Hannah, also spelled Anna, (11th century BC), mother of Samuel, the Jewish judge.
Childless as one of the two wives of Elkanah, she prayed for a son, promising to dedicate him to God.
Her prayers were answered, and she brought the child Samuel to Shiloh for religious training.
In the Talmud she is named as one of seven prophetesses,
and her prayer is in the Rosh Hashana (Jewish New Year) first-day service, exemplifying successful petitions to God. (Britannica)
Samuel’s Birth and Dedication
There was a certain man of Ramathaim, a Zuphite from the hill country of Ephraim, whose name was Elkanah son of Jeroham son of Elihu son of Tohu son of Zuph, an Ephraimite. He had two wives; the name of one was Hannah, and the name of the other Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children.
Now this man used to go up year by year from his town to worship and to sacrifice to the Lord of hosts at Shiloh, where the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were priests of the Lord. On the day when Elkanah sacrificed, he would give portions to his wife Peninnah and to all her sons and daughters; but to Hannah he gave a double portion, because he loved her, though the Lord had closed her womb. Her rival used to provoke her severely, to irritate her, because the Lord had closed her womb. So it went on year after year; as often as she went up to the house of the Lord, she used to provoke her. Therefore Hannah wept and would not eat. Her husband Elkanah said to her, ‘Hannah, why do you weep? Why do you not eat? Why is your heart sad? Am I not more to you than ten sons?’
After they had eaten and drunk at Shiloh, Hannah rose and presented herself before the Lord. Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat beside the door post of the temple of the Lord. She was deeply distressed and prayed to the Lord, and wept bitterly. She made this vow: ‘O Lord of hosts, if only you will look on the misery of your servant, and remember me, and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a male child, then I will set him before you as a nazirite until the day of his death. He shall drink neither wine nor intoxicants, and no razor shall touch his head.’
As she continued praying before the Lord, Eli observed her mouth. Hannah was praying silently; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard; therefore Eli thought she was drunk. So Eli said to her, ‘How long will you make a drunken spectacle of yourself? Put away your wine.’ But Hannah answered, ‘No, my lord, I am a woman deeply troubled; I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have been pouring out my soul before the Lord. Do not regard your servant as a worthless woman, for I have been speaking out of my great anxiety and vexation all this time.’Then Eli answered, ‘Go in peace; the God of Israel grant the petition you have made to him.’ And she said, ‘Let your servant find favour in your sight.’ Then the woman went to her quarters, ate and drank with her husband, and her countenance was sad no longer.
They rose early in the morning and worshipped before the Lord; then they went back to their house at Ramah. Elkanah knew his wife Hannah, and the Lord remembered her. In due time Hannah conceived and bore a son. She named him Samuel, for she said, ‘I have asked him of the Lord.’
The man Elkanah and all his household went up to offer to the Lord the yearly sacrifice, and to pay his vow. But Hannah did not go up, for she said to her husband, ‘As soon as the child is weaned, I will bring him, that he may appear in the presence of the Lord, and remain there for ever; I will offer him as a nazirite for all time.’ Her husband Elkanah said to her, ‘Do what seems best to you, wait until you have weaned him; only—may the Lord establish his word.’ So the woman remained and nursed her son, until she weaned him. When she had weaned him, she took him up with her, along with a three-year-old bull, an ephah of flour, and a skin of wine. She brought him to the house of the Lord at Shiloh; and the child was young. Then they slaughtered the bull, and they brought the child to Eli. And she said, ‘Oh, my lord! As you live, my lord, I am the woman who was standing here in your presence, praying to the Lord. For this child I prayed; and the Lord has granted me the petition that I made to him. Therefore I have lent him to the Lord; as long as he lives, he is given to the Lord.’
She left him there for the Lord.
Hannah prayed and said,
Then Elkanah went home to Ramah, while the boy remained to minister to the Lord, in the presence of the priest Eli.
