The Story of Patriarchs and Prophets
by Ellen G. White
Chapter 55: The Child Samuel
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Elkanah, a Levite of Mount Ephraim, was a man of wealth
and influence, and one who loved and feared the Lord. His
wife, Hannah, was a woman of fervent piety. Gentle and unassuming,
her character was marked with deep earnestness and
a lofty faith.
The blessing so earnestly sought by every Hebrew was denied
this godly pair; their home was not gladdened by the voice of
childhood; and the desire to perpetuate his name led the husband—
as it had led many others—to contract a second marriage.
But this step, prompted by a lack of faith in God, did not bring
happiness. Sons and daughters were added to the household;
but the joy and beauty of God's sacred institution had been
marred and the peace of the family was broken. Peninnah, the
new wife, was jealous and narrow-minded, and she bore herself
with pride and insolence. To Hannah, hope seemed crushed and
life a weary burden; yet she met the trial with uncomplaining
Elkanah faithfully observed the ordinances of God. The
worship at Shiloh was still maintained, but on account of irregularities
in the ministration his services were not required at the
sanctuary, to which, being a Levite, he was to give attendance.
Yet he went up with his family to worship and sacrifice at the
Even amid the sacred festivities connected with the service of
God the evil spirit that had cursed his home intruded. After
presenting the thank offerings, all the family, according to the
established custom, united in a solemn yet joyous feast. Upon these
occasions Elkanah gave the mother of his children a portion for
herself and for each of her sons and daughters; and in token of
regard for Hannah, he gave her a double portion, signifying
that his affection for her was the same as if she had had a son.
Then the second wife, fired with jealousy, claimed the precedence [p. 570] as one highly favored of God, and taunted Hannah with her
childless state as evidence of the Lord's displeasure. This was
repeated from year to year, until Hannah could endure it no
longer. Unable to hide her grief, she wept without restraint,
and withdrew from the feast. Her husband vainly sought to
comfort her. "Why weepest thou? and why eatest thou not? and
why is thy heart grieved?" he said; "am I not better to thee than
Hannah uttered no reproach. The burden which she could
share with no earthly friend she cast upon God. Earnestly she
pleaded that He would take away her reproach and grant her the
precious gift of a son to nurture and train for Him. And she
made a solemn vow that if her request were granted, she would
dedicate her child to God, even from its birth. Hannah had
drawn near to the entrance of the tabernacle, and in the anguish
of her spirit she "prayed, . . . and wept sore.." Yet she communed
with God in silence, uttering no sound. In those evil times such
scenes of worship were rarely witnessed. Irreverent feasting and
even drunkenness were not uncommon, even at the religious
festivals; and Eli the high priest, observing Hannah, supposed
that she was overcome with wine. Thinking to administer a
deserved rebuke, he said sternly, "How long wilt thou be
drunken? put away thy wine from thee."
Pained and startled, Hannah answered gently, "No, my lord,
I am a woman of a sorrowful spirit: I have drunk neither wine
nor strong drink, but have poured out my soul before the Lord.
Count not thine handmaid for a daughter of Belial: for out of
the abundance of my complaint and grief have I spoken hitherto."
The high priest was deeply moved, for he was a man of God;
and in place of rebuke he uttered a blessing: "Go in peace: and
the God of Israel grant thee thy petition that thou hast asked of
Hannah's prayer was granted; she received the gift for which
she had so earnestly entreated. As she looked upon the child,
she called him Samuel—"asked of God." As soon as the little one
was old enough to be separated from his mother, she fulfilled her
vow. She loved her child with all the devotion of a mother's
heart; day by day, as she watched his expanding powers and
listened to his childish prattle, her affections entwined about him [p. 571] more closely. He was her only son, the special gift of Heaven;
but she had received him as a treasure consecrated to God, and
she would not withhold from the Giver His own.
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