A-Z: Famous stories from the Bible: The Lord calls Samuel


After being childless for many years, Hannah begged God for a child and promised that she would dedicate any future son to his service. Finally Eli and Samuelshe gave birth and when her son Samuel was three to four years old, Hannah fulfilled her promise to God. She took Samuel to the Temple where he was to live with the priest, Eli. He would learn about God and help serve in the worship of God.

Samuel did not yet know God and did not realise that he might speak to him. This was at a time when God seldom spoke directly to men and women. Many people, including Eli’s own sons, disobeyed the Lord.

Eli was very old and his sight was poor. One night, he and Samuel were sleeping in their beds, the boy lying down near the Ark of the Covenant. Suddenly, Samuel heard his name being shouted. He hurried over to Eli, thinking the elderly man needed his help. ‘Here I am,’ he said. ‘You called me.’

‘I didn’t,’ replied Eli. ‘Go back to bed.’

But Samuel had not been back in bed for long before he heard his name again. He returned to Eli, who sent him back to bed, again insisting that he had not called him. The boy returned to bed – but the voice called him again. Once more he ran over to the priest. ‘You did call me this time,’ he said.

Then Eli realised that it was God’s voice that Samuel was hearing. ‘Go back to bed, Samuel,’ he said. ‘If you hear your name again, say, “Talk to me, Lord. I am your servant and I am listening to you.” ’

Samuel settled down once more – and heard his name again. He answered just as Eli had told him to and God gave the young boy his message for Eli and the people. 

The story illustrates:

  • That God chooses whom he wants to be his messengers, even when this choice is surprising to others
  • The importance of being alert to God’s call
  • That God works through those who are faithful to him.

Related Topics

Big Ideas: Temple, tabernacle

Bible References

1 Samuel 1:11, 1 Samuel 1:20, 1 Samuel 1:24-28, 1 Samuel 3:1-11
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