Lesson 81: 1 Samuel 1–2
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“Lesson 81: 1 Samuel 1–2,” Old Testament Seminary Teacher Manual (2014)

“Lesson 81,” Old Testament Seminary Teacher Manual

Lesson 81

1 Samuel 1–2


While worshipping at the tabernacle, Hannah wept and prayed to the Lord for a child. She covenanted with the Lord that if she were given a son, she would give him to the Lord. After witnessing Hannah’s sorrow and grief, and finding out its cause, Eli, the high priest, revealed to Hannah that God would grant her desire. Because of Hannah’s great faith, she was blessed with a son, whom she named Samuel. To keep the promise she made to the Lord, Hannah brought Samuel to Eli to serve the Lord. As Samuel grew in favor with the Lord and the people, Eli and his household were chastened for not honoring God.

Suggestions for Teaching

1 Samuel 1:1–28

Hannah covenants with the Lord as she prays for a son

Begin by listing some of the following adversities on the board (or invite students to name adversities that might be more relevant to them): an accident or illness; the premature death of a friend or family member; physical or learning disabilities; experiencing cruelty from others.

Write the following questions on the board:

Why is this happening to me?

What can I learn from these adversities?

  • If something challenging happens in your life, which of these two questions are you more likely to ask? Why?

Explain that many adversities and challenges are natural conditions of mortality and do not occur because the person experiencing them is at fault. Explain that as students study 1 Samuel 1, they will learn about Hannah, a faithful woman who faced adversity. Invite them to look for what we can learn from her example that can help us when we face adversity.

Copy the following chart on the board, and invite students to copy it in their class notebooks or scripture study journals or on a piece of paper:

Hannah’s Adversity

My Adversity





Ask students to read 1 Samuel 1:1–2 silently, looking for one of the adversities Hannah experienced.

  • According to verse 2, what was Hannah’s adversity? (She was unable to have children.)

Invite students to write Unable to bear children on line 1 under the column titled “Hannah’s Adversity.” In every age, there have been women who were unable to bear children despite their righteous desire to do so. In the culture in which Hannah lived, women experienced social shame if they were barren (or unable to bear children). It may also be helpful to remind students that at times in ancient Israel, righteous men and women practiced plural marriage (see Genesis 16:1–3; Jacob 2:30; D&C 132:1). Peninnah, the other wife of Hannah’s husband, Elkanah, was able to bear children. Peninnah’s ability to have children may have made Hannah’s inability to do so feel more devastating.

Explain that Elkanah and his family would travel to Shiloh yearly in order to worship and offer sacrifice. Shiloh was the site where the tabernacle, or “the house of the Lord” (1 Samuel 1:7), was located.

Invite a few students to take turns reading aloud from 1 Samuel 1:3–8. Ask students to follow along, looking for the other adversity Hannah experienced during these times. Help students understand that the phrase “her adversary also provoked her sore, for to make her fret” meant that someone was striving to upset Hannah because of her inability to have children.

  • How might Peninnah’s ability to have children have caused conflict between the two women?

  • How would you describe the adversity Hannah experienced? (After students respond, invite them to write Suffering unkindness from others on line 2 under “Hannah’s Adversity” on their charts.)

  • How might you be tempted to react if you were to experience unkindness from others?

  • What can you do if you or someone you know is being bullied, either in person or on the Internet?

Assign students to work in pairs and read 1 Samuel 1:9–18, looking for what caused Hannah’s sorrow to be replaced with peace. Invite students to refer to verse 16, footnote b, to learn what the word Belial means (“worthlessness; good-for-nothing, base wickedness”).

  • Which statements indicate that Hannah’s sorrow was replaced with peace?

  • What did Hannah do to receive this peace?

  • What else happened to allow Hannah to have her sorrow replaced with peace?

Help students identify a principle by asking the following questions:

  • If Hannah were here today, what principle do you think she would testify of? (Students may use different words, but make sure they identify the following principle: As we turn to the Lord in our adversity, He can provide help, hope, comfort, and peace.)

