1 Samuel 1 Commentary.
What may easily escape our attention is the fact that the great prophet Samuel was a Nazirite. Like Samson, his mother never used a razor on his head. He was dedicated to the LORD all his life. Like Manoah and his wife, Elkanah and his wife, Hannah could not have children. The women are said to have been barren. By the LORD’s direct intervention, Samson was born. And he failed. Is the LORD restarting project Samson with Samuel? Well, the usage of similar molds for both Judges may suggest similarities in purpose. What we cannot doubt is the LORD’s liking for barrenness as a platform for His workshop.
So out a dead womb, the LORD raised a Judge, priest, and a prophet. Samuel was God’s special gift to mankind. The Book that bears his name gives us details of his special function at a time when the nation required leadership both on and off the field of state governance. The cry of the Book of Judges is that Israel had no king and everyone did as they saw fit. Samuel is the LORD’s answer to the people’s cry.
Aren’t we ignoring the fact that the boy Samuel was actually the LORD’s answer to Hannah’s intense prayer? No. It is actually one workspace for the LORD. The intercessor does well to learn the fact that we only succeed when we align our prayers with the will of the LORD. We should celebrate Hannah’s prayer as a triumph of God’s will over man’s selfishness and vanity. Understand the word selfishness as a word describing man’s desire to exist by self and for self, and independent of God. He was created to exist in the presence of God, in the Garden of perfect serenity.
Hannah’s prayer to give the boy completely over to the LORD is reflecting the thought that man needs a way back to where he belongs. We can understand the word vanity as a chase after wind. Peninnah’s life of fullness yet a life of complete emptiness exemplifies it all. It is all vanity.
The chapter deliberately mentions Eli’s sons as priests serving the LORD at Shiloh. Peninnah’s name and her bad attitude are deliberately highlighted to awaken us to the realities around the work of Samuel. But we are just beginning.
Chapter one is a good starting point for prayer. The LORD loves to work from zero situations. Barrenness, be it actual or simply implied, is a terrible situation but the LORD uses it as His workshop. Isaac’s mother was barren. Jacob’s mother had problems with childbearing. Samson’s mother was barren. Samuel’s mother was barren. John the Baptist’s mother was barren. Jesus’ mother was a zero-situation. All were god-fearing. We can pray to this God who thrives in dead and zero situations.
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