1 Samuel 1-3
Elkanah and His Wives
1 There was a certain man of Ramathaim-zophim, of the [a]hill country of Ephraim, named Elkanah the son of Jeroham, the son of Elihu, the son of Tohu, the son of Zuph, an [b]Ephraimite. 2 He had two wives, one named Hannah and the other named Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah had none.
3 This man went up from his city [c]each year to worship and sacrifice to the Lord of hosts at Shiloh. Hophni and Phinehas, the two sons of Eli, were priests to the Lord there. 4 When the day came that Elkanah sacrificed, he would give portions [of the sacrificial meat] to Peninnah his wife and all her sons and daughters. 5 But to Hannah he would give a double portion, because he loved Hannah, but the Lord had [d]given her no children. 6 Hannah’s rival provoked her bitterly, to irritate and embarrass her, because the Lord had [e]left her childless. 7 So it happened year after year, whenever she went up to the house of the Lord, Peninnah provoked her; so she wept and would not eat. 8 Then Elkanah her husband said to her, “Hannah, why do you cry and why do you not eat? Why are you so sad and discontent? Am I not better to you than ten sons?”
9 So Hannah got up after eating and drinking in Shiloh. Now Eli the priest was sitting on his seat beside the doorpost of the temple (tabernacle) of the Lord. 10 Hannah was [f]greatly distressed, and she prayed to the Lord and wept in anguish. 11 She made a vow, saying, “O Lord of hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction (suffering) of Your maidservant and remember, and not forget Your maidservant, but will give Your maidservant a son, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life; a [g]razor shall never touch his head.”
12 Now it happened as she continued praying before the Lord, that Eli was watching her mouth. 13 Hannah was speaking in her heart (mind); only her lips were moving, and her voice was not heard, so Eli [h]thought she was drunk. 14 Eli said to her, “How long will you make yourself drunk? Get rid of your wine.” 15 But Hannah answered, “No, my lord, I am a woman with a despairing spirit. I have not been drinking wine or any intoxicating drink, but I have poured out my soul before the Lord.(A) 16 Do not regard your maidservant as a wicked and worthless woman, for I have spoken until now out of my great concern and [bitter] provocation.” 17 Then Eli answered and said, “Go in peace; and may the God of Israel grant your petition that you have asked of Him.” 18 Hannah said, “Let your maidservant find grace and favor in your sight.” So the woman went on her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad.
Samuel Is Born to Hannah
19 The family got up early the next morning, worshiped before the Lord, and returned to their home in Ramah. Elkanah knew Hannah his wife, and the Lord remembered her [prayer]. 20 It came about in due time, after Hannah had conceived, that she gave birth to a son; she named him [i]Samuel, saying, “Because I have asked for him from the Lord.”
21 Then the man Elkanah and all his household went up to offer to the Lord the [j]yearly sacrifice and pay his vow. 22 But Hannah did not go up, for she said to her husband, “I will not go up until the child is [k]weaned; and then I will bring him, so that he may appear before the Lord and remain there as long as he lives.” 23 Elkanah her husband said to her, “Do what seems best to you. Wait until you have weaned him; only may the Lord establish and confirm His word.” So the woman remained [behind] and nursed her son until she weaned him. 24 Now when she had weaned him, she took him up with her, along with a three-year-old bull, an ephah of flour, and a [l]leather bottle of wine [to pour over the burnt offering for a sweet fragrance], and she brought Samuel to the Lord’s house in Shiloh, although the child was young. 25 Then they slaughtered the bull, and brought the child to Eli. 26 Hannah said, “Oh, my lord! As [surely as] your soul lives, my lord, I am the woman who stood beside you here, praying to the Lord. 27 For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my request which I asked of Him. 28 Therefore I have also dedicated him to the Lord; as long as he lives he is dedicated to the Lord.” And they worshiped the Lord there.
