Samuel was a bridge between the judges and the kings. These opening chapters tell about his birth, the judgment of Eli’s wicked sons, the capture of the ark by the Philistines and its return, and Samuel’s ministry as a judge. But the book begins with Samuel’s birth; well, actually, with Hannah’s predicament and plea to God, and God’s faithfulness. What a beautiful story.
Hannah could have no children, and Elkanah’s other wife, Peninnah, “provoked her grievously to irritate her” (1:6). How many of us have been in Hannah’s place in one way or the other? You know, at the mercy of the school bully. Dismissed because of a speaking accent (I sure don’t talk like “the man on the six o’clock news!” – Don Williams, “Good Old Boys Like Me”). At some fancy function, our attire does not quite match up with that of others. Family pedigree is suspect. Chosen last for the team or not chosen at all! Made fun of or dismissed for whatever reasons. I know you know what I’m talking about.
What did Hannah do? She cried out to God: “She was deeply distressed and prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly” (1:10). The Lord heard and answered, and when Samuel was born, Hannah testified, “I have asked for him from the Lord” (1:20). She even named him “Samuel,” which translated is “the Lord hears.” You know the old hymn:
What a friend we have in Jesus
All our sins and griefs to bear
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer.
With Hannah, let us find ourselves often in conversation with our God knowing, with David, “The Lord works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed” (Psalm 103:6).