Chapter 1: Hannah’s Family Vision
By Gerald Flurry
We need to look at one of the most inspiring examples in the Old Testament. It should become etched in our memories forever.
“And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began. … Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days” (Acts 3:20‑21, 24). Here God is talking about the restitution of all things to the world. Jesus Christ is just about to return to this Earth to fulfill that prophecy. And in this passage, Samuel is singled out. He must have had something important to say about restoring all things to the world.
Samuel is classified as one of the former prophets, and at least 90 percent of Bible prophecy is for this end time.
Tradition says that God first appeared to Samuel when he was only 13 years old. So this is a message for young people and old people alike.
Acts 13:19-20 state, “And when he had destroyed seven nations in the land of Chanaan, he divided their land to them by lot. And after that he gave unto them judges about the space of four hundred and fifty years, until Samuel the prophet.” Until Samuel came, there was the terrible period of the judges when everyone did that which was right in his own eyes (Judges 21:25)—which is why Israel was ruled, most often, by the Philistines. It was Samuel who made a big change in Israel, through God’s direction. He helped establish the monarchy—the throne of David which Christ will sit on when He returns to restore all things to the world.
David laid the foundation for Israel’s greatest glory as a nation. That was only a little foretaste of what Christ’s rule will be like in the Millennium and over the universe forever!
“And afterward they desired a king: and God gave unto them Saul the son of Cis, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, by the space of forty years. And when he had removed him, he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will” (Acts 13:21-22). Samuel anointed David, the man who fulfilled all of God’s will. What a rich blessing David was for all Israel.
So Samuel had quite an impressive life. Let’s look at where it started.
“Now there was a certain man of Ramathaimzophim, of mount Ephraim, and his name was Elkanah, the son of Jeroham, the son of Elihu, the son of Tohu, the son of Zuph, an Ephrathite” (1 Samuel 1:1). The first word of this book, instead of being now, should be and, because it continues the story from the terrible period of the judges. It was about 1140 b.c., and there was quite a negative history being recorded (as there is in this end time with God’s spiritual nation). The Word of God was rare. Israel didn’t receive many revelations. God wasn’t able to work with them much at all during the judges period, with few exceptions.
“And he [Elkanah] had two wives; the name of the one was Hannah, and the name of the other Peninnah: and Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children” (verse 2). The relationship with these three was somewhat like Abraham and Sarah and her handmaid, where the handmaid was brought in to have children (see Genesis 16). Hannah could not have children, so Peninnah was brought into the marriage, which was a mistake. Still, it provides an important lesson for us today.
“And this man went up out of his city yearly to worship and to sacrifice unto the Lord of hosts in Shiloh. And the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, the priests of the Lord, were there” (1 Samuel 1:3). When Israel entered the Promised Land (approximately 400 years earlier), God used Joshua to establish headquarters at Shiloh. He wanted all of Israel looking to Shiloh. God wants everyone focused on Shiloh, or where the ark is—where His headquarters is. That is the kind of government that should rule the nations of Israel, as it does rule spiritual Israel, God’s Church.
“And when the time was that Elkanah offered, he gave to Peninnah his wife, and to all her sons and her daughters, portions: But unto Hannah he gave a worthy [or double] portion; for he loved Hannah: but the Lord had shut up her womb” (verses 4-5). Hannah was the love of Elkanah’s life—not Peninnah.
“And her [Hannah’s] adversary [Peninnah] also provoked her sore, for to make her fret, because the Lord had shut up her womb. And as he did so year by year, when she went up to the house of the Lord, so she provoked her; therefore she wept, and did not eat” (verses 6-7). Note that God closed Hannah’s womb. This was a significant trial for Hannah, and she received a lot of grief over it.
Husband Comes First
Notice how Elkanah handled this situation. “Then said Elkanah her husband to her, Hannah, why weepest thou? and why eatest thou not? and why is thy heart grieved? am not I better to thee than ten sons?” (1 Samuel 1:8). Elkanah was teaching his wife a very important lesson. Is a husband not more valuable than 10 sons? For a marriage to work, the supreme love must be between the husband and the wife. Serious problems arise in marriages when one of the parents exalts the children above the other mate.
