Bible Story - Samuel the Boy Prophet
by: Charles Kent &
Elkanah, a Zuphite of the hill
country of Ephraim, lived at Ramah with his two wives, Hannah and
Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah had none.
This man used to go up from his village each year to worship and
offer a sacrifice to God of hosts at Shiloh. Whenever the day came
for Elkanah to offer a sacrifice he gave portions to his wife
Peninnah and to all his sons and daughters; but although he loved
Hannah, he gave her only one portion, for God had given her no
children. Peninnah made her angry by mocking her, for God had given
her no children. Elkanah did this year after year; but whenever
Hannah went up to the temple of God, Peninnah made her so angry that
she wept and would not eat. So Elkanah her husband said to her,
"Hannah, why do you weep and why do you not eat? Why are you so
troubled? Am I not more to you than ten sons?"
After they had eaten in Shiloh, Hannah arose and stood before the
temple of God, while Eli the priest was sitting on his seat beside
the door posts of the temple. With a sad heart she prayed earnestly
to God and wept bitterly. She also made this sacred promise:
"O God of hosts!
If thou wilt look at my affliction,
And remember, not forgetting thy servant,
But wilt give thy servant a son,
Then I will give him to thee,
Throughout all the days of his life;
And no razor shall touch his head."
While she continued praying before God, Eli watched her mouth. She
spoke to herself; her lips moved, but her voice was not heard, so
that Eli thought that she was drunk and said to her, "How long will
you act like a drunken woman? Put away your wine and go from the
presence of God." But Hannah answered, "No, my lord, I am an unhappy
woman; I have not drunk wine nor any strong drink, but I have been
pouring out my heart before God. Do not think that your servant is a
wicked woman, for I have gone on speaking until now because my grief
and vexation are so great." Eli answered, "Go in peace, and may the
God of Israel grant what you have asked of him." She said, "May your
servant have your approval!" So the woman went away and ate, and her
face was no longer sad.
Early in the morning she and her husband rose; and after they had
worshipped God, they returned to their home at Ramah. In the course
of the year Hannah had a son and named him Samuel, saying, "I asked
him of God."
Elkanah and all his household again went to offer the yearly
sacrifice to God, but Hannah did not go up, for she said to her
husband, "When the child is weaned, then I will take him, and he
shall go to God's temple and live there the rest of his life."
Elkanah said to her, "Do what seems best to you; wait until you have
weaned him; only may God help you to do what you have promised."
So the woman waited and nursed her son until she weaned him. Then
she took him with her, and a three-year-old ox, a bushel of flour,
and a skin of wine, and brought him to the temple of God at Shiloh.
Then they killed the ox, and Hannah brought the child to Eli and
said, "Oh, my lord, as surely as you live, I am the woman who stood
near you here praying earnestly to God. This is the boy for whom I
prayed. God has granted what I asked of him. Therefore I have given
him to God; as long as he lives he belongs to God."
Elkanah returned to his home in Ramah, but the boy stayed to serve
God under the direction of Eli the priest. So Samuel—a young boy
dressed in a linen robe—did the duties of a priest in the temple.
His mother also made him a little robe and each year brought it to
him when she came up with her husband to offer the yearly sacrifice.
Eli blessed Elkanah and said, "God repay you with children from this
woman for the gift which she has given to God." Then they returned
to their home; and Hannah had three more sons and two daughters.
Meantime the boy Samuel grew up in the temple of God.
The sons of Eli were very wicked. They knew not God, and they
despised the offerings which were brought to him. Eli was very old,
and whenever he heard that his sons were doing wrong he said to
them, "Why do you do such things, for I hear of your wicked deeds
from all the people. No, my sons: it is not a good report that I
hear from the people of God." But they did not listen to the words
of their father.
The boy Samuel grew and won the favor both of God and of men. He
continued to serve God under the direction of Eli; but in those days
not many messages came from God.
One day Eli was lying in his room. His eyes had begun to grow dim so
that he could not see. While the lamp of God was still burning, and
Samuel was lying in the temple of God where the ark of God was, God
called, "Samuel! Samuel!" He answered, "Here am I." Then he ran to
Eli and said, "Here am I, for you called me." But Eli said, "I did
not call, lie down again." So he went and lay down. Then God called
again, "Samuel! Samuel!" Samuel rose and went to Eli and said, "Here
am I, for you called me." But Eli answered, "I did not call, my son;
lie down again."
Now Samuel did not yet know God nor had a message from God been
given to him. So when God called Samuel again the third time, he
rose and went to Eli and said, "Here am I, for you called me!" Then
Eli knew that God was calling the boy. So he said to Samuel, "Go,
lie down, and if you are called, say, 'Speak, God, for thy servant
is listening.'" So Samuel went and lay down in his place.
Then God came and called as at other times, "Samuel! Samuel!" And
Samuel answered, "Speak, for thy servant is listening." God said to
Samuel, "See, I am about to do a thing in Israel that will make the
ears of every one who hears it tingle. On that day I will do to Eli
all that I have said that I would do to his family from the first to
the last. For I have told him that I will punish his family forever
for the crime of which he knew his sons were guilty, for they did
not do what God commanded and he did not stop them."
Samuel lay until morning, and then he opened the doors of the temple
of God. He was afraid to tell the vision to Eli. But when Eli called
him and said, "Samuel, my son," he said, "Here am I." Eli asked,
"What is the thing that God said to you? Keep nothing from me; may
God do to you whatever he will, if you keep from me a word of all
that he said to you." So Samuel told him everything, and kept
nothing from him. And Eli said, "It is God; let him do what seems
good to him."