Remembered by the LORD

“They rose up in the morning early, and worshiped before the LORD, and returned, and came to their house to Ramah: and Elkanah knew Hannah his wife and the LORD remembered her.” —I Samuel 1:19

AMONG THE PEOPLE who went up to worship and sacrifice every year at Shiloh, where the Tabernacle was located in the days of Eli, there was a family from Ramah. This family consisted of Elkanah, his two wives, Hannah and Peninnah, and the children of the latter.

Only the males were bound to go up to the great feasts. After speaking of the three great feasts, we read in Exodus 23:17: “Three times in the year all thy males shall appear before the Lord God.” But Elkanah took his whole family. This was not so difficult in his case as in some others, for his home was only about fifteen miles distant from Shiloh. Perhaps there were others who lived just as close to Shiloh as Elkanah, but who did not trouble to take their whole families to the house of the Lord. It requires something more than nearness to draw some together for worship, praise, and service. It requires a yearning to please God, and a longing desire to worship and praise him in the company of his people, as he has instructed us to do.

As consecrated children of God, our present position is represented by the Holy compartment of the Tabernacle. Truly has it been said that there were no easy chairs in that compartment. The Bible says that we are not to be slothful in the Lord’s business, but fervent in spirit, serving the Lord. (Rom. 12:11) Thus will we be following in the steps of him of whom it was written, “The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up.”—Ps. 69:9

All the family went up together but—as is always unfortunate, and sometimes a tragedy—we are given to understand that this was not a united family. And the cause was that there were some jealousies on the part of the wives. Plural marriages, now forbidden, were not uncommon in those days. Elkanah and Hannah were of one mind in their worship of God; of one mind in their affection for each other. We know nothing of Peninnah and her children, except as revealed by Peninnah’s conduct, to which we shall refer presently.

One of that family went up to Shiloh with a heavy heart. She had a great and constant trouble. She had a longing desire which was unsatisfied. Hannah, the first and beloved wife of Elkanah, had no child. It has been suggested that this was the reason Elkanah took Peninnah as his second wife. Although Peninnah bore him children, Hannah continued to be his best beloved.

This was manifested at the time of making the offerings to God. Elkanah gave portions to Peninnah and her children, yet he gave a double portion to Hannah. “When the time was that Elkanah offered, he gave to Peninnah his wife, and to all her sons and her daughters, portions. But unto Hannah he gave a worthy portion (or, as the Margin renders it, ‘a double portion’), for he loved Hannah.”—I Sam. 1:4,5

Apparently this aroused the anger and jealousy of Peninnah. She taunted Hannah with her barrenness. Verses 6 and 7 read: “Her adversary [as the Bible refers to Peninnah] also provoked her sore, for to make her fret, because the Lord had shut up her womb. And as he did so year by year, when she went up to the house of the Lord, so she provoked her.” By designating Peninnah as Hannah’s “adversary,” the deep unhappiness of that divided family is indicated. The jealous and cruel taunts of Peninnah show very plainly her unrighteous character and disposition.

Yes, instead of Peninnah sympathizing and consoling Hannah, she provoked Hannah cruelly and repeatedly. Her taunts came upon a sore and sorrowful heart. These provocations must have been hard to bear, but we read of no angry retort by Hannah. The name Hannah in Hebrew means “grace.” All that is said of her is, “She wept, and did not eat.” That was the effect upon Hannah. If Hannah had shown a different spirit she might have missed a double blessing. She might have missed the loving comfort of her husband. She might have missed the precious gift of God, which gave to Hannah the desire of her heart.

How filled with lessons is the record of Hannah’s behavior! Although reviled, she reviled not again. Those who seek to right themselves when injured; those who spend consecrated time in an endeavor to justify themselves; those who revile when reviled—these are not eligible for the blessings which God bestows upon the ‘meek’.

Her husband, Elkanah, spoke words of comfort to Hannah. He could not turn the heart of Peninnah to her. He could not give Hannah the blessing for which she longed. But he could, and did, show his love for her. “Then said Elkanah her husband to her, Hannah, why weepest thou? and why eatest thou not? and why is thy heart grieved? am not I better to thee than ten sons?” (vs. 8) Perhaps in our longing desire for blessings which are not ours, we are apt to overlook those we do have. As we read in Psalm 103:2: “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.” In our lowest state we can always find something for which to thank God. Though something has been denied, in all our cases, much—very much—has been given.

Concerning Hannah we read in verse 10: “She was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the Lord, and wept sore.” Some may have been near Hannah, but she was alone in spirit. There, in her earnest desire, she vowed a vow to the Lord. Before reading the vow Hannah made, let us read Numbers 8:23-25: “The Lord spake unto Moses, saying, This is it that belongeth unto the Levites: from twenty and five years old and upward they shall go in to wait upon the service of the Tabernacle of the congregation: and from the age of fifty years they shall cease waiting upon the service thereof, and shall serve no more.”

