Hannah had wanted a baby for a long time. One day while she was in the temple she prayed, “O Lord, if you will give me a son, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life.”

The Lord answered Hannah’s prayer and she had a baby boy. She named the baby Samuel.

When the little boy was old enough to help in the temple, Hannah and Elkanah, his father, took him to the temple to live with Eli, the priest.

Samuel’s father and mother visited their son in the temple, and his mother made a little coat and brought it to him from year to year.

One night as Samuel lay sleeping, he heard someone call his name. The little boy rubbed his eyes, hurried into Eli’s room, and said, “Here am I. I heard you call.”

“I didn’t call you,” Eli replied. “Go back to bed.”

Samuel returned to his room and lay down. Then he heard the same voice call again, “Samuel!”

Once more the sleepy boy jumped up and ran to Eli. “Here am I,” Samuel said. “I heard you call.”

But Eli’s answer was the same, “I didn’t call you, my son; lie down again.”

After Samuel returned to his room, a third time the voice called, “Samuel!”

And Samuel arose and went to Eli again. “Here am I,” he said, “for I heard you call me.”

Then Eli knew that it must be the Lord who had called the boy. So the priest told him to lie down and if the voice called again, to say, “Speak, Lord, for your servant listens.”

So Samuel went back to his room. Before long the same voice called, “Samuel! Samuel!”

And the boy answered, “Speak, for your servant listens.”

The Lord talked with Samuel that night and told him many things that would happen in the future.

The next morning Samuel arose early and opened the doors of the temple. Then Eli called Samuel and asked the boy what the Lord had said. And Samuel told Eli everything the Lord had made known to him during the night.

Eli bowed his head and said, “Let the Lord do what is best.”

Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him and spoke to him many times.

And everyone knew that Samuel was a prophet of the Lord, and he was greatly loved by the people.

1 Sam. 1–3.

[illustration] Illustrated by Jerry Harston