The Boy Samuel
By Robert Seklemian
At the time of our lesson, which was about 1170 B.C. there lived in Ramah, in the hill country of Ephraim, a devout man of the tribe of Levi, named Elkanah. He had two wives. The first was Hannah, whom he loved the best, but who had no children. The second was Peninnah, who bore him several sons and daughters.
In those days the Tabernacle of the Lord was located at Shiloh, a few miles north of Jerusalem. The priest in charge was Eli, but being an old man, he had entrusted the work of sacrificing to his two sons.
Elkanah was a godly man, and used to go up to Shiloh every year, taking his entire family with him, to worship and sacrifice to the Lord. On one of these occasions he divided the sacrificial animal, probably a bullock, into several parts, giving a portion to each member of his family for their offering. He gave his wife, Peninnah, and each of her children, equal portions, but, because he loved Hannah the best, and she had no children, it was his custom to give her a double portion to offer. This annoyed Peninnah, and she continually jeered at Hannah, reproaching her for her barrenness.
We now read from 1 Sam. 1:6 to 8 (MOFFATT): “Her rival used to taunt her bitterly, to irritate her….And this went on year after year. Whenever she went up to the house of the Eternal, she taunted Hannah. One day when Elkanah was sacrificing, Hannah wept and would not eat. So her husband Elkanah said to her, Hannah, why are you weeping? Why are you not eating? Why is your heart sad? Am I not more to you than ten sons?” Although Elkanah’s love was a great consolation to Hannah, she so much wanted to have a son. For years she had yearned and longed for one, and she was so tired of being taunted by Peninnah.
Now here she was, at the Tabernacle of God, the place of prayer and sacrifice. So she decided what she would do. She would implore God, with tears, to please grant her heart’s desire, and she would make a solemn vow unto the Lord, promising what she would do if her request was granted. We now read from the record, 1 Sam. 1:9-11 (MOFFATT): “Hannah rose and stood before the Eternal, where Eli the priest was sitting on his chair at the door-posts of the Temple of the Eternal. With a sore heart she prayed to the Eternal, weeping bitterly, and she made this vow: O Lord of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look upon the plight of thy servant and remember me, and not forget thy servant, but will give thy servant a son, then I will give him to the Eternal for the whole of his life, and no razor shall ever touch his head.” She repeated this prayer and this vow, with great fervency, over and over again, pouring out her very soul to the Lord. She prayed silently, from the heart, only her lips moving.
Eli was watching her from where he sat. He was accustomed to seeing the women come in, and make short, perfunctory, emotionless prayers, and quickly leave. So he was puzzled at Hannah’s actions. He concluded that she was intoxicated, and if so, it was his duty to reprove her and remove her from the sacred premises. So he went to her and reprimanded her for drunkenness. Now we read from 1 Sam. 1:15, 17, 18: “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….Then Eli answered and said, Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant thee thy petition that thou hast asked of him….So the woman went her way, and did eat, and her countenance was no more sad.” Although he did not then know the reason for it, Elkanah rejoiced to see the happy change in his beloved Hannah. They got up early the next morning, worshipped once more before the Lord, and then journeyed home to Ramah.
When Hannah knew that the Lord had granted her request, and that she was at last to have a child, her joy knew no bounds. It was natural that she would tell her husband of the vow she had made—to give thechild to the Lord for all the days of his life. Elkanah must have rejoiced with her, and given his complete approval.
In due time Hannah gave birth to a beautiful little boy. How lovingly she must have held and hugged her precious baby, in arms that had been so long empty! And she gave the proper credit to the Lord for hearing her prayer, by naming the boy Samuel, which means “Heard of God.” And she did not forget her vow. She was determined to keep it.
