chapter is based on 1 Samuel 1; 2:1-11.]
a Levite of Mount Ephraim, was a man of wealth and influence, and one who
loved and feared the Lord. His wife, Hannah, was a woman of fervent piety.
Gentle and unassuming, her character was marked with deep earnestness and
a lofty faith.
so earnestly sought by every Hebrew was denied this godly pair; their home
was not gladdened by the voice of childhood; and the desire to perpetuate
his name led the husband-- as it had led many others--to contract a second
marriage. But this step, prompted by a lack of faith in God, did not bring
happiness. Sons and daughters were added to the household; but the joy and
beauty of God's sacred institution had been marred and the peace of the
family was broken. Peninnah, the new wife, was jealous and narrow-minded,
and she bore herself with pride and insolence. To Hannah, hope seemed
crushed and life a weary burden; yet she met the trial with uncomplaining
faithfully observed the ordinances of God. The worship at Shiloh was still
maintained, but on account of irregularities in the ministration his
services were not required at the sanctuary, to which, being a Levite, he
was to give attendance. Yet he went up with his family to worship and
sacrifice at the appointed gatherings.
Even amid the
sacred festivities connected with the service of God the evil spirit that
had cursed his home intruded. After presenting the thank offerings, all
the family, according to the established custom, united in a solemn yet
joyous feast. Upon these occasions Elkanah gave the mother of his children
a portion for herself and for each of her sons and daughters; and in token
of regard for Hannah, he gave her a double portion, signifying that his
affection for her was the same as if she had had a son. Then the second
wife, fired with jealousy, claimed the precedence
as one highly favored of
God, and taunted Hannah with her childless state as evidence of the Lord's
displeasure. This was repeated from year to year, until Hannah could
endure it no longer. Unable to hide her grief, she wept without restraint,
and withdrew from the feast. Her husband vainly sought to comfort her.
"Why weepest thou? and why eatest thou not? and why is thy heart
grieved?" he said; "am I not better to thee than ten sons?"
uttered no reproach. The burden which she could share with no earthly
friend she cast upon God. Earnestly she pleaded that He would take away
her reproach and grant her the precious gift of a son to nurture and train
for Him. And she made a solemn vow that if her request were granted, she
would dedicate her child to God, even from its birth. Hannah had drawn
near to the entrance of the tabernacle, and in the anguish of her spirit
she "prayed, . . . and wept sore.." Yet she communed with God in
silence, uttering no sound. In those evil times such scenes of worship
were rarely witnessed. Irreverent feasting and even drunkenness were not
uncommon, even at the religious festivals; and Eli the high priest,
observing Hannah, supposed that she was overcome with wine. Thinking to
administer a deserved rebuke, he said sternly, "How long wilt thou be
drunken? put away thy wine from thee."
startled, Hannah answered gently, "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. Count not thine handmaid for a
daughter of Belial: for out of the abundance of my complaint and grief
have I spoken hitherto."
priest was deeply moved, for he was a man of God; and in place of rebuke
he uttered a blessing: "Go in peace: and the God of Israel grant thee
thy petition that thou hast asked of Him."
prayer was granted; she received the gift for which she had so earnestly
entreated. As she looked upon the child, she called him
Samuel--"asked of God." As soon as the little one was old enough
to be separated from his mother, she fulfilled her vow. She loved her
child with all the devotion of a mother's heart; day by day, as she
watched his expanding powers and listened to his childish prattle, her
affections entwined about him
more closely. He was her only son, the
special gift of Heaven; but she had received him as a treasure consecrated
to God, and she would not withhold from the Giver His own.
Hannah journeyed with her husband to Shiloh and presented to the priest,
in the name of God, her precious gift, saying, "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." Eli was deeply impressed by the faith and
devotion of this woman of Israel. Himself as overindulgent father, he was
awed and humbled as he beheld this mother's great sacrifice in parting
with her only child, that she might devote him to the service of God. He
felt reproved for his own selfish love, and in humiliation and reverence
he bowed before the Lord and worshiped.
heart was filled with joy and praise, and she longed to pour forth her
gratitude to God. The Spirit of Inspiration came upon her; "and
Hannah prayed, and said:
heart rejoiceth in the Lord;
Mine horn is exalted in the Lord;
My mouth is enlarged over mine enemies;
Because I rejoice in Thy salvation.
There is none holy as the Lord:
For there is none beside Thee:
Neither is there any rock like our God.
Talk no more so exceeding proudly;
Let not arrogancy come out of your mouth;
For Jehovah is a God of knowledge,
And by Him actions are weighed. . . .
The Lord killeth, and maketh alive:
He bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up.
The Lord maketh poor, and maketh rich:
He bringeth low, and lifteth up.
He raiseth up 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:
For the pillars of the earth are the Lord's,
And He hath set the world upon them.
He will keep the feet of His saints,
And the wicked shall be silent in darkness;
For by strength shall no man prevail.