But this example is about much more than a physical marriage—it is really about our spiritual marriage. Jesus Christ is our Husband, and He wants to be certain that we don’t look to any individual, any man, more than Him—that we will never exalt a man or 10 men above Jesus Christ. That is what created the Laodicean condition today! We are Christ’s helpmeet. We are to love God, our Husband, above the members in the Church. It is vital that we understand this lesson.
If we love our Husband the way we should, then we have that family love and family vision. You must always keep the God Family vision in mind.
Understanding Why Children
Hannah waited many years for a child. This was an immense trial she struggled with. But God was making her wait for an important reason. He was developing tremendous, godly character in this woman. After many years of being barren, Hannah had come to have an entirely different view about children.
One year when the family went to Shiloh, Hannah made a special prayer in the temple. “And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the Lord, and wept sore. And she vowed a vow, and said, O Lord of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the Lord all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come upon his head” (1 Samuel 1:10-11). She vowed to God that, if He would give her a son, she would dedicate him to God forever. That’s right—forever. She understood what she had to do with that son. In the years God made her wait, she had learned that.
How many people, even in God’s Church, understand that as deeply as they should? Child rearing should start long before the child is born, in that sense. Parents must first understand why God gives children. Hannah learned that. By the time her son came on the scene, she was ready to dedicate him to God. She was ready before the child came! That is the kind of understanding it takes to be a proper parent God’s way.
We must be prepared for children. By the time of the marriage, Jesus Christ’s wife will have made herself ready (Revelation 19:7). We must get ready before the children are there. What God wants us to do is to get ready to rear and teach billions of people. That is the wife’s purpose: to help Christ rear all those who will be called into God’s Family in the future. They are our spiritual children in this sense: They must come through Christ and His Bride to get to the Father, who begot them (John 6:44).
Our job is to help build the Father’s Family. Everybody will have the same Father and the same Family—or no family at all!
The Father rules His Family. He reigns supreme.
Having physical children helps prepare the firstfruits to get ready to have billions of children in the World Tomorrow. Those converted in the Millennium are likened to children of the Husband (Christ) and His wife, the Church. Rearing physical children is a type of what we will be doing spiritually in the World Tomorrow! We are called to help Christ in this job—to be His helpmeet. God wants us to focus our minds on all the children to come on the scene in the future and to get ready to rear them and dedicate them all to the Father, the way Hannah did her son.
Rearing children is a trial and a test. There is struggle involved. We have to struggle to teach our children. Likewise, it will be a struggle to teach all the spiritual children in the future. So God has us start small, learning many wonderful lessons with a few physical children. Even if you don’t have children, you can still learn this all-important lesson by studying God’s Word and observing other families.
Are you ready to rear and train billions of spiritual children? That is why we are here in God’s Church today. We must get ready for that awesome responsibility. “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!” (Romans 11:33).
God heard Hannah’s prayer, and allowed her to conceive as soon as she returned home. “[A]nd Elkanah knew Hannah his wife; and the Lord remembered her. Wherefore it came to pass, when the time was come about after Hannah had conceived, that she bare a son, and called his name Samuel, saying, Because I have asked him of the Lord” (1 Samuel 1:19-20). God gave this remarkable woman a son. Samuel means heard of God.
Hannah was committed to this child. Samuel was properly reared. Hannah fully intended to follow through on the promise she made to God. She spent the first few years preparing him to be brought to Shiloh, where the tabernacle was. She knew that when the time came to bring him to Shiloh, it would be permanent. “[T]hen I will bring him,” she said, “that he may appear before the Lord, and there abide for ever” (verse 22). We don’t know exactly how all this transpired. But her husband was very compassionate and supportive toward his wife.
Finally Hannah brought Samuel to Shiloh, along with a sizable offering. She presented him to Eli, the priest, who had heard her prayer in the temple several years earlier. She told him, “For this child I prayed; and the Lord hath given me my petition which I asked of him: Therefore also I have lent [given] him to the Lord; as long as he liveth he shall be lent to the Lord. And he worshipped the Lord there” (verses 27-28).
Hannah said she would give her child to God as long as he lived. The astounding part of this is that neither the Nazarites nor the Levites ever dedicated their children to God as Hannah dedicated Samuel! She had a marvelous attitude. How well do we teach our children to honor and please God?
Did Hannah dedicate her child to God? Did she ever! She gave birth to and reared a prophet!
