Thank you for sharing this early moment of your day with me, with God, and with the thoughts and words of this reading that I hope you will carry with you throughout the coming day and night.
1 Samuel 1 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
Samuel’s Birth and Dedication
1 There was a certain man of Ramathaim, a Zuphite[a] from the hill country of Ephraim, whose name was Elkanah son of Jeroham son of Elihu son of Tohu son of Zuph, an Ephraimite. 2 He had two wives; the name of the one was Hannah, and the name of the other Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children.
3 Now this man used to go up year by year from his town to worship and to sacrifice to the Lord of hosts at Shiloh, where the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were priests of the Lord. 4 On the day when Elkanah sacrificed, he would give portions to his wife Peninnah and to all her sons and daughters; 5 but to Hannah he gave a double portion,[b] because he loved her, though the Lord had closed her womb. 6 Her rival used to provoke her severely, to irritate her, because the Lord had closed her womb. 7 So it went on year by year; as often as she went up to the house of the Lord, she used to provoke her. Therefore Hannah wept and would not eat. 8 Her husband Elkanah said to her, “Hannah, why do you weep? Why do you not eat? Why is your heart sad? Am I not more to you than ten sons?”
9 After they had eaten and drunk at Shiloh, Hannah rose and presented herself before the Lord.[c] Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat beside the doorpost of the temple of the Lord. 10 She was deeply distressed and prayed to the Lord, and wept bitterly. 11 She made this vow: “O Lord of hosts, if only you will look on the misery of your servant, and remember me, and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a male child, then I will set him before you as a nazirite[d] until the day of his death. He shall drink neither wine nor intoxicants,[e] and no razor shall touch his head.”
12 As she continued praying before the Lord, Eli observed her mouth. 13 Hannah was praying silently; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard; therefore Eli thought she was drunk. 14 So Eli said to her, “How long will you make a drunken spectacle of yourself? Put away your wine.” 15 But Hannah answered, “No, my lord, I am a woman deeply troubled; I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have been pouring out my soul before the Lord. 16 Do not regard your servant as a worthless woman, for I have been speaking out of my great anxiety and vexation all this time.” 17 Then Eli answered, “Go in peace; the God of Israel grant the petition you have made to him.” 18 And she said, “Let your servant find favor in your sight.” Then the woman went to her quarters,[f] ate and drank with her husband,[g] and her countenance was sad no longer.[h]
19 They rose early in the morning and worshiped before the Lord; then they went back to their house at Ramah. Elkanah knew his wife Hannah, and the Lord remembered her. 20 In due time Hannah conceived and bore a son. She named him Samuel, for she said, “I have asked him of the Lord.”
21 The man Elkanah and all his household went up to offer to the Lord the yearly sacrifice, and to pay his vow. 22 But Hannah did not go up, for she said to her husband, “As soon as the child is weaned, I will bring him, that he may appear in the presence of the Lord, and remain there forever; I will offer him as a nazirite[i] for all time.”[j] 23 Her husband Elkanah said to her, “Do what seems best to you, wait until you have weaned him; only—may the Lord establish his word.”[k] So the woman remained and nursed her son, until she weaned him. 24 When she had weaned him, she took him up with her, along with a three-year-old bull,[l] an ephah of flour, and a skin of wine. She brought him to the house of the Lord at Shiloh; and the child was young. 25 Then they slaughtered the bull, and they brought the child to Eli. 26 And she said, “Oh, my lord! As you live, my lord, I am the woman who was standing here in your presence, praying to the Lord. 27 For this child I prayed; and the Lord has granted me the petition that I made to him. 28 Therefore I have lent him to the Lord; as long as he lives, he is given to the Lord.”
She left him there for[m] the Lord.
Tim’s Devotional Reflection for Today
This passage is the beginning of the story of the prophet Samuel. There was a young woman named Hannah was deeply troubled because she was unable to have a child. She prayed fervently to God in the temple at Shiloh to give her a child. She was praying silently, but her lips were moving. This seems normal, but Eli, the priest at the temple, thought she was drunk. So, he said to her, “How long will you make a drunken spectacle of yourself? Put away your wine.”
Hannah answered, “No, my lord, I am a woman deeply troubled; I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have been pouring out my soul before the Lord. Do not regard your servant as a worthless woman, for I have been speaking out of my great anxiety and vexation all this time.”
In response, Eli finally acted like a priest should act and answered, “Go in peace; the God of Israel grant the petition you have made to him.”
When her baby was born, she named him Samuel, she dedicated him to God, and she gave him to Eli to serve in the temple when he was only a small child. Early on he would learn to listen and discern the will of God and would grow up to be a prophet and in that role anoint Saul and David as the first two kings of Israel. Sometimes he is called the kingmaker.
Think about the potential in that child that no one could have seen at the time. There was potential there, but it took the early nurturing of his mother and the later training by the priest Eli for him to realize that potential. The story of Hannah, Eli, and Samuel remind us to nurture and mentor our children so they grow up to be faithful and to use the gifts and graces God has given them.
There is a lot of theology woven into hymns. To enhance today’s reading, I recommend listening to “Child of Blessing, Child of Promise”. I hope you will take a few moments to let the words of this message and the emotion that always connects us to music connect with your soul.
Child of blessing, child of promise,
baptized with the Spirit’s sign,
with this water God has sealed you
unto love and grace divine.
Child of love, our love’s expression,
love’s creation, loved indeed!
Fresh from God, refresh our spirits,
into joy and laughter lead.
Child of joy, our dearest treasure,
God’s you are; from God you came.
Back to God we humbly give you:
live as one who bears Christ’s name.
Child of God, your loving Parent,
learn to know whose child you are.
Grow to laugh and sing and worship,
trust and love God more than all.
I am so grateful for you, for our church, and for the Love that will see us all through this very difficult time. Please stay safe and well and we’ll be together again in spirit tomorrow morning!
Grace and Peace,
Dr. Tim Bruster