Hannah’s Song of Thanksgiving
2 Hannah prayed and said,
“My heart rejoices and triumphs in the Lord;
My horn (strength) is lifted up in the Lord,
My mouth has opened wide [to speak boldly] against my enemies,
Because I rejoice in Your salvation.
“There is no one holy like the Lord,
There is no one besides You,
There is no Rock like our God.
“Do not go on boasting so very proudly,
Do not let arrogance come out of your mouth;
For the Lord is a God of knowledge,
And by Him actions are weighed (examined).
“The bows of the mighty are [m]broken,
But those who have stumbled equip themselves with strength.
“Those who were full hire themselves out for bread,
But those who were hungry cease [to hunger].
Even the barren [woman] gives birth to seven,
But she who has many children withers away.
“The Lord puts to death and makes alive;
He brings down to Sheol (the grave) and raises up [from the grave].
“The Lord makes poor and makes rich;
He brings low and He lifts up.
“He raises up the poor from the dust,
He lifts up the needy from the ash heap
To make them sit with nobles,
And inherit a seat of honor and glory;
For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s,
And He set the land on them.
“He guards the feet of His godly (faithful) ones,
But the wicked ones are silenced and perish in darkness;
For a man shall not prevail by might.
“The adversaries of the Lord will be broken to pieces;
He will thunder against them in the heavens,
The Lord will judge the ends of the earth;
And He will give strength to His [n]king,
And will exalt the horn (strength) of His anointed.”(B)
11 Elkanah [and his wife Hannah] returned to Ramah to his house. But the child [Samuel] served the Lord [o]under the guidance of Eli the priest.
The Sin of Eli’s Sons
12 The sons of Eli [Hophni and Phinehas] were [p]worthless (dishonorable, unprincipled) men; they did not know [nor respect] the Lord 13 and the custom of the priests with [the sacrifices of] the people. When any man was offering a sacrifice, the priest’s servant would come while the meat was boiling, with a three-pronged [meat] fork in his hand; 14 then he would thrust it into the pan, or kettle, or caldron, or pot; everything that the fork brought up the priest would take for himself. This is what they did in Shiloh to all [the sacrifices of] the [q]Israelites who came there. 15 Also, before they burned (offered) the fat, the priest’s servant would come and say to the man who was sacrificing, “Give the priest meat to roast, since he will not accept boiled meat from you, only raw.” 16 If the man said to him, “[r]Certainly they are to burn (offer) the fat first, and then you may take as much as [s]you want,” then the priest’s servant would say, “No! You shall give it to me now or I will take it by force.” 17 So the sin of the [two] young men [Hophni and Phinehas] was very great before the Lord, for the men treated the offering of the Lord disrespectfully.
Samuel before the Lord as a Boy
18 Now Samuel was ministering before the Lord, as a child dressed in a linen ephod [a sacred item of priestly clothing]. 19 Moreover, his mother would make him a little robe and would bring it up to him each year when she came up with her husband to offer the yearly sacrifice. 20 Then Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife and say, “May the Lord give you children by this woman in place of the one she asked for which was dedicated to the Lord.” Then they would return to their own home.
21 And [the time came when] the Lord visited Hannah, so that she conceived and gave birth to three sons and two daughters. And the boy Samuel grew before the Lord.
Eli Rebukes His Sons
22 Now Eli was very old; and he heard about everything that his sons were doing to all [the people of] Israel, and how they were lying with the women who served at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting (tabernacle). 23 Eli said to them, “Why do you do such things, the evil things that I hear from all these people? 24 No, my sons; for the report that I keep hearing from the passers-by among the Lord’s people is not good. 25 If one man does wrong and sins against another, God will intercede (arbitrate) for him; but if a man does wrong to the Lord, who can intercede for him?” But they would not listen to their father, [t]for it was the Lord’s will to put them to death.
