2 The Child Samuel

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We must imagine ourselves in Shiloh, “the place of rest,” in the tribe of Ephraim, on a little hill with a meadow about it, shut in by higher hills, a little off the line of travel. There are ruins on the hill. At the time of our story a town was here, and in a place by itself stood the tabernacle, the sacred tent, which was made at Mount Sinai, according to the pattern shown to Moses in the mount, and was set up at Shiloh by Joshua when the land was conquered.

We remember the tabernacle: its open court with the altar of burnt-offering and the laver; its walls of upright planks and its coverings of curtains making the holy place for the table and lamp and altar of incense, and the most holy place for the ark of the commandments. The old priest Eli had care of the tabernacle. He was more than ninety years old and his eyes were dim. Some of the people still came each year to worship, perhaps especially in the spring, at the season of the Passover. But Eli’s sons who were priests were not good men and robbed the people of their offerings.

And a little boy helped the old priest at the tabernacle; his hair was long and he wore a linen ephod or vest like a priest. He helped at the altar, and went within the tabernacle to arrange the bread on the table, or to trim the lamp in the morning, or to light it in the evening, so that it would burn bright in the Lord’s house all night. While the lamp was burning, Eli and Samuel slept near by, perhaps under the overhanging curtains of the tent. And in the morning Samuel opened the doors or the curtains of the tabernacle to the sunshine. Now we know how to think of Samuel when we read our story. But before we read it I must tell you about Samuel’s home, and why he was living at the tabernacle.

His father and mother lived at Ramah. For many years as travellers have passed a little town called Bam, on a double-topped hill, on the way north from Jerusalem, they have believed that they were looking upon Samuel’s home, but now there is some reason to think that Ramah was beyond Jerusalem and Bethlehem, on two hills that rise from the beautiful green fields near Solomon’s pools, reservoirs that were afterwards made, to gather water for Jerusalem. Samuel’s mother Hannah had promised him to the Lord before he was born, and when he was weaned, which may have been when he was six or seven years old, she took him to live at Shiloh, to help at the tabernacle. She could still see her little boy each year when she came to the tabernacle to worship.

But I have kept you waiting too long for this beautiful story.

Now there was a certain man of Ramathaimzophim, of mount Ephraim, and his name was Elkanah, the son of Jeroham, the son of Elihu, the son of Tohu, the son of Zuph, an Ephrathite: And he had two wives; the name of the one was Hannah, and the name of the other Peninnah: and Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children. And this man went up out of his city yearly to worship and to sacrifice unto the LORD of hosts in Shiloh. And the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, the priests of the LORD, were there. So Hannah rose up after they had eaten in Shiloh, and after they had drunk. Now Eli the priest sat upon a seat by a post of the temple of the LORD. And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the LORD, and wept sore. And she vowed a vow, and said, O LORD of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the LORD all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come upon his head. And it came to pass, as she continued praying before the LORD, that Eli marked her mouth. Now Hannah, she spake in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard: therefore Eli thought she had been drunken. And Eli said unto her, How long wilt thou be drunken? put away thy wine from thee. And Hannah answered and said, 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.6 Count not thine handmaid for a daughter of Belial: for out of the abundance of my complaint and grief have I spoken hitherto. Then Eli answered and said, Go in peace: and the God of Israel grant thee thy petition that thou hast asked of him. And she said, Let thine handmaid find grace in thy sight. So the woman went her way, and did eat, and her countenance was no more sad. And they rose up in the morning early, and worshipped before the LORD, and returned, and came to their house to Ramah: and Elkanah knew Hannah his wife; and the LORD remembered her. Wherefore it came to pass, when the time was come about after Hannah had conceived, that she bare a son, and called his name Samuel, saying, Because I have asked him of the LORD. And the man Elkanah, and all his house, went up to offer unto the LORD the yearly sacrifice, and his vow. But Hannah went not up; for she said unto her husband, I will not go up until the child be weaned, and then I will bring him, that he may appear before the LORD, and there abide for ever. And Elkanah her husband said unto her, Do what seemeth thee good; tarry until thou have weaned him; only the LORD establish his word. So the woman abode, and gave her son suck until she weaned him. And when she had weaned him, she took him up with her, with three bullocks, and one ephah of flour, and a bottle of wine, and brought him unto the house of the LORD in Shiloh: and the child was young. And they slew a bullock, and brought the child to Eli. And she said, Oh my lord, as thy soul liveth, my lord, I am the woman that stood by thee here, praying unto the LORD. For this child I prayed; and the LORD hath given me my petition which I asked of him: Therefore also I have lent him to the LORD; as long as he liveth he shall be lent to the LORD. And he worshipped the LORD there. …

