Beginning of the End


God Calls the Child Samuel

This chapter is based on 1 Samuel 1; 2:1-11.

Elkanah, a Levite from Mount Ephraim, was a wealthy and influential man who loved and respected the Lord. His wife, Hannah, was a woman of heartfelt devotion and strong faith. BOE 287.1

Their home was childless, so the husband took a second wife. But this step, prompted by lack of faith in God, did not bring happiness. Sons and daughters were added to the home, but the joy and beauty of the sacred marriage institution had been spoiled and the peace of the family broken. BOE 287.2

Peninnah, the new wife, was jealous and narrow-minded and acted proud and disrespectful. To Hannah, hope seemed crushed and life was a weary burden; yet she faced her pain with uncomplaining meekness. BOE 287.3

Elkanah’s services as a Levite were not required at Shiloh, but he went up with his family to worship and sacrifice at the regular gatherings. Even during the sacred festivities connected with the service of God, the evil spirit that had cursed his home intruded. After presenting the thank offerings, all the family, according to the custom, united in a solemn yet joyous feast. Elkanah gave the mother of his children a portion for herself and for each of her sons and daughters. He gave Hannah a double portion to show that his affection for her was the same as if she had had a son. Then the second wife, fired with jealousy, claimed first place as one that God had highly favored, and she taunted Hannah about her childless condition. BOE 287.4

This happened year after year until Hannah could no longer bear it. She wept uncontrollably and left the feast. Her husband tried to comfort her, but without success. “Why do you weep? Why do you not eat? And why is your heart grieved? Am not I better to you than ten sons?” BOE 287.5

Hannah did not accuse anyone. She went to God with the burden she could not share with any earthly friend. She pleaded earnestly that He would grant her the gift of a son to train for Him, and she made a vow that if her request were granted she would dedicate her child to God from his birth. BOE 287.6

Hannah came near the entrance of the tabernacle and in the distress of her spirit “prayed ... and wept in anguish.” In those evil times, such scenes of worship were rare. Eli the high priest, watching Hannah, supposed that she was overcome with wine. Thinking he should give her a well-deserved scolding, he said sternly, “How long will you be drunk? Put your wine away from you!” BOE 287.7

Startled and hurt, Hannah answered gently, “No, my lord, I am a woman of sorrowful spirit. I have drunk neither wine nor intoxicating drink, but have poured out my soul before the Lord. Do not consider your maidservant a wicked woman, for out of the abundance of my complaint and grief I have spoken until now.” BOE 288.1

The high priest was deeply moved, for he was a man of God. So instead of rebuke he spoke a blessing: “Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant your petition which you have asked of Him.” BOE 288.2