1 Samuel 1 Bible Commentary

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

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(Read all of 1 Samuel 1)

Verse 1

[1] 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:

Ramathaim-zophim — Called Ramah, verse 19.

Eparathite — That is, one of Bethlehem-judah, by his birth and habitation, though by his original a Levite.

Verse 2

[2] And he had two wives; the name of the one was Hannah, and the name of the other Peninnah: and Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children.

Two wives — As many had in those ages, tho' it was a transgression of the original institution of marriage. And it is probable that he took his second wife, namely, Peninnah, because Hannah was barren.

Verse 3

[3] And this man went up out of his city yearly to worship and to sacrifice unto the LORD of hosts in Shiloh. And the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, the priests of the LORD, were there.

Yearly — At the three solemn feasts, when he, together with all other males were obliged to go to worship God in the place appointed; and at other times, when he as a Levite, was to go thither in his course.

To sacrifice — Not in his own person, which the Levites could not do, but by the priests.

Were there — Or, were the priests of the Lord there, under their father Eli, who is generally conceived to have been the high-priest, but being very old and infirm, his sons ministered in his stead. This is the first time in scripture, that God is called the Lord of hosts or Armies. Probably Samuel was the first who used this title of God, for the comfort of Israel, at the time when their armies were few and feeble, and those of their enemies many and mighty.

Verse 4

[4] And when the time was that Elkanah offered, he gave to Peninnah his wife, and to all her sons and her daughters, portions:

Portions — Out of the sacrifice of his peace-offerings, the greatest part whereof fell to the offerer, and was eaten by him, and his friends or guests, before the Lord. And out of this he gave them all portions, as the master of the feast used to do to the guests.

Verse 5

[5] But unto Hannah he gave a worthy portion; for he loved Hannah: but the LORD had shut up her womb.

Shut up her womb — Yet Elkanah did not withdraw his love from her. To abate out just love to any relation, for the sake of any infirmity which they cannot help, is to add affliction to the afflicted.

Verse 6

[6] And her adversary also provoked her sore, for to make her fret, because the LORD had shut up her womb.

Her adversary — Peninnah: so her envy or jealousy made her though so nearly related.

Verse 7

[7] And as he did so year by year, when she went up to the house of the LORD, so she provoked her; therefore she wept, and did not eat.

When she went-This circumstance is noted as the occasion of the contention, because at such times they were forced to more society with one another, by the way, and in their lodgings; whereas at home they had distinct apartments, where they might be asunder; and then her husband's extraordinary love and kindness was shewed to Hannah, whereby Peninnah was the more exasperated; then also Hannah prayed earnestly for a child, which hitherto she had done in vain; and this possibly she reproached her with.

Did not eat — Being overwhelmed with grief, and therefore unfit to eat of the sacred food. Which they were not to eat in their mourning.

Verse 8

[8] Then said Elkanah her husband to her, Hannah, why weepest thou? and why eatest thou not? and why is thy heart grieved? am not I better to thee than ten sons?

Ten sons — Oughtest thou not to value my hearty love to thee, more than the having of as many sons as Penninah hath? She would willingly change conditions with thee.

Verse 9

[9] So Hannah rose up after they had eaten in Shiloh, and after they had drunk. Now Eli the priest sat upon a seat by a post of the temple of the LORD.

A seat — Or, throne; for it is manifest it was raised higher than ordinary, chap. 4:18. Here he might sit, either as the judge; or rather as high-priest, to hear and answer such as came to him for advice, and to inspect and direct the worship of God.

Temple — That is, of the tabernacle, which is frequently so called.

Verse 10

[10] And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the LORD, and wept sore.

Bitterness — That is, oppressed with grief.

Prayed unto the Lord — They had newly offered their peace-offerings, to obtain the favour of God, and in token of their communion with him, they had feasted upon the sacrifice: and now it was proper to put up her prayer, in virtue of the sacrifice. For the peace-offerings typified Christ's mediation, as well as the sin-offerings: since by this not only atonement is made for sin, but an answer to our prayers obtained.

Verse 11

[11] And she vowed a vow, and said, O LORD of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the LORD all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come upon his head.

Give him — That is, consecrate him to God's service in his temple.

No razor — That is, he shall be a perpetual Nazarite.

