1 Samuel 1:1-2:21
The book of 1 Samuel transitions the nation of Israel from the judges to the kings. The book is named after Samuel who is the final judge, a prominent prophet, and the man used by God to anoint the first official king of Israel, Saul, and then David.
We open with a man named Elkanah from the mountains of Ephraim who had two wives. God never endorsed polygamy, but unfortunately the practice of the culture had permeated God’s people; needless to say, it led to big problems. There was a rivalry between Elkanah’s two wives, Peninnah and Hannah. Peninnah harassed Hannah because she had no children, something seen as a personal curse back then.
Hannah wept, and prayed. Her husband tried to comfort her – to no avail. Year after year they would visit the Tabernacle in Shiloh until one year she wept, prayed, and poured out her soul to the Lord (1 Samuel 1:15) a good way to pray. It was then that her prayer changed:
1 Samuel 1:11 (NKJV) “Then she made a vow and said, ‘O LORD of hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your maidservant and remember me, and not forget Your maidservant, but will give Your maidservant a male child, then I will give him to the LORD all the days of his life, and no razor shall come upon his head.’”
Hannah basically prayed, “Lord, if You grant me a son, I will give him back to You, completely consecrated to be a permanent servant in the Tabernacle.” God would grant her that prayer.
Eli was the High Priest at the time. He lacked discernment, thinking that Hannah was drunk. He also lacked discipline in not putting his sons in check. God was about to move, He was about to judge, He was about to raise up a boy, to be a man of God, to be a prophet to the nation, his name would be Samuel, whom Hannah would bear in answer to prayer.
When Samuel was born, Hannah waited until he was weaned, and then brought him to the Tabernacle and left him there, giving him to God – Samuel was an answer to many, many prayers.
1 Samuel 1:27 (NKJV) “For this child I prayed, and the LORD has granted me my petition which I asked of Him.”
May this be the case for all of our kids, “For this child I prayed…”
We see the godliness of Hannah, in her prayer recorded in 1 Samuel 2:1-10. She could now smile at her enemies – she had no fear or frown, because of God’s faithfulness. She praised God for His holiness (there is NO ONE) like Him! (1 Samuel 2:2)
Her prayer is a strong expression of confidence in the ultimate defeat of the proud and arrogant. Her prayer is an appropriate acknowledgment of the Almighty, who was about to defeat the mighty, feed the hungry, give life to the barren, kill, protect, make poor and rich, bring low, lift up, even to the point of a throne of glory (1 Samuel 2:8).
At the closing of her prayer there are Messianic tones, how one day the LORD would judge the earth, and the King of kings (Jesus) would be exalted. It’s the ultimate destiny of all the earth, it’s something God has placed in the depths of the hearts of His people, and there it was in heart of Hannah.
Meanwhile, the sons of Eli, Hophni and Phineas, were ripping the people off. Stealing from the offerings of the LORD and worse (we’ll read the details next time). The Judge was on His way for judgment, and the judge Samuel was too. He would be the vessel for a new work of God and a new administration altogether.
We sometimes think God is distant or indifferent, but He’s not. He sees everything that’s going on and gives people time to repent (Revelation 2:21). But if they don’t, if they won’t, He will deal with them accordingly – it’s a warning to some, and a promise to others.
Can you picture a ton of people there by the pool? Not swimming, not sun bathing – but the sick, the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. I’m not sure if it was a legend or not, but the “word” was whoever stepped in first, after the stirring of the water, was made well of whatever disease he had.
One of the men there that day had been lame for thirty-eight years! Jesus asked him, “Do you want to be made well?”
The man assessed his situation as hopeless. Little did he know that he was talking to the God of all hope – and right there and then, Jesus commanded him to take up his bed and walk. He may have felt strength flowing through his body, or maybe it began with an obedient effort on his part, but somehow he took a step of faith, and God met him there, and made him whole. As Pastor Chuck Smith said, “The man could have argued with Jesus, explaining why it was impossible for him to get up and walk. But instead he somehow found the faith to obey the impossible command from a perfect stranger. If He commands us to do something, He will enable us to do it.”
