While this year’s lesson focuses more on the wickedness of those who do not honor the Lord, this 1947 children’s lesson emphasizes Hannah’s righteousness in honoring her commitment to God, Samuel’s willingness to promptly answer the voice of the Lord, and the Lord’s blessing of these two righteous people who honored God first.
SAMUEL, THE KING-MAKER; “Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth”
To the Teacher:
“The height of the pinnacle is determined by the breadth of the base.” – Emerson.
“Tell me what you are busy about and I will tell you what you are.” – Goethe
1. Name Samuel’s parents.
2. What does “Samuel” mean? Why was it a good name for that boy?
3. What message did the Lord give to Samuel in the temple? Why was it not given to Eli?
4. Show how wisely Samuel led Israel.
5. What did he become angry at Israel’s leaders?
6. How did he choose Saul?
7. Why did he visit the house of Jesse of Bethlehem?
8. Name the second king that Samuel anointed king over Israel.
The Story: (I Samuel 1 to 3, 8 to 12
While Eli was judge, Israel was more united than she had been for many years. The dangers of war with the Philistines had drawn the people together. More people visited Shiloh to offer sacrifices, and the Levites were more active in ministering among the people. Eli was such a kind, humble, god-fearing man that the people came from great distances to visit the temple and receive his blessing.
Not far from Shiloh, at Ramah, lived a man named Elkanah and his wife Hannah. Every year these people visited the temple, taking offerings and sacrifices to the Lord. They usually remained at Shiloh a few days, and spent the time at the temple in worship and prayer.
Hannah had never had any children and her life on that account was not a happy one. Elkanah loved her and devoted his life to pleasing her, but she could not be comforted. While at the temple on one of her annual visits she prayed that the Lord would give her a son. She promised that if her prayer was answered she would lend her baby boy back to the Lord, to be his servant forever – a Nazarite to the Lord.
Hannah prayed without selfishness, and God heard her prayer. As she came from the temple her face shone with a radiant, joyous light. Eli met her at the door. Raising his hand he blessed her, saying, “Go in peace. The God of Israel shall grant your petition.”
When Elkanah returned to the tabernacle the next year, Hannah had to remain at home with Samuel, her newly born baby boy. Samuel means, “Asked of God.” Hannah nursed him carefully and loved him dearly; but she did not forget her promise. When the baby was three years old she took him to the temple to be presented to the Lord.
Hannah brought a gift of flour and wine for Eli. Three young bulls were brought to be sacrificed. The sacrificial offering was made, then Hannah kneeled in prayer. She said, “Oh, my kind Heavenly Father, my soul has been made glad because you have given me this child. Now, therefor, I lend him back to you, to serve you as long as he shall live.”
Hannah had carefully folded baby Samuel’s clothing. Now she placed his tiny hand in that of kind, old Father Eli. She told him of her promise: Samuel, her only son, was to be loaned to the Lord. You may think it strange that Hannah could leave Samuel, but every mother is anxious to have her son dedicate his life to serving God.
During his boyhood, Hannah lived close by so she could care for Samuel. Every year she brought new clothing and fine gifts for both Samuel and Eli. Every day of her life she rejoiced to know that her son was growing to be a fine man, working in the service of the Lord. Because she gave Samuel so willingly, the Lord blessed her now with other sons to help fill her heart.
Eli taught Samuel to serve God and to love Him. The boy responded to Eli’s teachings. Eli was very old and there were many tasks that even a very small boy could do to help the Priest of God.
Samuel’s bed was in a room next to Eli. One night when both had gone to bed, the light from the candles burning near the Ark of the Covenant in the temple cast dancing shadows into Samuel’s bedroom. Samuel could not sleep. He was wondering why the Lord no longer visited his people Israel as He had done in the times of Moses and Joshua. His eyes looked toward the “mercy-seat” of gold, clearly visible through his open door.
Just then a voice called, “Samuel.” He was just a little boy and did not know very much about the Lord as yet, so he jumped from his bed and ran into Eli’s room, saying, “Here am I.”
Eli had just gone to sleep. Samuel touched him and said, “Here am I. You called me.” Eli said, “No, I did not call you. Go back to sleep.”
Samuel was troubled, he was certain he heard his name called, but he went back to his bed. Again, the same voice came saying, “Samuel!” The boy jumped from his bed and ran to Eli. “Here I am Eli. You did call me.” Eli said kindly, “I called you not, my son. Lie down again.”
Samuel had no idea that the Lord would speak to a boy, such as he was, nor do we have any former record of such a thing being done, so when the voice called the third time, he ran into Eli’s room to obey his friendly voice promptly. Eli now knew that the Lord had called the boy. Sitting up in bed, he placed his arm about this child who had been chosen to receive a revelation from the Lord. “Go, lie down again Samuel. if the voice calls again, you may answer and say, ‘Speak, for thy servant heareth.’”
The Lord called again, “Samuel, Samuel1″ The boy in hushed voice answered, “Speak, for thy servant heareth.”
From the “mercy-seat” in the temple, the Lord spoke to Samuel. The Lord told Samuel to tell Eli of his sons’ evil doing. He was told what must take place in Eli’s family.
Samuel waited until morning, then he went to Eli and told him what the Lord had said. Poor Eli was not greatly surprised, for he had been warned of it before. He bowed his head and said, “It is the Lord’s will.” His care for Samuel increased. He taught him everything that he could, for he knew Jehovah had called Samuel to a great work.