When the time came for the next annual pilgrimage to Shiloh, Hannah did not go with the rest of the family. We read from the record in 1 Sam. 1:22, 23: “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 good. Tarry until thou hast weaned him…”
When Hannah said she would give Samuel to the Lord when he was weaned, she did not mean weaned from the breast. Rather she meant when he was weaned from his mother, in the sense of being able to get along without her care. This would be when he was ten to twelve years of age. This is confirmed by the Jewish historian Josephus, who says Samuel was twelve when he was given to the Lord. It is interesting to remember that Jesus was twelve when he first presented himself at the Temple in Jerusalem. Also, it is the custom of the Jews to this day, to consider a 12-year-old boy as entering the age of responsibility.
So Hannah loved and enjoyed her little son, Samuel, for many years, telling him that he belonged to the Lord, instructing him in the Scriptures, and preparing him for the service of God. So it was no surprise to Samuel when he was finally taken to Shiloh. He had anticipated it, and had eagerly looked forward to it for a long time. We now read from 1 Sam. 1:24 to 28 (MOFFATT) regarding Hannah’s great sacrifice, which she so willingly gave: “Then, after weaning him, she took him with her, along with a three-year-old bullock, a bushel of flour, and a bottle of wine. She entered the house of the Eternal at Shiloh, accompanied by the boy. And after the bullock had been slain, she brought the boy to Eli. As sure as you live, sir, she said, I am the woman who stood beside you here, praying to the Eternal. I prayed about this boy, and the Eternal granted me what I asked. So I have lent him to the Eternal. As long as he lives, he is loaned to the Eternal.” Thus Hannah paid her vow unto the Most High.
Eli questioned the handsome lad and found him to be reverential and knowledgeable beyond his years. He gladly accepted him from Hannah. He would be a father to the boy, and Samuel’s responsibilities would be that of a dutiful and helpful young son to an aged parent, who was also a High Priest of God. Thus he would be serving God.
When Hannah first made her vow concerning Samuel, you will remember that she said: “I will give him unto the Lord all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come upon his head.” Why did she vow not to cut his hair? She thus indicated her intention to consecrate Samuel as a Nazarite from his birth, in accordance with the regulations given in the 6th chapter of Numbers. “Nazarite” means “One separated.” It described a person who was bound by a vow of a peculiar kind, to be set apart from others for the service of God, either for life or for a defined time.
Besides being forbidden to cut his hair, he was required to abstain from wine, grapes, and every intoxicating drink, and he must not approach any dead body, not even of his parents. There were other restrictions also. Some took the Nazarite vow for a limited time, for a specific purpose, but very few took the vow for life. The three Nazarites for life mentioned in the Scriptures are Samuel, Samson and John the Baptist.
The question may be asked: “How could Hannah commit Samuel to the Nazarite vow, and consecrate him to the Lord before ever he was born?” It was done by the exercise of parental authority, followed by a careful rearing of the child “in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4); so that upon arriving at the age of responsibility, he would freely accept and ratify the parental decision made on his behalf. This is what Samuel did. He was so reared, that he expected and desired nothing less than to serve the Lord for ever. And such early consecrations are still in order. In this regard Bro. Russell said on reprint 1671: “It is a question with many how early in life a child may give its heart to God, and be fully consecrated to him. But the Scriptures make very plain the fact that they may and should be consecrated to the Lord by their parents before their birth, or even their begetting, that thus their pre-natal influences may insure them a mental and spiritual inheritance tending to godliness, and that with the dawn of intelligence, this disposition should begin to be cultivated and warmed into vital, active piety, so that at a very tender age the little ones may intelligently ratify the parental covenant of entire consecration to God. This they should be expected and led to do as early as possible.”
Of such early consecrations to the Lord, we have many notable examples in the Scriptures, besides that of Samuel. In Judges 13:5 (REVISED VERSION), we read that the angel of the Lord announced the forthcoming birth of Samson, saying to his mother: “You shall conceive and bear a son. No razor shall come upon his head, for the boy shall be a Nazarite to God from birth.” And we read in Luke 1:15 the words of the angel to Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, regarding John before he was born: “He shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink. And he shall be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb.”