There should be no chapter break at the end of the first chapter. 1 Samuel 2 is a prophecy about the Feast of Trumpets, which pictures Christ’s return. The Jews still read this chapter on Rosh Hashanah even today. Notice what Hannah begins to prophesy after she has had this child. “And Hannah prayed, and said, My heart rejoiceth in the Lord, mine horn is exalted in the Lord: my mouth is enlarged over mine enemies; because I rejoice in thy salvation” (1 Samuel 2:1). A horn is a symbol of strength and power. We’ll see what Hannah meant by that a little later.
“There is none holy as the Lord: for there is none beside thee: neither is there any rock like our God” (verse 2). The Hebrew word for God here is Elohim, which refers to the God Family. She understood so much about God’s Family. She probably understood God’s family plan more deeply than the most righteous women of God in the Bible—and this is before God gave her a child. When you understand their potential, you know those lovely children are gifts from God.
God used Samuel to deliver Israel anciently, as He will use the firstfruits to deliver Israel and the whole world in the future. We will give them a vision about the Rock—our Husband.
“Talk no more so exceeding proudly; let not arrogancy come out of your mouth: for the Lord is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed” (verse 3). God is watching all our words and deeds. When Christ returns, every person will be judged (Matthew 12:36). The time to rid ourselves of our vanity and arrogance is now. We are getting ready to rule the world and later the universe with Jesus Christ.
“The bows of the mighty men are broken, and they that stumbled are girded with strength. They that were full have hired out themselves for bread; and they that were hungry ceased: so that the barren hath born seven; and she that hath many children is waxed feeble” (1 Samuel 2:4-5). Remember, this is an end-time prophecy.
The second and third chapters of Revelation describe seven successive eras of God’s true Church from Christ’s first coming until His Second Coming. (Our free book The True History of God’s True Church will explain this to you.) The final era, the Laodicean (Revelation 3:14-22), is a colossal failure. That is the era currently on the scene. Look at this spiritually. The Laodiceans are “full”; they are rich and increased with goods (verse 17). They have lost this awesome, magnificent vision God gave them through the end-time Elijah, Herbert W. Armstrong, during the Philadelphia era (verses 7-13).
Notice the phrase “they that were hungry ceased” in 1 Samuel 2:5. There is a cutoff when a man such as the end-time Elijah comes along. While Mr. Armstrong was preaching God’s truth, people who were hungering and thirsting spiritually would come along to develop and grow as members of God’s Family. There were prospective members, donors, people who only had a slight interest in God’s Work. Then, all of a sudden, they that were hungry just ceased being fed. When “they that were full” turned away from God, it spelled disaster for the many people who were being nurtured spiritually!
If God’s people—those whom He called out of this world and gave this vision to—don’t get out and proclaim His message to the world, they will lose their own blood (Ezekiel 33:7-9). That is how important God’s message is. But on top of that, they will be guilty of the blood of those to whom they should have been giving this message—the whole world! This is all there is. This is why man. This is why God gives physical children. When people turn away from that, they turn away from God.
God’s Work always continues, though. We can’t escape the responsibility God has given us. It is up to us to do the Work. This world desperately needs the message God has given us to deliver. There is so much sadness in this world. Hannah said that the woman with many children is waxed feeble. The Hebrew means to droop or hang down the head, or a drooping heart. As tragedies in this world increase, a mother with many children who doesn’t know about Elohim will be bereaved. Look at what is happening to our children today with the drugs and violence in schools. Yes, many women are hanging their heads. Although they may have many children, there is something missing. Do they know about Elohim? Do they know about the God Family? If they do, are they heeding what Elohim says so they can become a part of His Family? This is the message God has been teaching man from the beginning—all the way back to Samuel and even before, to the very first man and woman.
On the other hand, Hannah said that if you are barren, and you go to God and try to understand this, He will give you seven children! Your joy will multiply.
This world’s women don’t think the way Hannah did!
“The Lord killeth, and maketh alive: he bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up” (1 Samuel 2:6). God kills, and He makes alive—He resurrects! He will do it even to people in His own Church. Many of them will be killed and brought back to life shortly after that. The Laodiceans who are full and have no need for God will soon face death. Because they have hired themselves out for bread, exchanging this God Family vision for the evil of this world, they will have to repent before God will resurrect them to a place in His Family. Otherwise, God will “bring them down to the grave”—forever!
