Once there was a woman named Hannah, who was very sad because she
didn't have any children. She prayed to God and promised Him that if He
gave her a son, that she would give him to the Lord to serve Him all his
life and that she would never cut his hair. God blessed her with a son,
and his name was Samuel. To keep her promise, Samuel's mother took him to
live with a man named Eli. Eli was a priest, who lived in a place called
Shiloh. People went to Shiloh at a special time every year and gave
presents to God to show Him how much they loved Him. God's treasure box,
called the ark, was in Shiloh where Samuel and Eli lived. The ark was very
special to Eli. It had things in it that were special to God, like Moses'
staff, and the stone blocks with the ten commandments written on them, and
things like that. Eli had two sons, and they did not follow the
commandments of God.
Samuel became Eli's helper. One night Samuel heard a voice say, Samuel.
So, Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, Here I am. Eli said, I didn't
call you, go back to sleep. Samuel did, and he heard the voice again, say,
Samuel. He got up again and went to Eli and said, Here I am. I didn't call
you, go back to sleep, said Eli. So Samuel went back to sleep, and it
happened again, a third time. Eli knew then, that it was the Lord calling
Samuel, so he told Samuel, The next time you hear the voice, say, Speak
Lord, your servant is listening. So, Samuel went back to sleep.
Soon Samuel heard the voice again, Samuel, Samuel. And Samuel answered,
as Eli had told him to, Speak Lord, your servant is listening. And the
Lord said to Samuel, I will do something in Israel that will surprise
everyone. I will punish Eli, because he knows that his sons have done
wrong, and Eli didn't stop them. Samuel told Eli everything the Lord had
said, and Eli said, He is the Lord, let him do what seems is good. After
that, each time the Lord would speak to Samuel, Samuel would tell about
it, and all of Israel knew that Samuel was chosen to be a prophet of the
Lord. A prophet is someone who God talks to and gives them messages about
things that are going to happen.
When Samuel was older, the Philistines went to war with Israel again,
because the Hebrews were going back to their old ways of misbehaving and
God wasn't happy with them. Israel had lost some of their cities of the
Promised Land to the Philistines before and they were was losing a lot of
people again in this war. Eli's two sons went to get the ark and brought
it with them to where they were fighting against the Philistines because
the people of Israel thought the ark would protect them and help them win.
When the Israelites saw the ark, they all shouted with loud voices just
like they did in Jericho.
Now, the Philistines remembered hearing all the terrible things that
happened to the Egyptians when God helped Moses, so they fought really
hard and beat Israel and took the ark away from them and Eli's two sons
were killed. One of the Hebrew soldiers ran back to tell Eli what had
happened, and when Eli heard that the ark was stolen, he fell back out of
his chair, broke his neck, and died.
The Philistines took the ark to a place where they prayed to a statue.
God didn't like that. As soon as the ark was put there, the statue fell
over and was broken to pieces. The Philistines moved the ark to all
different cities and wherever they took it, people who didn't believe in
God, got sick and died. They finally figured it out, and gave the ark back
to the Israelites.
After the Philistines won the war, the Israelites went to Samuel for
help. Samuel told them that if they would love the Lord with all their
hearts, and stop doing wrong, that God would save them from the
Philistines. The people told God they were sorry that they had sinned and
promised to be good. The next time the Philistines tried to attack Israel,
God helped them and Israel won back all the cities they had lost to the
Philistines and there was peace for a while in the Promised Land.