This story begins with Hannah, Samuel's mother. Hannah was unable to have children, and in Old Testament times, that was like having a curse on you if you were a woman. She was down and out, and very distressed. Whenever she would go to the Lord's house in Shiloh, where she worshipped, she would pray so hard for God to give her a child, Eli the priest thought she was crazy. But God showed favor to Hannah, and allowed her to have a son named Samuel. Hannah knew that it was God who gave her Samuel, so she decided to give Samuel back to the Lord and let him grow up in the Lord's house at Shiloh. So Samuel grew up under Eli, learning to serve the Lord from his earliest days. Hannah and her husband Elkanah visited Samuel each year. They would bring him a special robe that Hannah made as a gift to remember them by. God honored Hannah's sacrifice (giving back to God what he gave to her), and allowed her to have 5 more children.
Now Eli had two sons of his own, but they ended up being wicked. They served with Eli, but they had no regard for the Lord and his sacrifices. They took more meat for themselves than they should have and mistreated those who came to worship by threatening them. Someone came to Eli and warned him that his sons were going to cause the Lord to punish his entire family. Unfortunately, Eli didn't listen and allowed his sons to continue to mistreat the Lord's offering.
One night, Samuel was sleeping and he heard someone call his name. He went over to Eli and said, "Yes, I'm here." Eli was confused because he didn't call Samuel. When it happened again, and a third time, Eli told Samuel that it might just be the Lord speaking to him. So he told Samuel to go back to bed and if it happened again, answer the Lord and ask him to speak. Sure enough, it was the Lord speaking, and Samuel was listening. But the Lord gave Samuel some distressing news about Eli and his family. He told Samuel that Eli's family would be punished for the way they acted in his house of worship. The next morning, Eli asked Samuel if it really was the Lord speaking. Samuel didn't want to tell Eli about it, but Eli coaxed him to. That was the first time the Lord spoke to Samuel, but it wasn't the last. Samuel began to grow in favor with all of the Israelites
During this time, the Israelites were in battle with the Philistines. During one of the battles with the Philistines, they captured the Ark of the Covenant (anyone remember what that was?) and killed many Israelites, including Eli's sons. When Eli found this out, he fell over in his chair, broke his neck and died. What Samuel had told Eli would happen came true.
Samuel was the last judge of Israel, and the first prophet. In the coming weeks, we're going to learn about some other things that God told Samuel.
Ask the children: What's the best gift you've ever received? What did you do to thank the person who gave you that gift?
Today, we're going to learn about a woman named Hannah who received a very special gift from God. You might be surprised to learn how she thanked God for that gift!
Read story from a Children's storybook Bible for younger children.
For older children, read story from an age-appropriate Children's storybook Bible or tell the story yourself.
Scripture for Kids to Read Aloud: 1 Samuel 1:9-19, 1:20-22, 2:18-21, 3:1-20, 4:14-18
First, ask the children if they have any questions about the story. What to do if you don't know the answer?