Welcome to the Bible Reading Plan! We are so glad you are joining us for this journey through 1 Samuel, an Old Testament book full of wild stories and fascinating characters. Each day, you will read one chapter of the Bible followed by a short devotional, answer a few questions, and if you want, record any observations or insights using the interactive notes section. We believe God will use this resource to grow our knowledge and affection for Him. We know God’s Word does not return void (Isaiah 55:11). Sign up with a friend, your Life Group, or your family, and let’s dig in!
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1 Samuel Preview
The Book of Samuel (originally one book that was eventually split into two parts) is a historical book that covers a roughly 150 year period in time from 1121-971 B.C. 1 Samuel is the first half of that story. This book follows a long period in Israel’s history where Israel was ruled by judges (which you can read about in the book of Judges) and shows us the establishment of kingship within Israel. A judge was essentially a military leader who stepped up to lead in times of crisis. Time after time throughout the book of Judges a leader was appointed, Israel would be unfaithful to God, and then that same cycle would continue again and again. Now, Israel wanted a king and God gave the people what they wanted.
As we read the book of 1 Samuel, keep in mind that this is a history book, but it is also full of theological truth that teaches us truth about God and His character. Along the way we’ll encounter a variety of characters, but there are three that are the most prominent throughout this book: Samuel, Saul, and David. This book is full of case studies for us to learn from. We’ll read stories of great faith as well as stories of personal failure.
Each day as you open your Bible, take good notes. Read closely and carefully, paying special attention to the sequence of events that are unfolding before you. Try to visualize what’s going on in each chapter. That’s the fun of reading these Old Testament stories! Get to know these characters, both major and minor. What does each chapter in this book teach you about God’s character? What does it teach you about humanity? What are the implications for you today? These are the questions we’ll be seeking to answer over these next few weeks.
Read 1 Samuel 1
The Birth of Samuel
1 There was a certain man from Ramathaim, a Zuphite from the hill country of Ephraim, whose name was Elkanah son of Jeroham, the son of Elihu, the son of Tohu, the son of Zuph, an Ephraimite. 2 He had two wives; one was called Hannah and the other Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah had none.
3 Year after year this man went up from his town to worship and sacrifice to the Lord Almighty at Shiloh, where Hophni and Phinehas, the two sons of Eli, were priests of the Lord. 4 Whenever the day came for Elkanah to sacrifice, he would give portions of the meat to his wife Peninnah and to all her sons and daughters. 5 But to Hannah he gave a double portion because he loved her, and the Lord had closed her womb. 6 Because the Lord had closed Hannah’s womb, her rival kept provoking her in order to irritate her. 7 This went on year after year. Whenever Hannah went up to the house of the Lord, her rival provoked her till she wept and would not eat. 8 Her husband Elkanah would say to her, “Hannah, why are you weeping? Why don’t you eat? Why are you downhearted? Don’t I mean more to you than ten sons?”
9 Once when they had finished eating and drinking in Shiloh, Hannah stood up. Now Eli the priest was sitting on his chair by the doorpost of the Lord’s house. 10 In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the Lord, weeping bitterly. 11 And she made a vow, saying, “Lord Almighty, if you will only look on your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head.”
12 As she kept on praying to the Lord, Eli observed her mouth. 13 Hannah was praying in her heart, and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard. Eli thought she was drunk 14 and said to her, “How long are you going to stay drunk? Put away your wine.”
15 “Not so, my lord,” Hannah replied, “I am a woman who is deeply troubled. I have not been drinking wine or beer; I was pouring out my soul to the Lord. 16 Do not take your servant for a wicked woman; I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief.”
17 Eli answered, “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him.”
18 She said, “May your servant find favor in your eyes.” Then she went her way and ate something, and her face was no longer downcast.
19 Early the next morning they arose and worshiped before the Lord and then went back to their home at Ramah. Elkanah made love to his wife Hannah, and the Lord remembered her. 20 So in the course of time Hannah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, saying, “Because I asked the Lord for him.”
Hannah Dedicates Samuel
21 When her husband Elkanah went up with all his family to offer the annual sacrifice to the Lord and to fulfill his vow, 22 Hannah did not go. She said to her husband, “After the boy is weaned, I will take him and present him before the Lord, and he will live there always.”
23 “Do what seems best to you,” her husband Elkanah told her. “Stay here until you have weaned him; only may the Lord make good his word.” So the woman stayed at home and nursed her son until she had weaned him.
24 After he was weaned, she took the boy with her, young as he was, along with a three-year-old bull, an ephah of flour and a skin of wine, and brought him to the house of the Lord at Shiloh. 25 When the bull had been sacrificed, they brought the boy to Eli, 26 and she said to him, “Pardon me, my lord. As surely as you live, I am the woman who stood here beside you praying to the Lord. 27 I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him. 28 So now I give him to the Lord. For his whole life he will be given over to the Lord.” And he worshiped the Lord there.
The opening chapter of this book covers a lot of ground and introduces us to several characters right off the bat. We see interpersonal conflict, infertility, pleading with God, heartache, answered prayers, and the blessing of a newborn baby. The main character of this chapter is Hannah, who we are told is in despair. She desperately longs to have a child of her own and that dream had yet to become a reality. Perhaps some of you reading this can directly relate to Hannah in this moment. Regardless of whether or not her reality is your present reality, we can all understand these feelings of desparation when we are in a spiritually dry season. While there are many things we can learn from Hannah, there are two that we’ll focus on today.
First, we can learn from the vulnerability of Hannah’s faith. She calls it for what it is: She’s really struggling. The author says that Hannah “wept bitterly” (v. 10). Hannah even uses the phrase “deeply troubled” to describe her present state (v. 15). She approaches God with honesty, pleading with Him for a child. She “poured out her soul” to God (v. 15), not hiding her feelings or putting on a facade. In these desert seasons, it’s easy for us to either a) go through the motions or b) pretend everything is OK while apathy takes over. When that happens, especially if we are isolated, we drift further and further away from God. Hannah, as disoriented as she was, approached God with a gritty faith that we can all learn from.
Second, we can learn from Hannah’s example as her prayer was answered. From the moment she held Samuel in her arms, she understood the responsibility she had to steward his life in a way that honored God. It’s tempting, when our prayers have been answered, to express momentary gratitude and then go on about our lives. Instead, Hannah chose to give Samuel to the Lord. This is a helpful reminder that everything we have in our possession isn’t ours. It’s God’s. We are temporary stewards of it while we are here on earth. Whether it is a child, a house, a car, or a position of authority, every day we must ask God how we can use those gifts in ways that further God’s kingdom here on earth.
- Is your faith as honest as Hannah’s? Why or why not?
- Do find yourself stewarding the gifts (physical or spiritual) that God has entrusted to you? How can you be more intentional like Hannah was in this story?
- What does this chapter teach you about the character of God?
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