1 Samuel 2:5
They that were full have hired out themselves for bread; and they that were hungry ceased: so that the barren hath born seven; and she that hath many children is waxed feeble.
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(5) They that were full.—Another image to illustrate the vicissitudes of human affairs is sketched, one very familiar to the dwellers among the cornfields and vineyards of Canaan.

The barren hath born seven.—Here the thought of the inspired singer reverts to herself, and the imagery is drawn from the story of her own life. Seven children are mentioned as the full number of the Divine blessing in children (see Ruth 4:15; Jeremiah 15:9). There is a curious Jewish legend which relates how for each boy child that was born to Hannah, two of Peninnah’s died.

1 Samuel 2:5. Have hired themselves out for bread — They that formerly lived in affluence have been so reduced as to be obliged to labour hard for daily bread. They that were hungry ceased — That is, ceased to suffer hunger, or to complain of it. This vicissitude of human affairs, especially the sudden turns which often take place, from a great height of prosperity to a very low condition, and the contrary, are very wonderful, and ought seriously to be pondered; that no man may be self-confident and proud, nor any one be dejected and desponding. So that the barren hath born seven — That is, many children. She alludes to the great change God had made in her own condition. For though she had actually born but one, yet it is probable she had a confident persuasion that she should have more, grounded either upon some particular assurance from God, or, rather, upon the prayer or prediction of Eli. She that hath many children, &c. — Those that have been fruitful grow barren when God pleaseth.

2:1-10 Hannah's heart rejoiced, not in Samuel, but in the Lord. She looks beyond the gift, and praises the Giver. She rejoiced in the salvation of the Lord, and in expectation of His coming, who is the whole salvation of his people. The strong are soon weakened, and the weak are soon strengthened, when God pleases. Are we poor? God made us poor, which is a good reason why we should be content, and make up our minds to our condition. Are we rich? God made us rich, which is a good reason why we should be thankful, and serve him cheerfully, and do good with the abundance he gives us. He respects not man's wisdom or fancied excellences, but chooses those whom the world accounts foolish, teaching them to feel their guilt, and to value his free and precious salvation. This prophecy looks to the kingdom of Christ, that kingdom of grace, of which Hannah speaks, after having spoken largely of the kingdom of providence. And here is the first time that we meet with the name MESSIAH, or his Anointed. The subjects of Christ's kingdom will be safe, and the enemies of it will be ruined; for the Anointed, the Lord Christ, is able to save, and to destroy.See an instance in 1 Samuel 2:36. See, too, in Ezekiel 13:19, another example of hire paid in bread.

Ceased - i. e. were at rest, did no work. The general sense is expressed by the translation of the Latin Version, "they were filled."

5. they that were hungry ceased—that is, to hunger.

the barren hath born seven—that is, many children.

Have hired themselves out for bread, through extreme necessity, into which they are fallen from their greatest plenty. It is the same thing which is expressed both in divers metaphors in the foregoing and following verses, and properly in the latter branch of this verse.

Ceased, i.e. ceased to be such, to wit, hungry; the hungry failed; there was none of them hungry or indigent.

Seven, i.e. many, as seven is oft used. She speaks in the prophetic style, the past time for the future; for though she had actually born but one, yet she had a confident persuasion that she should have more, which was grounded either upon some particular assurance from God, or rather upon the prayer or prediction of Eli; which, though it be mentioned after this song, 1 Samuel 2:20, yet in all probability was spoken before it, even upon the parents’ presentation of the child to Eli, 1 Samuel 1:25, it not being likely that she would sing this song in Eli’s presence, or before he had given his answer to her speech delivered 1 Samuel 1:26-28, there being nothing more frequent than such transpositions in Scripture. And the experience she had of the strange and speedy accomplishment of his former prophecy made her confidently expect the same issue from the latter.

She that hath many children, i.e. Peninnah.

Is waxed feeble; either because she was now past child-bearing, and impotent for procreation; or because divers of her children, which were her strength and her glory, were dead, as the Hebrew doctors relate.

