I Sam. 1:1-4:1
One of God’s purposes for placing women on the earth was to bear children. Women who were unable to perform that high calling were often unhappy and even scorned by their peers. Such was the case of Hannah, one of the two wives of Elkanah of the tribe of Levi. His other wife, Peninnah scoffed and ridiculed Hannah because of her barrenness.
During their annual trip to the tabernacle at Shiloh to worship and sacrifice to God, Hannah was especially sorrowful. She prayed to the Lord that if He would send her a son, she would give him to the Lord, “all the days of his life, and no razor shall come upon his head.” That was the same Nazirite vow that had been made for Samson many years earlier.
The priest, Eli speaking for God informed Hannah that He would grant her petition. Soon after that occasion, the future judge and prophet, Samuel was born. Hannah fulfilled her promise after the child had been weaned and took Samuel to Eli to begin his life of ministry to the Lord. He was probably two or three years old at the time.
Fathers are heads of their households. The priests of God were especially responsible for setting good examples before the people. Eli’s sons, Hophni and Phinehas were everything but good examples for the people of God to follow. They abused their position of being sons of the priest in the manner in which they accepted their portion of the offerings and in immoral living.
Meanwhile, the righteous Elkanah and Hannah continued to be blessed by the Lord. In addition to Samuel, Hannah bore three sons and two daughters. Each year, when they went to the temple to worship, Samuel’s mother would bring him a new robe. “And the child Samuel grew in stature, and in favor both with the Lord and men.” That same statement was made about Jesus many years later as He grew into manhood.
God sent a messenger to Eli informing him that because of the wickedness of his sons, the priesthood would be taken from his descendants. Both of his sons would die in the same day and another would succeed him as priest. His descendants would all “die in the flower of their age.”
Samuel was probably about twelve years old and Eli was a blind old man. In order to be of service if needed, he slept near the priest. One night while they were sleeping, Samuel heard a voice call his name. He went to Eli, but it was not him who had called. After the third time that happened, Eli told Samuel to answer, “Speak, Lord, for Your servant hears.”
God instructed Samuel to reaffirm to Eli the things that he had been told previously. The boy, Samuel was in a very difficult position. He loved and respected Eli as a father, BUT the Lord God had given him an unpleasant message to deliver. His house would be judged forever, “because his sons made themselves vile, and he did not restrain them.” At Eli’s request, Samuel told all to him.
Samuel’s legacy as a prophet had begun. “And the word of Samuel came to all Israel.”