“Samuel, the Boy Prophet,” Friend, May 1983, 48
Hannah did not feel comforted, even after talking with her loving husband, Elkanah. She wanted to be a mother!
When Hannah entered the temple, she knelt to pray. “O Lord of hosts,” she pleaded, “if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and … wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the Lord all the days of his life.”
Eli, the priest, was watching Hannah. Her lips were moving, but she prayed silently. He thought she was drunk, and he approached her, asking, “How long wilt thou be drunken?”
Hannah answered, “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.”
Understanding the intent of Hannah’s heart, Eli said, “Go in peace: and [may] the God of Israel grant thee thy petition that thou hast asked of him.”
The days seemed brighter for Hannah when she discovered that the Lord had answered her prayer. She was overjoyed when her beautiful baby boy was born, and she named him Samuel.
Hannah treasured every moment with Samuel. He learned to walk and to talk, and he was a great joy to his parents. Nevertheless, Hannah remembered her promise to dedicate her son’s life to the Lord. When Samuel was old enough, she took him back to the temple. Samuel was to live there, seeing his parents only once a year when they came to worship. As difficult as it was to leave Samuel, Hannah was true to her promise. With gratitude she offered her son as a servant to the Lord.
There were many things to learn and do in the temple, and Samuel learned rapidly and was obedient. Eli’s sons also worked in the temple, but they were wicked and disobedient. The Lord commanded Eli to correct his sons, but Eli ignored their wickedness.
One night after young Samuel had gone to bed, he heard a voice calling his name. Quickly he ran to Eli’s side, saying, “Here am I; for thou calledst me.”
“I called not,” Eli responded; “lie down again.”
Samuel obeyed Eli and returned to his bed. When he lay down again, he heard the same voice call his name.
Samuel hurried back to Eli’s side, but Eli again denied calling him. Puzzled, Samuel returned to his room. A third time he clearly heard his name called, and again he returned to Eli.
This time Eli realized that it must be the Lord who was calling Samuel. He said, “Go, lie down: and it shall be, if he call thee, that thou shalt say, Speak, Lord; for thy servant heareth.”
Samuel returned to bed and waited. Once more the Lord came and called, “Samuel, Samuel.”
This time Samuel responded, “Speak; for thy servant heareth.”
The Lord then told Samuel that because Eli’s sons were disobedient and because Eli did not control them, they would be punished and Samuel would become the new prophet.
Because of his diligence and obedience, Samuel continued to learn and grow. The Lord was with him, and all Israel knew that Samuel had been called to be a prophet of the Lord.