- 1 Sam. 1:1-2:36
There was a man named Elkanah of the tribe of Ephraim who had two wives, Hannah and Peninnah. Peninnah had children but Hannah did not. Elkanah loved Hannah more than Peninnah. Every year Elkanah and his wives would journey to Shiloh where the tabernacle was to offer sacrifices to GOD. And every time Peninnah would provoke and irritate Hannah because she had no children.
One year while this was happening Hannah stood up and began to pray silently that GOD would give her a son. She promised that if GOD gave her a son she would give him back to the LORD. Eli, a priest who was sitting by the door to the tabernacle, thought Hannah was drunk so he rebuked her, but she explained how she was praying to GOD and Eli said:
“Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him.”
(1 Sam. 1:17 NIV)
After this, Hannah gave birth to a son and she called him Samuel which sounds like the Hebrew phrase for "heard of God". As Hannah promised, she gave Samuel to the LORD to serve under Eli the priest. At the moment Hannah gave Samuel to Eli she expressed beautiful words of thanksgiving and praise to GOD in prayer (1 Sam. 2:1-11). What a wonderful example of a godly woman that Hannah was!
Eli, however, had two sons that were "wicked men" (1 Sam. 2:12). They did all sorts of evil and had no regard for the LORD. Eli was very old, and although he rebuked his sons for their wickedness, they did not listen and they continued their evil ways. A man of GOD spoke to Eli and said:
‘Did I not clearly reveal Myself to the house of your father when they were in Egypt in Pharaoh’s house? Did I not choose him out of all the tribes of Israel to be My priest, to offer upon My altar, to burn incense, and to wear an ephod before Me? And did I not give to the house of your father all the offerings of the children of Israel made by fire? Why do you kick at My sacrifice and My offering which I have commanded in My dwelling place, and honor your sons more than Me, to make yourselves fat with the best of all the offerings of Israel My people?’
Therefore the LORD God of Israel says: ‘I said indeed that your house and the house of your father would walk before Me forever.’ But now the LORD says: ‘Far be it from Me; for those who honor Me I will honor, and those who despise Me shall be lightly esteemed.
Behold, the days are coming that I will cut off your arm and the arm of your father’s house, so that there will not be an old man in your house. And you will see an enemy in My dwelling place, despite all the good which God does for Israel. And there shall not be an old man in your house forever. But any of your men whomI do not cut off from My altar shall consume your eyes and grieve your heart. And all the descendants of your house shall die in the flower of their age. Now this shall be a sign to you that will come upon your two sons, on Hophni and Phinehas: in one day they shall die, both of them.
Then I will raise up for Myself a faithful priest who shall do according to what is in My heart and in My mind. I will build him a sure house, and he shall walk before My anointed forever. And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left in your house will come and bow down to him for a piece of silver and a morsel of bread, and say, “Please, put me in one of the priestly positions, that I may eat a piece of bread.”’
(1 Sam. 2:27-36 NKJV)
Hannah honored GOD by waiting on Him to fulfill her request for a son to take away her reproach of being childless. Eli had the blessing of being a priest of GOD but he did not value it, honoring his sons more highly than GOD. Hannah was blessed for her obedience and faith. Eli and his family were punished because they failed to honor GOD and treat Him with the respect He deserves.