It’s strange that this man didn’t stop to take time to give thanks to the Lord. When the religious leaders questioned the man about carrying his mat on the Sabbath, he told them he didn’t know the name of the one who had healed him.
When Jesus found the man he issued a heavy warning:
John 5:14 (NKJV) “Afterward Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, ‘See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you.'”
This suggests that this man’s infirmity may have been because of his sin. Not all sickness, suffering, and calamity are the result of sin, but sometimes this is the root reason. When we realize that we have a loving Father who is a perfect disciplinarian, it should cultivate a healthy fear of God. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you.
But this man is an interesting guy; when he finds out it was Jesus who healed him and commanded him to carry his mat, he “turns him in” to the religious authorities. So the Jewish leaders sought to kill Jesus for violating their man-made Sabbath rules and regulations. Their verbal exchange leads Jesus to reveal the truth of who He was, equal with God.
As we read through the Gospel of John there’s no doubt about Jesus deity – John 5:22-23 is a great proof text:
John 5:22–23 (NKJV) “For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son, 23 that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.”
One day, EVERYONE will stand before Jesus – all judgment has been committed to Him. To honor the Son JUST as we honor the Father means that Jesus is equal with God. This is another combination-revelation of the truth of the Trinity – One God in three Persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
This Psalm definitely focuses on God’s gracious wonders and purposely leaves out Israel’s foolish blunders. The writer sees the bright side of history, the goodness of God.
The nation of Israel was redeemed from Egypt mightily, victoriously, they were blessed with quail for meat in the wilderness, manna for daily bread, water from the rock – it ran like streams in the desert. God fulfilled His promise to Abraham and gave them the descendants and the land. What an awesome God He is! And notice what the proper response should be:
Psalm 105:45 (NKJV) “That they might observe His statutes and keep His laws. Praise the LORD!”
Obedience to His Word…and praise to our Lord.
As I look back on my life, I’ve made many mistakes, but God has washed them all away. Although I do my best to learn from my many failures, I don’t focus on them, I try to focus on the Lord.
Look what He’s done! It should lead me – to do as He says. He’s saved me to serve, and observe…His Word.
This Psalm reminds me of the story of Balaam and Israel:
Numbers 23:21 (NKJV) “He has not observed iniquity in Jacob, nor has He seen wickedness in Israel. The LORD his God is with him, and the shout of a King is among them.”
Even though Israel failed, fell, and sinned big time, when God looked at Israel, He saw no iniquity, He saw no wickedness, God was with them, and through them David and Jesus would come.
Psalm 105 doesn’t mention any of Israel’s sins – it’s a very unique Psalm. It shows us (from a positional standpoint) how God sees us believers – without sin. It reminds us how awesome He is. We read it early on in this Psalm:
Psalm 105:1–2 (NKJV) “Oh, give thanks to the LORD! Call upon His name; make known His deeds among the peoples! 2 Sing to Him, sing psalms to Him; talk of all His wondrous works!”
Talk of His work (not ours). God has fulfilled His word to Abraham which consisted of three things.
1. The land
2. The descendants
3. The Messiah/King – Jesus
V. 28 – An obvious observation in the political realm – especially back then when the population provided for the prince and the king, leading to the protection of the kingdom and his personal honor.
V. 29 – This is probably one of the most important Proverbs and principles in all of life! This is one of the ways you can tell whether a person is wise or wicked…is he easily angered? Does he have a short fuse? Does she fly off the handle? Are they always on the verge of explosion?
Obviously, a person who’s impulsive – saying or doing things without praying or even thinking it through, is a fool, through and through.
This is why James writes in:
James 1:19-20 (NKJV) “So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”
If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.