  • Does the Lord always remove our adversity when we pray for peace? What are some other ways He can give us peace?

To help students feel the truth and importance of the principle they identified, ask the following question:

  • When has the Lord blessed you with peace for turning to Him when you were experiencing adversity?

Invite students to ponder the adversities they may be facing and write them down under the column titled “My Adversity” on their charts. After sufficient time, invite them to ponder how they can turn to the Lord to receive His peace during their adversities.

Remind students that Hannah promised the Lord that if He would give her a son, she would give her son to His service. Ask a few students to take turns reading aloud from 1 Samuel 1:20–28. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how she kept her promise.

To help emphasize another truth we can learn from this account, write the following incomplete statement on the board: When we ask the Lord to bless us, we must be willing to …

  • How might you complete this statement based on verses 27–28? (Students may use different words, but they may complete the statement so it reads like the following principle: When we ask the Lord to bless us, we must be willing to use those blessings to serve Him.)

Invite students to think about how they have asked the Lord to bless them. Ask them to consider how they would use those blessings to serve the Lord. You might want to invite a few students to share some of their experiences.

1 Samuel 2:1–10

Hannah praises the Lord

Summarize 1 Samuel 2:1–10 by explaining that in these verses we read a prayer in which Hannah praised the Lord for all He had done for her. She also testified of Jehovah’s (Jesus Christ’s) power and mercy. Hannah’s prayer displays her great faith, knowledge of the gospel, and love for God. Point out that the Lord is pleased when we express gratitude for our blessings.

1 Samuel 2:11–36

Eli is chastened for not honoring God above others

Ask students what things members of the Church could do that would set a poor example of living the gospel and could affect the way others view the Church. Caution students against mentioning specific names or people.

After students respond, write the names Hophni and Phinehas on the board. Explain that these were two sons of Eli the priest. Invite a student to read 1 Samuel 2:12 aloud while the class follows along to learn about these two sons.

  • How do you think Hophni and Phinehas’s unrighteous behavior might have affected the people who came to the tabernacle to worship?

Explain that 1 Samuel 2:13–16 describes how these two sons brought disrespect to the tabernacle. Eli’s sons sinned by taking meat from the animal sacrifices that did not belong to them. By doing so, they were essentially robbing God of offerings and cheating the people.

Ask a student to read 1 Samuel 2:17 aloud. Ask the class to look for how the behavior of Eli’s sons affected those who came to worship at the tabernacle. Ask them to report what they find. You may want to explain that the word abhorred means to hate or strongly dislike.

Ask a few students to take turns reading aloud from 1 Samuel 2:22–25. Ask the class to follow along, looking for other behaviors that were a poor example for the people.

  • What other sins were the sons guilty of? (They engaged in immoral acts [see verse 22].)

  • According to verse 24, what did Eli say about how his sons’ behavior was affecting the people?

Point out that according to verse 25, Hophni and Phinehas were disobedient to their father’s counsel. Under the law of Moses, willful disobedience to parents was punishable by death, and the parents were obliged to see that the punishment was carried out (see Deuteronomy 21:18–21).

Ask a student to read 1 Samuel 2:27–29 aloud. Invite the class to follow along, looking for why the Lord was upset with Eli.

  • Why was the Lord displeased with Eli? (He honored his sons over God.)

Explain that because Eli did not carry out the punishment that the law of Moses required for his sons’ actions, he was failing to do his duty. Help students understand that Eli failed in his parental responsibility and in his office as the presiding priest. Although he rebuked his sons, he took no action to see that the abomination in his family and at the tabernacle was corrected.

Summarize 1 Samuel 2:31–36 by explaining that a “man of God” (1 Samuel 2:27) came to Eli and pronounced the Lord’s curse upon Eli and his house. Eli’s household would be destroyed, and his posterity would not live to old age. His sons would die on the same day, and the Lord would give the priests’ duties of the tabernacle to a more faithful man.