Verse 12

[12] And it came to pass, as she continued praying before the LORD, that Eli marked her mouth.

Continued — Heb. multiplied to pray. By which it appears that she said much more than is here expressed. And the like you are to judge of the prayers and sermons of other holy persons recorded in scripture, which gives us only the sum and substance of them. This consideration may help us much to understand some passages of the bible.

Verse 13

[13] Now Hannah, she spake in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard: therefore Eli thought she had been drunken.

Drunken — Because of the multitude of her words, and those motions of her face and body, which the vehemency of her passion, and the fervency in prayer occasioned.

Verse 16

[16] Count not thine handmaid for a daughter of Belial: for out of the abundance of my complaint and grief have I spoken hitherto.

Count not, … — Thus when we are unjustly censured, we should endeavour not only to clear ourselves, but to satisfy our brethren, by giving them a just and true account of that which they misapprehended.

Verse 18

[18] And she said, Let thine handmaid find grace in thy sight. So the woman went her way, and did eat, and her countenance was no more sad.

Find grace — That favourable opinion and gracious prayer which thou hast expressed on my behalf, be pleased to continue towards me.

Sad — Her heart being cheared by the priest's comfortable words, and especially by God's spirit setting them home upon her, and assuring her that both his and her prayers should be heard, it quickly appeared in her countenance.

Verse 19

[19] And they rose up in the morning early, and worshipped before the LORD, and returned, and came to their house to Ramah: and Elkanah knew Hannah his wife; and the LORD remembered her.

Remembered — Manifested his remembrance of her by the effect.

Verse 20

[20] Wherefore it came to pass, when the time was come about after Hannah had conceived, that she bare a son, and called his name Samuel, saying, Because I have asked him of the LORD.

Samuel — That is, Asked of God.

Verse 21

[21] And the man Elkanah, and all his house, went up to offer unto the LORD the yearly sacrifice, and his vow.

His house — Hannah only and her child excepted.

His vow — By which it appears, though it was not expressed before, that he heard and consented to her vow, and that he added a vow of his own, if God answered his prayers.

Verse 22

[22] But Hannah went not up; for she said unto her husband, I will not go up until the child be weaned, and then I will bring him, that he may appear before the LORD, and there abide for ever.

Weaned — Not only from the breast, but also from the mother's knee and care, and from childish food; 'till the child be something grown up, and fit to do some service in the tabernacle: for it seems that as soon as he was brought up he worshipped God, verse 28, and presently after ministered to Eli, chap. 2:11.

Verse 23

[23] And Elkanah her husband said unto her, Do what seemeth thee good; tarry until thou have weaned him; only the LORD establish his word. So the woman abode, and gave her son suck until she weaned him.

His word — His matter or thing; the business concerning the child, what thou hast vowed concerning him, that be may grow up, and be accepted and employed by God in his Service.

Verse 24

[24] And when she had weaned him, she took him up with her, with three bullocks, and one ephah of flour, and a bottle of wine, and brought him unto the house of the LORD in Shiloh: and the child was young.

Three bullocks — One for a burnt-offering, the second for a sin-offering, and the third for a peace offering; all these sorts being expedient for this work and time.

Flour — For the meal-offerings belonging to the principal sacrifices, which to each bullock were three tenth-deals, or three tenth parts of an ephah, and so nine parts of the ephah were spent, and the tenth part was given to the priest.

Wine — For drink-offerings.

Verse 25

[25] And they slew a bullock, and brought the child to Eli.

A bullock — The three bullocks mentioned verse 24, the singular number being put for the plural, which is frequent.

Verse 26

[26] And she said, Oh my lord, as thy soul liveth, my lord, I am the woman that stood by thee here, praying unto the LORD.

Soul liveth — As surely as thou livest. Which asseveration seems necessary, because this was some years after it.

Verse 28

[28] Therefore also I have lent him to the LORD; as long as he liveth he shall be lent to the LORD. And he worshipped the LORD there.

Lent him — But not with a purpose to require him again. Whatever we give to God, may upon this account be said to be lent to him, that tho' we may not recall it, yet he will certainly repay it, to our unspeakable advantage.

He worshipped — Not Eli, but young Samuel, who is spoken of in this and the foregoing verse, and who was capable of worshipping God in some sort, at least with external adoration.

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