There was a woman named Hannah who desperately desired to have a child, but was unable to conceive. Elkanah, her husband, had another wife named Peninnah who had children. Each year Elkanah would travel to the city of Shiloh to worship and give sacrifices to the Lord. When the time came to make an offering, he would give portions to both Peninnah and Hannah, but to Hannah he gave a double portion because he loved her, even though the Lord had not blessed her with children. Peninnah saw the favoritism that was shown to Hannah and she hated her for it. She sought every opportunity to rub in Hannah’s face that she was childless, and it made Hannah miserable. Year after year Hannah would be reminded of her lack of children and she would become so discouraged that she would not eat. Hannah’s husband hated seeing her so unhappy. Unable to do anything to help her, he sought to make her feel better by being the best husband he could be. So when she was still unhappy, he cried out to her asking her why her heart was so grieved. Wasn’t he better to her than ten sons?

After the family finished eating and drinking in Shiloh, Hannah got up and went before the Lord. So overcome with emotion, she wept and prayed bitterly, making a promise to the Lord that if He would grant her request and give her a son, that she would return the boy to Him to be raised and trained up to serve Him all of the days of his life. As a sign of the promise Hannah made, she vowed to not cut the child’s hair. As Hannah prayed eagerly, Eli the priest was sitting on the doorstep watching her. Hannah’s lips were moving, but no words were coming out of her mouth as she was praying in her heart. Eli thought she was drunk and told her to get rid of her wine. Hannah responded to Eli that she had not been drinking, but that she was very sorrowful in her heart, and that she was crying out in her pain and anguish. Eli had compassion on Hannah and told her to go in peace. He prayed that the Lord would answer her prayer for a child. Hannah’s hope was sparked and she went on her way, no longer sad.

Early the next morning, Elkanah and his family went to worship before the Lord. When they returned home Elkanah made love to Hannah and the Lord remembered her prayer. She became pregnant and in time gave birth to a son and named him Samuel, saying “because I asked of him from the Lord.”

When Elkanah prepared to go up to Shiloh for the annual sacrifice, Hannah stayed behind with Samuel. She decided that she would not take him to Shiloh until he was old enough to be weaned. When the time came to take Samuel to the house of the Lord, she took with her a three year old bull, some flour and wine. They slaughtered the bull for a sacrifice and then brought Samuel before Eli, the priest. Hannah reminded Eli that she was the woman who had prayed eagerly for a child, and that the Lord had indeed answered her prayer and given her a son. She then fulfilled the vow she had made, and gave Samuel to serve the Lord all of the days of his life.

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