Old Testament Story List

Samuel

Near Shiloh lived a man named Elkanah. Because he loved the Lord, he took his offerings to the tabernacle at Shiloh every year. With him went his family. Together they worshiped the Lord.

But, Hannah, Elkanah's wife, was unhappy because she did not have any children. Even though Elkanah loved and honored her, still

Hannah was sad. More than anything else she wanted a baby.

This year when Hannah went with her husband to take their offering, she opened her heart to the Lord. "O Lord," she prayed, "if you will give me a baby boy, I will give him back to you to serve you the rest of his life."

Before another year passed, God gave Hannah and Elkanah a baby boy. Hannah named him Samuel which means "asked of God."

When Samuel was old enough to help in the tabernacle, Hannah packed his clothes in a neat bundle and took him to Shiloh. Every year thereafter, when Elkanah came to present his offerings at Shiloh, Hannah came too. Each time she brought a new coat for Samuel. Hannah was always glad that God had answered her prayer. And God gave Hannah other children besides Samuel.

Later, God spoke to Samuel one night. Samuel did not know it was God speaking. When he heard a voice calling him, he thought it was Eli. Quickly Samuel got up out of bed and ran to Eli, "Here I am," he said, and he waited for Eli to say what he wanted.

But Eli had not called Samuel. He said, "I did not call you, my boy. Go back and lie down again." And Samuel obeyed.

Soon the voice spoke again, "Samuel!" The boy rubbed his sleepy eyes and hurried to Eli's bedside. "Here I am, he said, "for I heard you call." Again Eli told him, "I did not call. You may go back to bed."

The voice Called Samuel a third time. When Samuel ran to Eli, the old man knew that God wanted to speak to the boy. Eli said, "Go and lie down. If the voice calls you again, say, 'Speak, Lord, for your servant listens.' " Samuel went back and lay down again. Soon he heard the voice of God calling, "Samuel! Samuel!" And the boy answered, "Speak, Lord, for your servant listens."

Now Eli had two sons who were priests. They did many things that displeased God. Because Eli's sons did so much wrong, the good people of Israel dreaded to go to Shiloh with their offerings. Even though Eli knew his sons did wrong, he still allowed them to serve as priests at the tabernacle. He tried to get them to change their ways, but they would not listen to him. 

God talked with Samuel that night and told him that Eli and his sons would soon be punished.

"What did the Lord tell you?" Eli asked. "Do not hide it from me." And Samuel told him the words of the Lord. Eli bowed his head and said, "Let the Lord do what he sees is best."

As Samuel grew older, God spoke to him again and again. And Samuel always told the people what God said. Finally throughout all Israel people began to say to each other, "Surely Samuel is God's prophet."

Soon, trouble came to the Israelites. The Philistines, their old-time enemies, fought against them and killed many Israelites. Eli's wicked sons decided to do battle against them and to take the ark of the Lord into battle so the Philistines would not be able to beat them. But God did not help them. God had forsaken them because they had sinned.

The Philistines not only soundly defeated the Israelites, they also took the ark and carried it away.

When a messenger came into the city, he reported that the Philistines had beaten the Israelites, killed Eli's sons, and taken the ark of God. Eli was saddened by the defeat and the death of his sons. This was bad enough, but when he heard that the ark of God had been taken, he fell dead.

For forty years Eli had been judge and high priest of Israel. He was ninety-eight years old when he died.

The Philistines rejoiced greatly in their victory over the Israelites. Now they thought their god was greater than the God of the Israelites. They carried the ark from the battlefield to their capital city. Here they placed it in the temple of Dagon, the fish god.

At once trouble began for Dagon and his worshipers. When the people came to worship their god early the next morning, they found Dagon lying face down before the ark. They put him back in his place and returned to their homes.

The next morning they found Dagon on the floor. This time his head an his hands had broken off in the fall. And the people began to be afraid.

Before long all the people in that city and the country round about broke out in painful sores. The people suffered a great deal. Finally the men of the city said, "Let's not keep the ark of the Lord any longer."

And the rulers asked, "But what shall we do with the ark?" 

"Send it to Gath," the men decided.

When the ark reached Gath, the people there began to suffer with painful sores. The people became so afraid of the ark that they sent it to another city called Ekron. The people of Ekron saw the ark coming. How afraid they were! They asked, "Have you brought this ark here to kill us? Send it back to Israel where it belongs."

After much thought the wise men advised, "Build a new cart and yoke two cows to pull it. Put the ark on the cart. With it put a box of golden jewels as a present. Then send the cows down the road toward Israel." And so they did.

The Israelites of Bethshemesh were reaping their wheat in the valley. They looked up and saw the cows and cart returning the ark and they rejoiced. Now the men of Bethshemesh were very curious to see what was inside the ark. They knew God had commanded that only the priests should touch it. Perhaps they wondered if the Philistines had stolen the Ten Commandments. Lifting the lid, they looked inside. Each man died who disobeyed God's command and opened the ark.

Now the men of Bethshemesh did not even want the ark in their town. They sent messengers to the people at Kirjathjearim, saying "The Philistines have returned the ark of the Lord. Come down and get it."

The ark was taken to the home of Abinadab, a Levite. He charged his son Eleazar to care for it.

After this time the Israelites never went to Shiloh again to worship God.


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