But Samuel ministered before the LORD, being a child, girded with a linen ephod. Moreover his mother made him a little coat, and brought it to him from year to year, when she came up with her husband to offer the yearly sacrifice. And the child Samuel grew on, and was in favour both with the LORD, and also with men….

And the child Samuel ministered unto the LORD before Eli. And the word of the LORD was precious in those days; there was no open vision. And it came to pass at that time, when Eli was laid down in his place, and his eyes began to wax dim, that he could not see; And ere the lamp of God went out in the temple of the LORD, where the ark of God was, and Samuel was laid down to sleep; 3:4 That the LORD called Samuel: and he answered, Here am I. And he ran unto Eli, and said, Here am I; for thou calledst me. And he said, I called not; lie down again. And he went and lay down. And the LORD called yet again, Samuel. And Samuel arose and went to Eli, and said, Here am I; for thou didst call me. And he answered, I called not, my son; lie down again. Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD, neither was the word of the LORD yet revealed unto him. And the LORD called Samuel again the third time. And he arose and went to Eli, and said, Here am I; for thou didst call me. And Eli perceived that the LORD had called the child. Therefore Eli said unto Samuel, Go, lie down: and it shall be, if he call thee, that thou shalt say, Speak, LORD; for thy servant heareth. So Samuel went and lay down in his place. And the LORD came, and stood, and called as at other times, Samuel, Samuel. Then Samuel answered, Speak; for thy servant heareth. And the LORD said to Samuel, Behold, I will do a thing in Israel, at which both the ears of every one that heareth it shall tingle. In that day I will perform against Eli all things which I have spoken concerning his house: when I begin, I will also make an end. For I have told him that I will judge his house for ever for the iniquity which he knoweth; because his sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not. And therefore I have sworn unto the house of Eli, that the iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be purged with sacrifice nor offering for ever. And Samuel lay until the morning, and opened the doors of the house of the LORD. And Samuel feared to shew Eli the vision. Then Eli called Samuel, and said, Samuel, my son. And he answered, Here am I. And he said, What is the thing that the LORD hath said unto thee?I pray thee hide it not from me: God do so to thee, and more also, if thou hide any thing from me of all the things that he said unto thee. And Samuel told him every whit, and hid nothing from him. And he said, It is the LORD: let him do what seemeth him good. And Samuel grew, and the LORD was with him, and did let none of his words fall to the ground. And all Israel from Dan even to Beersheba knew that Samuel was established to be a prophet of the LORD. And the LORD appeared again in Shiloh: for the LORD revealed himself to Samuel in Shiloh by the word of the LORD. And the word of Samuel came to all Israel. —1 Samuel I. 1-3, 9-28; II. 18, 19, 26; III.; IV. 1.

Author: William L. Worcester 1904

Spiritual Correspondences

Birth of Samuel >> Regeneration

Linen ephod >> Outward expression of a life touched by the Lord’s Love and Truth

Coat made by Samuel’s mother every year >> Instructions in the ways of Heavenly Life

“Speak, Lord for Thy servant heareth” >> Acknowledging and obeying the Word of the Lord