From Eternity Past


Chapter 55—God Calls the Child Samuel

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

Elkanah, a Levite of Mount Ephraim, was a man of wealth and influence who loved and feared the Lord. His wife, Hannah, was a woman of fervent piety and lofty faith. EP 411.1

Their home was not gladdened by the voice of childhood, so the husband contracted a second marriage. But this step, prompted by lack of faith in God, did not bring happiness. Sons and daughters were added to the household, but the joy and beauty of God's sacred institution had been marred and the peace of the family broken. EP 411.2

Peninnah, the new wife, was jealous and narrow-minded, and bore herself with pride and insolence. To Hannah, hope seemed crushed, and life a weary burden; yet she met the trial with uncomplaining meekness. EP 411.3

At Shiloh Elkanah's services as a Levite were not required. Yet he went up with his family to worship and sacrifice at the appointed gatherings. Even amid 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, signifying that his affection for her was the same as if she had had a son. Then the second wife, fired with jealousy, claimed the precedence as one highly favored of God and taunted Hannah with her childless state. EP 411.4

This was repeated from year to year until Hannah could endure it no longer. She wept without restraint and withdrew from the feast. Her husband vainly sought to comfort her. “Why weepest thou? and why eatest thou not? and why is thy heart grieved? Am not I better to thee than ten sons?” EP 412.1

Hannah uttered no reproach. The burden which she could share with no earthly friend she cast upon God. Earnestly she pleaded 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 its birth. EP 412.2

Hannah had drawn near to the entrance of the tabernacle and in the anguish of her spirit “prayed, ... and wept sore.” In those evil times, such scenes of worship were rarely witnessed. Eli the high priest, observing Hannah, supposed that she was overcome with wine. Thinking to administer a deserved rebuke, he said sternly, “How long wilt thou be drunken? put away thy wine from thee.” EP 412.3

Pained and startled, Hannah answered gently, “No, my lord, I am a woman of a sorrowful spirit: I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but have poured out my soul before the Lord. Count not thine handmaid for a daughter of Belial: for out of the abundance of my complaint and grief have I spoken hitherto.” EP 412.4

The high priest was deeply moved, for he was a man of God. In place of rebuke he uttered a blessing: “Go in peace: and the God of Israel grant thee thy petition that thou hast asked of Him.” EP 412.5