Read chapter in full: biblegateway.com/passage/?version=ESV&search=1Samuel+001
The books commonly known as 1 & 2 Samuel and 1 & 2 Kings are really one long book. (They were separated due to the length of ancient scrolls.) Beginning with Samuel, the last of the judges, this book describes what happened in the days of the kings who ruled first the whole nation, and then the divided kingdoms of Israel and Judah. The reigns of Saul and David are described in detail. The repeating structure within the book tells how old a king was when he came to the throne, where and for how long he ruled, and something about his character and the notable events of his reign. (Some traditions call this book the “Book of Reigns.”)
Beneath this pattern of historical succession, however, another rhythm can be discerned. Saul, the first king, does not follow God faithfully, and God announces he will seek a man after his own heart to rule Israel. God finds this person in David. He puts him on the throne, promising that his descendants will always rule Israel if they continue to serve him. Unfortunately, the kings after David are not committed to following God’s way. Many of them abandon God and lead the people to do the same, although a few of them call the people back to obedience. Using David’s wholehearted dedication to the Lord as its standard, the book of Samuel-Kings traces the tragic wavering of the people’s devotion to God. Their covenant failure leads to the nation first being divided and then later conquered by the powerful empires to the east.
The “Book of Reigns” is therefore a tragic closing of the whole covenant history that began in Genesis. Just as the first humans were exiled from God’s garden, now Israel is sent out of the “new Eden” God intended in the promised land. Land and temple have been lost in the darkness of judgment, and only a flickering light remains. The deeper purpose of God for Israel—to bring blessing and restoration to the nations—seems to have been frustrated. But hope remains alive in God’s promise to bring a descendant of David back to the throne.
Chapter One (ESV)
9 After they had eaten and drunk in Shiloh, Hannah rose. Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat beside the doorpost of the temple of the Lord. 10 She was deeply distressed and prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly. 11 And she vowed a vow and said, “O Lord of hosts, if you will indeed look on the affliction of your servant and remember me and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a son, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and no razor shall touch his head.”
12 As she continued praying before the Lord, Eli observed her mouth. 13 Hannah was speaking in her heart; only her lips moved, and her voice was not heard. Therefore Eli took her to be a drunken woman. 14 And Eli said to her, “How long will you go on being drunk? Put your wine away from you.” 15 But Hannah answered, “No, my lord, I am a woman troubled in spirit. I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have been pouring out my soul before the Lord. 16 Do not regard your servant as a worthless woman, for all along I have been speaking out of my great anxiety and vexation.” 17 Then Eli answered, “Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant your petition that you have made to him.” 18 And she said, “Let your servant find favor in your eyes.” Then the woman went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad.
19 They rose early in the morning and worshiped before the Lord; then they went back to their house at Ramah. And Elkanah knew Hannah his wife, and the Lord remembered her. 20 And in due time Hannah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Samuel, for she said, “I have asked for him from the Lord.”
- Hannah has been pouring out her soul before the Lord. In her prayers, she loses all restraint, and her fervency leads the priest Eli to think she was intoxicated. Do I regularly approach God with tentativeness and formality in hope of attracting other’s praises or showing off my “spiritual superiority”? Or am I willing to be authentic before God no matter what other people think?
- Some might think Hannah’s prayer selfish because she prayed to become pregnant. But when Hannah actually gave Samuel to the service of the Lord in the tabernacle and fulfilled her promise, that charge was easily refuted. What is the difference between a selfish prayer and a prayer that complies with God’s way?
- Write down all the things I have asked God for today. Then in the evening, rank them on a “selfish” scale with 1 being very selfish and 10 complying with God’s will. How do I do?
Lord, I thank You that You care for me and are concerned with the things that concern me. May I be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, I will make my requests known to You. (Ref. Phil 4:6)
He Knows My Name – youtu.be/hXsiWoyjw60