Now the sons of Eli were scoundrels; they had no regard for the Lord or for the duties of the priests to the people. When anyone offered sacrifice, the priest’s servant would come, while the meat was boiling, with a three-pronged fork in his hand, and he would thrust it into the pan, or kettle, or cauldron, or pot; all that the fork brought up the priest would take for himself. This is what they did at Shiloh to all the Israelites who came there. Moreover, before the fat was burned, the priest’s servant would come and say to the one who was sacrificing, ‘Give meat for the priest to roast; for he will not accept boiled meat from you, but only raw.’ And if the man said to him, ‘Let them burn the fat first, and then take whatever you wish’, he would say, ‘No, you must give it now; if not, I will take it by force.’ Thus the sin of the young men was very great in the sight of the Lord; for they treated the offerings of the Lord with contempt.
The Child Samuel at Shiloh
Samuel was ministering before the Lord, a boy wearing a linen ephod. His mother used to make for him a little robe and take it to him each year, when she went up with her husband to offer the yearly sacrifice. Then Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife, and say, ‘May the Lord repay you with children by this woman for the gift that she made to the Lord’; and then they would return to their home.
And the Lord took note of Hannah; she conceived and bore three sons and two daughters. And the boy Samuel grew up in the presence of the Lord.
Now Eli was very old. He heard all that his sons were doing to all Israel, and how they lay with the women who served at the entrance to the tent of meeting. He said to them, ‘Why do you do such things? For I hear of your evil dealings from all these people. No, my sons; it is not a good report that I hear the people of the Lord spreading abroad. If one person sins against another, someone can intercede for the sinner with the Lord;but if someone sins against the Lord, who can make intercession?’ But they would not listen to the voice of their father; for it was the will of the Lord to kill them.
Now the boy Samuel continued to grow both in stature and in favour with the Lord and with the people.
A man of God came to Eli and said to him, ‘Thus the Lord has said, “I revealed myself to the family of your ancestor in Egypt when they were slaves to the house of Pharaoh. I chose him out of all the tribes of Israel to be my priest, to go up to my altar, to offer incense, to wear an ephod before me; and I gave to the family of your ancestor all my offerings by fire from the people of Israel. Why then look with greedy eye at my sacrifices and my offerings that I commanded, and honour your sons more than me by fattening yourselves on the choicest parts of every offering of my people Israel?” Therefore the Lord the God of Israel declares: “I promised that your family and the family of your ancestor should go in and out before me for ever”; but now the Lord declares: “Far be it from me; for those who honour me I will honour, and those who despise me shall be treated with contempt. See, a time is coming when I will cut off your strength and the strength of your ancestor’s family, so that no one in your family will live to old age. Then in distress you will look with greedy eye on all the prosperity that shall be bestowed upon Israel; and no one in your family shall ever live to old age. The only one of you whom I shall not cut off from my altar shall be spared to weep out his eyes and grieve his heart; all the members of your household shall die by the sword. The fate of your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, shall be the sign to you—both of them shall die on the same day. I will raise up for myself a faithful priest, who shall do according to what is in my heart and in my mind. I will build him a sure house, and he shall go in and out before my anointed one for ever. Everyone who is left in your family shall come to implore him for a piece of silver or a loaf of bread, and shall say, Please put me in one of the priest’s places, that I may eat a morsel of bread.” ’ (1 Samuel 1,2)
Hannah prayed and said,
The Magnificat of Mary
The mother of Jesus
‘My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour,
for he has looked with favour on the lowliness of his servant.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
His mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to his descendants for ever.’
From Ray Stedman:
The Old Testament is wonderfully illuminating in presenting case studies in normal and abnormal living. Anyone who has taken a course in psychology knows that in the text the case studies illustrate the principles being taught, in terms of real people and incidents. The whole of the Old Testament is just like that. It is filled with the most fascinating case studies illustrating the principles God wishes us to know. Sometimes, however, they are hidden in enigmas. If you like such things as cryptograms and crossword puzzles and riddles, you will enjoy ferreting out these truths of the Old Testament. You have to read your Bible (at least figuratively) with the Old Testament in one hand and the New Testament in the other, comparing them constantly in your mind. The Old Testament accounts illustrate the truths that are set forth in the New Testament. In them you will meet yourself and your own case study.