Thus Samson and John were consecrated to be Nazarites for life, even before their birth. Another example of pre-natal consecration is the Apostle Paul. He said that God had ordained him to preach Christ to the Gentiles even before he was born.
We read in Gal. 1:15, 16: “It pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace, to reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen.”
And Paul reminded young Timothy that he had been born with a strong, consecrated faith, and had been reared in the Truth. He wrote in 2 Tim. 1:5 and 3:15: “I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice, and I am persuaded in thee also…and that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation, through faith which is in Christ Jesus.”
Moses, too, was consecrated from his birth. His mother, seeing “that he was a goodly child,” defied the law of Pharoah, and committed his life to the Lord. (Ex. 2:1-9; Heb. 11:23-28) And Moses was a special instrument of God for as long as he lived.
These and other such examples are recorded for our admonition, to encourage the Lord’s people to devote their children to God. Those thus early devoted to the Lord, and then carefully reared in the Truth, escape many a snare of the devil, into which the children of worldlings fall. Just look at the corruption of youth in the world today! How wise is the counsel of Eccles. 12:1: “Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not.” Those evil days of bitter disappointment and despair will never come to those who, in youth, commit their ways unto the Lord, and trust him to guide their paths.
Although Hannah loved little Samuel very deeply, she did not give him to the Lord grudgingly and sorrowfully. We know this, because after giving him, she made a wonderful prayer of joy and praise to the Lord, which is given in 1 Sam. 2:1-10. Far from expressing sadness, the opening words are: “My heart rejoiceth in the Lord!” This prayer of praise and thanksgiving bears a striking resemblance to that of Mary, mother of Jesus, given in Luke 1:46-55, the opening words of which are: “My soul doth magnify the Lord.”
Hannah left little Samuel with Eli, and went home to Ramah. Eli loved the boy, and fitted him with a little linen ephod, like the one he himself wore, thus indicating that the child’s service in the Tabernacle had official sanction. We read that “Samuel ministered before the Lord.”
A touching insight into Hannah’s continued devotion to her son is given in 1 Sam. 2:19: “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.” This indicates that the boy grew up rapidly, since a new and larger coat was necessary every year. Thus we read in the 21st verse, that: “The child Samuel grew before the Lord:” not only physically, but also spiritually, in grace and relationship with the Lord, and also with men.” It was similarly said of Jesus, in Luke 2:52 that “He increased in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man.” The blessing of the Lord was upon Hannah, and she bore other children, three sons and two daughters. These helped to fill the void left by absence of her beloved Samuel.
Eli had two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, who were engaged in priestly functions, but who were not really priests at heart. They were actually, faithless, corrupt men. We are told in verse 12 that “they knew not the Lord.” They used their priestly office for personal profit and immoral gratification. They stole from those who came to offer sacrifices, and verses 15 and 16 indicate that, instead of burning the fat of the sacrifices, as the law demanded, they forcibly took the fat for their own use. Thus they gave a bad name to the Tabernacle services. As a result, honest men began to have a contempt for the holy sacrifices. This situation was very displeasing to God. So we read in the 17th verse: “Wherefore the sin of the young men was very great before the Lord, for men abhorred the offering of the Lord.”
The people complained to Eli. He knew what his sons were doing, and he told them rather mildly to stop their evil practices. But he did not insist upon it. He did not remove them from office, as he should have done. He had more regard for his sons than he had for the Law of God. And his sons continued their evil course. Then a man of God was sent to Eli with a message telling him that both his sons had been condemned, and would die for their transgressions, and that Eli himself would be removed from the priesthood for his neglect. From then on, the Lord no longer communicated through Eli, neither by vision nor by Urim and Thummim. Thus the Word of the Lord became a rare thing in those days.