Pillars of the Earth
“The Lord maketh poor, and maketh rich: he bringeth low, and lifteth up. He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory: for the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s, and he hath set the world upon them” (1 Samuel 2:7-8). Hannah is prophesying about the first resurrection, when God will raise up His firstfruits from the dust. He will raise them from the dunghill and make them royalty. He will make them pillars and set the whole world on their shoulders.
These verses picture a time when Samuel, Hannah, Elkanah and many others will be resurrected as pillars at headquarters—pillars for God to set the rule of the world upon. Revelation 3:12 is a companion scripture, showing that God will make the Philadelphians into pillars.
Hannah also talks about them inheriting the “throne of glory”—David’s throne. In Revelation 3:21, Jesus Christ promises His Philadelphian Bride that they will share this throne! In addition to being pillars, we will rule the world. We will be with Christ, ruling with Him, under our Father. That is the God Family vision.
This is what Hannah saw! She saw that she could have a son, and God would make him a firstfruit pillar—and God would resurrect him to set the whole world upon his shoulders. This is no fantasy—it will certainly happen! That is what God will do: raise people right up out of the dunghill—those the world so scorns and hates. They will be pillars. Most of the commentaries say Hannah was just being poetic. No, she was not! God will set the whole world upon those pillars—those Philadelphians who remain loyal in this end time. They will be pillars at headquarters, and God will set the whole world upon them! The very purpose for our calling today is to teach and rule the entire Earth in the near future—and, after that, the universe. That is our incredible human potential as firstfruits today!
That is a lot of responsibility. If God is going to give us this kind of glory, He must try and test us to prepare us.
But notice: “He will keep the feet of his saints, and the wicked shall be silent in darkness; for by strength shall no man prevail” (1 Samuel 2:9). We cannot get through this with human ability. God must keep our feet from slipping. So don’t worry about your trials and tests. You are Christ’s Bride! He will not let you slip. He will not let you fall.
The Horn of His Anointed
“The adversaries of the Lord shall be broken to pieces; out of heaven shall he thunder upon them: the Lord shall judge the ends of the earth; and he shall give strength unto his king, and exalt the horn of his anointed” (1 Samuel 2:10). This is a prophecy about David.
Remember, Hannah is talking about dedicating her son to God’s plan. Samuel ended up anointing David to sit on that throne and become God’s anointed. She must have understood that prophecy quite well. Recall verse 1. Hannah knew her horn would be exalted. And it was indeed: She gave birth to this prophet.
Make this personal, ladies. Realize that if you follow Hannah’s example, your horn will be exalted! You will be a part of David’s throne, just as Hannah and her son were.
Hannah knew about the prophecy later recorded in Luke 1: “He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest [the Father]: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end” (verses 32-33). This is about an eternal family, and it has to do with David’s royal family throne. It is about a family forever—a royal God Family vision.
Again, Samuel actually helped to originate this throne—the very throne which Jesus Christ, the Son of the Highest, will sit on at His return. He will rule with His Bride to expand God’s Family over all this Earth, and He will restore all things.
This is about you! God will exalt your horn in that day. We shall be His kings! He will give strength to His kings and priests! Jesus Christ soon will thunder out of the heavens to usher in His Kingdom to restore all things to the Earth!
Can you imagine having a vision like this after you’ve had a child? Hannah was some wife. She was desperately unhappy for a while; but it was because of that unhappiness that God could teach her this deep spiritual lesson.
Now, think far in advance. Think past the Millennium, past the Great White Throne Judgment—when the rest of humanity will have been resurrected and brought into God’s Family. Then they will be prepared to rule the universe. Human beings will have been glorified into sons of God, a family of God beings! That is what Hannah saw.
She saw that if she had a son, it would be a total waste to rear him without God’s truth and let the devil have him. Hannah realized God gives you a child as a gift, so you can give the child back to Him spiritually! If we don’t dedicate our children to God as Hannah did, we will droop when we see what happens to our family. Of course, the children have a responsibility in that too.
Do we see the spiritual connection? If you have a son, can you look into his eyes and begin to educate him about the resurrection and the God Family vision? Can you really help him see why he is alive? Can you see as Hannah saw?
What wonderful and precious truth this is!
Desiring Spiritual Children
Now, consider this inspiring parallel. It is natural for us to desire physical children. In fact, some women have such a strong maternal desire that they have children even when afflicted by grotesque health problems. Still they have children, because that desire is so strong within them.
