LESSON 8 *August 18 - 24
Elkanah and Hannah:
Fulfilling a
Lesson graphic

Read for This Week's Study:

  1 Sam. 1:1-2:26.

Memory Text: 

       "There is none holy as the Lord: for there is none beside thee: neither is there any rock like our God" (1 Samuel 2:2).
  Usually children are known by who their parents are; sometimes, though, parents are known by their children. Such is the case with Elkanah and Hannah. This couple did nothing extraordinary except create Samuel. They were neither the first ones nor the last ones to acquire a child after a prolonged period of anxiety and prayer. Were it not for the child, these two—however faithful to the Lord—most likely would have passed away into obscurity, known now only to God and the angels. But the remarkable child Samuel caused the memory of Elkanah and Hannah to be preserved in the sacred Scriptures, and so this couple, though dead, still speak to us today.

Most of the couples for study this quarter involve husbands who were either patriarchs, prophets, or rulers, whom most of us aren't. But we can all be like Elkanah and Hannah. We may not have as distinguished a child, but we can show the same dedication and thus perhaps bring the extraordinary out of the ordinary.

This Week at a Glance: 

      We can find in the story of Elkanah and Hannah a faithful couple whom the Lord was able to use in a remarkable way. What can we learn from their example?   

*Study this week's lesson to prepare for Sabbath, August 25.

SUNDAY August 19


Read 1 Samuel 1. From what's found in this text, what can we gather about the character of Elkanah?  

"The father of Samuel was Elkanah, a Levite, who dwelt at Ramah, in Mount Ephraim. He was a person of wealth and influence, a kind husband, and a man who feared and reverenced God."—Ellen G. White, Signs of the Times® (Oct. 27, 1881), vol. 7, no. 40.

Though not much is said about Elkanah, and he's somewhat in the background of this story, a few points do emerge. He truly seemed to love Hannah and did what he could to console her in her grief. He also seemed to be a devout person, one who sought to obey the Lord.

"Although his services were not required at the sanctuary, yet, like many another Levite during the period of the judges (Judges 17:8, 9), Elkanah went up as a common Israelite with his own sacrifices to encourage his neighbors and set them a good example. Though he lived in the midst of an evil environment, his spirituality was evidently at a high level. Even though Hophni and Phinehas were corrupt, Elkanah was faithful in his worship and in the offering of his sacrifices."—The SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 2, p. 455.

Perhaps what's most impressive about Elkanah was in regard to Hannah's vow. After all, that was his own son she was giving to the Lord. It certainly wouldn't have been an easy thing for him to do, as well.

How did Elkanah respond to Hannah's vow before the Lord? Did he have the right to void that vow? See Num. 30:1-15.  

Ask yourself, What aspects of Elkanah's character could I better emulate in my own personal relations and in my relationship with the Lord? 

MONDAY August 20

The Marriage

As we saw yesterday, Elkanah was apparently a faithful follower of the Lord. Yet, that faithfulness didn't prevent him from deviating from God's ideal in marriage, one man and one wife. That polygamy was permitted didn't make it right—or good. God has given us an ideal because He knows what's best for us. When we depart from it, no good can arise.

According to Ellen White, Hannah was Elkanah's first wife. When she didn't produce offspring, he took another wife. "But this step, prompted by a lack of faith in God, did not bring happiness. Sons and daughters were added to the household; but the joy and beauty of God's sacred institution had been marred and the peace of the family was broken. Peninnah, the new wife, was jealous and narrow-minded, and she bore herself with pride and insolence. To Hannah, hope seemed crushed and life a weary burden. . . "—Ellen G. White, Daughters of God, p. 39.

What examples of lapses of faith and judgment can you find in other Bible "heroes"? What were those lapses, and what were the consequences?  

As we all should know, thanks to Jesus, in whom we have "forgiveness of sins" (Col. 1:14; see also Exod. 34:7, Ps. 130:4, Eph. 1:7), even our worst deeds have been atoned for. But the worse the deed, the worse the consequences, usually. We might be given the promise of forgiveness for our sins, but the Bible doesn't promise freedom from the immediate consequences of those sins. And even, as in the case of Elkanah, if we do something that isn't expressly forbidden, we can still reap bitter consequences by deviating from principle. Thus, we mustn't fool ourselves with our own "piety" and "faithfulness." Even the best among us are not immune to lapses in faith and good judgment.

