Monday 26 November 2018

Bible Book:
1 Samuel

She named him Samuel, ‘Because I have asked him of the Lord’ (v 20)

1 Samuel 1:1-20 Monday 26 November 2018

Psalm: Psalm 41


Before embarking on this week’s readings, a little background and context may be helpful. After the death of Joshua (c. 1375 BC), Israel’s ‘leadership’ had been in the hands of a succession of ‘judges’. These judges combined the roles of military and spiritual leadership, as well as administering justice. However, for the next 300 years, as a group, these judges proved unsuccessful in keeping the nation from going astray. In the task of taking over Canaan, the people of Israel seemed to neglect the principles of Moses, appeared to forget God’s authority and were spiritually rudderless.

The last of the judges, and often regarded as the greatest, is Samuel. The beginning of the book of 1 Samuel documents the significant move towards a visible king to rule over Israel. Theocracy (direct rule by God via the judges) is replaced by monarchy (the rule of a king), albeit that Israel’s king acknowledges that his authority comes from God. The first of such kings is Saul, who became the monarch in around 1050 BC.

 Today’s reading establishes that the process of anointing Saul is rooted in the will of God through servants chosen specifically and intentionally by God over many years. Thus, the story begins with an apparently barren woman, Hannah, praying in desperation to God for a child. “She was deeply distressed and prayed to the Lord, and wept bitterly.” (v 10) Then she made a vow  that, should God give her a son, she will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life. This earnest prayer takes place in the temple where Eli is the priest. Eli sees how disturbed Hannah is and ends their conversation with words of comfort, “Go in peace; the God of Israel grant the petition you have made to him.”

Not all prayers are answered in the way that we would like, but in this case Hannah’s wish and God’s will coincided. Elkanah and Hannah are granted a son and name him Samuel. The word for Samuel sounds like the Hebrew for “heard of God”. Will Hannah now honour the vows she made in the temple and hand Samuel over “to the Lord for all the days of his life”?


To Ponder:

  • It seems so easy to point fingers at people in the past who, with our wisdom of hindsight, have gone away from God. In a few hundred years time, what will future generations make of us – our care for God’s beautiful planet; our inhumanity to fellow travellers created in God’s image?
  • Prayer is the lifeblood of our relationship with our parent God. How do you best align yourself with personal wishes and God’s holy will? “O Lord hear my prayer” is usually followed by “Come and listen to me.” Might we also sing, “Help me listen to you”?


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