SAMUEL IS BORN
Psalm 34:15, ESV
The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous and his ears toward their cry.
1 SAMUEL 1:1-8, NIrV
1 A certain man from Ramathaim in the hill country of Ephraim was named Elkanah. He was the son of Jeroham. Jeroham was the son of Elihu. Elihu was the son of Tohu. Tohu was the son of Zuph. Elkanah belonged to the family line of Zuph. Elkanah lived in the territory of Ephraim. 2 Elkanah had two wives. One was named Hannah. The other was named Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah didn’t.
3 Year after year Elkanah went up from his town to Shiloh. He went there to worship and sacrifice to the Lord who rules over all. Hophni and Phinehas served as priests of the Lord at Shiloh. They were the two sons of Eli. 4 Every year at Shiloh, the day would come for Elkanah to offer a sacrifice. On that day, he would give a share of the meat to his wife Peninnah. He would also give a share to each of her sons and daughters. 5 But he would give two shares of meat to Hannah. That’s because he loved her. He also gave her two shares because the Lord had kept her from having children. 6 Peninnah teased Hannah to make her angry. She did it because the Lord had kept Hannah from having children. 7 Peninnah teased Hannah year after year. Every time Hannah would go up to the house of the Lord, Elkanah’s other wife would tease her. She would keep doing it until Hannah cried and wouldn’t eat. 8 Her husband Elkanah would say to her, “Hannah, why are you crying? Why don’t you eat? Why are you so unhappy? Don’t I mean more to you than ten sons?”
The book of 1 Samuel tells us all about… Samuel, of course! He was the last of the judges to lead God’s people. The family that Samuel was born into was a bit of a strange one. His future father, Elkanah, had disobeyed God’s plan for marriage. Instead of one wife, he had two! The Bible makes it pretty clear: breaking God’s plan for marriage leads to disaster 100% of the time. In this particular family, one wife (Peninnah) was able to have kids while the other (Hannah) could not. Did Peninnah feel sorry for heartbroken Hannah? Nope! Instead, she drove Hannah crazy with non-stop teasing!
+ What special thing did Elkanah do when his family traveled to Shiloh? (vs. 4-5)
+ Whenever Peninnah would tease her, what would Hannah do? (vs. 7)
1 SAMUEL 1:9-18, NIrV
9 One time when they had finished eating and drinking in Shiloh, Hannah stood up. Eli the priest was sitting on his chair by the doorpost of the Lord’s house. 10 Hannah was very sad. She wept and wept. She prayed to the Lord. 11 She made a promise to him. She said, “Lord, you rule over all. Please see how I’m suffering! Show concern for me! Don’t forget about me! Please give me a son! If you do, I’ll give him back to the Lord. Then he will serve the Lord all the days of his life. He’ll never use a razor on his head. He’ll never cut his hair.”
12 As Hannah kept on praying to the Lord, Eli watched her lips. 13 She was praying in her heart. Her lips were moving. But she wasn’t making a sound. Eli thought Hannah was drunk. 14 He said to her, “How long are you going to stay drunk? Stop drinking your wine.”
15 “That’s not true, sir,” Hannah replied. “I’m a woman who is deeply troubled. I haven’t been drinking wine or beer. I was telling the Lord all my troubles. 16 Don’t think of me as an evil woman. I’ve been praying here because I’m very sad. My pain is so great.”
17 Eli answered, “Go in peace. May the God of Israel give you what you have asked him for.”
18 She said, “May you be pleased with me.” Then she left and had something to eat. Her face wasn’t sad anymore.
Eli was the high priest. It was his job to work in the Tabernacle. As he sat near the entrance to the tent, he saw something strange. It was a woman with tears streaming down her face, moving her lips, but not making a peep. Eli thought, “This lady is tipsy from too much wine.” But when he went to shoo this wild woman away, the old priest quickly discovered his mistake. Hannah’s belly wasn’t filled with wine – her heart was filled with sadness! Her tears spilled and lips moved in desperate prayer for a child. So instead of chasing Hannah away, Eli told her, “May God give you what you asked for.”