Think of a few examples in your own life in which lack of faith or a simple lapse of good judgment brought choices that reaped bad consequences. What lessons did you learn that could help you from making the same mistakes again?  

TUESDAY August 21

Hannah's Vow

What were the two problems that Hannah faced? (1 Sam. 1:1, 6).  

Hannah means something like "the graceful one," and Peninnah is similar to "the fertile one." How prophetic sometimes names turn out to be! The Bible does not say that Elkanah loved Hannah more, but we do get that impression. However, it is Peninnah who provided him with children. Hannah's problem is not only that she has no sons but that Peninnah has several.

Elkanah and his family journeyed to the sanctuary annually (1 Sam. 1:3). What festivals were all Israelite males required to attend? (Exod. 23:14-19).  

The most festive of these was the Feast of Tabernacles, or the Feast of Ingathering, and it is probably to this that Elkanah took his family with him. But even if it was a personal family pilgrimage, it would have been a happy occasion. In spite of all the joy and gaiety, or maybe because of it, Hannah became despondent. More so because Peninnah took pleasure in provoking her (1 Sam. 1:7).

What was the nature of Hannah's vow? What assurance did she have that the Lord heard her prayer?  

The Bible makes it clear that God intervened (1 Sam. 1:19), and Hannah conceived a son. At the same time, too, the influence of emotions on the body can be powerful. After Eli spoke with her (vs. 17), there was a change in her whole demeanor. Whereas before she refused to eat, now she ate; whereas before she looked sad, now her countenance was changed. Verse 19 states that they, meaning at least her and her husband, rose up early and worshiped before the Lord. The next thing we are told, she conceives, and not just a child but a male, as well.

We might not always have such a clear answer to our prayers, but what Bible promises can you lean on that help you trust in the Lord's goodness and care, promises that should give you the kind of peace Hannah experienced?  


Hannah, Mother in Israel

Hannah named her son Samuel, which sounds like the Hebrew for "God heard," but which is related to "asked of God." Hannah explains the name: " 'Because I asked the Lord for him'" (1 Sam. 1:20, NIV). Not wishing to go to the tabernacle until she could carry out her vow and leave her son there, she waited until she had weaned him. In the absence of refrigeration to keep milk fresh, this was perhaps as long as three years.

"From the earliest dawn of intellect [Hannah] had taught her son to love and reverence God and to regard himself as the Lord's. By every familiar object surrounding him she had sought to lead his thoughts up to the Creator. When separated from her child, the faithful mother's solicitude did not cease. Every day he was the subject of her prayers. Every year she made, with her own hands, a robe of service for him; and as she went up with her husband to worship at Shiloh, she gave the child this reminder of her love. Every fiber of the little garment had been woven with a prayer that he might be pure, noble, and true. She did not ask for her son worldly greatness, but she earnestly pleaded that he might attain that greatness which Heaven values-that he might honor God and bless his fellow men."—Ellen G. White, Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 572.

After the child was born and weaned, Hannah fulfilled her vow to the Lord and brought him to Eli. Hannah expected Eli, with a little prompting, to remember the incident that had taken place. At that time Eli had told her, without knowing her petition, " 'May the God of Israel grant you what you have asked' " (1 Sam. 1:17, NIV). Now Hannah reminds him, " 'I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him' " (vs. 27, NIV). How easy it might have been for her to forget the vow, to rationalize away all the reasons for fulfilling it. After all, this was her only child!

What reasons could Hannah have used to justify not fulfilling the vow?  

Read Hannah's prayer in 1 Samuel 2:1-11. What does it tell us about the nature and character of God? What specific elements mean the most to you right now, in whatever personal situations you are facing? How can you make these words your own?  

THURSDAY August 23

The Family Legacy

As we saw earlier, none of this could have happened had not Elkanah agreed. Hannah, obviously, told him what she vowed; he, too, was witness to the miracle and, as a man of God, agreed to go along. That he did was a testimony to his faith as well.

Read again 1 Samuel 1:23. There are three elements to Elkanah's words. What words show his concern for the happiness of his wife? What words show his concern for his son? What words show his desire that they be faithful to the Lord?  

While giving up the child would have been hard in the best of circumstances, another element that only complicated things, making the decision even harder to fulfill, enters into the picture.

Read 1 Samuel 2:12-26. What kind of moral environment was Samuel going to be subjected to? How could this have been used as another reason not to fulfill the vow?  

