Day 96: Hannah's Prayer

The Two Books of Samuel

Author and Date:

The two books of Samuel are believed to have been originally a single volume written from various source documents by editors in the Deuteronomic tradition during the Babylonian Exile or in the immediate post-exilic period (sixth century BC). The Books of Samuel are part of the Deuteronomic history along with Joshua, Judges, and 1-2 Kings.


Audience:

There were two versions of the Books of Samuel operative in the Christian era. The older is found in the Greek Septuagint (third to second centuries BC), which was translated from the older Hebrew texts as part of the Scriptures for the benefit of the Greek-speaking Jews of the Diaspora. This version was the first to divide Samuel into TWO BOOKS; it regarded them as the first two Books of Kings. (The books are now called 1-2 Kings were titled the Third and Fourth Books of the Kingdoms, and the Latin Vulgate [fourth century AD] referred to these four books as the “Books of the Kings.”)


Main Themes:

The two Books of Samuel highlight the beginning of the monarchy in Israel from the divine appointment and anointing of Saul to the succession of David and his reign. The themes that permeate these books are familiar ones: God remained faithful to his covenant despite the sins of his people and the personal failings of his anointed kings. The renewed covenant under David was full of God’s promises and placed a lesser obligation upon the people. The prophet Samuel served as the moral conscience of the kings, challenging them to remain or return to fidelity to God when their poor judgement led them into error.


The two Books of Samuel are historical accounts that are infused with religious significance in order to show how God’s plan of salvation continues to be carried out even when the People of God and their leaders fail to cooperate with his will as they ought.

(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)


Samuel 1:1-28 Hannah, who was childless, prayed fervently for a son; God heard Hannah’s prayer and granted her what she asked for despite her apparent infertility. Her son, Samuel, would become a prophet and judge of Israel. Samuel is a type of Christ (TYPOLOGY!!) in his stalwart obedience to God that brought about the next phase in God’s plan of salvation, the kingly era of Israel. (CCC 489, 2379)


Ch 2:1-11 Hannah’s song of praise and thanksgiving resembles in many ways the greeting of Mary on her visit to Elizabeth, the Magnificat (cf. Lk 1:46-55).


My heart exults: True prayer must not be reduced to mere words but must spring from the heart. (CCC 2097, 2562, 2619, 2622)


Ch 2:12-36 Samuel was a reverent and faithful servant at the shrine at Shiloh, where the Tabernacle was located. Nevertheless, Samuel’s sanctity contrasted dramatically with the sinfulness of the sons of Eli, who not only had little regard for the proper sacrificial rituals and laws but also engaged in illicit sexual liaisons with the women who served at the entrance of the tent of meeting. An unnamed prophet announced God’s condemnation of the sons of Eli and foretold a future reform of the Levitical priesthood. (CCC 1544, 2118, 2120, 2578)


Psalm 149 A Military tone characterizes this psalm to illustrate the effort of the faithful who, strengthened by prayer, go forth to do battle against evil and injustice. This psalm refers to two groups of people: the hasidim (faithful ones) and the anawim (poor and humble ones), who together comprise the “sons of Zion,” the People of God. (Cf. St. John Paul II, General Audience, May 23, 2001)

(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)


  • The book of Judges ended with its haunting antiphon,


“In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes.”


  • This stark conclusion connected two realities: Israel’s kinglessness and the galloping relativism of God’s people.

  • After the distressing ending of the Conquest and Judges period, the story turns more hopeful with a short “golden age” in the period of the Royal Kingdom, which consists of four acts, each focused on a key leader of God’s people: Samuel, Saul, David, and Solomon.

  • Act one tells of Samuel, a prophet and the last judge over Israel, who is a heavenly gift to his barren mother.

  • Dedicated to the Lord from his birth, he is a faithful servant who anoints the first kings of Israel.

  • In act two, Saul, a handsome, towering young man, looks to be a promising leader for God’s people, but because of his disobedience, the throne and the royal line are taken away from him and given to another.

  • In act three, David, a man after God’s own heart, is anointed Israel’s future king, who faithfully waits for God’s timing to receive the throne.

  • David will prove to be a model of trust in God, even when he sins.

  • Act four closes the period of the Royal Kingdom focusing on David’s son Solomon.

  • Solomon receives wisdom, as well as riches and honor, surpassing those of any other king.

  • But Solomon’s heart turns away from Yahweh, and this will have disastrous consequences, both for Solomon and for the kingdom of Israel.


Hannah’s Prayer

  • God’s plan to heal the chaos in kingless Israel begins with the story of Hannah, a woman of Ephraim who comes to worship at Shiloh, home of the tabernacle.

  • She is faithful to the Lord, yet barren, echoing the stories of Sarah and Rachel.