From this we see that all the Levites were bound to serve the Lord in the service of the Tabernacle from the age of twenty-five to fifty. But Hannah vowed that her child should be the Lord’s all the days of his life. “She vowed a vow, and said, O Lord of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the Lord all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come upon his head.”—vs. 11

Hannah prayed silently, but her lips moved as she framed the words. Apparently she was long in prayer, pleading earnestly, again and again. This drew the attention of Eli, the priest. He saw her lips move, but heard no voice. As this went on for some time, Eli thought Hannah was intoxicated, and he rebuked her sharply. We read: “It came to pass, as she continued praying before the Lord, that Eli marked her mouth. Now Hannah, she spake in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard: therefore Eli thought she had been drunken. And Eli said unto her, How long wilt thou be drunken? put away thy wine from thee.”—I Sam. 1:12-14

Some possibly would have keenly resented such a charge. There are some who cannot bear to be reproved, even for a fault, much less when they are guiltless. But not so with Hannah. She doubtless was pained by such an accusation, but she felt no anger. In meekness and humility she replied. It is a reply which can bring tears to the eyes as we become immersed in this narrative. “Hannah answered and said, No, my lord, I am a woman of a sorrowful spirit: I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but have poured out my soul before the Lord. Count not thine handmaid for a daughter of Belial: for out of the abundance of my meditation and grief have I spoken hitherto.”—vss. 15,16, Margin

Realizing his mistake, Eli answered her very kindly, using the words of verse 17: “Go in peace: and the God of Israel grant thee thy petition that thou hast asked of him.” Did Eli know what that petition was? The record does not tell us. It may be that Eli blessed Hannah in a general way. On the other hand, we think it not only possible, but highly probable, that Hannah added words explaining her desire, not given in the narrative.

Eli was a priest of God. He spoke as the mouthpiece of God. Hannah seems to have accepted his blessing as an assurance from God, for we read in verse 18: “Let thine handmaid find grace in thy sight. So the woman went her way, and did eat, and her countenance was no more sad.” She went away filled with a new and joyful hope; no longer refusing to eat; no longer wearing a sad look.

As we read in verse 11, part of Hannah’s petition to God was: “Remember me, and not forget thine handmaid.” And now we come to our text, verse 19, the closing words of which are: “The Lord remembered her.” Perhaps this is the most precious lesson arising out of this narrative. To think that the great God of heaven, Jehovah, should remember Hannah, one of the lesser lights of Scripture! Ah yes, as we read in II Chronicles 16:9: “The eyes of Jehovah run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him.” Leeser puts it, whose heart is “entire” toward him.

That precious phrase, “The Lord remembered her,” is one of those many evidences we have of the glorious truth of Isaiah 57:15: “Thus saith the high and lofty one that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.”

Was not this Hannah’s experience? Were not her spirit and heart revived? God will continue to dwell with those whose hearts are entire toward him; those who have made a vow, a covenant with him by sacrifice; those who are endeavoring to walk in the steps of the Master, following the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. Did not Jesus say of these, “In heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven”?—Matt. 18:10

The “Daily Heavenly Manna” comment for September 18 is appropriate here: “The Lord is ever present with his people. He is always thinking of us, looking out for our interests, guarding us in danger, providing for us in temporal and spiritual things, reading our hearts, marking every impulse of loving devotion to him, shaping the influences around us for our discipline and refining, and hearkening to our faintest call for aid or sympathy or fellowship with him. He is never for a moment off guard, whether we call him in the busy noon hours or in the silent watches of the night. How blessed the realization of such abiding faithfulness!”

In this connection we wish to remind you of another scripture: “Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me.” (Isa. 49:15,16) Can a woman’s tender care cease towards the child she bare? Yes, she may forgetful be, yet will I remember thee. The evidence that the Lord did remember Hannah was that in due time she gave birth to a son.

Hannah was not like some who forget to give thanks when the blessing comes. How pathetic are those two questions asked by our Lord Jesus concerning the one leper only who returned with thanks. “Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine?” (Luke 17:17) Hannah asked God for a son. When the request was granted, she expressed her thankfulness in giving him the name Samuel, meaning “heard of God.” How we need to continually remind ourselves of those words in I Thessalonians 5:18: “In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”

God can: do much, very much, with a thankful heart. He can do nothing, or very little, with an unthankful. heart. In II Timothy 3:2, we are told that people would become “unthankful, unholy.” Yes, one follows the other as surely as night follows day. Contrariwise, if we are thankful, then we will be kept holy, our hearts entirely for the Lord.

But Hannah had done something more than ask for a son. In addition, she had, by a solemn vow, dedicated him to the Lord. It would perhaps be relatively easy to do this while she was childless. When the child was born, and that fond tie had been formed which only a mother’s heart can fully know, would she then part with him? Would she regret the vow she had made? Would she be tempted to draw back from it? No, the vow had been made; the vow would be kept without any reservations or adjustments. It was no rash vow that Hannah had made. Although she was of a sorrowful spirit and troubled in mind, yet her vow was a solemn declaration.

