Sunday, December 17, 2017

A child is born 17: Hannah gives birth to Samuel

Hannah said; “for this child I prayed and the Lord has granted me the petition that I made to him.”

Hannah is one of the two wives of Elkanah, but while Peninah has many children, Hannah is childless. It is a recipe for rivalry and ill-treatment, as we have already discovered in earlier stories. Desperate, Hannah prays at the shrine at Shiloh. (Jerusalem has not become the capital yet, and there is no temple.) Her prayers are so intense that the old priest, Eli, thinks she is drunk. When he hears her story he is moved and prays that God will grant her prayer. When her child is born, she names him Samuel, which may be a play on the Hebrew word “listen”.

It may surprise us that, as soon as the child is weaned, Hannah brings him to Eli to be brought up at the shrine. He is another ‘nazirite’ , like Samson (see yesterday), with a special purpose to fulfil. Samuel’s job will be to listen for and proclaim the word of God to a people who have forgotten what it sounds like.

·         What do you think of Hannah giving Samuel to Eli to bring up? Why might she feel she needs to do this? Could you have done it?

·         Are there times in your life when you have desperately wanted something? Did you get what you wanted? Did you tell anyone about your desire, or keep it to yourself? Did you tell God about it?

·         Pray for parents and children separated from one another, whether by choice, ( at boarding school for example) or by circumstances beyond their control, through war, poverty, illness or family breakdown.

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