KEY VERSE FOR MEMORIZATION
“And the child Samuel grew on, and was in favour both with the Lord, and also with men.” (1 Samuel 2:26)
In the history of Israel, the period of the Judges preceded the birth of Samuel. The Book of Judges tells of thirteen individuals who were appointed to rule and judge Israel. Some of these individuals were good, others were rebellious. This period lasted at least 300 years, and perhaps as long as 400, during which time Israel drifted far from the Lord.
Samuel was born, around 1100 B.C. of Levitical parents (1 Chronicles 6:33-38). Ramah, his birthplace, judicial residence, and place of burial, was about six miles north of Jerusalem (1 Samuel 1:19; 7:17; 25:1).
Hannah was the wife of Elkanah, and though he loved her, she was not able to bear children. This deprived her of more than the joy of being a mother. It also robbed her of her dignity and self-worth, for women were expected to bear children for their husbands. In Old Testament times, a married woman with no children was ashamed before her husband. She was thought to be under a curse from God. Peninnah, Elkanah’s other wife who had children, further provoked Hannah. Although Elkanah loved Hannah, and had done all he could to comfort her, he could not seem to understand the depth of her anguish.
Considering the spiritual destitution of the priesthood, and the widespread disobedience of Israel at that time, it is remarkable that Hannah determined to take her burden to the Lord and had confidence that God would answer. It is also noteworthy that Samuel had such openness and sincerity towards God, considering the poor examples of priesthood he was subject to. Certainly Hannah’s influence on him is evident, resulting in a man who was to become one of the purest characters in Israel’s history.
While Samuel was a judge of Israel, he was more than that. He was also a prophet and a priest. He was the “connecting link” between the time of the judges, or tribal period, and the Kingdom, when kings ruled Israel. Samuel would later appoint Israel’s first king, Saul.
Israel learned what disaster apathy and carelessness can bring, as well as the blessing brought by obedience and reverence to God. We, too, can learn many valuable lessons through these chapters. Godly reverence, prayer, and obedience will make our spiritual lives shine.