We are reminded here of Psalm 66:13,14, which seems to fit so accurately Hannah’s experience: “I will go into thy house with burnt offerings: I will pay thee my vows, which my lips have uttered, and my mouth hath spoken, when I was in trouble.” The child had been dedicated to God, and hard as the parting might be, the vow would be kept.

What shall we say to these things written for our learning concerning this seemingly insignificant woman? What lesson is conveyed to us by Hannah, who kept her vow faithfully? The Bible says, “When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou hast vowed. Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay.”—Eccles. 5:4,5

We read in Hebrews 10:38: “If any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.” Jesus expressed it thus: “No man, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:62) Whatever else he is fit for, he is not fit for the kingdom promised to those who overcome as Jesus overcame. Our “Morning Resolve,” based on Psalm 116:12-14, reads: “What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits toward me? I will take the cup of salvation and call upon the name of the Lord (for grace to help). I will pay my vows unto the Most High.”

Samuel, from his birth, was devoted to God. However, an infant can do no acceptable or intelligent service. Hannah therefore kept her son until she had weaned him. Up to that time Hannah did not go up to the house of the Lord. Elkanah went and all his house, but not Hannah. (I Sam. 1:22) Here again we find Elkanah and Hannah of one mind. Her vow was also his vow. To what Hannah purposed to do, he gave his full consent. Elkanah said to her, “Do what seemeth thee good; tarry until thou have weaned him; only the Lord establish his word.”—vs. 23

And so the time for parting came. One of the great yearly feasts came around, and Hannah went up with Elkanah and took the child with her. The record states, “She took him up with her, three bullocks, and one ephah of flour, and a bottle of wine, and brought him unto the house of the Lord in Shiloh.” (vs. 24) There was no stint in that offering. Because they were giving up their only child, they might have excused themselves from any other offering. On the contrary, they made the presentation of their only child to God the occasion for a thank offering. They slew a bullock and brought the child to Eli. (vs. 25) May we have more and more of this ungrudging spirit in the offering of ourselves and all that we have and are to God!

Truly does the Bible say (II Cor. 9:7) “God loveth a cheerful giver.” We are reminded here of those words of the hymn concerning our Lord Jesus, in whose steps we are privileged to follow:

“I’ve found a friend; oh! Such a friend!
     He gave his life to save me;
And not alone the gift of life,
     But his own self he gave me.”

Some time had passed since Hannah was there. Eli did not seem to recognize her. So Hannah introduced herself thus: “Oh my lord, as thy soul liveth, my lord, I am the woman that stood by thee here, praying unto the Lord.” (vs. 26) Perhaps when Hannah thus spoke, Eli remembered; he no doubt remembered her prayer; he probably also remembered his mistake; and he then remembered his words of blessing to her.

Hannah continued: “For this child I prayed; and the Lord hath given me my petition which I asked of him. Therefore also I have lent him to the Lord; as long as he liveth he shall be lent to the Lord.” (vss. 27,28) The Marginal rendering of verse 28 uses the word “returned,” instead of “lent.”

Filled with thankfulness, and speaking under the direction of the Holy Spirit, Hannah gave utterance to her feelings in prayer and a psalm of thanksgiving recorded in I Samuel 2:1-10. We wish to refer specially to verses 18 to 21 of this chapter. The parents returned to their home at Ramah, leaving young Samuel with Eli. “But Samuel ministered before the Lord, a child, girded with a linen ephod.” (vs. 18) Hannah never forgot her dear little son, Samuel. She “made him a small coat, and brought a new one to him from year to year as he grew taller, when she came up with her husband to offer the yearly sacrifice.”—vs. 19

When they parted from their child, the parents received a special blessing from the aged priest. We read, “Eli blessed Elkanah and his wife, and said, The Lord give thee seed of this woman for the loan which is lent to the Lord” [or, as the Margin reads: “for the petition which she asked of the Lord”], and they went unto their own home.”—vs. 20

Eli’s words were fulfilled, for we read in verse 21: “The Lord visited Hannah, so that she conceived, and bare three sons and two daughters.” So they were not left childless. Their firstborn was absent, returned to the Lord, but their home was not desolate. What a wonderful example of how God honors those who honor him.—I Sam. 2:30

We read no more of Hannah. If she lived to see her firstborn become a courageous prophet, a faithful servant of the Most High, an upholder of the true religion in Israel, it must have been real joy to her. What higher blessing can we desire for ourselves than that our lives be spent in the joyful service of our King? Or to have our children espouse his holy cause?

What manner of persons ought we to be; living up to our privileges, discharging faithfully our responsibilities! Let those who are comparatively young in years rejoice in their usefulness in God’s service. Let those of more mature years bear up bravely and wisely under the heat and burden of the day. Let the more aged pilgrims, leaning upon the staff of present truth, press on as beacon lights to others. Let us all—the young, the middle-aged, and the aged—never forget to remember that God never forgets to remember. Let us each one be able to say, in full assurance of faith: “The Lord remembers me.” If faithful, we will be able to say this, because in the Book of Books it is written of Hannah, “The Lord remembered her.”

Dawn Bible Students Association
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