This morning we are getting back into our story of Samuel. When we last left Samuel, he was about 2-5 years old and his parents, Elkanah and Hannah, had just left him at the tabernacle to live with the priest Eli. And if you missed our previous messages, you might wonder why Samuel’s parents might do such a thing! What would cause a mother leave her 2-5 year old child to live at the tabernacle and be raised by someone else?
Well, just to give you a quick recap, previous to all this, Hannah had been barren – she was unable to have children – which of course, caused her a great deal of heartache and sadness. But she prayed to God and asked Him for son – promising that if God were to give her a son, then she would give her son back to the Lord. She would dedicate him to live and serve the Lord for his entire lifetime.
And graciously, God heard her prayer and gave her exactly what she asked for. Before long, little Samuel was born – and true to her promise, as soon as he was weaned, Hannah brought him to live at the tabernacle. He would be raised by Eli the priest, and would learn to serve the Lord by assisting Eli in his priestly duties.
We read in 1 Samuel 2:11…
11 Then Elkanah returned home to Ramah without Samuel. And the boy served the Lord by assisting Eli the priest. 1 Samuel 2:11
God had answered Hannah’s prayer and so Hannah kept her promise to God and left little Samuel to grow up serving the Lord at the tabernacle.
And so that’s where we are picking up the story today. Today’s passage gives us some snapshots of Samuel’s life growing up at the tabernacle. But it doesn’t revolve solely around the life of Samuel – but it also includes what’s happening with Eli and his two sons – Hophni and Phinehas. And as we are going to see, things are not good with Eli and his sons. Even though they were the priests – representing God at His tabernacle – we quickly see that they were not the Godly representatives that God intended them to be.
In fact, the rest of this chapter is written in a way that contrasts the goodness of Samuel with the wickedness of Eli and his sons. It’s a series of back-and-forth snapshots showing how Samuel grows up honouring the Lord – but Eli and his sons increasingly dishonour the Lord.