Regardless of that problem, this faithful husband and wife went ahead and gave the child over. Obviously they had to trust in the Lord, no matter how hard it might have been at times. The Lord rewarded that faithfulness (see 1 Sam. 2:20). After leaving Samuel at the tabernacle, Hannah gave birth to five more children (1 Sam. 2:21). The couple themselves do not appear again in the Bible. As far as they are concerned, the story is over. But, of course, it's not. Through their faithfulness a great leader in Israel arose. Truly they are an example of the principle found in words written long after they were gone: " 'Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord' " for " 'their deeds will follow them'" (Rev. 14:13, NIV).

Were you to "die in the Lord" today, what deeds would follow you? What does your answer tell you about how you're living your life? What changes might you consider making?  

FRIDAY August 24

Further Study:  

  Read Ellen G. White, "Heaven's Estimate of Children," p. 279, in The Adventist Home.

"What a reward was Hannah's! and what an encouragement to faithfulness is her example! There are opportunities of inestimable worth, interests infinitely precious, committed to every mother. The humble round of duties which women have come to regard as a wearisome task should be looked upon as a grand and noble work. It is the mother's privilege to bless the world by her influence, and in doing this she will bring joy to her own heart. She may make straight paths for the feet of her children, through sunshine and shadow, to the glorious heights above. But it is only when she seeks, in her own life, to follow the teachings of Christ that the mother can hope to form the character of her children after the divine pattern. The world teems with corrupting influences. Fashion and custom exert a strong power over the young. If the mother fails in her duty to instruct, guide, and restrain, her children will naturally accept the evil, and turn from the good. Let every mother go often to her Saviour with the prayer, 'Teach us, how shall we order the child, and what shall we do unto him?' "—Ellen G. White, Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 572, 573.  

Discussion Questions:

     This story is a nice example of a faithful couple being rewarded for their fidelity. What about cases in which, it seems, faithful people aren't rewarded, at least now in what appears to be in any tangible way? As a class, talk about such cases. What answers do you have?  

   So many people have been so terribly damaged by a poor upbringing. What promises and hope can you offer to someone who struggles in overcoming the damage done to them in childhood?  

   We all know stories of faithful parents who, though doing their best to raise their children right, suffer terribly when those children leave the faith. Talk frankly about this situation. What encouragement and hope can you share with each other?  


  Common people were made uncommon by their dedication to God. Hannah's vow was unusual, but she carried it out, and God blessed her and her husband, Elkanah, for it.  

I N S I D E Story    
Just Pray!


"Help! Help!" The mournful cries awakened me in the night. They came from the forest near our mountain cottage, where my partner and I teach in a mission school. I awakened my teaching partner, grabbed my flashlight, and ran toward the voice.

"Teacher, help!" came the cry again. We found the victim, Datu (Chief) Campilan, lying in a pool of blood, too weak to crawl any farther. His left leg was pierced through by a pointed bamboo stick used to capture wild boar or deer.

I shouted for help, and the villagers came running. But when they saw their chief, they refused to touch him or come close to him. "What is wrong?" I asked. "Why are you afraid to help our chief?" But no one answered.

My teaching partner and I prepared to carry the datu to our cottage, but he said, "Just pray, Maestro. I believe that your God is powerful."

I told the chief to close his eyes and nodded to my partner to hold the datu's leg. Without warning I pulled the bamboo stick from his leg. He cried out in pain, but the stake was out. I tied the wound with a clean cloth to stop the bleeding, and we carried him to our cottage. There we washed his wound and applied a poultice of charcoal.

I told him that we must take him to the hospital the next day, for we did not have the medicines to treat him. But the chief refused. "If I die, I will die in my own village," he said.

Then I remembered a lecture from our missionary training. These people believe that if someone dies in your care, the dead person's soul will demand that you join him on the journey to the next world. In other words, if the datu died, we would be killed. No wonder no one would touch the chief in the forest.

But Datu Campilan's faith was strong. "You just pray, Maestro, and your God will heal me." We prayed all night. The next morning I ran to town to buy antibiotics. We continued to treat Datu Campilan, and with each treatment we prayed for God's healing power.

God healed Datu Campilan. He shows his scar and tells his villagers that the God of the missionary teachers is a powerful, healing God.

CLYDE VILLAN was a student missionary in Sil-angon Mission School when he wrote this story lie studies at Mountain flew College in southern Philippines.
Produced by the General Conference Office of Mission Awareness.
email:   info@adventistmission.org   website:  www.adventistmission.org

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