God’s Renewing Word of Promise
1 Samuel 1:1-18: Today we begin reading excerpts from the book of First Samuel which records the transition in Israel from the period of the judges to a monarchy. This change in Israel’s life revolves around the lives of three men: Samuel, the last of the great judges; Saul, Israel’s first king; and David, whose early adventures before coming to power are interwoven with the accounts of Samuel and Saul. In today’s reading, we are introduced to Hannah, who is childless and who is tormented by her husband’s other wife, Peninnah. Hannah prays to God for a son and her prayer is overhead by the priest Eli at the house of the LORD in Shiloh.
Elkanah and His Family at Shiloh
1There was a man named Elkanah, from the tribe of Ephraim, who lived in the town of Ramah in the hill country of Ephraim. He was the son of Jeroham and grandson of Elihu, and belonged to the family of Tohu, a part of the clan of Zuph. 2Elkanah had two wives, Hannah and Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah did not. 3Every year Elkanah went from Ramah to worship and offer sacrifices to the Lord Almighty at Shiloh, where Hophni and Phinehas, the two sons of Eli, were priests of the Lord. 4Each time Elkanah offered his sacrifice, he would give one share of the meat to Peninnah and one share to each of her children. 5And even though he loved Hannah very much he would give her only one share, because the Lord had kept her from having children. 6Peninnah, her rival, would torment and humiliate her, because the Lord had kept her childless. 7This went on year after year; whenever they went to the house of the Lord, Peninnah would upset Hannah so much that she would cry and refuse to eat anything. 8Her husband Elkanah would ask her, “Hannah, why are you crying? Why won’t you eat? Why are you always so sad? Don’t I mean more to you than ten sons?”
Hannah and Eli
9-10One time, after they had finished their meal in the house of the Lord at Shiloh, Hannah got up. She was deeply distressed, and she cried bitterly as she prayed to the Lord. Meanwhile, Eli the priest was sitting in his place by the door. 11 Hannah made a solemn promise: “Lord Almighty, look at me, your servant! See my trouble and remember me! Don’t forget me! If you give me a son, I promise that I will dedicate him to you for his whole life and that he will never have his hair cut.”
12Hannah continued to pray to the Lord for a long time, and Eli watched her lips. 13She was praying silently; her lips were moving, but she made no sound. So Eli thought that she was drunk, 14and he said to her, “Stop making a drunken show of yourself! Stop your drinking and sober up!”
15“No, I’m not drunk, sir,” she answered. “I haven’t been drinking! I am desperate, and I have been praying, pouring out my troubles to the Lord. 16Don’t think I am a worthless woman. I have been praying like this because I’m so miserable.”
17“Go in peace,” Eli said, “and may the God of Israel give you what you have asked him for.”
18“May you always think kindly of me,” she replied. Then she went away, ate some food, and was no longer sad.
Today’s Key Verse: 1 Samuel 1:15b
[Hannah said:] “I have been praying, pouring out my troubles to the LORD.”
In the Israelite culture, children were considered a sign of God’s blessing (Psalm 127:3-5). What might Peninnah have been saying to Hannah? How would you describe Hannah’s distress? What did Eli think when he observed Hannah praying? What promise did Hannah make to God (verse 11)?
Almighty God, I pour out my heart to you. I am your servant. Hear my prayer and draw me close to you. I pray in your holy name. Amen.
1 Samuel 1:19-28: Hannah’s prayer is answered.