1 Samuel 1:7
And this went on year after year. Whenever Hannah went up to the house of the LORD, her rival taunted her until she wept and would not eat.
A Religious Use of AnnoyanceJ. Parker, D. D.1 Samuel 1:7
HannahW. Jay.1 Samuel 1:7
Provocations in Domestic LifeH. W. Beecher.1 Samuel 1:7
The House of GodHelen Plumptre.1 Samuel 1:7
Womanly EnduranceF. W. Robertson.1 Samuel 1:7
A Hebrew FamilyB. Dale 1 Samuel 1:1-8
Anomalies of ProvidenceW. G. Blaikie, D. D.1 Samuel 1:2-7
Childless ParentsA. Whyte, D. D.1 Samuel 1:2-7
Hannah the MatronT. Guthrie, D. D.1 Samuel 1:2-7
Polygamy not PrimevalArgyll, Unity of Nature.1 Samuel 1:2-7
The Folly of PolygamyT. E. Redwar, M. A.1 Samuel 1:2-7
The Lord of HostsB. Dale 1 Samuel 1:3, 11
1 Samuel 1:3
1 Samuel 1:3. (SHILOH)

Public worship. Worship is worship, the honour paid to superior worth; more especially it is the reverence and homage paid to God in religious exercises. Public worship (as distinguished from private and family worship) is designed to give an open expression, before men, of the praise and honour which are his due (Psalm 145:10-12); a purpose which is not fulfilled by those who neglect it, and is forgotten by those who observe it only as a means of obtaining their own spiritual benefit. It is often enjoined in the word of God, and is commended by the example of good men. The conduct of Elkanah is suggestive of useful hints concerning -

I. GOING TO WORSHIP. Persuaded of the obligation and privilege, "he went up out of his city" and home. He did "not forsake the house of the Lord" (Nehemiah 10:39; Hebrews 10:25). Neither the distance, nor the trouble involved, prevented him; nor did the unworthy conduct of many of the worshippers keep him away. He took all his family with him, except when any of them were hindered by sickness or necessary duties (ver. 20). He thought of the purpose for which he went, and made the needful preparation for "worshipping and sacrificing unto the Lord." He was careful to be in time; and, doubtless, sought the blessing of God on his service, entertained the journey with profitable conversation, and came with reverence and self-restraint (Ecclesiastes 5:1).

II. THE OBJECT OF WORSHIP. "The Lord of hosts." He did not worship an "unknown God." Man must worship because he is a man; but he will worship a false or unworthy object, as well as in a wrong manner, unless he be Divinely taught, because he is a sinner. He "knew what he worshipped," even the living and true God, who had revealed himself to his people; Creator, Redeemer, Ruler; holy, just, and merciful (Exodus 34:6, 7). Our knowledge of God is necessarily imperfect (Job 11:7); but it may be true as far as it goes, and the true idea of God is "the root of all absolute grandeur, of all truth and moral perfection" (John 17:3).

III. THE PLACE OF WORSHIP. He went to worship in Shiloh (Deuteronomy 16:15), where the tabernacle, made in the wilderness, having been first pitched at Gilgal, had now been standing 300 years. It was the palace of the great King. Here his servants the priests ministered, and offerings were presented by his subjects at his altar in the outer court (1 Samuel 2:33); the lamp of God (1 Samuel 3:3), the altar of incense (1 Samuel 2:28), and the table of shew bread (1 Samuel 21:4) stood in the holy place; and the ark of the covenant (1 Samuel 4:3) in the holiest of all (Hebrews 9:25). These were symbols of spiritual truth and means of Divine communion (Exodus 29:43; Deuteronomy 16:11). The ideas that underlay them are fully realised in Christ and his Church, and the symbols are no longer needed; nor is there any more one central and sacred spot "where men ought to worship" (John 4:20, 23). God draws nigh to us, and we can call upon him "in every place." The presence of holy souls makes all places holy, in so far as any place can be so called.

"What's hallowed ground? 'Tis what gives birth
To sacred thoughts in souls of worth." Common worship, however, renders necessary special places of worship, the declared purpose and holy associations of which make them dear to good men and helpful to their devotions, so that they are sometimes constrained to say with Jacob, "How dreadful is this place," etc. (Genesis 28:17). "A fearful place, indeed, and worthy of all reverence, is that which saints inhabit, holy angels frequent, and God himself graces with his own presence."