  • However, it is precisely this plight that sets the stage for God to demonstrate his faithfulness, just as he promised in Deuteronomy to lift the barrenness of those who keep the covenant (Dt 7:12-14).

  • In the presence of the Lord, Hannah vows to dedicate her son to his service—if he will only hear her prayer for a child.

  • At the core of her heartfelt prayer is the plea for the Lord to “remember” (1 Sam 1:11), calling upon God to reveal his covenant faithfulness as he did for Noah and Israel (Gn 8:1; Ex 2:24).

(*Walking With God: A Journey Through The Bible by Tim Gray and Jeff Cavins)


  • Gosh :)

  • What a gift!

  • You probably know this, but 1 Samuel and 2 Samuel are two different books, but originally they were ONE BOOK

  • It’s this way because they were originally written on SCROLLS and scrolls could become a bit unwieldy and cumbersome so they needed to be divided up into separate “books”

  • 1 Samuel starts out by telling us the ORIGIN OF SAMUEL

  • This is PHENOMENAL

  • Hannah and her husband continually go up to worship The Lord in Shiloh

  • When the Israelites were wandering throughout the wilderness, they would worship The Lord at the Tabernacle in the Tent of Meeting

  • But God said that when they went into the Promised Land, there is a SPECIFIC PLACE that God would point out where they would go to worship God

  • This place is called SHILOH

  • This place of worship ultimately changes to JERUSALEM

  • Right now, the Tent of Meeting and Tabernacle where the ARK OF THE COVENANT is kept, are in SHILOH

  • Hannah and Elkanah go up to worship in Shiloh

  • As we have seen a number of times already, there is a wife who is loved by her husband who desires to have a child

  • Keep in mind Elkanah has TWO WIVES, Peninnah and Hannah (Hannah was the first wife)

  • Remember, the Bible NEVER ENDORSES polygamy

  • In fact, the Bible makes it very clear that a man shall leave his mother and father and cleave to his wife and they shall become ONE FLESH

  • Every time there is polygamy, there is always something wrong that happens

  • In this case, Peninnah was cruel to Hannah

  • Hannah prays to The Lord

  • It is interesting how The Bible reveals that Eli sees her and think she’s drunk

  • This is a foreshadowing of another story later on in the history of the Church

  • This happened in the 3rd or 4th century AD

  • Monica had a son named AUGUSTINE (heard of him?)

  • Monica was a Christian

  • Augustine’s father was a pagan

  • Augustine was captivated by his own wisdom, the praise he received, popularity, fame, influence, and even his own intelligence (he sounds like kind of a pompous dude 🤔)

  • Augustine never embraced Christianity himself

  • His mother, Monica, would continually bring him things to read (like maybe Batman comic books, or Daredevil since he’s Catholic 😉)

  • When Augustine first read the Gospels, which at the time were written in GREEK, he threw them across the room because the rustic, rudimentary Greek was not up to his standards (how pretentious 🤔)

  • Augustine was accustomed to eloquent, beautiful Greek and thought, “How could this even be God’s words?”

  • Monica knew that Augustine’s great mind would not be something SHE COULD CHANGE

  • Augustine was super smart

  • Monica was probably of average intelligence in comparison

  • She couldn’t convince him

  • But she PRAYED

  • She prayed saying “God, you are the only one who can convince him. You are the only one who can save the soul of my son, who is rejecting Jesus Christ. He is rejecting the truth.”

  • Monica goes into the church in Milan

  • The Bishop there was named Ambrose

  • Monica is weeping and praying over her son

  • Bishop Ambrose says, “There is no way that the child of so many tears could ever be possibly lost.”

  • Ambrose gave Monica the confidence to CONTINUE TO PRAY FOR HER SON

  • Just like Eli gave Hannah the confidence to PRAY FOR A SON

  • Ultimately, Augustine came to the faith and met Bishop Ambrose, who once prophesied that Monica’s tears would not be wasted and her prayers would be heard

  • Ambrose helped lead Augustine closer and closer to God and Augustine had a massive conversion

  • St. Augustine ended up being one of the most influential theologians in the history of 2,000 YEARS of Christianity

  • IT ALL STARTED WITH A MOTHER’S PRAYER

  • But with Hannah and Samuel, it didn’t end with that prayer

  • Hannah gets everything she prayed for

  • Hannah gets everything she longed for

  • Hannah gets the son she wanted

  • What does she end up doing with her son?

  • THIS IS REMARKABLE

  • WE NEED TO STOP AND MARVEL AT THIS

  • Hannah gets the DESIRE OF HER HEART, which is to have a child

  • Hannah says, even before the child is conceived, “If you give me this child, Lord, I will give him back to you.”

