Hannah – prayers and vows

2 06 2011

DAY ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTY EIGHT : 1 Samuel 1 v. 1 – 2 v. 26; John 10 v. 22 – 42; Psalm 63 v. 1 – 11


1 and 2 Samuel (originally one book) span 150 years from the birth of Samuel (the last of the judges) to just before the death of David; it chronicles the Israelites becoming a nation under a divinely appointed monarchy, from having been a ‘loose-knit group of tribes’.

The Birth of Samuel – Here’s the story of an Ephraimite, Elkanah, who has two wives – one, Peninnah who bore him children, the other, Hannah, who could not. The annual trips to the tabernacle at Shiloh, where Eli’s sons Hophni and Phinehas were priests, led to him giving Hannah a double portion of the meat sacrificed, ‘because he loved her, and the Lord had closed her womb’.
Peninnah is described as a rival to Hannah, and she keeps making her digs, winding Hannah up, irritating her over the whole child-bearing thing.
The occasion is recorded, when Hannah was so distressed by Peninnah, she made her way into the ‘Lord’s temple’ and, weeping, made a vow,
‘O Lord Almighty, if You will only look upon Your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget Your servant but give her a son, then I will give Him to the Lord for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head.’
Eli, watching what’s going on in the temple, sees her mumbling and mouthing words, and assumes she’s drunk (dear me, how could the High Priest not spot someone deep in prayer ?!?!). Hannah explains she is not drunk, but is ‘deeply troubled’. She receives a blessing of peace, and a prayer that her request will be answered.
After another evening and morning of worship, the family head back to Ramah, where Hannah immediately conceives, and gives birth to her son, naming him Samuel, ‘because I asked the Lord for him.’

Hannah Dedicates Samuel – Initially, Hannah stayed at home, weaning Samuel, whilst Elkanah and the others made the trips to Shiloh. When Samuel had been weaned, however, he was taken with Hannah (and a three year old bull, and the required flour and wine), to the ‘house of the Lord at Shiloh’. Hannah reminds Eli that they had met before, and now God has given her the desire of her heart, and she is to honour the vow she made to God :
”So now I give him to the Lord. For his whole life he shall be given over to the Lord.’ And he worshipped the Lord there.’

Hannah is presented as an example of true faithfulness, bringing the bitterness of her situation to the Lord, ‘I was pouring out my soul to the Lord’, and keeping a very precious vow (symbolising obedience to the Lord). The menfolk around her, even the High Priest, Eli, do not match up to Hannah’s devotion and commitment to the Lord.

Hannah’s Prayer –
So, having just given up her one and only son, Hannah prays to the Lord (similar to Miriam’s song about God’s deliverance, or Mary’s magnificat, declaring God’s favour for the poor and downcast) :
My heart rejoices in the Lord….there is no-one holy like the Lord; there is no-one besides You; there is no Rock like our God.
The Lord brings death and makes alive; He brings down to the grave and raises up.
The Lord sends poverty and wealth; He humbles and He exalts.
For the foundations of the earth are the Lord’s…He will guard the feet of His saints.
He will give strength to His king and exalt the horn of His anointed.’
The family returns home; Samuel stays with Eli.

Eli’s Wicked Sons –
then there follows a snapshot of Eli’s wicked sons – they would treat the Lord’s offering with contempt by helping themselves to large portions of meat even before it had been properly sacrificed (boiled / fat burned).
In contrast, there was Samuel, ‘ministering before the Lord – a by wearing a linen ephod’.
Every year, Hannah would bring Samuel a new robe. Hannah would receive a blessing from Eli, and she bore three more sons and two daughters.
Poor old Eli has lost control of his sons; they are doing all sorts of evil, including sleeping with the women who served at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting. Eli does try to warn them, but they don’t listen.
‘And the boy Samuel continued to grow in stature and in favour with the Lord and with men.’  (There is a very similar verse encompassing Jesus’ early years, in Luke 2 v. 52).

the scene is set for the demise of Eli’s family, through his wicked sons, and rise of Samuel…

The Unbelief of the Jews – another clash with the Jews, this time during the winter celebration of the ‘Feast of Dedication’ in Jerusalem. Jesus is surrounded and told to tell them straight if He is the Christ or not. Jesus points to the miracles (signs) He has performed
‘The miracles I do in my Father’s name speak for me, but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no-one can snatch them out of my hand….I and the Father are one.’
The Jews pick up stones, readying themselves to kill Jesus, but He challenges them again, and they state they are to stone Him for blasphemy – a ‘mere man’ claiming to be God.
Jesus uses a scripture (Psalm 82 v 6) to back up His claim to be the Son of God, and challenging the Jews to see that Jesus is doing the Father’s will, and that they might believe ‘the miracles, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.’
When they try to seize Jesus, He escapes, and goes down to the Jordan where John had been baptizing; Jesus stays there, and many come to join Him, and put their faith in Him.

PSALM– written by David, in the desert-place
‘O God, You are my God, earnestly I seek You…
my soul thirsts for You, my body longs for You, in a dry and weary land where there is no water…
Because Your love is better than life, my lips will glorify You…
I will praise You as long as I live, and in Your name I will lift up my hands.
Because You are my help, I sing in the shadow of Your wings…’




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