We are studying 1 Samuel 1:9-20 for Sunday, September 8. The text presents Hannah’s prayerful request for a son, and ends with the birth of Samuel, who will go on to be one of the significant figures in the history of Israel. [Notes on the text are here.] Here are a few questions that we might want to consider in our study of this text:

Look at all the times “drink” and “drinking” show up in this text, and how “drinking” seems to be used or what it seems to represent. What ideas about the characters, and about what is going on in this story, do these references to drinking give us? Is the story telling us anything here about what is good and bad?

What impression do we have of Hannah? Why?

Is Hannah a model for us in any way? How – what way or ways? Why do we say that?

Are there ways we resist seeing Hannah as a model? What ways? Why do we say that?

What impression do we have of Eli? Why? In particular – would we describe Eli as observant or “noticing,” or not? Why?

Is Eli a model, or an anti-model, for us in any way? What way or ways? Why do we say that?

Eli is pointedly contrasted with Hannah in this story. What do those contrasts tell us about what is going on in the story?

Hannah addresses her prayer to “Adonai Sabaoth,” that is, to the Holy God Commander of Hosts, or heavenly armies.

When would we expect someone to address their prayers to the Warrior God of Israel? Does Hannah’s situation fit our expectations here, or challenge them, or what? Why do we say this?

Does noticing this affect what we think or the way we feel about Hannah’s prayer? How? Why is that, do we think?

[As we are thinking along these lines, we might want to look ahead to Hannah’s prayer of praise and victory in 1 Samuel 2. And then we might want to look even farther ahead, to Mary’s prayer of praise and victory in Luke 1:46-55. So. Much. Winning. We might want to think about who is doing all this winning, and what that tells us about the Warrior God of Israel, and think about whether we seriously believe That God is on the side of the big battalions. Just sayin’.]

What does this story show us about prayer? [More personal] How does it resemble our own prayer? How does it not resemble our own prayer? Does the story give us any ideas about our own prayer life? What ideas? Why? What could we do about that?

a conversation by a roadside