I Samuel 1:1-3
(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)
Although the name Jehovah Sabaoth is used 245 times in the Old Testament, the first time is found in I Samuel 1:3. Here are the first three (shortened) verses of that chapter:
Now there was a certain man of Rama-Ephraim, and his name was Elkanah....And he had two wives...Hannah, and...Peninnah ...[who] had children, but Hannah had no children. This man went up...yearly to worship and sacrifice to the LORD of hosts [Jehovah Sabaoth] in Shiloh.
This featured Scripture requires some back-story to better understand what was going on.
- In Bible times, the LORD’s blessing meant (among other things) being able to have children! Being childless was considered to be under God’s curse!
✡ Genesis 30:22-24 – “Then God remembered Rachel, and God...opened her womb. And she conceived and bore a son [Joseph], and said, ‘God has taken away my re- proach...’” (see also Luke 1:1:24, 25). ✡ Psalm 127:3-5 – “Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb is his reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are children of one’s youth. Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them; they shall not be ashamed...” (see also Psalm 37:25, 26).
- In I Samuel 1:5, 8 it says that her husband Elkanah “…loved Hannah, although the LORD had closed her womb….her husband said to her, ‘…why is your heart grieved? Am I not better to you than ten sons?” But still “…she wept and did not eat…” (I Samuel 1:7), because…
✡ ...she could not present her husband with a son! ✡ ...her rival wife Peninnah “...provoked her severely, to make her miserable, because the LORD has closed her womb.” (I Samuel 1:6).
- So Hannah went to pray at the tabernacle, then located at Shiloh (about 20 miles north of Jerusalem).
“O Lord of hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your maidservant and remember me, and not forget Your maid- servant, but will give Your maidservant a male child, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and no razor shall come upon his head.” (I Samuel 1:11, 12 – His long hair signified his dedication to God.) ✡ I Samuel 1:13,14 – “...Hannah spoke in her heart; only her lips moved....Therefore Eli [the High Priest] rebuked her, thinking she was drunk.” ✡ I Samuel 1:15, 16 – Hannah insisted she was not drunk, but told Eli, “...I am a woman of sorrow- ful spirit. I have...poured out my soul before the LORD. Do not consider you maidservant a wick- ed woman, for out of...my complaint and grief have I spoken....” ✡ I Samuel 1:17 – Eli then blessed her, “Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant your petition which you have asked of Him.”
- The last part of I Samuel 1:18 has always impressed me: “So the woman went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad.” This is what prayer is supposed to do for us! Here is how Paul says it in Philippians 4:6 and 7 (International Standard Version):
Never worry about anything. Instead, in every situation let your petitions be made known to God through prayers and re- quests, with thanksgiving. Then God's peace, which goes far beyond anything we can imagine, will guard your hearts and minds in union with the Messiah Jesus.
In other words:
✞ Tell it to God in prayer! ✞ Thank Him for your situation and His answer...before you even get His answer! ✞ Then God’s peace, which is beyond our understanding, “...will guard your hearts and minds in union with the Messiah Jesus.” ✞ Like Hannah, you can then go your way, and eat, and be no longer sad! You can get back to life joyfully, knowing that God will take care of things!
- Hannah’s prayer was answered when she conceived and gave birth to Samuel, the first and one of the greatest prophets in the Old Testament! By the way, Hannah had five more children after she dedicated Samuel back to the LORD.
But what has all this got to do with Jehovah Sabaoth? Sabaoth in Hebrew is צְבָאָה (pronounced tsab-aw-aw’) and meaning “…that which goes forth, army, war, warfare, host…service, go out to war….” (Brown-Driver-Briggs’ Hebrew Definitions). Here are what the notes in The New Scofield Reference Bible say about the name Jehovah Sabaoth (the LORD of hosts) in I Samuel 1:3:
...two ideas are united; Jehovah is LORD of (warrior) hosts. It is the name, therefore, of the LORD in manifestation of power. “The LORD of hosts, He is the King of glory.” (Psalm 24:10), and accordingly in the O.T. this name is revealed in the time of Israel’s need....Jeremiah, the prophet of ap- proaching national judgment, uses the name about 80 times ....this is the distinctive name of Deity for Israel’s help and comfort in the time of her division and failure....
So why is it used in I Samuel 1:3? Was Israel, at that time, facing division and failure?
- Samuel served as both the first prophet and the final judge of Israel! His judgeship lasted about 60 years. But we are told in I Samuel 8:1, 4, and 5:
...when Samuel was old...he made his sons judges over Israel ....Then all the elders of Israel...came to Samuel...and said unto him, “Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways; now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.”
- God was displeased, because He was their King! And Israel, by their demand, rejected the LORD! (see I Samuel 8:7).
- So God gave them their desire (see I Samuel 8:9, 19, 20). Saul was their first king, and Saul turned out to be a terrible king! So God rejected him! (see I Samuel 13:13, 14; 15:26). Israel experienced multiple crises under Saul’s reign!
What does Jehovah Sabaoth (the LORD of hosts) mean for us today?
- As it says in Psalm 46:7 and 11, “The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.” He still is!
- Are you facing a crisis? Maybe a big crisis? He is still Jehovah Sabaoth!
- As a matter of fact, the bigger the crisis you are facing, the more Jehovah Sabaoth is present to help!
In light of all this…Do not fear! Do not despair!
“The LORD of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our refuge.”