1 Samuel 2:5 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

1 Samuel 2:5, NIV: Those who were full hire themselves out for food, but those who were hungry are hungry no more. She who was barren has borne seven children, but she who has had many sons pines away.

1 Samuel 2:5, ESV: Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread, but those who were hungry have ceased to hunger. The barren has borne seven, but she who has many children is forlorn.

1 Samuel 2:5, KJV: 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 2:5, NASB: Those who were full hire themselves out for bread, But those who were hungry cease to be hungry. Even the infertile woman gives birth to seven, But she who has many children languishes.

1 Samuel 2:5, NLT: Those who were well fed are now starving, and those who were starving are now full. The childless woman now has seven children, and the woman with many children wastes away.

1 Samuel 2:5, CSB: Those who are full hire themselves out for food, but those who are starving hunger no more. The woman who is childless gives birth to seven, but the woman with many sons pines away.

What does 1 Samuel 2:5 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

The Lord uses His great power and knowledge to reverse the circumstances of people and change the expected outcomes for them. Hannah experienced this for herself and declares it in her song. Our human tendency is to be fatalistic. We assume whatever is true in this moment will be true forever.

The Lord, though, can easily cause the one who never knew hunger to suddenly find himself working for just enough bread to survive to the next day. At the same time, the Lord can cause those who have only known hunger to suddenly find themselves with all the food they need and much more.

Taking a personal tone, Hannah refers to a barren woman having many children. The Lord has caused what seemed impossible to happen and far beyond. Sadly, at the same time, the woman with many children can suddenly lose them in a moment.

Hannah eventually had five more children after Samuel (1 Samuel 2:21). God completely reversed her identity from barren woman to mother of many. The Bible repeatedly reveals God to be in control over life and death, including when a woman conceives (Genesis 18:9–15; 21:1–2; 29:31; 30:22; Judges 13:2–25; Jeremiah 1:5; 15:9; Luke 1:5–25). He is the God who can reverse what is thought to be irreversible.