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The text for this lesson is 1 Samuel 1:1–2:21.

Key Point

  • God cares and provides for the humble and lowly.
  • Law: The Lord is not pleased with those who provoke others, as Peninnah did to Hannah, or with those who ignore Him and mock His worship, as did Hophni and Phinehas.
  • Gospel: When we are abused by others, we may suffer for a time, but the Lord has not forgotten us. He shall bless us through His Son, Jesus.

Discussion Points

  1. These opening chapters describe the degenerate state of worship during the final generation of the judges and introduce us to Samuel, the last judge, who will help Israel transition to a monarchy. (Samuel eventually anoints the first kings of Israel, Saul and David.) Samuel also becomes a great prophet (1 Samuel 3:19–21) and ministers in a priestly way (1 Samuel 7:7–9). This threefold office of prophet, priest, and judge (kinglike ruler) foreshadows the way Jesus serves His people as Prophet, Priest, and King. As you study the life of Samuel, look for parallels between his life and Jesus’ life, beginning with the blessed and miraculous conception of both and the songs of humility sung by both Hannah and Mary (1 Samuel 2:1–10; Luke 1:46–55).
  2. These first chapters of Samuel present clear contrasts between the arrogant and the lowly. Hannah is juxtaposed with Peninnah, the wife who appears to be more blessed than Hannah because she has children. Rather than treating Hannah kindly, Peninnah provokes Hannah, year after year
    (1 Samuel 1:6–7). Although Elkanah, their husband, treats Hannah kindly, there is no indication that he tries to prevent Peninnah from harassing Hannah.
  3. The blasphemy of the priest’s sons Hophni and Phinehas is also contrasted with the quiet piety of Hannah and her son Samuel. The story clearly indicates that Hophni and Phinehas were unbelievers and robbers (1 Samuel 2:12–17) not only from the people but also from the Lord Himself. They took the fat that was to be cooked as a gift for the Lord. Scripture reiterates the evil of the two sons, who slept with the women who served around the tabernacle (1 Samuel 2:22), and foreshadows their judgment (1 Samuel 2:27–36). By contrast, Samuel is described there as truly “ministering before the Lord” (1 Samuel 2:18) and as growing in the favor of the Lord (1 Samuel 2:21, 26).
  4. When we are faced with difficulty or trouble in this life, or when we think that God is not caring for us, we can remember Hannah’s story and be reminded that God always looks out for us and that His blessing is persistent, even when we have temporary ups and downs. Hannah’s song proclaims the wonderful truth that no one can ultimately rely on his own strength or arrogance, as Hophni and Phinehas tried to do, but that God is the true rock, the true foundation, even when events lead to the rise of some and the fall of others. The Lord protects His “faithful ones” while punishing those who are wicked (1 Samuel 2:9).
  5. Ultimately, this judgment depends on the Christ, “His anointed” (1 Samuel 2:10). This is the first reference in the Bible to the Christ. It is really the Christ who judges, not according to works but according to His grace and mercy. As Christ conquers sin and death on the cross, He gives life to the faithful and turns the unfaithful over to destruction.

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