During the next few years, while Eli yet lived, Samuel grew to be loved by all the people I Israel. Everyone that visited the temple knew that God had chosen Samuel to be a prophet and judge over Israel.
When the Ark was taken away by the Philistines, and Eli was dead, Samuel went to live with his parents at Ramah. The temple at Shiloh was no longer used, for the Ark of the Covenant was gone.
As the years passed, the Philistines made life miserable for the Israelites. Samuel visited among his people encouraging them in every way possible. They learned to welcome him; but they knew that he was displeased with many things that he saw. He told them that if they wished to be free from the rule of the Philistines, they must destroy their idols and turn to God.
The Israelites did as Samuel advised. Idols were destroyed. New altars were set up, and sacrifices were offered to Jehovah. When Samuel knew that Israel had turned to the Lord, he sent a call for all Israel to gather at a place called Mizpeh, and there he would pray for them.
The Philistines heard of the meeting and thinking an army had gathered for war, they marched to meet Israel’s army in battle. The Israelites ha not brought their arms nor armor. They were helpless before the largest army the Philistines had ever sent against them. Now they pleaded with Samuel to pray to the Lord to help them. They knew Jehovah could protect them and fight their battles as He had against Pharaoh, and at the time of Gideon.
Samuel took a lamb, and offered it as a sacrifice to the Lord. Then he prayed earnestly that the Lord would send help to his chosen people, Israel. As the Philistines drew near to the Israelites the Lord caused such a thunder-storm to visit the place where the Philistines were marching that they turned and fled in terror, leaving their weapons behind them.
When the Israelites saw that the Philistines fled, they ran after them. Seizing the weapons that had been left behind, they killed many and drove all of the rest out of Canaan. It was a great victory. A stone altar was erected on the battle field, because God had given them such wonderful help.
Samuel married and lived at Ramah. From there he traveled in all directions teaching the people and offering sacrifices for them. He judged righteously between the people who came to him with their disputes. When he became too old to travel, his two sons helped him. Samuel’s sons, like Eli’s, were greedy. They accepted bribes and in disputes favored the people with the most money. Almost all the people hated these unjust rulers.
For many years Israel had wanted a king. They had offered to make Gideon king, but he had refused. Now they came to Samuel and said they wanted a king such as their neighbors had, for they thought it would make the nation stronger.
Samuel went in prayer to the Lord. he felt very sad to think Israel should ask for a king. He knew the Lord would not be pleased. When the Lord heard Samuel’s prayer, he said, “Let them have a king. They are not forsaking you, they are forsaking Me. But warn them of the evils that must surely come upon them when a king rules over them.”
Samuel did as the Lord commanded. He told of the taxes they would have to pay and the jealousy and cruelties that would come under a king. The people would not listen. they shouted, “We want a king!” When Samuel saw that nothing else would satisfy them, he said, “Return to your houses. God will give you a king.”
The Lord had told Samuel that He would send a man to Samuel who should be Israel’s king; so Samuel waited. The man selected by the Lord was Saul, a son of Kish, of the tribe of Benjamin. He was a man taller than anyone else in all Israel. When Saul came to Samuel, the Lord told him this was the man.
Samuel anointed Saul to be the first king over Israel. For years Saul ruled his kingdom well. He drew the people together; defeated their enemies, and Israel prospered. Then he committed a sin so grievous the Lord determined that his sons should not inherit the kingdom.
The Lord again called Samuel. He was an old, old man. He sent him on a last mission down to Bethlehem. There he was to find a new ruler for Israel.
Samuel went to the house of Jesse. David, the youngest son of Jesse, a mere boy, was called in. Samuel poured oil upon his head and anointed him to be the next king over Israel.
Samuel returned to Ramah. He knew Saul was doing wickedly, but he did not grieve so much for he had just anointed a king for Israel that would be much better than Saul.
Samuel died a disappointed old man. he had wanted his sons to succeed him as judges in Israel. Because of their wickedness the Lord rejected them as he had rejected Eli’s sons and as he rejected Saul. The fact that a son is born to good parents does not insure his favor in the sight of God.
When Samuel died, all Israel mourned the passing of a great and good man. His mother had loaned him to the Lord from his birth. Samuel never ceased to serve the Lord until the day of his death. And the Lord honored Samuel. This was a Nazarite that lived up to his calling.
With the death of Samuel, the last of the Judges is also reached in Hebrew history.
1. Was the promise given by Hannah a strange one? Why?
2. How did she keep her promise?
3. Retell the story of the Lord’s visit to the boy in the Temple.
4. Did Eli get angry at the message? Why?
5. Show how Israel improved under Samuel.
6. Do you think he had reason to feel hurt when they asked for a king?
7. How did the Lord try to comfort Samuel?
8. How did the Israelites defeat the Philistines?
9. Why was Saul selected to be the king?
10. Why did Samuel later choose a king to succeed Saul?
11. In what way was a king over Israel different from other kings?
12. How did the Lord show honor to Samuel?
13. Did Samuel honor the Lord? His position? the people?
14. Does living an honorable life require special qualities of character? Name some.
15. Do you possess these qualities?
16. Make a list of men of honor that you know of. How did each person gain that distinction?
17. What women of honor do you know of?