Once when Mark Twain was lecturing in Utah, a Mormon acquaintance argued with him on the subject
of polygamy. After a long and rather heated debate, the Mormon finally said, “Can you find for me a
single passage of Scripture which forbids polygamy?” “Certainly,&quo … More
The chapter begins by telling about Elkanah and his two wives, Peninnah and Hannah, who lived in Ramah about five miles north of Jerusalem (vv. 1-2). Although God tolerated polygamy in the Old Testament, it was not part of his original intention for marriage (Gen 2:24) and caused many serious family problems, as we see in this passage. Peninnah had children but Hannah had none (vv. 3-6). When a woman was unable to conceive children in the Old Testament, she was considered a failure. In fact, her barrenness was a social embarrassment to her husband. Under civil law, a husband had the right to divorce his wife if she could bear no children. However, Elkanah was lovingly devoted to Hannah (v. 5).
A mark of Elkanah’s wisdom and discretion is demonstrated by the fact he provided separate homes for his wives; otherwise Peninnah’s mockery and scoffing would have destroyed all family unity (v. 6). Elkanah’s conduct was regulated by his knowledge of God’s Word. He did what he believed was right according to God’s revealed will. When he took his family to Shiloh to offer his thank offerings and peace offerings (Lev. 2:1-3:17) he had to contend not only with the wickedness of the priests, Hophni and Phinehas, but also with the bickering and taunts of Peninnah who was jealous of Hannah. Elkanah sought to accent the positive and provide Hannah with appropriate reassurance of his love.
Hannah was very discouraged because she could not bear children. However, instead of giving up hope, she prayed and promised God that if He would give her a son she would dedicate him to His service (vv. 7-16). Her prayer can be divided into five parts:
1. Fervency in pleading with God (v. 10). Hannah’s prayer came from her heart.
2. Submission to the will of God (v. 11). There was no reliance on any merit of her own.
3. Specificity in her request of God. Hannah asked specifically for a son (v. 11).
4. Perseverance in waiting upon God (v. 12). She prayed long but was heard for her intensity.
5. Identification with the purpose of God (vv. 13-16). Asked to act in accordance with His name.
Eli gave his blessing (v. 17), Hannah was no longer sad (v. 18), she conceived and in the process of time God gave her a son which she called Samuel (vv. 19-20). She didn’t take him to the yearly sacrifice until he was three years of age, which was the customary time for weaning (vv. 21-23). Then she took him to the tabernacle and left him in Eli’s care (vv. 24-28).
When I go through times of barrenness in my life, I need to remember Hannah and the fact that prayer opens the way for God to work. (1:19,20).
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View this passage in NIV (Bible Gateway) »
I Samuel 1:1-28Birth of Samuel And Samuel Taken to Eli
I Samuel 2:1-11Hannah’s Prophetic Prayer
I Samuel 2:12-36The Wicked Sons of Eli While Samuel Remains True
I Samuel 3:1-21The Call of Samuel
I Samuel 4:1-22God’s Judgment Falls on Eli And His Sons