“My Name Is Jehovah Sabaoth!”

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.