Dave Burnette's Commentary

1 Samuel Chapter 1

Written By: God through Inspiration
Penned By: Samuel, Nathan, & Gad 
Date Penned: (931-975 BC)
Overview: Samuel, Israel's Last Judge (c 1-31)
Theme: Eli and Samuel (c 1-7)
Message: Samuel's Birth and Childhood (v 1-22)

1 Samuel 1 Commentary

(l:1) The Last Judge - The book of 1 Samuel begins in the days when the judges still ruled Israel during the closing years of Samson's life. Samuel was Israel's last judge and the first priest and prophet to serve during the time of a king. He was the best example of what a good judge should be, governing the people by God's Word and not by his own impulses. Samuel was the man who anointed Saul as Israel's first king. Although this chapter begins with "Now there was a certain man." Hannah and her faith are the real focus of this story.

(1:2) A Day When Poligamy was Allowed but Not Intended - Although many great Old Testament leaders (such as Abraham, Jacob, and David) had more than one wife, this was not God's original intention for marriage, nor is it his intention today. Genesis 2:24 states that in marriage two people become one. Why, then, did polygamy exist among God's people? (1) It allowed families to produce more offspring to help provide labor and to assure the continuation of the family line. Numerous children were a symbol of status and wealth. (2) In societies where many young men were killed in battle, polygamy became an accepted way of supporting women who otherwise would have remained unmarried and, very likely, destitute. Nevertheless, polygamy is never endorsed in the Bible; on the contrary, it usually caused serious family problems, as we see in this story of Hannah and Peninnah.

(1:3) The Jewish Festivals - The tabernacle (tent of meeting) was located at Shiloh, the religious center of the nation (see Joshua 18:1). Three times a year all Israelite men were required to attend a religious festival held at the tabernacle: the Passover with the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Weeks, and the Feast of Tabernacles (Deuteronomy 16:16). Elkanah made this pilgrimage regularly to fulfill God's commands. (See Exodus 23:14-17 for the regulations concerning the pilgrimage, and see the note on Exodus 40:34 for more on the tabernacle.)

(1:6) Hannah is Childless - Hannah had been unable to conceive children, and in Old Testament times, childless women were seen as flawed and inferior to women who could bear children. Their barrenness was a social embarrassment for their husbands. Children were a very important part of the society's economic structure. They were a source of labor for their families, and they had the duty of caring for their parents in their old age. If a wife could not bear children, she was often obligated by ancient Middle Eastern custom to give one of her servant girls to her husband to bear children for her. Although Elkanah could have left Hannah (a husband was permitted to divorce a barren wife), he remained lovingly devoted to her despite social pressure and his rights under civil law.

(1:7) Giving Support in a Time of Suffering - Part of God's plan for Hannah involved postponing her years of childbearing. While Peninnah looked at Hannah's outward circumstances, God was moving ahead with his plan. Think of those in your world who are struggling with God's timing in answering their prayers and who need your love and help. By supporting them, you may help them remain steadfast in their faith and confident in God's timing to bring fulfillment to their lives.

(1:8) Focus on the Lord Not Man - Hannah knew her husband loved her, but even his encouragement could not comfort her. She could not keep from hearing Peninnah's jeers and letting her hurtful words erode her self-confidence. Although we cannot keep others from unjustly criticizing us, we can choose how we will react to their words. Rather than dwelling upon our problems, we can enjoy the loving relationships God has given us. By doing so, we can exchange self-pity and despair for hope and optimism.

(1:10) Hannah Chooses to Trust the Lord - Hannah had good reason to feel discouraged and bitter. She was unable to bear children; she shared her husband with a woman who ridiculed her (1-7); her loving husband could not solve her problem (1:8); and even the high priest misunderstood her motives (1:14). But instead of reacting with anger or giving up hope, Hannah prayed. She brought her problem honestly before God. We may face times of barrenness when nothing "comes to birth" in our work, service, or relationships. Praying in faith is difficult when we feel so ineffective and alone. But as Hannah discovered, prayer opens the way for God to work (1:19-20).

(1:11) Hannah Vows to Dedicate Her Son to the Lord -  In return for being able to conceive a son, Hannah vowed to dedicate him to God for lifetime service. Hannah may have been making a Nazarite vow, which parents could take for their unborn children. The Nazarite vow promised that a person would be set apart for special service to God (see the notes on Numbers 6:1-4 and Judges 13:5). As long as the vow was in effect, the person's hair could not be cut. Although some vows were temporary, Hannah's vow for Samuel was for life.

(1:11) Hannah Bargains with God - Be careful what you promise in prayer, because God may hold you to it. Hannah so desperately wanted a child that she was willing to strike a bargain with God. God took her up on her promise, and to Hannah's credit, she kept her word, even though it must have been painful (1:27-28). Although we are not in a position to barter with God, he may still choose to answer a prayer that has an attached promise. When you pray, ask yourself, Will I follow through on any promises I make to God if he gives me what I ask? To ignore a promise, especially to God, is dishonest and potentially disastrous. God keeps his promises, and he expects you to keep yours. Hannah fulfilled her promise to God, and he blessed her with five more children (2:21).

(1:12-14) Eli Makes a Snap Judgement - When you notice that something seems wrong with another person, what is your first reaction? Eli made a snap judgment about Hannah before he knew all the facts. It is easy to misunderstand motives and actions, and doing so can cause us to make assumptions about others that are not true. Be sensitive to the fact that, like Hannah, anyone you encounter may be carrying a tremendous burden.

