First Samuel opens up with Samuel’s mother and how badly she wanted to have a child, which is still a relatable problem. This first part moves through her desire to have him and to his rise as a judge.
I find it interesting that this book begins with the plight of yet another woman who lives a good portion of her adult life without children. Despite that she hasn’t shown evidence of being able to give him children, the husband still favors her. Her name is Hannah.
She eventually has enough of the “scorn” from the other wife, this husband had two, hence the favor of her husband. It doesn’t say why she is his favorite, though. She goes to church and prays so long and so hard that the priest thinks she’s drunk. She promises that if she were to have a son, he would be given over to God in a fashion that reminds me of what Samson was supposed to be. She promises not to cut his hair.
She gets pregnant shortly after and lends him to God. I thought it was strange that she used “lent” instead of “given” when she hands him over to the priest. He is brought to “the house of the Lord at Shiloh” just after being weaned. If you recall, this doesn’t happen quite as young as it does today. We’re easily talking about a toddler.
When she hands Samuel over, Hannah’s prayer is recorded. This is significant in it’s own right because this is the first prayer of this magnitude by a woman recorded in the Bible. It had to be repeated enough to eventually be recorded by whoever wrote this book. It had to be repeated enough and tied to this story enough to be recorded with this book. It’s also a beautiful prayer.
The rest of the chapter shifts the focus off of Hannah and Samuel, though Samuel is still present and it does mention that Hannah brought him clothes every year. The focus ends up on the family of the priest who had worked at “the house of the Lord at Shiloh” and foreshadows their downfall.
There is a cursory mention of the women who serve at the entrance to the tent of meeting, but still no mention of what they do there. It’s mentioned that the sons of the priest “lay with” them, but not what they are actually there to do.
There’s also another verse that suggests free will may not be as certain as we make it out to be, check out 2:25: But they would not listen to the voice of their father, for it was the will of the Lord to put them to death.
Is this simply something the author of the book infers? Or was God encroaching on free will?
I love the story of Samuel being called by God. He didn’t recognize God’s voice at first. It was cute. It’s also the first mention I’ve seen that Shiloh is where the ark of the covenant had been.
When God talks about Eli not getting a handle on his sons, it makes it little less like God was infringing upon free will. It sounds like the author infering. To me, it seems like Eli chastised but couldn’t get his sons to stop being absolutely terrible, as is fully explained in chapter two.
God also mentions that Eli’s whole house will never be “atoned for by sacrifice or offering forever.” It brings in an interesting debate. How does the events of the New Testament effect this house down the road? Is there another atonement that they can be given at that point or is repentance something completely different?
Samuel is recognized as a prophet after this.
This chapter starts with war with Philistines and the Philistines getting worried when the Hebrews bring out the ark. However, God didn’t help them in this battle and the Philistines won. The sons of Eli died, as God had told Samuel He would. The ark is captured in the battle.
Then Eli dies. Then his pregnant daughter-in-law immediately goes into labor. It seems she was preoccupied in her labor with that “the glory has departed from Israel because the ark of God has been captured” which she says at least twice, though “women attending her” were trying to get her to pay attention to that she just had a son.
Surely she’s aware of the prophecy that had been given to Samuel and is worried about what’s to come to all their family.
This chapter is entirely about the ark of the covenant creating a mess of problems and death for everyone in the cities that hold it. It’s kinda funny that when they left the ark in a temple of their gods, they kept finding the statue of their god in a position that denotes it was bowing down to the God of Israel.
Also, the effects listed here make total sense of why Ancient Aliens theorists think it was radioactive somehow.
Here, the people from the other cities decide how to handle giving the ark back. I love the inclusion of a “guilt offering” and that they just leave it in a way to find it’s own way home so they know for sure it isn’t a coincidence to have all the troubles from chapter five at the same time as having the ark. I also can’t get over that they follow it to see where it goes.
Of course, it goes home to a part of Israel and they send for someone to come get it since even the Israelites in that area are dying when they mess with it, 70 at a time.
Here we come back to Samuel, who is judging and he gives them guidance to get back in good graces with God.
After they did what Samuel told them, God helped the beat back the Philistines.