Today’s reading begins with the story of Hannah’s infertility and concludes with Samuel’s calling by the LORD.
The time of the Judges was a time of great depravity in Israel, the priest of Israel Eli had neglected his duties and allowed his sons to abuse the privileges they had as sons of the priest including stealing meat to be sacrificed to the LORD and having sex with the woman who served in the Tabernacle. God had decided that because of Eli’s apathy and the depravity of his sons that they would no longer serve the LORD. God was preparing to blot them out from among the people of Israel.
God was about to raise up for himself a righteous man. A man who regarded the LORD and His statutes as holy. Once again God would go about doing things in His own way.
Hannah was the wife of Elkanah and she was barren and had been unable to conceive and bear a child. In ancient times, when a woman was unable to conceive and bear children she was considered to be cursed by God for some act of unrighteousness. In one year, Hannah overcome with grief for her inability to have children was praying fervently to God that He would bless her with a son. If He would only bless her with a son, she would give her son to the LORD in service to his sanctuary all the days of his life. When Eli saw Hannah praying, he thought that she was drunk and rebuked her for being drunk in the house of the LORD. Eli, the priest who stood by and watched his sons mock God in all they did in the tabernacle chose to play the tough guy and rebuke a woman praying in all earnestness to the LORD for children because he thought she was drunk.
God answered Hannah’s prayer for a son and soon she conceived and bore a son. She called his name Samuel meaning “I have asked for him from the LORD.” As soon as Samuel had been weaned, Hannah brought him to the Tabernacle to serve the LORD at the Tabernacle under the leadership of Eli. It wasn’t long until the LORD called to Samuel and spoke to him regarding what He was about to do in Israel.
It’s always stunning to see how the LORD works. In this instance God chose to raise up for himself a great prophet from the womb of a woman that society would have considered as cursed. I know for a fact that I routinely expect God to work in a certain way, in a certain time, and within my own paradigms. I don’t know if it’s accurate to say that the LORD delights in doing the unexpected but certainly the unexpected is not something that the LORD is afraid to do. It should be a lesson that’s easy to learn and maybe one day I will learn to expect the unexpected from a God whose ways are far greater than mine.