(1:13-18) Hannah has a Change of Attitude Earlier, Hannah had been discouraged to the point of being physically sick and unable to eat. At this point, she returned home well and happy. The change in her attitude may be attributed to three factors: (1) She had prayed honestly to God, not holding anything back from him (1:11); (2) she had received encouragement from Eli (it7); and (3) she had resolved to leave the problem with God (1.18. This is the antidote for discouragement: Tell God how you really feel and leave your problems with him. Then rely upon the support of good friends and


(1:26-28) Hannah Presents Her Son to Eli - To do what she promised (1:11), Hannah gave up what she wanted most--her son--and presented him to Eli to serve in the house of the Lord. In dedicating her only son to God, Hannah was dedicating her entire life and future to him. Because Samuel's life was from God, Hannah was not really giving him up. Rather, she was returning him to God, who had been the one who gave him to Hannah in the first place. These verses illustrate the kind of gifts we should give to God. Do your gifts cost you little (Sunday mornings, a comfortable tithe), or are they gifts of sacrifice? Are you presenting God with tokens, or are you presenting him with your entire life?

(1:28) Hannah Does Not Forget Samuel - Samuel was at least three years old (the customary age for weaning was three to five years or even older) when his mother left him at the tabernacle. By saying, "I have lent him to the LORD," Hannah meant that she was dedicating Samuel to God for lifetime service. She did not, of course, forget her much-wanted son. She visited him regularly, and each year she brought him a new robe to wear (2:19). In later years, Samuel lived in Ramah (7:17), his parents' hometown (1:19-20).


Dave Burnette's Life Application

The Lord or a King?


Each day we walk through the Bible chapter by chapter, making application of our text to help us grow in the Lord. There are many applications we can make from each day's text. Today we start the book of 1 Samuel with Chapter 1. We see the transition of the days of Judges, where Israel followed God's leading (Theocracy) to a nation that placed their trust in Kings (Monarchy). In making an application, we see times have not changed. Today our Nation has moved from dependence on God. We have a nation that places its trust in a Government. As we enter  General Elections, we see our Nation in a bitter debate over presidential candidates and political parties. We see our Nation who must repent and cry to God to heal their land. As the Lord judged Israel and let them reap the harvest of their decisions, God will do the same with us. How about you? Are you placing your trust in a Government or President? Let us learn from today's text and repent, placing our trust in the Lord.


1 Samuel 1

1 Samuel 1

 1Now there was a certain man of Ramathaimzophim, of mount Ephraim, and his name was Elkanah, the son of Jeroham, the son of Elihu, the son of Tohu, the son of Zuph, an Ephrathite:

 2And he had two wives; the name of the one was Hannah, and the name of the other Peninnah: and Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children.

 3And this man went up out of his city yearly to worship and to sacrifice unto the LORD of hosts in Shiloh. And the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, the priests of the LORD, were there.

 4And when the time was that Elkanah offered, he gave to Peninnah his wife, and to all her sons and her daughters, portions:

 5But unto Hannah he gave a worthy portion; for he loved Hannah: but the LORD had shut up her womb.

 6And her adversary also provoked her sore, for to make her fret, because the LORD had shut up her womb.

 7And as he did so year by year, when she went up to the house of the LORD, so she provoked her; therefore she wept, and did not eat.

 8Then said Elkanah her husband to her, Hannah, why weepest thou? and why eatest thou not? and why is thy heart grieved? am not I better to thee than ten sons?

 9So Hannah rose up after they had eaten in Shiloh, and after they had drunk. Now Eli the priest sat upon a seat by a post of the temple of the LORD.

 10And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the LORD, and wept sore.

 11And she vowed a vow, and said, O LORD of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the LORD all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come upon his head.

 12And it came to pass, as she continued praying before the LORD, that Eli marked her mouth.

 13Now Hannah, she spake in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard: therefore Eli thought she had been drunken.

 14And Eli said unto her, How long wilt thou be drunken? put away thy wine from thee.

 15And Hannah answered and said, No, my lord, I am a woman of a sorrowful spirit: I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but have poured out my soul before the LORD.

 16Count not thine handmaid for a daughter of Belial: for out of the abundance of my complaint and grief have I spoken hitherto.

 17Then Eli answered and said, Go in peace: and the God of Israel grant thee thy petition that thou hast asked of him.

 18And she said, Let thine handmaid find grace in thy sight. So the woman went her way, and did eat, and her countenance was no more sad.

 19And they rose up in the morning early, and worshipped before the LORD, and returned, and came to their house to Ramah: and Elkanah knew Hannah his wife; and the LORD remembered her.

 20Wherefore it came to pass, when the time was come about after Hannah had conceived, that she bare a son, and called his name Samuel, saying, Because I have asked him of the LORD.

 21And the man Elkanah, and all his house, went up to offer unto the LORD the yearly sacrifice, and his vow.

 22But Hannah went not up; for she said unto her husband, I will not go up until the child be weaned, and then I will bring him, that he may appear before the LORD, and there abide for ever.

 23And Elkanah her husband said unto her, Do what seemeth thee good; tarry until thou have weaned him; only the LORD establish his word. So the woman abode, and gave her son suck until she weaned him.

 24And when she had weaned him, she took him up with her, with three bullocks, and one ephah of flour, and a bottle of wine, and brought him unto the house of the LORD in Shiloh: and the child was young.

 25And they slew a bullock, and brought the child to Eli.

 26And she said, Oh my lord, as thy soul liveth, my lord, I am the woman that stood by thee here, praying unto the LORD.

 27For this child I prayed; and the LORD hath given me my petition which I asked of him:

 28Therefore also I have lent him to the LORD; as long as he liveth he shall be lent to the LORD. And he worshipped the LORD there.