What does it say?

1 and 2Sam are one in the Hebrew Bible and cover approximately 150 years from Samuel, the last of the judges, until the final years of King David. Here (1Sam 1), yet another barren woman, like Sarah and Rebekah, miraculously gives birth to a biblical hero. Though the last, Samuel is the greatest of Israel’s judges.

To celebrate God’s answer to her prayer, Samuel’s mother Hannah composes a beautiful and prophetic song in the vein of other great scripture songs we have already seen (1Sam 2). Eli was the high priest, and his sons were worthless non-believers using the priesthood for personal benefit. Hannah gives Samuel to God’s service and delivers him to Eli to mentor, while an unnamed man of God predicts Eli’s birth sons will die in a single day.

As Samuel matures, Eli grows old and blind. God speaks to Samuel and tells him that Eli will be judged for his failure to control his sons (1Sam 3). Though fearful, Samuel tells Eli everything. Samuel continues to grow and mature and becomes established as a prophet in Israel, ministering from the base in Shiloh.

What does it mean?

No matter how devoted Eli may have been, his ministry was severely limited by his failure to control his sons. Devotion to family and God’s mission should not conflict as long as our love and commitment to God are the first priority.

The faith of faithful women continues to appear with some regularity in God’s story. Hannah’s prayer, faith, sensitivity and creativity are templates for all believers. Beyond that, her generosity abounds as she gives her most precious possession, Samuel, right back to God. Missional believers are generous people in the image of the generous God who gave his only begotten Son for us.

Notice Samuel’s balanced growth physically, spiritually and socially (2:26). Also pay attention to Samuel’s commitment to God’s words (3:19-21).

How will I respond?

On a scale of 1-5, 5 being the best, how would I rate my personal growth and development this past year physically, spiritually and relationally? What specific action steps can I take to grow in my area of greatest need? What aspects of Hannah and Samuel’s character can I learn from and apply to my life?