Now we come to the charming narrative, of how the Lord began to communicate with Israel through the boy Samuel, indicating that he was to be the prophet of God. We read from the Revised Version, starting with 1 Samuel 3:1: “Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the Lord under Eli. And the word of the Lord was rare in those days. There was no frequent vision. At that time Eli, whose eyesight had begun to grow dim, so that he could not see, was lying down in his own place. The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down within the temple of the Lord, where the ark of God was. Then the Lord called, ‘Samuel! Samuel!’ and he said ‘Here I am!’ And ran to Eli, and said, ‘Here I am, for you called me.’ But he said ‘I did not call, my son, lie down again.’ So he went and lay down. And the Lord called again, ‘Samuel!’
And Samuel arose and went to Eli, and said ‘Here I am, for you called me.’ But he said ‘I did not call, my son, lie down again.’ Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, and the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him. And the Lord called Samuel again, the third time. And he arose and went to Eli, and said, ‘Here I am, for you called me.’ Then Eli perceived that the Lord was calling the boy. Therefore Eli said to Samuel, ‘Go, lie down, and if he calls you, you shall say, Speak Lord, for thy servant hears…’ So Samuel went and lay down in his place. And the Lord came and stood, calling as at other times, ‘Samuel! Samuel!’ And Samuel said, ‘Speak, for thy servant hears.’” A mighty angel appeared before the wondering eyes of Samuel, and then the great God of heaven clothed that little boy with the awesome dignity of a prophet of the Lord, by entrusting him with the final message of condemnation to Eli and his house.
Samuel could sleep no more that night, and the next day he was troubled in mind, as he went about his duties. He loved Eli, and could not bring himself to tell him the Lord’s message of condemnation. But Eli insisted himself upon knowing every word of it. So we read in 1 Sam. 3:18: “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.”
Then we read in the 19th and 20th verses: “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.” How very proud his mother must have been of him then!
Now let us consider some further lessons in the story of the boy Samuel. First of all, there is a striking similarity between the family of Elkanah and that of Abraham. As Hannah was barren, Sarah was barren.
As Elkhanah’s second wife, Peninnah, who had children, looked with contempt upon the barren Hannah, Hagar who had Ishmael, looked with contempt upon the barren Sarah. Then in due course, both Hannah and Sarah bore dedicated sons of promise, Hannah bearing Samuel, and Sarah bearing Isaac. I think this is more than merely coincidental, especially since the name Elkanah means “God the Creator.” We can safely conclude that Elkanah’s wives also pictured Covenants, just as Abraham’s wives did.
The inability to have children was a special reproach for the women of Israel. There was a very significant reason for this. Every woman in Israel was familiar with the prophecy of Gen. 3:15, that the Seed of the woman would bruise the head of the serpent, Satan. And each one was familiar with the often repeated promise to Abraham, that in his Seed all the families of the earth would be blessed. So every woman who was a descendant of Abraham had the hope of perhaps being the one through whom the Messiah would be born. This would be the greatest honor possible for womankind. This is confirmed by the fact that centuries later, the angel Gabriel greeted Mary, mother of Jesus, with the words found in Luke 1:28: “Hail, thou that art highly favored, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women.” So Hannah, too, had this hope. That is why she felt her barrenness so keenly.
To attain her hope, she made it a subject of special prayer, with deep feeling and great fervency, pouring out her heart before the Lord, making a solemn vow, and repeating her prayer and vow over and over again.
What can we of spiritual Israel learn from this? We, too, have a hope—a “blessed hope” according to Titus 2:13. It is the hope of being members of the Messiah, the Christ Company, the Body of Christ, to be of the Spiritual Seed of Abraham, which is to bruise the serpent’s head, and bless all the families of the earth.
It is the hope of glory, honor and immortality. It is a High and rich Calling. We read in Eph. 1:18: “The eyes of your understanding being enlightened, that ye may know what is the hope of his Calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints.” It is a hope that is mysterious to all except those who have it, as expressed in Col. 1:26,27: “Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to the saints, to whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” It is a sure and positive and oath-bound hope, of which we are assured in Heb. 6:17-19: “Wherein God, willing more abundantly to show unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath, that by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us, which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the vail.”
