The Stuff of Life

1 Samuel 1:1-2
1There was a certain man of Ramathaim-zophim of the hill country of Ephraim whose name was Elkanah the son of Jeroham, son of Elihu, son of Tohu, son of Zuph, an Ephrathite. He had two wives. The name of the one was Hannah, and the name of the other, Peninnah. And Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children.

So I foolishly thought I might like to do a study on the book of 1 Chronicles, as I have left it largely untapped. But the first 10 chapters contain mostly a list of names – thus the title of the book – Chronicles. So, maybe we’ll leave that for another day. But I’m longing after some history and even though I’ve done 1 Samuel before in this blog, maybe it is time revisit these ancient stories of Israel’s kings again.

The books of 1 & 2 Samuel (which were most likely only one book when first written), and 1 & 2 Kings tell the history of what is known as The United Monarchy. This was the time in Jewish history where God’s people were one nation. After the death of Solomon, the nation divides and will not be united again. These four books are skillfully written and filled with the intimate details of real people with real lives.

The skillful literary weaving together of the events of Israel’s history is designed to show the readers that their God is gracious despite human failings, joyful when humans respond to his love in faith and obedience, and long-suffering with human failures and recalcitrance. These divine qualities will be definitively exemplified in David’s Son and Lord, Jesus Christ.
Steinmann, A. E. ©2016. 1 Samuel. (p. 9). Saint Louis, MO: CPH.

We begin with these brief verses which introduce us to Elkanah and his two wives, Hannah and Peninnah. Their story is filled with the stuff of life. One husband with two women to live in contention with one another. Peninnah is able to have children, Hannah is not. In those opening words, we have a protagonist, an antagonist, and a hapless husband caught in the middle. While this introduction is simple, their story is not and bears the seeds of God’s provision for His people; the provision of a faithful prophet in the person of Samuel. But for now, our story opens with pathos and drama.

(Just for future reference, 1 Samuel begins roughly 1100 years before the birth of Christ – just to give some perspective.)