| || |The Berean Expositor Volume 53 - Page 163 of 215 Index | Zoom | |
Samuel grew before the Lord" (I Sam. 2: 21). Of John: "And the child grew, and waxed
strong in spirit" (Luke 1: 80).
As Samuel was the last of the judges and the first of the prophets, so John was the last
of the prophets and the first of the disciples. There is a notable similarity indeed between
these two great men of God.
From the period commencing with the death of Eli related in the early chapters of the
first book of Samuel, for more than 800 years the prophetic order continued an enduring
public power among the people of Israel. The prophet acted as the mediating agency
between God and His own peculiar people and nation. He was the organ of the Spirit of
the Lord, His mouthpiece during the whole period of the monarchy, the captivities, and
right up to the coming of the Son of God, the Messiah Himself.
It was not the high priest, as perhaps one would have thought, would be the most
likely medium for the Lord to choose; though there were individual members of the
priesthood during certain periods who faithfully fulfilled their office.
Turning now to the 1st Book of Samuel, and commencing at verse 1, we have here an
account of the state of the family into which Samuel was born. His father's name was
Elkanah, a Levite, of the family of Kohath, the son of Levi, the son of Jacob. The name
means "acquired by God", perhaps indicating the position of a firstborn son (see
Numbers 3: 11-13).
Elkanah is recorded as dwelling in the city of Ramathaim-zophim. The name
Ramathaim means literally "the double Ramah", the old city and the new being built side
by side--a dual city. The word zophim means "watchmen", so possibly the old city was
built on two hills, and watch-towers built on them would enable the citizens to guard
against surprise attacks by their foes. Ramah lay among the mountains of Ephraim which
extended into the territory of Benjamin, in which tribe the city lay.
In verse 2 we read the Elkanah had two wives, Hannah and Peninnah. It was God's
original ordination that a man should have one wife: Gen. 2: 24 makes that clear. The
first man who violated this command was Lamech, the son of Cain (Gen. 4: 19). This
practice apparently had spread throughout the East, and while in the Mosaic Law
polygamy was accepted, it was never approved. The inspired writer in this narrative of
the home life of Elkanah, quietly shows up the curse which almost invariably attended
this miserable violation of the relations of home life to which in the days of Eden God
had given marriage His sanction and blessing.
Hannah signifies "grace, or favour", and together with its abbreviation "Anna" has
ever been a favourite name among the women of the East.
Peninnah signifies "pearl" or "coral", and we have adopted the same name in our