The imperfect biblical families.

Hannah had a baby. She named him Samuel.

I’m not sure how often naming was done by dads and how often by moms. I can think of examples of both in the Bible. In this case, Hannah had asked God for a son, Hannah was going to offer this son to God, and so she did the naming. She named him “heard by God.”

IMG_4360.jpgThe next time the family went to Shiloh for the annual worship journey, Hannah stayed home. Samuel was only a couple months old. But that wasn’t the reason. “At some point,” she told Elkanah, “He’s going to live in Shiloh, serving Eli and God. I don’t want to take him there until I’m ready to leave him there.”

So Elkanah and the rest of the family went.

At some point in the next few years, Hannah and Elkanah and Samuel went to Shiloh. Hannah went to Eli and said, “I’m not sure whether or not you remember me, but I prayed for a son and you prayed that God would grant me what I asked.”
She pointed to Samuel: “Here’s the son God gave me. And now I’m giving him to God. And to you.”

And she did.


The delightful struggle of the Bible is that we don’t know when mothers of that time stopped breastfeeding. We don’t know what kind of nursery or toddler, or children’s ministry there was in the religious center Eli ran. We don’t know most of the things that we wish we knew, that would tell us which of these particular behaviors is what God is telling us we should apply.

But I invite you to read the first few pages of 1 Samuel, not looking for application, but looking for the story. Watch how Hannah’s family story and Eli’s family story and God’s family story are unfolded in scenes like the beginning of a movie. No quick application, but thoughtful storytelling that will take us somewhere.

Seriously. Go read it.