First Samuel is the story of two men, Saul and David. These two men illustrate for us the two principles in the heart of every Christian believer seeking to walk before God. They are the principle of flesh and the principle of faith. Saul is the man of the flesh, and David is the man of faith; the carnal believer and the spiritual believer. The fact that both of these men were kings beautifully illustrates the supremacy of the will in human life. As the book of Esther shows, each one of us is a king over a kingdom. Our will is supreme in our life. Even the Spirit of God does not violate it. We are ruling over the kingdom of our lives and our affairs, over those things that concern us personally and also the things that have an impact and influence upon others. What you, the king, say and do, influences the whole kingdom over which you reign.
Here, in these two kings, the two principles which are in conflict in your life and in mine are illustrated. We see in Saul the ruin caused by the will that is set on the flesh. In David you see beautifully illustrated the blessing which is brought by the mind that is set on the Spirit. "To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace." (Romans. 8:6) This conflict is illustrated in the book of 1 Samuel in the lives of these two men.
The book actually begins with the story of a third man, Samuel, who is the human expression of the voice of God to both Saul and David. (You and I have in our lives the expression to us of God's will by the word of God in those men and leaders in the church who teach and explain the word to us. God speaks to us objectively as well as subjectively. This is what is pictured by Samuel.) These three men mark off the divisions of the book. The first seven chapters give us the life of Samuel. Chapters 8 through 15 present King Saul, the man of the flesh. Then in chapters 16 through 31, David, the man of faith, is eminent as an illustration of the mind set on the Spirit.
Samuel was the last of the judges and the first of the prophets. The events of this book take place right after Israel had passed through some three hundred or more years of the rule of the judges. (During that time the little episode of Ruth occurred.) Samuel is the chosen instrument of God to close out the realm of the judges and to introduce the beginning of the prophetic ministry and the monarchy.
In the beginning, there is the wonderful story of a barren women, Hannah, the wife of a man named Elkanah. This man had two wives. The other wife was a prolific woman, who taunted and mocked Hannah in her barrenness. The barrenness of Hannah is very symbolic, coming as it does at the beginning of this book, because it illustrates the spiritual state of Israel at this time. This people to whom God had manifested himself had fallen into a state of utter infertility and barrenness. The priesthood which God had set up with the tabernacle and the rituals -- the means by which the people would have access to him -- was beginning to disappear. The cause for this failure is found in the song that Hannah sang after her prayer to God was answered and God gave her the boy, Samuel. Every woman ought to memorize this glorious song. In it, Hannah indicates the problem with which the book is essentially concerned.
The rest of the song magnificently sets forth the ability of God to exalt the lowly and to cast down the proud.
In this book is set forth the eternal conflict between the proud heart which finds confidence in itself and its ability to do things, and the humble spirit which looks to God in utter dependence, receiving all the fullness of divine blessing. That was the problem with Israel. The priesthood was failing, not because there was anything wrong with the priesthood (which was a picture of the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ), but because the people refused to bow before the Lord. They refused to come for cleansing and to turn from idolatrous worship. As a result, their access to God was cut off. The priesthood, then, was about to pass out of the picture as an effective means of mediation between the people and God.
At this point we have the familiar account of Samuel's birth and childhood. When Samuel is just a little lad he is brought to the temple and dedicated to God. He becomes the voice of God to Eli the priest and is given a message of judgment. Later he becomes the voice of God to the nation -- especially to the two kings, Saul and David. The first seven chapters tell us the story of Israel's fall into decay. The ark of God, the very place where God himself wrote his name and where his presence dwelt, was taken captive by the Philistines into their own country. Eli the priest, because he did not make his sons obey him (which is a powerful word of warning about juvenile delinquents today) -- even though his own heart was right -- finds that his priesthood is taken away from him. And when Eli's grandson is born, his mother names him Ichabod, which means "the glory has departed." Here Israel reaches one of the lowest states in its national history...
1 Samuel: The Death of the Flesh
Before the Incarnation: THE Angel of the Lord
The Sperm of God
O Come, O Come Immanuel
A Glorious Church
I Sing the Mighty Power of God
Jesus, The Light of the World
Singing in the Spirit (Acappella)
Notes by Lambert Dolphin
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