The Boy Samuel

I Samuel 1-2    Review Activities for this Lesson

Samson may have been the most famous judge, but the most important judge was a man named Samuel. To understand all about Samuel, we must begin with his mother Hannah and the time before he was born. Hannah was a godly woman and was married to a Levite named Elkanah. But Hannah was unhappy because she and Elkanah had no children. Elkanah’s other wife Peninniah had both sons and daughters. Peninniah often made fun of Hannah because she could not have children, mocking her sometimes until she cried. Not only did this make life miserable for Hannah at their home in Ramah - - when they went up to Shiloh to worship, Peninniah hurt Hannah’s feelings so much she could not eat.

Hannah’s husband Elkanah was sorry to see Hannah so sad. “Why do you weep?” he asked her. “Am I not better to you than ten sons?”

Elkanah could not help Hannah, but she knew there was Someone who could. As soon as they finished eating, she got up and started praying in her heart, still crying because she was so upset. “O Lord of hosts, if You will indeed…give your maidservant a male child, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and no razor shall come upon his head.” Eli the high priest saw Hannah’s lips moving and, when he heard no sound, he thought she must be drunk. So Eli reproved her, saying, “How long will you be drunk? Put away your wine from you!”

But Hannah told Eli she was not drunk. When she had poured out her sorrow to him, he was kind to her and said, “Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant your petition which you have asked of Him.”

Imagine Hannah’s happiness later when God gave her a son! She named him Samuel, which meant “asked of God.” That year when Elkanah took the rest of the family up to the tabernacle at Shiloh, Hannah stayed at home with her baby, saying, “I will not go up until the child is weaned. Then I will take him, that he may appear before the Lord and remain there forever.”

When Samuel was old enough, Hannah kept her promise and took him to Shiloh, along with her offerings to God. There she told Eli the priest that she was the woman who had prayed for a child earlier - - the little boy was the answer to her prayer. “Therefore have I lent him to the Lord;” Hannah said, “as long as he lives he shall be lent to the Lord.”

After they had worshipped, the family returned to Ramah. How do you think Hannah felt, leaving her child behind? She would surely miss him having him around the house and being able to hold and love him. But Hannah was determined to keep her vow to God.

Elkanah must have hated to give up Samuel, too. He had other children, but this boy was the only child of the wife he loved. As the head of the family, he could have even cancelled Hannah’s vow to God, but he respected her too much to do that.

God did not forget Hannah and gave her more children because she trusted Him and kept her vow. Soon she had two daughters and three more sons. And, of course, Hannah and Elkanah did not forget Samuel, either. Each year before they went to Shiloh to worship, Hannah made a new coat for him. She must have been both sad and happy when she gave it to him - - happy seeing him grow into a fine young man and sad knowing they would have to say good-bye again.

Nobody knew it at the time, but God was raising up Samuel to be a great prophet who would judge His people. They were still having hard times because of the Philistines and there was another serious problem. Eli the high priest was getting old and his sons Hophni and Phinehas were wicked men. When the people brought their offerings to God, Hophni and Phineas took the best part for themselves instead of giving it to God. They also sinned with the women who came to the door of the tabernacle.

God would use Samuel to free Israel from the Philistines and help turn His people back to Him.

Talking it Over:

1. What can happen to children today when parents have more than one partner because of divorce?
2. Hannah took her problems to God. What kind of problems do boys and girls have that they need to turn over to Him?
3. Talk about how all children are really just “lent” to their parents from the Lord. Hannah must have missed Samuel after she took him to Shiloh to live. But she had the best kind of happiness a parent can have, knowing her child was serving God faithfully. How can that be a blessing to young people now and after death?

Memory Verse:

“Therefore have I lent him to the Lord. As long as he lives, he shall be lent to the Lord.” I Samuel 1:28
How can parents “lend their children to the Lord” today?

Text by Betty Belue Haynes, originally published in Bible Talk Times. Used here with the kind permission of the author. Users are free to reproduce for use, but not for publication.