What about having spiritual children? We don’t naturally desire spiritual children. That is an unnatural desire. How much time do you spend thinking about all those wonderful children that you’re going to have with Jesus Christ, your Husband? How much do you yearn for sons and daughters in the Family of God? Do you desire with all your passions to have children in the Family of God? We must build that yearning for a spiritual family.
That is so unnatural that it takes the Spirit of God to truly yearn for that; yet that is the purpose Christ’s Bride will fulfill!
If you understand that deeply, you can understand why we are so concerned about the Laodiceans. After that, you can understand why we are so concerned about the world—because they are the potential Family of God! Meditate on it, pray about it, study it, because it is unnatural to deeply yearn for the world to be in God’s Family! We do not spend nearly enough time thinking about it the way Hannah did. God put her through a trial so she could realize this astounding parallel!
The Bride of Christ must build a natural yearning, a natural desire, to have spiritual children! That desire, however, must come from God. Remember, spiritually we are the woman; we must be building this spiritual yearning within us, where we feel we must have spiritual children. The real family is the God Family! That’s the family God wants us to really get passionate about.
The physical family is here only to help us get into the spiritual family.
This God Family vision really stretches your mind. It is unnatural for us, but it is the way Christ, our Husband, thinks! We must think that way too if we are to marry Him! (Philippians 2:5).
Imagine what Christ would say if we married Him and then told Him that we didn’t really want children. Of course, this is hypothetical; we would not even be Christ’s wife if we thought that way. If we don’t want children, then we are in the wrong spiritual family! And we won’t be the Bride of Christ.
Christ is determining now if you want to have a lot of children; and by a lot, He means all of humanity. Multiple billions of people will be given the opportunity to be a part of the God Family before this is over.
That is the lesson that God taught Hannah when He closed her womb. We have our trials and tests so we can be prepared for the Family of God. We must be ready; we must come to think like the wife of Jesus Christ. Hannah was barren, and God would probably have left her that way if she had not passionately desired to dedicate her son to Him.
God is teaching us that we must understand our purpose for being created, or our life is shamefully wasted. That is what this world is now learning by excruciating experience!
When you plan to have a child, do you think about it with God’s perspective? Do you think about it with this vision? There really is not another example quite like Hannah’s in all the Bible. Mary, Sarah and other women of the Bible were no doubt even greater than Hannah in some respects. However, I don’t see any woman like Hannah who had such a transcendent vision of why God gives us physical children.
What an awesome vision she had! She had her child and began prophesying about the Feast of Trumpets and the Feast of Tabernacles.
Look at all of God’s feast days—especially Pentecost, Trumpets, Tabernacles, the Last Great Day. What are they about? Sons of God being born into God’s Family!
Some women are bored by and perhaps even hostile toward the notion of being a housewife and mother. Some women want to establish a career in the workforce. But look at the vision in Hannah’s home! Look at what Hannah saw. She didn’t want another career. She knew she had the greatest career God had to offer. Her job was to get her son ready to be born into God’s Family. And she bore a prophet! She really knew how to rear children. She realized what a wonderful career it is. But women even in God’s Church can lose that vision—and what happens to the children then? What an awful sin it is to sacrifice our children to the world and to the devil!
Having a child is about bringing the whole world at one with God—one child at a time! We are supporting Christ in this effort. Why are we bringing them at one with God? So they too can be members of the God Family. That’s the only reason. When we see a little child, can we connect him or her to the God Family vision? Children of converted members in God’s Church, even if not baptized when Jesus Christ returns, I believe will still be a part of that firstfruits group, because they were sanctified before Christ’s return. Our children have such a wonderful future!
If we do our part as parents, generally speaking we will have great young people who yearn to be taught about the God Family vision and what it means to their future. What other vision will cause them to stand up to this evil world? This vision makes it real in their minds. How heartbreaking it is when you see parents who will not dedicate their children to God and will not teach them the God Family vision. In some cases, maybe they need to go through a trial worse than Hannah’s to learn that lesson.
As the adversary, Satan too has a message for young people. He also can teach his way effectively. How quickly he can turn them away if they are not grounded and established in this vision! It is so simple for him.
As parents, we should make it impossible for Satan to do that to our children. Just being parents brings a great responsibility. If you understand God’s plan—the most luminous vision you could ever hear—it puts great responsibility on your shoulders.