They that are full have hired out themselves for bread,.... Such as have been full of the good things of this life have been stripped of all, and reduced to such circumstances as to be obliged to hire themselves out to persons to labour under them for their bread. Hannah has either respect to some instances she had known, or prophesies of what would be hereafter, and was fulfilled in the Israelites, when in the hands of the Egyptians and Assyrians, Lamentations 4:6 and may be exemplified in the case of the prodigal son, Luke 15:13 and is true of such who have larger gifts, but not grace, and which they exercise for lucre sake, and are mere hirelings; and of self-righteous persons who are full of themselves, of their goodness and righteousness, purity, and power; are quite mercenary do all they do for gain, work for life, and labour for perishing meat, and for that which is not bread, and is unsatisfying:

and they that were hungry ceased; that is, from being hungry, being filled with good things, having a large and sufficient supply to satisfy their craving desires, Luke 1:53. Such are the changes sometimes in Providence, that those who have lived in great plenty and fulness are obliged to work for their bread; and, on the other hand, such as have been starving, and in furnishing circumstances, have been brought into very plentiful and affluent ones. The "hungry", in a spiritual sense, are such who hunger an thirst after Christ, and his righteousness, for justification before God; after him and his blood for the remission of their sins, and the cleansing of their souls; after him, and salvation by him, in whom alone it is to be had; after a view of interest in him, and a greater degree of knowledge of him; and after more communion with him in his word and ordinances; and after the enjoyment of them for that purpose: now when they enjoy what they are craving after, they cease to hire out themselves for bread, as others do; they do not cease from working, but from dependence on their works, on which they cannot feed and live, having found and got other and better bread to feed upon; they cease to be hungry, for they are filled and satisfied with the love of God, with the righteousness of Christ, with the blessings of grace, and salvation by him, with the goodness of his house, and with all the fulness of God and Christ; and so having what satisfies them, they desire no other food, shall have no more want, or be in a starving condition any more, especially this will be the case hereafter:

so that the barren hath born seven; meaning herself, who had born many, even five children besides Samuel, 1 Samuel 2:20 which either was the case before this song was delivered; or rather what she believed would be the case after Eli had blessed her, and prayed for the children by her; seven being a number put for many, Proverbs 24:16.

and she that hath many children is waxed feeble; and incapable of bearing more; and stripped of what she had; this may be understood of Peninnah, concerning whom the Jews have this tradition (o), which Jarchi relates, that when Hannah bore one child, Peninnah buried two; and whereas Hannah had five, Peninnah lost all her ten children. This may be applied to the case of the Gentile and Jewish churches, under the Gospel dispensation, when more were the children of the desolate or barren, the Gentiles, than of the married wife, the Jews, Isaiah 54:1.

(o) Vid. Hieron, Trad. Heb. in. lib. Reg. fol. 34. K.

They that were full have hired out themselves for {e} bread; and they that were hungry ceased: so that the barren hath born seven; and she that hath many children is waxed feeble.

(e) They sell their labours for necessary food.

5. ceased] i.e. are at rest: need toil no more: or, cease to be hungry.

seven] A perfect family. Cp. Ruth 4:15.

is waxed feeble] By the loss of her children. Cp. Jeremiah 15:9.

1 Samuel 2:5שׂבעים are the rich and well to do; these would become so poor as to be obliged to hire themselves out for bread. חדל, to cease to be what they were before. The use of עד as a conjunction, in the sense of "yea" or "in fact," may be explained as an elliptical expression, signifying "it comes to this, that." "Seven children" are mentioned as the full number of the divine blessing in children (see Ruth 4:15). "The mother of many children" pines away, because she has lost all her sons, and with them her support in her old age (see Jeremiah 15:9). This comes from the Lord, who kills, etc. (cf. Deuteronomy 32:39). The words of 1 Samuel 2:6 are figurative. God hurls down into death and the danger of death, and also rescues therefrom (see Psalm 30:3-4). The first three clauses of 1 Samuel 2:8 are repeated verbatim in Psalm 113:7-8. Dust and the dunghill are figures used to denote the deepest degradation and ignominy. The antithesis to this is, sitting upon the chair or throne of glory, the seat occupied by noble princes. The Lord does all this, for He is the creator and upholder of the world. The pillars (מצקי, from צוּק equals יצק) of the earth are the Lord's; i.e., they were created or set up by Him, and by Him they are sustained. Now as Jehovah, the God of Israel, the Holy One, governs the world with His almighty power, the righteous have nothing to fear. With this thought the last strophe of the song begins:
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