And, as Hannah made a vow consecrating her son, we, too, make a vow of consecration. And we should be as earnest and fervent and persistent as Hannah was, pouring out our souls before the Lord, as she did.
Hannah’s prayer was heard, and her barrenness was removed. As for us, after naming the various fruits and graces of character likeness to the Lord, we are to develop, the Apostle says, in 2 Pet. 1:8: “If these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Before Hannah prayed, she was very sad, and in great turmoil of spirit. She could not eat or sleep. Then she laid her problem before the Lord, crying to him, and telling him her inmost feelings. Then what happened? A great peace descended upon her. We read that she “went her way, and did eat, and her countenance was no more sad.” (1 Sam. 1:18) Why the change? Simply because, once she placed it in the Lord’s hands, it wasn’t her problem any more. Let us learn from this that, once we leave something to the Lord, and ask him to take care of it, we should stop worrying or grieving over it. This is the counsel of 1 Pet. 5:7: “Casting all your care upon him, for he careth for you.” And Psalm 55:22: “Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee. He shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.” And the most beautiful assurance of all, along this line is found in Psalm 37:4, 5: “Delight thyself also in the Lord, and he shall give thee the desire of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the Lord, trust also in him, and he shall bring it to pass.” This is what Hannah did, and this is what we can do.
Hannah paid her vow unto the Lord in full. She willingly and joyfully gave up the dearest treasure of her heart. And she never regretted it. This is the way our consecrations should be. And, in one sense, Hannah never really lost Samuel. Although he was lent to the Lord for life, he was still her son. Only, instead of being at home, her treasure was in Shiloh. And this is where her heart was. Similarly, although we have given up every earthly thing in consecration, we have a great treasure in heaven. As Jesus counseled us in Matt. 6:19-21: “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth…But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven…For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” And in Luke 18:22 he said: “Sell all that thou hast…and thou shalt have treasure in heaven.”
After the boy Samuel had been given to the Lord, his mother regularly supplied him with a little coat. The Revised Version calls it a “robe” instead of a coat. This suggests to our minds “the robe of Christ’s righteousness,” with which all those who are consecrated to the Lord, and accepted by him, are clothed.
After the boy Samuel entered God’s service, we read that he grew “and was in favor both with the Lord, and also with men.” Similarly, after we commence our consecrated lives, we also should grow. We should, as written in 2 Peter 3:18: “Grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” And as to our standing among men, we should heed the counsel of Jesus in Matthew 5:16: “let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”
The wicked sons of Eli, who were unfaithful priests of Israel, who forcibly took and ate the fat of the sacrifices, pictured the corrupt priests and ministers found among the Clergy of Nominal Spiritual Israel.
These enrich themselves at the expense of their parishioners, without feeding them the spiritual food for which they are starving. I am not suggesting that all the Clergy of Christendom are wicked men. I am sure most of them are not, but are sincerely doing the best they know how. But there is a Clergy Class today which is prophetically described in Ezek. 34:2-4: “Son of man, prophecy against the shepherds of Israel. Prophecy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God unto the shepherds: Woe be to the shepherds; Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flocks? Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed; but ye feed not the flock. The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost, but with force and with cruelty have ye ruled them.” As a result of such conditions, many decent and honest persons turn away in disgust from all religion, thinking that such men represent God. The language of 1 Samuel 2:17 is again true, that “men abhor the offering of the Lord.” And as the unfaithful sons of Eli died in battle because of their sins, the unfaithful shepherds of Babylon will cease to exist as a Class, when Babylon is utterly destroyed in “the battle of that great day of God Almighty.” (Rev. 17:14)
The character of Eli presents some strange contradictions. Although he himself was completely loyal and faithful to God, he was weak in the discipline of his sons along these very lines. And, although he had been a poor and permissive father to his own sons, he had, on the other hand, been an excellent foster-father to the child Samuel. Also, although he had been ready to eject Hannah from the Tabernacle because of her supposed drunkenness, yet he permitted his own sons to steal, extort, and commit gross immoralities in the holy place. Again, although he thoroughly disapproved the waywardness of his sons, he failed to vigorously denounce their course, and, if need be, remove them from office. God does not approve of such contradictions of character. The Lord prefers characters that are strong, consistent and positive, uncompromisingly for the right, as our great example, Jesus was. There must be no contradictions in our characters, if we would make our calling and election sure. If there are, we, too, will be disapproved by God as was Eli.
