James Gray - Concise Bible Commentary
Now 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:1 Samuel 1:1-2:11
SAMUEL’S BIRTH AND DEDICATION
A SORROWFUL WIFE (1 Samuel 1)
Like Ruth, the opening of First Samuel deals with events in the time of the Judges, and is the book of transition from that period to the monarchy.
1 Samuel 1:1-8. Though there is difficulty in locating the city named in verse 1, yet it appears that Elkanah was a native of Bethlehem-judah like Elimelech (see the first lesson in Ruth). He was a Levite (see 1 Chronicles 6:33-34), and if it is surprising that he practiced polygamy (v. 2), we must remember the moral condition of the people at this time, but not imagine that God approved it.
1 Samuel 1:4-5 suggest a situation not unlike that of Jacob and Rachel and Leah (Genesis 29:15-35). The latter of the verses is rendered in the Septuagint: “But unto Hannah he gave a single portion, because she had no child; howbeit Elkanah loved Hannah.” It will be recalled from Leviticus 3:7 and Deuteronomy 12:12 that the offerer received back the greater part of the peace offerings, which he and his family might eat at a social feast in connection with the act of worship, and it is to this that “portion” alludes. The “adversary” (1 Samuel 1:6) is translated “rival” in the Revised Version and refers to Peninnah.
1 Samuel 1:9-18. What a beautiful illustration of Psalm 50:15 is found in these verses! As Hannah was the wife of a Levite, a son would in any event have belonged to the Lord (1 Samuel 1:11); but if this one was to be a Nazarite from his birth (Numbers 6:5; Jdg 13:5) it meant that his residence and service in the sanctuary must begin at an earlier period than usual.
Eli’s words in 1 Samuel 1:17 were spoken by the Holy Spirit through him whether he were aware of it or not. And Hannah seemed to understand them as a divine answer to her prayer (1 Samuel 1:18).
A JOYOUS MOTHER (1 Samuel 2:1-11)
Hannah’s song foreshadows Mary’s in Luke 1:46-55, and must not be regarded simply as a natural song of thanksgiving, although it came from Hannah’s heart. It was a prophecy of the Holy Spirit within her, making her rejoice in praise for those greater blessings in Christ of which the whole race will partake, and of which Samuel’s birth was an earnest and pledge.
Study the words carefully, and see how they pass over all the intermediate steps of the development of the kingdom of God, and point to the final goal when the dominion is extended over the ends of the earth.
Doctrinally considered, the song expresses joy in the power of God (1 Samuel 2:1); it praises Him for His holiness and faithfulness, which is as firm as a rock (1 Samuel 2:2); it extols His providence in His omniscience and omnipotence in dealing with the strong and the weak, the rich and the poor, the high and the low, the godly and ungodly (1 Samuel 2:3-8); and finally, it bears prophetic testimony to His victory at the end and the establishment of His Kingdom on the earth through Jesus Christ (1 Samuel 2:9-10).
1. How may this book be characterized?
2. To what tribe did Elkanah belong?
3. Can you quote from memory Psalm 50:15?
4. Have you read the law of the Nazarite in Numbers 6:5?
5. What was the nature of Hannah’s song?
6. State its scope in a sentence or two.
7. Give a theological or doctrinal exposition of the song.