Tuesday 09 December 2014

Bible Book:
1 Samuel

‘’Go in peace; the God of Israel grant the petition you have made to him.” (v. 17)

1 Samuel 1:1-20 Tuesday 9 December 2014

Psalm: Psalm 130


The two books of Samuel tell the story of the transition of thenation of Israel from being ruled by the judges to rule underkings. Samuel, who is thought of by many as a judge himself, is thekey figure in enabling this transition. The story begins with thebirth narrative of Samuel and we should note that there is no suchnarrative for any of the kings.

The vow made by Hannah about her son's lifestyle is essentiallythat of a Nazirite as defined in Numbers 6:1-21. We should remember that Samsonand probably John the Baptist (who also gets a birth narrative)were also Nazirites (Luke1:15).

This story takes place before the reign of Solomon who built thetemple in Jerusalem. The 'temple' mentioned to in verse 9 refers tothe tabernacle or tent in which was situated the Holy of Holiescarried by the children of Israel during their wanderings in thedesert and also contained the Ark of the Covenant.

The men in this story do not come out very well, despite theirbest intentions. Elkanah assumes that a double food portion willhelp with Hannah's grief at being childless (verse 5) and suggeststhat he is worth more than ten sons (verse 8). Eli meanwhileassumes that she is drunk because he cannot hear what she is sayingas she prays (verse 13). Ultimately, it is only when Hannah offersthe full extent of her grief and anxiety in prayer to God that shefinds consolation and in time she is able to conceive. The nameSamuel sounds like the Hebrew for 'heard of the LORD'.

The theme of barrenness overcome by God is a common theme fromthe Old Testament seen in the stories of Abraham and Sarah (Genesis 17:15-22) and Jacob and Rachel (Genesis 29-30) complete with the familiarstories of rivalry with the other wife. This narrative also hasgreat parallels with the birth narrative of Christ although theintervention of God overcomes virginity and not just barrenness inorder to bring to birth his servant.

To Ponder

  • Is it significant that we have a birth narrative of a prophetinstead of the two kings whose reigns are described in this book?If so why?
  • Hannah's prayer involved a vow that if she had a son he wouldbe a Nazirite. Is she bargaining with God? If so, to what extent isthis a good model of prayer?
  • Hannah might have been comforted by the hymn What afriend we have in Jesus if she had known it. Read it nowas if you have never read it before. 
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