  • SHE KEEPS HER WORD and FOLLOWS THROUGH WITH THIS

  • Think about how we have prayed as a community in Bible in a Year for moms and couples who are trying to pregnant, and those who are in crisis pregnancies

  • There can be such DESPERATION

  • There can be a SINGLE MINDEDNESS that can overtake couples and families when they desire to have a child

  • Everything becomes about charting and planning to achieve a pregnancy

  • In some ways, and remember this is a reflection coming from someone on the outside so please forgive Fr. Mike, when we have a desire like that, it can sometimes become THE NEW GOD in our life

  • It can sometimes become the ONLY THING WE WANT in life

  • That’s all of us, right?

  • Here is Hannah who, just like so many couples in this community, she prayed and did everything she could and God blessed her with a child

  • Her response was, “God, this child is yours.”

  • Her child was not to grasp at, to own, or possess

  • Her child was not for her to say, “Ok, God this child is MINE and no one else gets him.”

  • Her response was, “God, the blessing of this son of mine is actually YOUR GIFT. And so I am merely a steward of him until he is weaned and then I am GIVING HIM BACK TO YOU.”

  • This is HEARTBREAKINGLY HEROIC

  • This is HEARTBREAKINGLY LOVING

  • This is HEARTBREAKINGLY INCREDIBLE

  • We all have LONGINGS of our hearts

  • We all have things in our lives that we DESIRE SO MUCH TO POSSESS, that when we finally get them we no longer see them as being a GIFT FROM THE LORD

  • We see them as “OURS”

  • We can cling to those things in such a way that what was meant to be a gift ultimately can become a curse

  • What was meant to be a gift can ultimately become the thing that makes our hearts SMALLER NOT LARGER

  • Whether it’s a child, a family, a job, whatever it is

  • We have said this many times before

  • THE HEART IS AN IDOL-MAKING FACTORY

  • We can make an idol OUT OF ANYTHING

  • ESPECIALLY REALLY REALLY GOOD THINGS

  • So we get checked by Hannah today

  • Hannah prayed for a child, like so many are praying (we are praying for those of you too and we are supporting you in this ❤️)

  • Hannah didn’t GRASP AND HOLD ON TO THAT DESIRE

  • She RECEIVED THE GIFT and LOVED THE GIFT WITH ALL OF HER HEART

  • AND SHE KEPT GOD IN THE CENTER


  • Eli is not necessarily a great guy

  • His sons, Hophni and Phinehas were taking from the sacrifice THAT BELONGED TO THE LORD, and stealing the best parts (I’m guessing the tomahawk ribeye from the cattle 😋)

  • Instead of doing what was right and prescribed in Deuteronomy and Leviticus, they claimed THE BEST PORTION BEFORE IT WAS GIVEN TO THE LORD

  • Hophni and Phinehas would also have sexual relations with women BEFORE THE TABERNACLE OF THE LORD

  • Remember in Numbers there was a Phinehas who, when a man and woman were having sexual relations in front of the Tabernacle of the Lord, he speared them to the ground

  • In doing so, this earlier Phinehas stopped the plague from wiping out the People of Israel

  • What Hophni and current Phinehas, the sons of Eli, were doing was awful

  • Eli corrects them and LEAVES THEM BE and then goes on his way

  • He doesn’t follow through with DISCIPLINE or his RESPONSIBILITY as a father

  • So an UNNAMED MAN OF GOD comes to Eli and tells him that since Eli had the RESPONSIBILITY to STOP HIS SONS from their actions and DID NOT DO IT

  • So now, the blessing for Eli’s family will pass away from his family and his father’s family and will go to a different family

  • Stay tuned…

  • PRAY FOR FR. MIKE

  • PRAY FOR EACH OTHER

  • Fr. Mike has gotten so many messages and emails from couples whom we all have prayed for and many of them have gotten pregnant

  • No, NOT ALL

  • But we can rely on prayer and the prayers of each other

  • SO DO NOT STOP PRAYING FOR EACH OTHER

  • DO NOT STOP PRAYING FOR FR. MIKE

  • HE WILL NEVER STOP PRAYING FOR US


Prayer by Fr. Mike: “Father in Heaven we do give you praise. We do lift up your name. We want you to be glorified, Father. God, you are good and you are glorified this day and every day whether we acknowledge it, whether we even notice or recognize your great glory. Lord God, you are the source of all goodness and all goodness on its own gives you praise. Every beautiful thing praises you, because you are the source of all beauty. Every true thing praises you, because you are the source of all truth. Every good thing praises you, even if it praises you in ignorance, because you are the source of all goodness. And so, help us to always always recognize your hand and your sustaining power in goodness and truth and beauty. Come to us in our need with your power. Come to us in our brokenness with your healing. And come to us in our weakness with your strength. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.”