+ As Hannah prayed, what promise did she make to God? (vs. 11)
+ Why were Hannah’s lips moving, but not making any sound? (vs. 12-13)
1 SAMUEL 1:19-20, NIrV
19 Early the next morning Elkanah and his family got up. They worshiped the Lord. Then they went back to their home in Ramah. Elkanah slept with his wife Hannah. And the Lord blessed her. 20 So after some time, Hannah became pregnant. She had a baby boy. She said, “I asked the Lord for him.” So she named him Samuel.
For years, Hannah was unable to have a baby. But she knew God was more than able to help her. Making one little baby would be no problem for the universe-making God! After pledging a special promise to God (“If you give me a baby, I’ll give him right back to you”), Hannah and her husband returned home from the Tabernacle. And wouldn’t you know it? God answered her prayer with a miracle! Hannah finally became a mama. Since her baby boy had been an answer to prayer, Hannah gave him the “Samuel.” In the language Hannah spoke, that name meant “God heard me.”
+ After Eli said, “May God answer your prayer,” what did Hannah do? (vs. 19)
+ What did Hannah say as she gave Samuel his name? (vs. 20)
1 SAMUEL 1:21-28, NIRV
21 Elkanah went up to Shiloh to offer the yearly sacrifice to the Lord. He also went there to keep a promise he had made. His whole family went with him. 22 But Hannah didn’t go. She said to her husband, “When the boy doesn’t need me to breast-feed him anymore, I’ll take him to the Lord’s house. I’ll give him to the Lord there. He’ll stay there for the rest of his life.”
23 Her husband Elkanah told her, “Do what you think is best. Stay here at home until Samuel doesn’t need you to breast-feed him anymore. May the Lord make his promise to you come true.” So Hannah stayed home. She breast-fed her son until he didn’t need her milk anymore.
24 When the boy didn’t need her to breast-feed him anymore, she took him with her to Shiloh. She took him there even though he was still very young. She brought him to the Lord’s house. She brought along a bull that was three years old. She brought 36 pounds of flour. She also brought a bottle of wine. The bottle was made out of animal skin. 25 After the bull was sacrificed, Elkanah and Hannah brought the boy to Eli. 26 Hannah said to Eli, “Pardon me, sir. I’m the woman who stood here beside you praying to the Lord. And that’s just as sure as you are alive. 27 I prayed for this child. The Lord has given me what I asked him for. 28 So now I’m giving him to the Lord. As long as he lives he’ll be given to the Lord.” And there Eli worshiped the Lord.
Hannah had prayed a big prayer: “God, give me a child!” But along with that big prayer, she made a big promise: “I’ll give this boy back to you, to serve you his whole life.” And ow that God had answered her big prayer, it was time for Hannah to keep her big promise. How hard it must have been for Hannah to say goodbye to hera little miracle man! But she was a woman of her word. After Samuel was weaned and no longer needed his mother’s milk, Elkanah and Hannah made a trip back to Shiloh. There, they dropped off little Sam to live with Eli the priest and serve God at the Tabernacle.
+ What did Hannah bring with her to offer as a sacrifice to God? (vs. 24)
+ After Hannah brought Samuel to him, what did Eli do? (vs. 28)
1 SAMUEL 2:1-11, NIRV
1 Then Hannah prayed. She said,
“The Lord has filled my heart with joy.
He has made me strong.
I can laugh at my enemies.
I’m so glad he saved me.
2 “There isn’t anyone holy like the Lord.
There isn’t anyone except him.
There isn’t any Rock like our God.
3 “Don’t keep talking so proudly.
Don’t let your mouth say such proud things.
The Lord is a God who knows everything.
He judges everything people do.
4 “The bows of great heroes are broken.
But those who trip and fall are made strong.
5 Those who used to be full have to work for food.
But those who used to be hungry aren’t hungry anymore.
The woman who couldn’t have children has seven of them now.
But the woman who has had many children is sad now because hers have died.
6 “The Lord causes people to die. He also gives people life.
He brings people down to the grave. He also brings people up from death.
7 The Lord makes people poor. He also makes people rich.
He brings people down. He also lifts people up.
8 He raises poor people up from the trash pile.
He lifts needy people out of the ashes.
He lets them sit with princes.
He gives them places of honor.
