While in Shiloh at the tabernacle, Hannah cries and prays to the Lord for a male child. She makes a vow to the Lord saying that if He will give her a son, she will dedicate him back to the Lord as a Nazirite. Eli, the high priest, saw her lips moving but heard no sound and assumed she was drunk. Sometimes hurting women are misunderstood, even by the leaders in the church. But Hannah, whose hope is in the Lord, responds graciously and once she explains herself, Eli says, “Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant you your petition which you have asked of Him.” So Hannah “went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad.”
Hannah bears a son and names him Samuel which means “God has heard” in Hebrew. Once Samuel is weaned, she brings him to Eli in the house of the Lord at Shiloh where they give their offerings to the Lord. Hannah says, “For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted my petition which I asked of Him. Therefore I also have lent him to the Lord, as long as he lives he shall be lent to the Lord.” Then Hannah prays a beautiful prayer magnifying the Lord. It is much like the prayer Mary will say when she is pregnant with our Savior (Luke 1:46-55). Hannah’s prayer begins with – “My heart rejoices in the Lord; My horn is exalted in the Lord. I smile at my enemies, because I rejoice in Your salvation.” I imagine Hannah is thinking about that mean church girl, Elkanah’s other wife, Peninnah. When our eyes are fixed on the Lord, we can smile in the face of our enemies, knowing that “the Lord makes poor and makes rich; He brings low and lifts up. He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the beggar from the ash of heap, to set them among princes and make them inherit the throne of glory.”
Eli’s own sons, Hophni and Phinehas, “were corrupt; they did not know the Lord.” Not everyone who is in a position of authority in a church is a true follower of the Lord. Jesus will later tell us to “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves” (Matthew 7:15). This sounds a lot like Eli’s sons because they are saving the best offerings to the Lord for themselves and sleeping with the women who come to worship at the tabernacle. The Lord does not take this lightly. In His own timing and in His own way, He will deal with all the wolves in sheep’s clothing, just like He does with Eli’s sons in today’s reading. The Lord tells Eli regarding his two sons, “in one day they shall die, both of them. Then I will raise up for Myself a faithful priest who shall do according to what is in My heart and in My mind. I will build him a sure house, and he shall walk before My anointed forever.” We will see partial fulfillment of this promise through Samuel, but the final fulfillment will come through the ultimate High Priest Jesus Christ.
“So Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground. And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba knew that Samuel had been established as a prophet of the Lord. Then the Lord appeared again in Shiloh. For the Lord revealed Himself to Samuel in Shiloh by the word of the Lord. And the word of Samuel came to all Israel.”
During a battle against the Philistines, “There was a very great slaughter… the ark of God was captured; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, died.” Tomorrow Eli receives the bad news about his sons and the stolen ark. Then the Philistines become extremely eager to return the ark. Keep reading to find out why. (1 Samuel 1:9-4:11)