25th April 2018

Samuel

“But Samuel, though he was only a boy, served the Lord. He wore a linen garment like that of a priest.”
1 Samuel 2:18 (NLT)

Samuel was a child who coped with an unusual start in life. His mother had made a vow to God that she would give him away. You can read his story in the Old Testament book of 1 Samuel chapter 2. It goes like this: Samuel’s mother, Hannah, had endured years of mental torment and taunting inflicted on her by Peninnah, the second of Elkanah’s wives, because she was unable to have children. They travelled every year to Shiloh from the family home at Ramah, to worship and offer sacrifices at the Tabernacle. It was on these trips that Peninnah’s taunts became unbearable for Hannah.

One evening in Shiloh Hannah got up and went to pray. Eli the priest was sitting at his customary place beside the entrance of the Tabernacle. Hannah was in deep anguish, crying bitterly as she prayed to the Lord. And she made this vow: “O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, if you will look upon my sorrow and answer my prayer and give me a son, then I will give him back to you. He will be yours for his entire lifetime” (1 Samuel 1:9-11). Eli accused Hannah of being drunk because she was praying silently, but Hannah explained her reason for being so miserable and unhappy. In verse 17 Eli replied, “In that case, go in peace! May the God of Israel grant the request you have asked of him.”

The family returned home. God answered Hannah’s prayer and in due time Samuel was born. Hannah didn’t travel to Shiloh again until after she had weaned Samuel. Then it was time to fulfil her vow and give Samuel back to the Lord. Following the family’s sacrifice at the Tabernacle Samuel was taken to Eli. Hannah reminded Eli of the vow she had made and handed Samuel into the care of Eli. Hannah wrenched herself away from Samuel and returned home.

How did Samuel cope emotionally? This was the first time he’d even been to the Tabernacle at Shiloh. He’d spent the first years of his life in a close relationship with his mother and now the whole family had gone home without him. Did he scream and shout and have to be restrained from chasing after them? Did he withdraw into himself feeling desperately isolated and abandoned? This must have been an incredibly difficult time for this young lad. We don’t even know if Eli actually wanted a little helper. Would he be a good influence on Samuel? After all, Eli’s sons had turned out to be scoundrels so he wasn’t the best in the discipline department. All we’re told is that ‘the boy served the Lord by assisting Eli the priest.’

Samuel experienced an unusual childhood. He only saw his parents once a year when they travelled to Shiloh. He wasn’t at home to spend time with the other five siblings that were born after him. Samuel grew up in the company of an old man, but there aren’t any indications that his circumstances embittered him. God worked with Samuel and he grew into a well respected and reliable Judge of Israel for the rest of his life. He eventually married and had a family and settled back in Ramah where he built an altar to the Lord. Perhaps Samuel had the opportunity to reconnect with the family that he’d left at such a tender age. Perhaps he had the chance to get to know his brothers and sisters and spend time with his mother who sacrificed so much to give Samuel back to the Lord. But we do know that his early experiences did not embitter or hinder him from being a successful and faithful man of God.

Prayer
Gracious Father, we don’t have to let the hard times we go through define who we are. Thank you that whatever our circumstances you can use us to make a difference. In Jesus’ name.
Amen

Study by Diana Hall

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About the Author:
Diana Hall attends the Southampton Congregation of the Worldwide Church of God, UK.

Local Congregation:
Worldwide Church of God Southampton
Tauntons College
Hill Lane
SOUTHAMPTON
SO15 5RL

Meeting Time:
Saturday 11:00am

Local Congregational Contact:
Peter Noon
Email: peter_noon@wcg.org.uk

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