26 But the boy Samuel continued to grow in stature and in favor both with the Lord and with men.
27 Then a man of God (prophet) came to Eli and said to him, “Thus says the Lord: ‘Did I not plainly reveal Myself to the house of your father (ancestor) when they were in Egypt in bondage to Pharaoh’s house? 28 Moreover, [u]I selected him out of all the tribes of Israel to be My priest, to go up to My altar, to burn incense, to wear an ephod before Me. And [from then on] I gave to the house of your father all the fire offerings of the sons of Israel. 29 Why then do you kick at (despise) My sacrifice and My offering which I commanded in My dwelling place, and honor your sons more than Me, by fattening yourselves with the choicest part of every offering of My people Israel?’ 30 Therefore the Lord God of Israel declares, ‘I did indeed say that your house and that of [Aaron] your father would walk [in priestly service] before Me forever.’ But now the Lord declares, ‘Far be it from Me—for those who honor Me I will honor, and those who despise Me will be insignificant and contemptible. 31 Behold, the time is coming when I will cut off your strength and the strength of your father’s house, so that there will not be an old man in your house. 32 You will look at the distress of My [v]house (the tabernacle), in spite of all the good which God will do for Israel, and there will never again be an old man in your house. 33 Yet I will not cut off every man of yours from My altar; your eyes will fail from weeping and your soul will grieve, and all those born in your house will die as men [in the prime of life].(C) 34 This will be the sign to you which shall come concerning your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas: on the same day both of them shall die.(D) 35 But I will raise up for Myself a [w]faithful priest who will do according to what is in My heart and in My soul; and I will build him a permanent and enduring house, and he will walk before My anointed [x]forever.(E) 36 And it will happen that everyone who is left in your house will come and bow down to him for a piece of silver and a loaf of bread and say, “Please assign me to one of the priest’s offices so I may eat a piece of bread.”’”
The Prophetic Call to Samuel
3 Now the boy Samuel was attending to the service of the Lord [y]under the supervision of Eli. The word of the Lord was rare and precious in those days; visions [that is, new revelations of divine truth] were not widespread.
2 Yet it happened at that time, as Eli was lying down in his own place (now his eyesight had begun to grow dim and he could not see well). 3 and the [oil] lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the Lord, where the ark of God was, 4 that the Lord called Samuel, and he answered, “Here I am.” 5 He ran to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But Eli said, “I did not call you; lie down again.” So he went and lay down. 6 Then the Lord called yet again, “Samuel!” So Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But Eli answered, “I did not call, my son; lie down again.” 7 Now Samuel did not yet know [or personally experience] the Lord, and the word of the Lord was not yet revealed [directly] to him. 8 So the Lord called Samuel a third time. And he stood and went to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you did call me.” Then Eli understood that it was the Lord [who was] calling the boy. 9 So Eli said to Samuel, “Go, lie down, and it shall be that if He calls you, you shall say, ‘Speak, Lord, for Your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.
10 Then the Lord came and stood and called as at the previous times, “Samuel! Samuel!” Then Samuel answered, “Speak, for Your servant is listening.” 11 The Lord said to Samuel, “Behold, I am about to do a thing in Israel at which both ears of everyone who hears it will ring. 12 On that day I will carry out against Eli everything that I have spoken concerning his house (family), from beginning to end. 13 Now I have told him that I am about to judge his house forever for the sinful behavior which he knew [was happening], because his sons were bringing a curse on themselves [dishonoring and blaspheming God] and he did not rebuke them. 14 Therefore I have sworn to the house of Eli that the sinful behavior of Eli’s house (family) shall not be atoned for by sacrifice or offering forever.”
15 So Samuel lay down until morning. Then he opened the doors of the Lord’s house. But Samuel was afraid to tell the vision to Eli. 16 But Eli called Samuel and said, “Samuel, my son.” And he answered, “Here I am.” 17 Then Eli said, “What is it that He said to you? Please do not hide it from me. May God do the same to you, and more also, if you hide from me anything of all that He said to you.” 18 So Samuel told him everything, hiding nothing from him. And Eli said, “It is the Lord; may He do what seems good [z]to Him.”
