TEXT: I Samuel 1:9-11, 19-28; 3:1-21
In the little town of Ramah, far, far across the big ocean, lived many little boys and girls. The mothers and fathers were so glad to have the little children! They liked to watch them as they ran and played. They loved them just like your mother and daddy love you.
But there was one woman in Ramah who was sad. She did not have a little boy or a girl. This lady’s name was Hannah. Oh, how she did love the children! She wished she could have a little boy all her own.
One day Hannah and her husband went to a Temple Church called a Tabernacle. They went there to pray. Sometimes we call our church a tabernacle, too, because it is so big and people come from so many places in the summer to pray and go to church together.
Lots of people came to this Tabernacle to pray, too. As Hannah knelt down to pray, she said to God, “God, please give me a little boy and when he gets big enough I will give him back to You to be Your helper.”
Hannah talked to God in her heart. She did not say it out loud, but God knew what Hannah wanted. Perhaps the tears rolled down her face but she did not make a sound when she prayed. She wanted a little boy so much she could not even talk. It is good to know that you can pray to God inside your heart and He still hears that prayer.
Did God hear Hannah when she did not talk out loud? Oh yes, He surely did! God always knows just what we are thinking when we pray. If it is good for us He will give us what we pray for.
There was a priest named Eli in the church when Hannah prayed. He saw Hannah crying and praying but he did not hear her saying anything. Eli looked at her for a while. He knew that Hannah really did want God to answer her prayer.
Eli went over and talked to Hannah. He told her something that made her so glad that she had prayed real hard. Eli said that God was going to answer her prayer. Now Hannah could have that little boy after all.
A little while later God really did answer Hannah’s prayer. God gave her a little baby boy all her own, just the baby boy that Hannah wanted so much. Oh, how Hannah did love him! How his daddy did love him, too! She named him Samuel.
Hannah took very good care of her little boy but she did not forget what she had promised God. Do you remember what her promise was? If God would let her have a little boy she would give him back to God to be His helper as soon as he was big enough.
A promise is when you tell someone you will do something. You mean you really, really will do it and won’t forget to do what you said you would. A very, very special promise to God is called a vow.
When Samuel was just a small boy his mother Hannah took him back to the Tabernacle. Eli, that same priest was there. Hannah said, “Do you remember that day I prayed for a little boy? You said that God would answer my prayer, and He did. This is the boy I prayed for. I promised God something and now I want to keep that promise.”
Hannah wanted Samuel to live in God’s house with the priest Eli. She wanted him to grow up in the Tabernacle and be God’s helper. Samuel could do many things to help Eli keep the big church clean.
It was very sad for Hannah to go home that day without Samuel, but she was happy to have him help in the house of God. He was where he could learn many things about God. Each year Hannah took a little coat to Samuel that she made for him.
Eli had two boys of his own but they were real bad and did not mind Eli, or pray to God, either. Eli felt very bad about his sons not minding him just like your daddy and mother feel about you when you are naughty and don’t mind them.
Eli was getting to be an old, old man now. He would get tired when he did lots of work, so every day little Samuel would open the big church doors for Eli. He would light the candles. They didn’t have electric lights then. Oh, how many things Samuel could find to do to help priest Eli! He was helping God that way, too.
Your name may not be Samuel and you don’t live in the church but you can be God’s helper in your tabernacle, too. You are never too little to help God.
How can you be like Samuel and help God? You can always walk in God’s house. Never, never, never run when you are in the church. God does not like to see boys and girls run in His house. When you walk you are a helper for God.
One night Samuel was sleeping in his little bed and he heard someone say, “Samuel.” The boy jumped right out of bed in a hurry and ran to Eli’s bed to see what he wanted, Eli was surprised when he opened his eyes and saw Samuel standing by his bed, in the middle of the night.
Eli said, “I did not call you, Samuel. Go back to bed.”
Samuel went back and got into his bed. Just as he was almost asleep, listen, he heard someone call his name again. He was sure this time. It must be Eli. Samuel ran in to see Eli again.
No, Eli had not called him. Eli had not heard anybody call. Samuel tried to go to sleep again but he just couldn’t.
The night was still. Samuel lay still. A soft Voice said, “Samuel.” Yes, a Voice said his name again. He couldn’t see anyone but he heard his name. He really did.
Samuel went to Priest Eli and told him all about what he had heard. Now Eli knew that it must be God trying to tell Samuel something. He told Samuel to go back to bed, and if he heard his name again, just say, “Speak, LORD; for thy servant heareth.”
Samuel lay so quietly in his bed. It was dark and very still. Samuel listened. Yes, the Voice called so softly to him again. It was God’s Voice talking right to Samuel.
God told Samuel about Eli’s big boys. God said they were so bad they must be punished by God. Eli had not told his boys, No, No, when they were little. He had not made them mind him and now they would not mind God, either.
Sometimes when our daddies and mommies get after us and make us do what they ask us to, we don’t like it; but it helps us to grow up to be good girls and boys. If we know how to mind daddy and mother we will know how to mind God better, too. The Bible says to mind your father and mother.
Poor, poor Eli! He felt so bad about his boys. They were big now and God was going to have to punish them.
How Eli loved little Samuel because he listened to God and did what God wanted him to do! We are so glad that God can talk to boys and girls when they are little. He can talk to you, too; not out loud like your mother and daddy do — or like God did to Samuel — but God knows how to talk to you so you know for sure that it is God. Be sure to listen when God speaks.