Invite the students to read 1 Samuel 2:30 silently, looking for what will happen if we honor the Lord above all others. (Explain that despise means to view with contempt or as worthless. Esteemed means respected or honored. If we view God with contempt, He will not respect or honor us.)

  • According to verse 30, what will happen if we honor the Lord? (Students may use different words, but they should identify the following principle: If we honor the Lord by keeping His commandments, He will honor us.)

Invite a student to read 1 Samuel 2:18–19 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how Elkanah and Hannah honored God. Ask another student to read 1 Samuel 2:20–21 while the class looks for how the Lord honored Elkanah and Hannah. Ask students to report what they find.

Point out that Eli lost his right to preside and his blessings of posterity because he did not respect God enough to punish his unrepentant sons for their sins. Conversely, Hannah received blessings for serving God.

  • What are the consequences of dishonoring or disrespecting the Lord?

  • When have you seen the Lord honor someone who honors Him?

Invite students to ponder how they can more fully honor God, and encourage them to follow any impressions they receive from the Spirit.

Commentary and Background Information

1 Samuel 1:9. What is the significance of Eli’s sitting upon a seat by a post of the temple?

“In the ancient Middle East, it was customary for certain officials to place a stool or seat in a courtyard or near the gate of the city where they could sit in judgment, hearing cases or complaints” (Old Testament Student Manual: Genesis–2 Samuel, 3rd ed. [Church Educational System manual, 2003], 267).

1 Samuel 1:20. What do Samuel and Hannah’s names mean?

Explain that in Hebrew, the name Samuel means “name of God” (Bible Dictionary, “Samuel”) or “heard of God” (see C. F. Keil and F. Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, 10 vols. [n.d.; repr., 1975], 2:2:25). Hannah may have given her son that name as a reminder of her vow to prepare him for the Lord’s service. The name Hannah means “grace” (Bible Dictionary, “Hannah”). Hannah’s account is a great illustration of God’s grace.

1 Samuel 2:1–10. What do we learn about Hannah from her prayer?

“Hannah’s prayer shows her to have been a woman with great faith and love for God. The horn (see v. 1) symbolized power and strength. God had given her the power to bear a child. The rock (see v. 2) was a representation of protection. Jesus Christ is the rock or stone of Israel, the protector from evil (see Matthew 21:42–44). In 1 Samuel 2:10 both allusions are combined into one: the Messiah is ‘the anointed one’ who will break all adversaries of the Lord in pieces (the Greek word for Messiah, Christos, also means ‘the anointed one’). He it was, Hannah said, who would be given strength in that his horn (power) would be exalted before men. This passage is a choice Old Testament reference to the future Messiah and shows that Hannah was blessed with the gift of prophecy” (Old Testament Student Manual: Genesis–2 Samuel, 3rd ed. [Church Educational System manual, 2003], 268).

Hannah’s expression of gratitude for being able to have a child to raise in love and righteousness exemplifies the importance of family and motherhood. Later, Mary would express her gratitude and praise (Luke 1:41–55, 67–80) after she, like Hannah, miraculously conceived and then dedicated her son completely to God’s service.

1 Samuel 2:12–16, 22. What were Eli’s sons doing that was wrong in the sight of the Lord?

According to the law of Moses, the priests in the tabernacle were to receive certain portions of the sacrifice to eat only after the fat was burned on the altar (see Leviticus 7:30–34). To take portions of the animal sacrifice before the offering was made was to steal from God and disrespect the priesthood ordinance. When Eli’s sons took what did not belong to them and took it before they should have, they were robbing God of offerings and cheating the people who had made the offerings. Because of Eli’s sons’ actions, the people disliked offering sacrifices (see 1 Samuel 2:17). However, even worse was Eli’s sons’ misuse of their priesthood office to seduce and commit adultery with women who came to worship at the temple (see 1 Samuel 2:22).