Memory verse: James 5:16. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
What do you think would happen in your house if you had 1 dad and 2 Mum’s?
- What would be good about that? ( share the chores, if 1 sick the other still there to look after things
- What problems do you think there would be? ( jealousy & competition, complaining about each other
Well, back in time – over 1000 years BC which is over 3000 years ago, it was quite common for men to have more than 1 wife. And, the same as it would be for us today, there were problems then as well.
There was a man called Elkanah. He had 2 wives. One of them was called Peninnah and the other was ??? (ask girls) Yes, Hannah. The problem they had was Peninnah had some children – but Hannah had none. And this caused lots of problems in the family.
Peninnah laughed and poked fun at Hannah because she had no children – that made Hannah dreadfully sad. But Elkanah – their husband – loved Hannah more than Peninnah and that made Peninnah jealous. Not a very happy home for them all was it?
Three times a year all the men in Israel were required to travel from their homes to the capital city of Shiloh (which is now called Jerusalem) to worship God. These were special celebration days. One of these trips each year Elkanah treated as a special holiday and so he all his family used to make the trip together. Elkanah lived fairly close to Shiloh, so they could all probably walk it in a day or part of a day. As part of the celebration of going to the temple, Elkanah would give special portions of meat to his family – 1 piece to Peninnah, 1 piece to each of her children and 2 pieces for Hannah. That was because he loved Hannah best – and maybe he was trying to make it up to her because she had no children.
Giving them all special portions of meat would be like Christmas for us where we get a gift. Peninnah got one gift and Hannah got 2. How would you feel if your brother or sister got 2 and you only got one? Maybe Peninnah felt like that too. But Peninnah was very mean with her words, saying things like “ Ha, ha, you can’t even have 1 child. What’s wrong with you. You’re not a proper woman at all if you can’t produce a son for Elkanah. He won’t love you for long.” Wow! Poor Hannah.
So, to try and make Hannah happier, Elkanah gave her the 2 pieces of meat (like 2 gifts) and said “I love you best. Cheer up. Aren’t I better than many sons?”
But it still didn’t help much even though Hannah really loved Elkanah a lot. Hannah just desperately wanted a child of her own.
One day, the family headed up to the temple for their special holiday. They probably sat outside and had a picnic lunch together. Then suddenly Hannah stood up. She went up the steps to the temple doorway where Eli the priest was sitting on a chair watching everyone. Hannah knelt down and started crying and praying to God. Her words to God were something like this… “God, look at how sad and miserable I am. Please don’t forget me, instead will you see my sadness and do something about it? Will you give me a baby
boy please – if you do I will give him back to you and he can serve you for all of his life. I promise this.”
Meanwhile Eli the High priest was looking on. He couldn’t hear her prayer. He could only see her lips moving, because Hannah was praying silently to God. So guess what he thought – he thought she was drunk!
Eli was angry that a woman would come into the temple drunk, so he went over and said to her, “ why do you keep getting drunk? Get rid of your alcohol.”
Then Hannah looked up at him and said, “Oh, no, sir, I am not drunk. I am just so very sad. I was pouring out my sadness to God.”
Then Eli gently put his hand on her head and said, “Go in peace. And may God give you what you have asked for.”
So Hannah went away a little happier. Elkanah, Hannah, Peninnah and her children all stayed the night at a hotel or inn, and then walked home the following day.
And guess what! Yes, Hannah became pregnant and 9 months later she gave birth to a baby boy. What did she name him? (Samuel.)
What lesson can we learn from this story of Samuel? ( We should pray – God wants to know how we feel. And He loves answering prayer. Words hurt – God wants us to say kind words….. )
So that’s our first part of the story of Samuel. Next week we will learn what happened about Hannah’s promise to God and what happened to Samuel.