The adversaries of the Lord shall be broken to pieces;
Out of heaven shall He thunder upon them:
The Lord shall judge the ends of the earth;
And He shall give strength unto His king,
And exalt the horn of His anointed."
words were prophetic, both of David, who should reign as king of Israel,
and of the Messiah, the Lord's Anointed. Referring first to the boasting
of an insolent and contentious woman, the song points to the destruction
of the enemies of God and the final triumph of His redeemed people.
Hannah quietly returned to her home at Ramah, leaving the child Samuel to
be trained for service in the house of God, under the instruction of the
high priest. From the earliest dawn of intellect she had taught her son to
love and reverence God and to regard himself as the Lord's. By every
familiar object surrounding him she had sought to lead his thoughts up to
the Creator. When separated from her child, the faithful mother's
solicitude did not cease. Every day he was the subject of her prayers.
Every year she made, with her own hands, a robe of service for him; and as
she went up with her husband to worship at Shiloh, she gave the child this
reminder of her love. Every fiber of the little garment had been woven
with a prayer that he might be pure, noble, and true. She did not ask for
her son worldly greatness, but she earnestly pleaded that he might attain
that greatness which Heaven values--that he might honor God and bless his
What a reward
was Hannah's! and what an encouragement to faithfulness is her example!
There are opportunities of inestimable worth, interests infinitely
precious, committed to every mother. The humble round of duties which
women have come to regard as a wearisome task should be looked upon as a
grand and noble work. It is the mother's privilege to bless the world by
her influence, and in doing this she will bring joy to her own heart. She
may make straight paths for the feet of her children, through sunshine and
shadow, to the glorious heights above. But it is only when she seeks, in
her own life, to follow the teachings of Christ that the mother can hope
to form the character of her children after the divine pattern. The world
teems with corrupting influences. Fashion and custom exert a strong power
over the young. If the mother fails in her duty to instruct, guide, and
restrain, her children will naturally accept the evil, and
turn from the
good. Let every mother go often to her Saviour with the prayer,
"Teach us, how shall we order the child, and what shall we do unto
him?" Let her heed the instruction which God has given in His word,
and wisdom will be given her as she shall have need.
child Samuel grew on, and was in favor both with the Lord, and also with
men." Though Samuel's youth was passed at the tabernacle devoted to
the worship of God, he was not free from evil influences or sinful
example. The sons of Eli feared not God, nor honored their father; but
Samuel did not seek their company nor follow their evil ways. It was his
constant endeavor to become what God would have him. This is the privilege
of every youth. God is pleased when even little children give themselves
to His service.
been placed under the care of Eli, and the loveliness of his character
drew forth the warm affection of the aged priest. He was kind, generous,
obedient, and respectful. Eli, pained by the waywardness of his own sons,
found rest and comfort and blessing in the presence of his charge. Samuel
was helpful and affectionate, and no father ever loved his child more
tenderly than did Eli this youth. It was a singular thing that between the
chief magistrate of the nation and the simple child so warm an affection
should exist. As the infirmities of age came upon Eli, and he was filled
with anxiety and remorse by the profligate course of his own sons, he
turned to Samuel for comfort.
It was not
customary for the Levites to enter upon their peculiar services until they
were twenty-five years of age, but Samuel had been an exception to this
rule. Every year saw more important trusts committed to him; and while he
was yet a child, a linen ephod was placed upon him as a token of his
consecration to the work of the sanctuary. Young as he was when brought to
minister in the tabernacle, Samuel had even then duties to perform in the
service of God, according to his capacity. These were at first very
humble, and not always pleasant; but they were performed to the best of
his ability, and with a willing heart. His religion was carried into every
duty of life. He regarded himself as God's servant, and his work as God's
work. His efforts were accepted, because they were prompted by love to God
and a sincere desire to do His will. It was thus that Samuel became a
co-worker with the Lord of heaven and earth. And God fitted him to
accomplish a great work for Israel.
were taught to regard the humble round of everyday duties as the course
marked out for them by the Lord, as a school in which they were to be
trained to render faithful and efficient service, how much more pleasant
and honorable would their work appear. To perform every duty as unto the
Lord, throws a charm around the humblest employment and links the workers
on earth with the holy beings who do God's will in heaven.
this life, success in gaining the future life, depends upon a faithful,
conscientious attention to the little things. Perfection is seen in the
least, no less than in the greatest, of the works of God. The hand that
hung the worlds in space is the hand that wrought with delicate skill the
lilies of the field. And as God is perfect in His sphere, so we are to be
perfect in ours. Thy symmetrical structure of a strong, beautiful
character is built up by individual acts of duty. And faithfulness should
characterize our life in the least as well as in the greatest of its
details. Integrity in little things, the performance of little acts of
fidelity and little deeds of kindness, will gladden the path of life; and
when our work on earth is ended, it will be found that every one of the
little duties faithfully performed has exerted an influence for good--an
influence that can never perish.
The youth of
our time may become as precious in the sight of God as was Samuel. By
faithfully maintaining their Christian integrity, they may exert a strong
influence in the work of reform. Such men are needed at this time. God has
a work for every one of them. Never did men achieve greater results for
God and humanity than may be achieved in this our day by those who will be
faithful to their God-given trust.