IV. THE TIME OF WORSHIP. "He went up yearly," or from year to year, and continued several days. The Law required that the tribes should assemble at the sanctuary three times a year; but in those unsettled times it appears to have been the custom for them to attend only once, probably at the passover. What acts of worship he performed, or what times he observed at Ramah, we are not told. The Sabbath (though not mentioned in the Books of Samuel) we may be sure was not neglected by him, nor should it be by us. The spirit of continual Sabbath keeping (Hebrews 4:9) is, indeed, of greater importance than the observance of one day in seven; but its observance, with reference to the higher truths which the first day of the week commemorates, is most needful and beneficial.

V. THE MANNER OF WORSHIP. "He went up to worship and sacrifice." His worship consisted of adoration, confession, petition, thanksgiving. It was connected with and embodied in sacrifices of various kinds, and of different significance: expiatory (sin offerings), self-dedicatory (burnt offerings), and eucharistic (peace offerings). They had a real and deep relation to the sacrifice of Christ. From it they derived their worth, and by it they have been done away. Our worship demands spiritual sacrifices, the broken and contrite heart, the "presenting of our bodies as a living sacrifice," prayer, thanksgiving, holy and benevolent dispositions and conduct. "By him, therefore (who brings us nigh to God, and makes, us capable of serving him aright): let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, etc. (Hebrews 13:16.)

VI. RETURNING FROM WORSHIP. After the sacred feast was over, he and his family "rose up in the morning early, and worshipped before the Lord, and returned" (1 Samuel 1:19). Morning is a most favourable season for devotion (Psalm 5:3); and those who are about to take a journey or enter on a new enterprise do well to rise up early and seek the Divine guidance and help. Elkanah showed that he was not weary of his devotions, but desired to avail himself to the utmost of the opportunities afforded him; and, by doing so, he obtained the greatest permanent benefit from his visit to the sanctuary. The manner in which we return from public worship greatly influences its permanent results (Matthew 13:4, 19; Luke 11:28). And our aim and endeavour, when we return, should be to sanctify all places, all times, all occupations by the spirit of unceasing prayer and thanksgiving, and so make the whole of life a preparation for the services of the heavenly temple. - D.

You must remember, that at the time when Elkanah was living, there was but one temple or church for all the worshippers of the true God; and those who lived at a great distance from this temple could not have the privilege of worshipping there, at most, above three times a year. Have you ever considered the mercy of being born in a country where there are so many places of public worship? places which have that honourable and blessed name of "the house of God"? When you draw near to a town, you see several of these precious buildings, higher than all the houses prepared for man to live in, beside many other smaller places of public worship: and you can scarcely find a village without some building in it where the people of God may assemble together. Now, you observe, that pious Elkanah and his family have to take a long journey once a year for the privilege of the public worship of God. What does all this say to you who have God's house standing open for you within a very, very little distance, perhaps within a few steps, and yet you think it too much trouble to get there! You would not treat a nobleman so, if he invited you to his house; particularly, if you were very dependent upon him; and if you saw him standing at the door of his house, watching to see who accepted his invitation, and who slighted it. I have heard many people say, "I can read my book at home, and I don't know but I get as much good as by going to church or meeting." But let me tell you, I do know that you cannot. If, indeed, you are confined at home by sickness, and your heart is right with God, He can and will be a little sanctuary to you, and will enable you to say, "The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want": but when you idly stay at home, from the idea that you can get as much good there so in a place of public worship, you trample upon God's express command, and expect that which He has not promised.

(Helen Plumptre.)

