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  The Great Bible Story #53
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God calls Samuel

Jacob Ninan
Eli was a priest in charge of the tabernacle which was then set up in a place called Shiloh. He was old, and he was not acting responsibly towards God or the people. He had two sons who used to steal the best of the offerings people made and even sleep with the women who came there. But even though Eli knew this, he did not do anything seriously to stop it. God began His plan to replace him.

A man named Elkanah had two wives, Hannah and Peninnah. Hannah was very sad because she could not have children and Peninnah used to mock her. One day Hannah went to Shiloh and silently prayed her heart out before the Lord, asking Him to give her a son, promising Him that if He did, she would give him back to Him to serve Him. Eli saw her moving her lips without any sound and thought she was drunk. When he began to scold her she explained to him that she was only crying out to God out of the anguish of her heart.

The Lord heard her prayer, and she gave birth to a boy whom she named Samuel, meaning 'God has heard'. She looked after him till he was weaned, and then she gave him to the tabernacle to serve under Eli. God was hardly saying anything to Israel those days.

One night when Samuel was sleeping, he heard a voice calling him, "Samuel, Samuel." He thought Eli was calling him and went to him to find out. Eli said he had not called him, and told him to go back to sleep. But he heard this voice again a second and then a third time. Then Eli figured out that God was calling Samuel, and told him to reply, "Speak, Your servant is listening," if he heard the voice again. So the next time God called him he replied like this. Then the Lord began to tell him how He was planning to bring judgment on the house of Eli because he had the responsibility to judge his people but he did not even rebuke his sons when he knew they were doing evil.

When they got up from their sleep in the morning Eli asked Samuel what God had told him, and Samuel told him everything. But even then Eli did not take things seriously or repent. He simply said that it was for the Lord to do whatever He thought was good.

From then onwards God began to speak regularly with Samuel, and he began to be known as a prophet of God. God was with him, and helped him so that all he said to the people took place without fail.

Even now God is angry with leaders who neglect their responsibilities and He is looking for those who will listen and obey humbly.


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Comfort & Counsel