What kind of leaders should we follow? What kind of leaders should we be? And what does God have to do with it? These are some of the questions inherent in 1 Samuel, with its portrait of divine response to ancient Israel’s leadership crisis. That crisis was met through three men—Samuel, Saul, and David—in ways that forever changed the character of Israel’s leadership and clarified what God requires of his people and their leaders.
As John Woodhouse demonstrates, 1 Samuel’s biblical context provides serious reflection on our need for leadership and the failure of human leaders. But it also reveals God’s answer for Israel, which turns out to be his answer for the whole world and for each of us individually. This perceptive commentary not only illumines Old Testament history but brilliantly points to the New Testament promise that was fulfilled in Jesus, our sovereign leader and Savior.
“Each of these women had shared a sadness like Hannah’s, but in each case a child was subsequently born who was God’s answer to the crisis of the time.” (Page 23)
“Hannah, who has so far in the story been the passive recipient of the actions of others (of the Lord’s closing of her womb, of Peninnah’s taunts, and of Elkanah’s words of comfort), now acted. Her action (to all appearances an insignificant action) will turn out to change not only her life but the life of the nation and, indeed, if we dare to see it, the history of the world.” (Page 29)
“Eli’s physical condition was a reflection of the spiritual reality. He could not see the light of day, nor could he ‘see’ the word of the Lord. His darkness was deep.” (Page 75)
“Saul’s failure as Israel’s king consisted in this: his disobedience to God’s words to him.” (Page 258)
“The first is that Hannah’s predicament raises a question about God’s promised blessing on Israel. ‘There shall not be male or female barren among you,’ God had said (Deuteronomy 7:14). If we were wondering about Israel’s difficulties in these days when everyone was doing what was right in his own eyes, Hannah’s troubles were a representation of Israel’s troubles. This nation had been promised blessing. Where was the blessing in their threatened existence? Where was the blessing for Hannah as a member of God’s people, Israel? Her name, ironically, means ‘grace.’ What grace did she know?” (Page 22)