ISN’T this a good-looking little boy? His name is Samuel. And the man with his hand on Samuel’s head is Israel’s high priest Eʹli. That is Samuel’s father El·kaʹnah and his mother Hanʹnah who are bringing Samuel to Eʹli.
Samuel is only about four or five years old. But he will live here at Jehovah’s tabernacle with Eʹli and the other priests. Why would El·kaʹnah and Hanʹnah give someone so young as Samuel to serve Jehovah at the tabernacle? Let’s see.
It was just a few years before this that Hanʹnah was very sad. The reason is that she could not have a baby, and she wanted one very, very much. So one day when Hanʹnah was visiting Jehovah’s tabernacle, she prayed: ‘O Jehovah, do not forget me! If you give me a son, I promise that I will give him to you so he can serve you all his life.’
Jehovah answered Hanʹnah’s prayer, and months later she gave birth to Samuel. Hanʹnah loved her little boy, and she began teaching him about Jehovah when he was still very little. She told her husband: ‘As soon as Samuel is old enough so he does not need to be nursed anymore, I will take him to the tabernacle to serve Jehovah there.’
This is what we see Hanʹnah and El·kaʹnah doing in the picture. And because Samuel has been taught so well by his parents, he is glad to be able to serve Jehovah here at Jehovah’s tent. Each year Hanʹnah and El·kaʹnah come to worship at this special tent, and to visit their little boy. And each year Hanʹnah brings a new sleeveless coat that she has made for Samuel.
As the years go by, Samuel keeps on serving at Jehovah’s tabernacle, and both Jehovah and the people like him. But high priest Eʹli’s sons Hophʹni and Phinʹe·has are no good. They do many bad things, and get others to disobey Jehovah too. Eʹli should remove them from being priests, but he does not.
Young Samuel doesn’t let any of the bad things going on at the tabernacle cause him to stop serving Jehovah. But because so few people really love Jehovah, it has been a long time since Jehovah has spoken to any human. When Samuel grows a little older this is what happens:
Samuel is asleep in the tabernacle when a voice wakes him up. He answers: ‘Here I am.’ And he gets up and runs to Eʹli, and says: ‘You called me, and here I am.’
But Eʹli answers: ‘I did not call you; go back to bed.’ So Samuel goes back to bed.
Then there is a second call: ‘Samuel!’ So Samuel gets up and again runs to Eʹli. ‘You called me, and here I am,’ he says. But Eʹli answers: ‘I did not call, my son. Lie down again.’ So Samuel returns to bed.
‘Samuel!’ the voice calls a third time. So Samuel runs to Eʹli. ‘Here I am, for you must have called me this time,’ he says. Eʹli knows now that it must be Jehovah who is calling. So he tells Samuel: ‘Go lie down once more, and if he calls again, you must say: “Speak, Jehovah, for your servant is listening.”’
This is what Samuel says when Jehovah calls again. Jehovah then tells Samuel that he is going to punish Eʹli and his sons. Later Hophʹni and Phinʹe·has die in battle with the Phi·lisʹtines, and when Eʹli hears what has happened he falls over, breaks his neck and dies too. So Jehovah’s word comes true.
Samuel grows up, and becomes the last judge of Israel. When he grows old, the people ask him: ‘Choose a king to rule over us.’ Samuel does not want to do this, because really Jehovah is their king. But Jehovah tells him to listen to the people.