1 Samuel 1-3
As we close out the period of the judges in Israelite history, we are introduced to Israel’s last judge, Samuel. These first three chapters highlight the birth narrative of Samuel along with his call to serve the Lord. The common theme that runs through these opening chapters is the effect of displaying a life faithful to God. In Hannah’s barrenness, she turns to the Lord in desperation. Here, she displays the utmost faith by being willing to give up the very thing she is asking for: a child. Hannah's prayer in the beginning of chapter 2 is a beautiful expression of both gratitude and humility, and is often compared with Mary’s Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55).
The birth and growth of Samuel is strategically juxtaposed with the decline of Eli’s house. While one household devotes its life in service to the Lord, the other descends to its demise with its continued unfaithfulness. Notice here that the pronouncement of judgment is not just towards Eli’s sons, but to Eli as well. Hophni and Phinehas’ priestly blasphemy is just as heinous as Eli’s failure in disciplining his sons. While Eli is tasked with fostering Samuel, we see Samuel’s strong faith in spite of Eli’s track record. God works His grace supernaturally within Samuel to equip him for his future ministry as both judge and prophet. These testimonies of (un)faith will foreshadow the trajectories of Israel's soon-to-be-kings, Saul and David.
Reflect and Connect
What are the areas in our life that are difficult to give to God in faith? Close out your time by re-reading aloud both Hannah’s prayer (2:1-10) and Mary’s Magnificat as your own prayers. Allow these words to tend to you and be the desires of your own heart.
46 And Mary said,
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
49 for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
50 And his mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
51 He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
52 he has brought down the mighty from their thrones
and exalted those of humble estate;
53 he has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
55 as he spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”
- Rev. Nameun Cho
This blog is part of the ministry of City Reformed Presbyterian Church. Unless otherwise noted, the entries are written by Matt Koerber. This is part of a project that our church is doing as we read through the narrative sections of Scripture between early January and Easter 2020. New entries will be scheduled to drop automatically at 5:00 am on the scheduled day.