The Background to the Prayer

The background of Hannah’s prayer is well known. Elkanah had two wives, Hannah and Penninah. Penninah had children but Hannah was barren. The tabernacle was at Shiloh where it had been set up in the time of Joshua (Josh. 18:1). As a family they went up to Shiloh to worship year by year even though the wicked sons of Eli were there. Hannah’s adversary, probably Penninah, provoked her year by year because she had no child.

Hannah prayed for a child

After one of their visits Hannah prayed for a child as we read in 1 Samuel 1:10-11:

“And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto Yahweh, and wept sore. And she vowed a vow, and said, O Yahweh of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto Yahweh all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come upon his head”.

She gave Samuel to Yahweh

God answers Hannah’s prayer and the child is born whom she named Samuel (asked of God), “Because I have asked him of Yahweh”. Hannah then waited for the time when the child is weaned and then brought him up to Shiloh when he was possibly about five years of age, where she addressed Eli in these words:

“Oh my lord, as thy soul liveth, my lord, I am the woman that stood by thee here, praying unto Yahweh. For this child I prayed; and Yahweh hath given me my petition which I asked of him: Therefore also I have lent him to Yahweh; as long as he liveth he shall be lent to Yahweh. And he (Samuel) worshipped Yahweh there” (1 Sam.1: 26-28).

Samuel worshipped Yahweh at that early age, even as we read of Jesus:

“I was cast upon thee from the womb: thou art my God (Ail) from my mother’s belly” (Ps. 22:9-10).

I believe that the reason why Hannah lent her son to Yahweh was because she saw the wickedness of the sons of Eli, when she came to Shiloh and saw her son as a child of destiny who would bring about a reformation in the nation.

Great changes were to take place as shown in the words spoken by the man of God to Eli in chapter 2:27-36:

“Thus saith Yahweh, Did I plainly appear unto the house of thy father (Ithamar), when they were in Egypt in Pharaoh’s house? And did I choose him out of all the tribes of Israel to be my priest. . . Wherefore kick ye at my sacrifice and at my offering, which I have commanded in my habitation; and honourest thy sons above me, to make yourselves fat with the chiefest of all the offerings of Israel my people? . . . Behold the days come, that I will cut off thine arm, and the arm of thy father’s house, that there shall not be an old man in thine house. And thou shalt see an enemy in my habitation, . . . and all the increase of thine house shall die in the flower of their age. And this shall be a sign unto thee, that shall come upon thy two sons, on Hophni and Phinehas; in one day they shall die both of them. And I will raise me up a faithful priest, that shall do according to that which is in mine heart and in my mind: and I will build him a sure house; and he shall walk before mine anointed for ever”.

A Change in the Priesthood

The man of God here is speaking of a change in the priesthood, which began to be fulfilled in the time of Saul on the occasion when Doeg the Edomite slew the priests of Nob, but was completely fulfilled in the time of Solomon when Abiathar the priest was thrust out, as we read in 1 Kings 2:27:

“So Solomon thrust out Abiathar from being priest unto Yahweh; that he might fulfil the word of Yahweh, which he spake concerning the house of Eli in Shiloh”, – the words we have just read from 1 Samuel chapter 2.

Eli had descended from Aaron’s son Ithamar. A new line had already begun in David’s reign through Eleazar (1Chron.24:1-4) (see chronological chart). It is very significant therefore that Zadok began to be priest in the reign of David. Zadok means ‘the just one’ or ‘the righteous one’. Zadok the priest and David the king were typical of the time when “the sons of Zadok” will stand before Christ the King Priest in the kingdom (Ezek. 44:15-16. These words are in parenthesis). The key verse in 1 Samuel 2 is therefore verse 35;

“And I will raise me up a faithful priest, that shall do according to that which is in my heart and in my mind: and I will build him a sure house; and he shall walk before mine anointed for ever”.

This pointed forward to the change in the priesthood in the reign of David, but its complete fulfilment will be seen in the reign of the Lord Jesus Christ. The words “sure house” and “for ever” imply a priesthood for the olam or the Kingdom Age, as the promises to David were for ever or the olam. Bro. Sully comments on this verse in “The Temple of Ezekiel’s Prophecy”, Ch.5, under the heading “3. The Chambers of the Singers” as follows:

“The administrative functions of the tribe of Levi would end at the inner posts of the Temple; they would not be permitted to officiate at the table. Those who sit at the table within the Most Holy and who keep the charge of the altar are first mentioned in Chapter XL as:

The sons of Zadok among the sons of Levi, which come near to the Lord to minister unto him. (Verse 46)

They are again parenthetically referred to in a description of the duties of the subordinate order of priests, thus:

“The priests, the Levites, the sons of Zadok, that kept the charge of my sanctuary when the children of Israel went astray from me, they shall come near to me to minister unto me, and they shall stand before me to offer unto me the fat and the blood, saith the Lord God. (Chap XLIV. 15)

They shall enter into my sanctuary and they shall come near to my table to minister unto me, and they shall keep my charge”. (Verse 16)

These verses seem to imply that the sacrificial elements are presented at the table before the sons of Zadok, and are offered upon the altar in the Most Holy under their direction. See Sub-Section vi.

The declared purpose of Deity dividing the Levitical order of priests, in the Temple service, into two classes is more than interesting. In consequence of the pollution of the priestly office during the ministration of Eli he was told that the iniquity of his house, i.e. of the house of Aaron (see Ist Sam. II. 27,28), “should not be purged with sacrifice nor offering for ever,” and yet the purpose of Deity should not fail. Hence we read:

“I will raise me up a faithful priest, that will do according to that which is in my heart and in my mind; and I will build him a sure house; and he shall walk before mine anointed for ever.” (1st Sam. 11.35.)

Just as the promise of a son to David (2nd Sam. V11. 12-16) involved the coming of an immortal king, so the promise of a priest who should walk before God’s anointed for ever implies that the faithful priest referred to will be an immortal priest. This faithful priest is referred to in the 15th and 16th verses of Ezekiel XL1V. . .Now the sons of Zadok mentioned in verse 15 must be an immortal race, because they are said to be those “who kept the charge of Yahweh’s sanctuary when the children of Israel went astray.” Select whatever period we may, those who “kept the charge” are now dead. The sons of Zadok must, therefore, be raised from the dead before they can minister in the presence of Deity at the restoration. If raised from the dead, and accounted worthy to attain unto that age, they are immortal and consequently “equal unto the angels and cannot die any more, being children of the resurrection.” (“The Temple of Ezekiel’s Prophecy”, ch.5, p.73-74, 6th edition-June 1984, Logos Publications).

Brother Sully’s conclusion is that the “faithful priest” of 1 Samuel 2:35 is Zadok or the Just One, even the Lord Jesus Christ and that the immortalised Sons of Zadok refer to the saints. It is important that we understand that Ezekiel 44:15-16 are in parenthesis and that the verses before and those which follow apply to the mortal Levites. In view of this, what a great responsibility we have to keep the charge of Yahweh during our mortal lives, even when others go astray.

We hope these thoughts will serve as an introduction to a consideration of “The Prayer of Hannah” which we propose to deal with in our next article, God willing.

Carlo Barbaresi