To know persons completely, it is necessary to view them in various situations and conditions. Character is not only displayed by trials, but it very much results from them. Both prosperity and adversity are states of acknowledged temptation; and few can equally encounter such opposite dangers. Hannah first comes before us in circumstances of disappointment and mortification. Her affliction was aggravated by reproach, for "her adversary provoked her sore, for to make her fret, because the Lord had shut up her womb" But who was this adversary? She was one of her own household, for Elkanah, her husband, had two wives. And in the case before us was the conduct of Elkanah justified by the result? Let us read and see. In the days of Malachi this evil practice abounded; and observe how the prophet speaks of it. "The Lord hath been witness between thee and the wife of thy youth, against whom thou hast dealt treacherously: yet she is thy companion, and the wife of thy covenant. And did not he make one? Yet, had he the residue of the spirit. And wherefore one? That he might seek a godly seed." Here we find that marriage was originally confined to a single pair: end we see the reason. It was not from want of power or kindness in God. He could have made more than one Eve for Adam, and would have done it had his welfare required it. But it was because of the advantage derivable from individual union, especially with regard to the children who should arise from it, and be trained up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Hannah's adversary seems peculiarly unprincipled and ill-disposed. A noble mind is always generous and sympathising. if it possesses any exclusive advantages, it will not be forward to display and boast of them; and if it sees a fellow creature in a humbler situation, it will not labour to increase his sense of deficiencies, but rather to diminish and soften it. "The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy." But we may observe, that though envy loves to expose the defects of another, it springs from his excellencies or advantages, end feeds upon some real or imaginary privilege. Accordingly, we are born informed of the occasion of this woman's present malevolence. At this season Elkanah treated Hannah with peculiar attention and distinction. "And when the time was that Elkanah offered, he gave to Peninnah his wife, and to all her sons and her daughters, portions; but unto Hannah he gave a worthy portion." There is a considerable difference between the feeling and the expression of partiality; the one is much more in our power than the other. The display of it is commonly prejudicial to the object. Who does not remember the "coat of many colours"? The blame we attach to a man is not always so much for acting wrong, as for bringing himself into circumstances and conditions which will hardly allow of his acting right. Piety says, "In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy paths"; and Prudence says, "Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established." Elkanah forgets this, and his folly fixes him in a state that leaves him not the possibility of escaping evil and reproach. What could Peninnah think of approaching the altar of the God of peace and love with a temper full of envy and malice, and a tongue "set on fire of hell"? How much better is omission than perversion, and neglect than inconsistency? Shall blessing and cursing proceed out of the same mouth? "Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God, and be more ready to hear than to give the sacrifice of fools: for they consider not that they do evil" "Therefore, if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift." Year after year Hannah had been accustomed to bear ell this provocation, and till now she seems to have endured it patiently But where is the mind that always continues in one frame?

(W. Jay.)

Patience is of two kinds. There is an active, and there is a passive endurance. The former is a masculine, the latter, for the most part, a feminine virtue. Female patience is exhibited chiefly in fortitude; in bearing pain and sorrow meekly without complaining. In the old Hebrew life female endurance shines almost as brightly as in any life which Christianity itself can mould. Hannah under the provocations and taunts of her rival, answering not again her husband's rebuke, humbly replying to Eli's unjust blame, is true to the type of womanly endurance. For the type of man's endurance you may look to the patience of the early Christians under persecution. They came away from the Sanhedrim to endure and bear; but it was to bear as conquerors rushing on to victory, preaching the truth with all boldness, and defying the power of the united world to silence them. These two divers qualities are joined in One, and only One of woman born, in perfection. One there was in whom human nature was exhibited in all its elements symmetrically complete.

(F. W. Robertson.)

A garden has a great many flowers in it. Some of them are weeds, some of them are purslane, and some of them are nettles, which are not very desirable for bouquets. In the garden, however, we can take our choice; but in the family we cannot. There we have to take all. If there is a complaining one, we have to take that one; if there is a weak and dull-eyed one, we have to take that one; if there is a moody and morose one, we have to take that one; and it takes but one bitter lemon to spoil the whole of your lemonade. If of half-a-dozen lemons five are perfectly good, and the other is bad, the whole mixture is bad; for the nature of this one bad lemon enters into it. So one person may spoil the pleasure of twenty. A mother may keep a cloud resting on the whole household from morning till night; thank God she sleeps at nights. A father may fret and worry the whole household; and therefore Paul says, "Fathers, provoke not your children." They are apt to make the children cross, or to create in them an unrestful, unquiet disposition. It does not take more than one smoky chimney in a room to make it intolerable.

(H. W. Beecher.)

The remarkable thing is: A religious use of a daily provocation. Peninnah persecuted Hannah daily; laughed at her, mocked her. It was a religious use. She prayed unto the Lord; she rose up and went forward that she might pray mightily before God; she spake in her heart and she poured out her soul before God. That was conquest, — that was victory! There is a possibility of having a daily annoyance, and yet turning that daily annoyance into an occasion of nearer and nearer approach to God. Let us then endeavour to turn all our household griefs, family torments into occasions of profound worship and loving homage to God. It was in human nature to avenge the insult; to cry out angrily against the woman who delighted in sneering and in provoking. But there is something higher than human nature, something better.

(J. Parker, D. D.)

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