19 Now Samuel grew; and the Lord was with him and He let none of his words [aa]fail [to be fulfilled].(F) 20 And all Israel from Dan [in the north] to Beersheba [in the south] knew that Samuel was appointed as a prophet of the Lord. 21 And the Lord continued to appear in Shiloh, for the Lord revealed Himself to Samuel in Shiloh by the word of the Lord.
- 1 Samuel 1:1 Lit mountains of.
- 1 Samuel 1:1 It is sometimes claimed that Samuel was from the tribe of Ephraim (rather than the tribe of Levi) and so was not eligible to serve as a priest. He was an Ephraimite only in the sense that his family lived in the tribal area of Ephraim. His genealogy is given in 1 Chr 6:22-28. At least two other men in the passage are named Elkanah. Samuel’s father, Elkanah, is the man mentioned in 1 Chr 6:27. The men mentioned in 1 Chr 6:23, 24, and 26 are several generations removed from Samuel.
- 1 Samuel 1:3 Lit from days to days.
- 1 Samuel 1:5 Lit closed her womb.
- 1 Samuel 1:6 Lit closed her womb.
- 1 Samuel 1:10 Lit bitter of soul.
- 1 Samuel 1:11 Lit shearing knife. This was a requirement of a Nazirite vow which would apply to Samuel all of his life (see Num 6:2 ff).
- 1 Samuel 1:13 This implies that the custom at that time was to pray aloud; the outcome (vv 19, 20) shows that God hears prayer, whether it is spoken or silent.
- 1 Samuel 1:20 The name possibly means “The Name [i.e. Yahweh, Lord] is God” or “His name is God,” but the etymology is uncertain.
- 1 Samuel 1:21 Lit sacrifice of days.
- 1 Samuel 1:22 At this time children were nursed until about age three. But it may be fair to say that Hannah also wanted to keep the boy as long as she reasonably could; giving up her only child—even for the best of purposes—must have been terribly difficult.
- 1 Samuel 1:24 These containers were made from almost the entire skin of an animal and were used for holding wine.
- 1 Samuel 2:4 Or filled with terror.
- 1 Samuel 2:10 This would first apply to Saul, whom Samuel would anoint as king of Israel (10:1), and then to David (16:13) and other earthly kings. Ultimately it can be applied to Christ, who will rule over Israel and the world.
- 1 Samuel 2:11 Lit in the presence of.
- 1 Samuel 2:12 Lit sons of Belial.
- 1 Samuel 2:14 In general, sons of Israel or Israel or Israelites refers to all the people (males and females) of the various tribes descended from the twelve sons (Gen 35:23-26) of Jacob (later renamed Israel by God). In verses concerning things such as warfare or circumcision sons of Israel or Israel or Israelites usually refers only to the males. Tribes of ancient people were identified by the name of their founding ancestor. Therefore, this same general rule applies when referring to individual tribal groups, e.g. sons of Reuben, Reuben, Reubenites and so throughout.
- 1 Samuel 2:16 The Law of Moses required all the fat to be burned on the altar as an offering to God (Lev 3:16), so the worshiper would be reluctant to agree to the priest’s demand.
- 1 Samuel 2:16 Lit your soul wants.
- 1 Samuel 2:25 Sometimes, when a person has deliberately and repeatedly violated God’s law, God may allow him to be even more determined to continue his sinful ways.
- 1 Samuel 2:28 From the tribe of Levi God designated Aaron and his descendants to serve as priests.
- 1 Samuel 2:32 Lit dwelling.
- 1 Samuel 2:35 This person is not identified by name, but most scholars consider this prophecy fulfilled by Zadok, a priest during the reign of King David, who became high priest under Solomon. His descendants continued in service to God for many generations.
- 1 Samuel 2:35 Lit all the days.
- 1 Samuel 3:1 Lit before.
- 1 Samuel 3:18 Lit in His eyes.
- 1 Samuel 3:19 Lit fall to the ground.