Skip to Content
st phil's logo


Q&A: 1 Samuel 1

Questions and Answers on 1 Samuel 1

Bruce Stanley

May 17, 2022

Here are some very brief answers to our unanswered questions from Sunday at our evening service - thanks for another enthusiastic response to our Q and A! Again, I have tried to keep the answers brief but if you want to discuss more, please call me or email at

If a man married two wives today (as happens in some cultures), what would be the Christian recommendation for them? Divorce one? Stay married to both?

This is difficult isn't it? Hence this one has the longest answer!

A marriage relationship under God, as is it written in the Scriptures, is a lifelong commitment between one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others. If someone is in a polygamous (more than two people) marriage, which does not honour their spouse(s) or God, something needs to change.

It is a complicated answer, but I'll suggest one way forward:

  • The first need is for repentance. This is always required when we have sinned against God and against others.
  • The second need is to remove oneself from the relationship that is not honourable. Whether that means an official divorce or separation is difficult to say. Some would say a second marriage is not even recognised by God, and often not recognised by the state.
  • Therefore an official divorce is not recognised.
  • The third thing is to recognise the responsibilities to the other people in that relationship. Especially if the spouse(s) were dependant, or if there are dependent children involved. In any divorce case, there is a responsibility towards any children involved.

As for the divorce question itself, as to whether it is required since the marriage was not recognised, it is still necessary for a person to remove themselves from remaining in a sinful relationship. We are designed for marriage in a monogamous relationship - a lifelong union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others.

Pastorally, I would also want to say that this is an issue for many in our country who have come from a different culture where polygamy is normal or legal. I have seen many Christians grapple with this well - by honouring God and by honouring those in their marriage relationship(s).But we must honour God first. This is the best way to honour each other. And I'll add that this is a far more complex situation than a brief Q and A can answer - so please don't take this an "answer" - it is more of a way to start discussions and think about something that is a real issue for many people.

Do you think Hannah's husband's and priest's confusion over why she was upset is meant to contrast with how God hears her clearly and responds with kindness?

Yes! No one was listening to God and no one was listening to Hannah. This is what happens when we all do "what we see fit". Hence the name "Samuel", which means "God heard".(Perhaps Hannah might have also been thinking "because my husband hasn't heard me and my priest hasn't either!)

Was Elkanah a good husband because of the way he loved Hannah, or a bad husband because he allowed Peninnah to torment her?

As we think about the torment that Hannah faced, brought about because of Elkanah's unfaithfulness in taking a second wife, we can see that when humans do what they see fit, rather that what God calls for, things go wrong. He did love Hannah, he says, but he certainly doesn't show it in some ways. He seems to neglect her and that neglect started the moment he had two wives instead of one.

Did Hannah know that it was the “lord [who] had closed her womb”?

Things in our world don't work properly. The moment sin entered the world, and humanity left the Garden of Eden, things were broken. Earthquakes, famine, poverty... from natural disasters to humans hurting humans, to cancer and infertility... our world is broken. It is not because of Hannah's own personal sin that her womb was closed. It was because she lived, like we do, in a broken world where things don't work the way they always should.

This phrase "The Lord had closed her womb" is a recognition by the writer (and possibly also the way Hannah saw the situation) from the beginning that God is Sovereign - that everything is in his hands. It could also be that God had not allowed her to bear children until this time so that the birth of Samuel might happen. Did God close her womb to bring this situation about? Or did God simply allow the natural course of a broken world to take place so he could step in and show his sovereignty? Either way, the result is the same: God uses our human brokenness to show his almighty power and favour, his love and grace. And ultimately, to bring about his purposes.

I think Hannah did know God is in control of this part of her life - which is why she went to him in prayer.

1 Samuel‬ ‭1:5‬ ‭ "... the LORD had kept her from conceiving.” ‭‭Hannah still prayed to God. Later, God answered her prayer. What can we learn about that?

It's a great lesson about patience, perseverance and trust in God's sovereignty.Jesus tells the story of the persistent widow in Luke 18:1-8...

Verse 1:Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up...

Jesus says it very simply - pray and do not give up. Prayer is not about getting what we want. Prayer is about trusting God, recognising his sovereignty, and accepting his will. When we keep praying, we keep our hearts focussed on him and trusting him, even when the answer from God ends up being a "no" or "maybe".

Hannah shows her absolute commitment to God. She keeps coming back to Him. She is an amazing example for us.

What was the word God made to Hannah (verse 23)?

It is a strange sentence.Some translations actually translate this as Elkanah saying to Hannah "May the Lord make good your word.". That is, Hannah's word. This isn't unusual in Hebrew due to the difference in "person" being only a small change in the Hebrew word. This translation would mean that Elkanah is saying to Hannah - "may the Lord enable you to fulfil your vow". I think this is a more likely translation.

Click here to watch the questions answered during our live Q&A after the sermon at night church on last Sunday.

st phil's logo




Prayer Book English ServiceFamily English ServiceFamily Mandarin ServiceCantonese ServiceKorean ServiceModern Mandarin ServiceIndonesian ServiceModern English Service

    St Philip's Eastwood Anglican Church

    Cnr. Shaftsbury Rd & Clanalpine St, Eastwood NSW 2122

    Sanity Logo
    Structured content powered by