1 Samuel 1:1-27: Hannah


  • Hannah’s barrenness
  • Hannah’s prayer


The present candidates for the American presidency highlight the universal problem of a lack of godly leadership. Americans are forced to choose between a slightly more conservative incompetent in Trump, and the slightly more competent secular humanist, Clinton. There are no good choices. This search for godly leadership is the crisis that 1 and 2 Samuel solves. Or at least they point forward to the final solution. These books are to be situated in the time of the judges. The inconsequential way the book begins, ‘there was a certain man of Ramathaim-zophim,’ points to this book being a continuation of judges. Samuel the Nazirite is introduced just as Samson the Nazirite is, Judges 13:2. The moral climate is one where every man is doing what is right in his own eyes. The refrain of Judges, that there was no king in Israel should be echoing in our minds. And the corrupt priesthood of Eli and his sons is a thorn in the side of Israel any attempt to worship the Lord in holiness. Into this situation is born the prophet-judge Samuel who is to clean house and lead under God.

Samuel is a transitional person who will lead Israel from the time of judges to the time of the Kings. The books of 1 and 2 Samuel cover this age and document another major shift, the shift from the house of the Lord being a tabernacle in Shiloh, and 2 Samuel ends with the buying of the temple sight for Solomon’s greater house.

These books are not merely books of heroic stories for our inspiration but essential links in God’s eternal plan of salvation. God had created a universe that had fallen under the curse of sin. He had promised a deliverer born of woman, who would rescue God’s people from satan’s offspring. God created a stage for this promise to be fulfilled by making a covenant with creation with Noah, by promising a stable world that would not be flooded. God progressed this promise by calling Abraham and making promises of land, offspring and blessing to him. God preserved Abraham’s offspring in Egypt, and brought them into a land to make a nation of them where He Himself would dwell among them. So far they have been floundering under the time of the judges. These books progress the storyline of redemption by recording the appointing of a royal bloodline that will result in the birth of the promised Saviour, Jesus Christ, the Son of David. The people of Israel would be looking to this king to deliver them from satan’s offspring, the gentile unbelievers; to help them keep the Garden of Israel clean that God might dwell amongst them; to lead and preserve pure worship in Israel, but we will see that the line of kings are from fallen Adam and cannot save. The endless disappointments that result create a deep longing for a sinless King who will succeed where all others fail. This person is Christ and no other.

God’s grand operation for saving all of the universe is progressed through the mundane domestic problems of Elkanah’s household. We are told he is an Ephraimite. Based on the fact his heritage is mentioned we know he is a true Jew and likely middle class. And he had two wives. This departure from Eden is taken as background information and not commented on. One wife, Peninnah, which means fruitful had many children, and Hannah, which means favoured, was barren. Hannah, Samuel’s mother is the focus of our first message. We will look at her barrenness and prayer.