Now let us further apply the lesson of Eli, by asking and answering to ourselves, some practical and timely questions: Do we have our children in subjection as instructed in 1 Timothy 3:4? Or are we permissive as Eli was? And do we tolerate servants in the Church who walk disorderly, bringing reproach upon the cause of Christ? Paul said in 2 Thessalonians 3:6: “Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us.” This is not just a suggestion. It is a command, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul also said in Titus 1:9-11: “Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught…For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers…whose mouths must be stopped…” If unfaithful elders persist in teaching new and strange doctrines, do we content ourselves with mildly remonstrating with them, as Eli did with his sons? Or do we firmly remove them from office, as Eli should have done? We cannot escape responsibility. Remember that Eli, although personally faithful, was condemned because he did not curb his sons who were unfaithful in the priestly office.
Now we come to that part of our lesson where the Lord called the boy Samuel in the night. We are impressed by Samuel’s quick and unquestioned obedience. He thought it was Eli calling him. But after the first two times, when Eli denied it was he, it would have been quite natural for young Samuel to think: “There is no one else here. The poor old man must be calling out in his sleep, without realizing it. No need for me to respond any more.” But when the third call came, Samuel obeyed instantly. He once more left his warm and comfortable bed, and ran to Eli, saying, “Here am I!” And that time is when he got the most important instruction of his life, which resulted in his becoming, that very night, a Prophet of the most High God. That is when he learned to say to the Lord: “Speak, for thy servant heareth!” Let us also learn this lesson. We, too, are called of God. We are called to a High Calling. Upon hearing the call, our instant response should be: “Speak, for thy servant heareth!”
And this should be the continual sentiment of every Christian all his life. Although we do not hear the audible voice of the Lord in the night, as Samuel did, the Lord does speak to us in various ways: first of all, he speaks to us through his Word. Studying the Bible, with the helps he has provided, we get to know the Lord. We learn of his glorious attributes of character. We become familiar with his Plan, and his ways. We learn what he approves and what he does not approve. And from all the illustrations and examples found in the Bible, we are able to determine what he wants us to do in any given circumstance. We conform ourselves to his Word. Thus God “speaks,” and we “hear.”
God speaks to us through his providences, by what he permits to happen to us, whether good or evil. Yes, he does sometimes permit evil things to happen to us, but they are always for our good, to teach us needed lessons, to show the direction we should be going. Let us be alert to recognize these providences of the Lord, and “hear” what he says.
He speaks to us through our brethren in Christ. He speaks through the talks of the elders, often giving us the answers to our problems. He speaks through the comments of the brethren in study meetings. Also through the experiences of the brethren related in Testimony meetings. In this way the humblest sister can often impart a needed lesson to the most mature elder; without even knowing that she is being thus used of the Lord. We should be ready to “hear,” regardless of the humble instrument it may please the Lord to use.
God speaks to us through private conversations with those of like precious faith. In such conversations, the Lord will often permit a brother or sister, without any prompting on our part, to suggest to us the very answer to our problem that we need. If we would be used of the Lord to help others in this way, we must heed the admonition of Eph. 4:29: “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.” The Lord never uses the lips of gossips to edify his people. But by wholesome, spiritual conversation, the humblest brother or sister can be a channel of God Almighty, to bless or help someone.
One wonders how it was, that the Lord took a young boy, and endowed him with the dignity of a Prophet of the Most High God. If it were suggested to the President of the United States that he appoint a teenager to be his Ambassador, I am sure the response would be: “But he’s only a boy!” But God’s reasoning is different. He says: “What kind of a boy is he?” God looks at the heart, and not at the calendar. Let us learn from this, never to despise the young brethren in our midst. It is the Lord who has selected them.
