be taught to worship God when very young. Their parents should teach them in it, bring them to it, and put them on doing it as well as they can; God will graciously accept them, and will teach them to do better.