1 Sam 1:1-7 – Elkanah’s family

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1Sam 1:1

  1. Ramathaim-Sophim was located on a hill about 4 miles north of Jerusalem and may be the Arimathea from which Joseph of Arimathea came (Mark 15:43).
  2. The prophet Samuel is born into a very difficult period in Israel’s history, between the time of Judges and the time of Kings, about 3000 years ago.
  3. The Philistines had immigrated from the island of Crete (Amos 9:7) and were militarily superior to Israel because of their modern weapons; swords, shields and spears.
  4. Of course, God himself could have come down to earth and helped Israel, but in most cases God wants to use us humans to save us.
    1. In this particular situation, God intends to use Samuel to save Israel, but Samuel is not yet born and his mother Hannah cannot have children…

1Sam 1:3

  1. The city of Shiloh was the religious centre of Israel for 400 years before Jerusalem. In Shiloh was the tabernacle and the ark.

1Sam 1:2

  1. Elkanah was actually a Levite, but was called an Ephraimite because he lived in Ephraim (1 Chron. 6:16-30).
    1. Even though Elkanah had two wives, the Bible does not advocate polygamy, but on the contrary, God wants there to be one man and one woman in a marriage (Genesis 2:24).
    2. Almost every time someone in the Bible takes more than one wife, it ends in some form of misery (Genesis 21:8-21).
      1. The Bible is not a story about perfect people who never do anything wrong, but on the contrary, the Bible is full of stories about people who very often do things that God does not want them to do.
  2. At first, it’s easy to think that God is being unfair when he gives Peninnah the bully lots of children, while Hannah, who seems to be a pious woman, doesn’t get any children.
    1. But fortunately for all of us, God is good and may well consider blessing even people who are not perfect, even those who behave badly.
    2. If God were to leave us and completely stop blessing us as soon as we are mean to someone, no human being could have any relationship with God at all.
  3. It was the Lord who had made Hannah childless (see more examples of this: Genesis 20:18, Genesis 29:31, Genesis 30:22).
    1. God is not a distant God who only listens to our prayers if we shout loud enough. God is not just the God of kings and pastors. God is involved even in the life of a simple, childless woman.
    2. At first it may seem heartless of God to make Hannah childless, but God always has a purpose in what he does and always looks beyond what we do.
    3. Imagine a hungry child screaming for sandwiches. Your child’s favourite food is in the oven and will soon be ready, and if they just wait, it will soon become their favourite food. If the child eats its fill of sandwiches, it will miss out on the tastiest dinner of the week. If you don’t take the long view, it’s easy to miss what God wants to give.
  4. Many people can probably relate to some extent to Hannah’s situation; being bullied and being childless. But to fully understand Hannah’s plight, we need to understand that the situation for a woman in Israel at that time was not the same as for a woman in Sweden today.
    1. Today, a woman can get an education and a job and have a good and full life even without children. But in Hannah’s time, life was about having children for her husband so that he would have heirs to carry on his name.
    2. For Hannah, being childless was not only a personal grief, but she probably felt the pressure from her husband, family and people around her.
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