The message the Lord gave to Samuel was one of condemnation upon Eli and his house. Samuel felt badly about this, because he loved Eli. When morning came, he hesitated to tell Eli what the Lord had said.
There is a lesson here, of humility and kindness. Samuel might have felt puffed up that the Lord had spoken to him. He might have felt himself honored above Eli, as indeed he was. Pride might have made him boastful, and inconsiderate of Eli’s feelings, so that he would have taken delight in telling him of the calamities to come. But Samuel didn’t react that way.
He was grieved. He would have preferred not to burden old Eli’s heart with the message. Similarly, we should, in humility, be sympathetic toward those whom the Lord has not honored with the privilege of hearing his voice of Present Truth, and we should prefer not to stress the calamities coming upon the world, but rather, be a comfort to all with whom we come in contact.
At Eli’s urging, Samuel reluctantly told him everything the Lord had said. Then Eli responded with the most beautiful expression of submissiveness, “It is the Lord. Let him do what seemeth him good.” With all of Eli’s contradictions of character, this is one trait we can emulate. Let the Lord do what he pleases with us. He knows best. He has promised that all things shall work together for our good. Let us trust in that promise. In the language of Job. 13:15: “Though he slay me, yet will I trust him.”
Now let us briefly consider Hannah’s exultant prayer of joy and praise to God, when she gave little Samuel to the Lord. It is found in 1 Sam. 2:1-10. Do you realize that verses 6 to 10 of this prayer contain a prophectic outline of the entire Plan of the Ages? Verse 6: “The Lord killeth, and maketh alive. He bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up.” We know what that means. God condemned Adam to death, and his entire race followed him into the grave. But God provided a Ransom, to make Adam and his race alive again, bringing them up from the grave in a great resurrection. Verse 7: “The Lord maketh poor, and maketh rich. He bringeth low, and lifteth up.” This refers to our Lord Jesus, who, as we read in 2 Cor. 8:9: “Though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.”
Although he was the Logos, he became a man. God permitted him to be brought low, even to the death of the cross, and then lifted him up to the Divine Nature, giving him a name which is above every name. Verse 8: “He raised the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among princes and to make them inherit the throne of glory.”
This describes the Church, the Body of Christ, taken chiefly from the poor of the world. The Lord lifts us up from the “dunghill,” the miry clay, and sets our feet upon a rock. We are set “among princes,” we are to be Kings and Priests, to “inherit the throne of glory,” together with Christ Jesus. Verse 9: “He will keep the feet of his saints, and the wicked shall be silent in darkness.” This brings the prophecy right down to the present day. We are the “feet of the saints,” the feet members of the Body of Christ. We are “kept by the power of God,” (1 Pet. 1:5) in this evil day, and the wicked institutions of this world will shortly be destroyed. Verse 10: “The adversaries of the Lord shall be broken to pieces, out of heaven shall be thunder upon them.” Is this not a good description of “Jacob’s Trouble,” when the armies from the North are destroyed by the Lord? Next is a prophecy of the Messianic reign of Christ, and the judging of the world in righteousness: “The Lord shall judge the ends of the earth; and he shall give strength unto his King, and exalt the horn of his Anointed.” There, in a few words, is the entire Plan, from Genesis to Revelation.
The fact that Hannah uttered this prophecy, made her one of the Prophets. We read in Luke 13:28: “Ye shall see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the Kingdom of God.” And Hebrews 11:32, 39 speaks of the prophets as “having obtained a good report through faith.” This means that Hannah is one of the Ancient Worthies. She will be a Princess in all the earth, together with her beloved son, Prince Samuel.
Now we can better understand what Hannah meant when she said in 1 Samuel 1:28: “I havelent him to the Lord. As long as he liveth, he shall be lent to the Lord.” I think she knew that the time would come when she would have her son back again, and that they would serve the Lord TOGETHER throughout eternity!