“The foundations of the earth belong to the Lord.
On them he has set the world.
9 He guards the paths of his faithful servants.
But evil people will lie silent in their dark graves.
“People don’t win just because they are strong.
10 Those who oppose the Lord will be totally destroyed.
The Most High God will thunder from heaven.
The Lord will judge the earth from one end to the other.
“He will give power to his king.
He will give honor to his anointed one.”
11Then Elkanah went home to Ramah. But the boy Samuel served the Lord under the direction of Eli the priest.
As you read today’s Bible verses, you probably noticed that things looked a little strange. The words didn't fill up the whole page and there was a lot of empty space. When you see words spaced out like that in your Bible, it’s because those words are part of a song or a poem. After giving little Samuel back to God, Hannah prayed a special song. Through her sadness, Hannah sang a song of thanks to God for her miracle baby. Hannah praised God for caring for those who are weak: giving food to the hungry, children to the childless, and raising up the poor to sit in a place of high honor.
+ Look through Hannah’s song again. What are three ways God helps those who are weak and struggling?
1 SAMUEL 2:18-21 AND 26, NIRV
18 But the boy Samuel served the Lord. He wore a sacred linen apron. 19 Each year his mother made him a little robe. She took it to him when she went up to Shiloh with her husband. She did it when her husband went to offer the yearly sacrifice. 20 Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife. He would say, “May the Lord give you children by this woman. May they take the place of the boy she prayed for and gave to the Lord.” Then they would go home. 21 The Lord was gracious to Hannah. Over a period of years she had three more sons and two daughters. During that whole time the boy Samuel grew up serving the Lord.
26 The boy Samuel continued to grow stronger. He also became more and more pleasing to the Lord and to people.
Even though Hannah gave Samuel back to God to serve him at the Tabernacle, that didn't stop her from loving her boy like any mom would. Every year, Hannah and her husband made a trip back to Shiloh. And each time she came, she brought with her a homemade robe, just the right size for a growing kid like Samuel.
Eli was amazed at Hannah's willingness to return her son to God. So the old priest prayed his own special prayer: "God, give this woman children of her own!" And just as he had done for Hannah, God answered Eli’s prayer with a "Yes, yes, yes, yes, and yes!" God gave Hannah five more children: three sons and two daughters!
The true tale of Hannah and Samuel certainly has a lot to teach us. It shows us that God hears us when we pray. Remember, the name Samuel actually means “God hears”! And it teaches us about the God who hears our prayers – he has the power to do the impossible!
Little Samuel was just one of many God-given miracle babies mentioned in the Bible. Isaac, Jacob, Esau, Joseph, Samson, and John the Baptist were all born to women who were unable to become pregnant. It took God doing the impossible for each of these childless women to become mothers. These seven little God-sent guys point us forward to the most amazing miracle baby of all: God's Son Jesus!
In quite a few ways, the story of Samuel and his mother Hannah matches up with the story of Jesus and his mother Mary. After God gave Hannah a miracle baby, she gave him back to spend all his days serving the Lord at the Tabernacle. After God gave Mary a miracle baby, she watched in wonder as her special little guy served God every second of his life, from the day he was born until the day he died… and rose again!
As Samuel worked as a priest at the Tabernacle, he offered up sacrifices for the sins of his people. During a sacrifice, an animal was killed and burned in a fire. It was a eye-opening reminder of the deadly price of sin. But no matter how many sacrifices Samuel offered, his people kept piling up sin after sin after sin. And you know what? Samuel was a sinner, too!
Unlike Samuel, Jesus never offered a single sacrifice at the Tabernacle. That’s because he had a much more important mission – to offer himself up as a sacrifice! Priests like Samuel had sacrificed thousands and thousands of animals over hundreds and hundreds of years. But the blood of a billion bulls could never pay for a single sin.
That’s why Jesus offered himself as a sacrifice instead. As Mary’s miracle Son bled and died on the cross, the blood of the perfect Son of God paid for the sins of the whole world! And because of Jesus’ single sacrifice, sinners like us were saved!
+ How did the teachers at the temple react to Jesus’ answers? (vs. 47)
+ What does vs. 26 tell us about Samuel’s childhood?