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Bible Commentaries

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

1 Samuel 1

 

 

Verses 1-28

1 Samuel 1:1. Ramathaim-zophim. The latter name being plural, refers to high towers; but Ramathaim was afterwards called Arimathea, the town of Joseph the ruler, twenty miles from Jerusalem. But Zuph had formerly lived in Bethlehem or Ephrath, as in Ruth 1:2.

1 Samuel 1:3. Went up yearly to worship at the three feasts, as required. Deuteronomy 16.

1 Samuel 1:9. The temple of the Lord. היכל ha-yecal.

(1) Palaces, or magnificent buildings, as ivory palaces. Psalms 45:9.

(2) Temple, a Latin word, designating the place of contemplation or devotion.

The Greek employed the terms νεως and ιερον. The neos of the Greeks is the same as the Hebrew נוה, Navah. Habitation, or he dwelt, as in Exodus 15:2 : “I will prepare him a habitation.” The words of Solomon indicate the same; “The Most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands.” Hence the nave of a church. In simplicity of life, the sacred mysteries were in houses, but when magnificent superstructures were erected for devotion, they were called temples.

1 Samuel 1:17. Go in peace. Eli generously acknowledged his mistake; and surely the pope is not less liable to err. We never find a highpriest of the Lord who styled himself infallible.

1 Samuel 1:20. Samuel; that is, asked of God: a memorial of an answer to prayer. Impending circumstances seem to have conferred the most remarkable names on Jews, Greeks, and Romans.

REFLECTIONS.

Before God humbled the haughty house of Eli, he provided a restorer to the house of Israel, uniting in the person of Samuel the glorious characters of prophet and judge. In every step of providence God has his eye on his people’s good. We should therefore never distrust his care, though we should see the sanctuary crowded with profane men, and a dark cloud overspreading the lustre of the church. We have here a fresh instance of the unhappiness occasioned by polygamy. Elkanah, not content without issue, took a second wife, who swelled with the pride of children, and insulted Hannah, the best of women. So was Sarah mocked by Hagar; and so will mischief always attend deviation from the pure and holy law of heaven.

But insults had a happy effect on Hannah. She wept and prayed before the Lord; she poured out all the vehemence and anguish of her soul in Shiloh; and that was far better than to have returned the reproaches of her adversary, in bitterness of language. Thus grace makes favourite souls worthy of its gifts before they are bestowed; and those children which are given in answer to prayer are likely to be the greatest support to a family, and ornament to the church. Let us earnestly plead with God for the good things we want; a praying spirit is a sure sign that some blessing is suspended over our heads. This woman was importunate with God; and so much so, that neither Elkanah’s comfort, nor Eli’s revolting and rash reproof, had effect on her fervent soul. She wept and prayed till her heart had uttered all its anguish, and fully prevailed with God.

But Eli, severe and rash in reproving this afflicted woman, and criminally lenient in reproving his profligate sons, should teach us to examine before we reprove. Ministers especially should be cautious of giving reproof to people in the house of God. A sharp word uttered by his lips, and totally founded on mistake, should put him to the blush. A single error of this kind greatly diminishes the sobriety of his judgment, the weight of his ministry; and may do mischief to the individual for years to come. The smallest atonement for so great a fault is to make, like Eli, a public acknowledgment of his error.

Hannah, to obtain a son, made a vow that she would devote him a Nazarite to the Lord, for regarding a son so given as the peculiar gift of heaven, not less so than the preservation of Moses, and the singular birth of Samson, she conceived herself at liberty to vow in this way; and her husband, not believing till he saw the ground of hope, it would seem, never contradicted her; and hence her words were binding. The laws of a Nazarite have been considered in Numbers 6., and exemplified in the case of Samson. Seeing God was pleased with Hannah’s peculiar vows, let all parents learn to devote their children most solemnly to God by prayer, and by baptism; and in the way prescribed by the new covenant, which is made to us and to our children. Samuel at length being born, Hannah’s joy, and Israel’s hope, she gave him a name corresponding with the circumstances of his birth. It is well to raise memorials to perpetuate the mercies of the Lord. This child she carefully nursed; nor would she go to Shiloh till he was weaned, that she might pay her vows in the sight of her son; and till he was so tutored that he could pray, and worship before the Lord. So God changed her tears and prayers to songs of praise and thanksgiving: and so in one way or other, shall all the troubles of good men work for their present and eternal joy.

 


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Bibliography Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 1:4". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jsc/1-samuel-1.html. 1835.

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