Then Eli answered, “Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant your petition that you have made to him.” And she said, “Let your servant find favour in your eyes.” Then the woman went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad.
They rose early in the morning and worshiped before the LORD; then they went back to their house at Ramah. And Elkanah knew Hannah his wife, and the LORD remembered her. And in due time Hannah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Samuel, for she said, “I have asked for him from the LORD.”
Samuel Given to the LORD
The man Elkanah and all his house went up to offer to the LORD the yearly sacrifice and to pay his vow. But Hannah did not go up, for she said to her husband, “As soon as the child is weaned, I will bring him, so that he may appear in the presence of the LORD and dwell there forever.”
Comment: Referring back to yesterday’s passage, Eli, the head priest having thought Hannah drunk was informed by her that it was not true – she was seeking the Lord’s favour. So Eli gave an answer asking/claiming, I’m not sure what the correct word is, that God would grant her request. As no doubt had happened numerous times before during their marriage, without a pregnancy occurring, they ‘knew’ each other again and low and behold she is pregnant. The story is told in such a way that we are to believe that this is a ‘God moment’. About nine months later a boy is born and called Samuel, because ‘God had heard’.
Hannah never falters in her plan to fulfill her vow and give the child into God’s service under the priest in the meeting place but she very sensibly keeps him until he was weaned. This may have been for some years, possibly until he was four or so.
We usually chose a name for our children because for some reason or other we like it. Maybe it is a family name or the name of a friend. In Biblical times, names were usually given because they had a meaning. In some languages there are such things as ‘doubling’ which is frequently not written but the meaning picked up by context. There are sometimes ‘tonal’ alterations which give different meanings. For example in Wolaittinya, an Ethiopian language, not written until relatively recently, the word spelled ‘mata’ in the Roman script, has six meanings depending on tonal inflexions – ranging through cow, grass to psychologically disturbed. Thus Samuel has two meanings which to me means a doubling changing it from a passive to an active meaning. Thus Samuel means ‘name of God’ or ‘God has heard’. And reading the story further along I suggest the second is meant here.
Prayer: Help me to be a man of my word both to people and to You, O God.