During the time that the judges ruled the Israelite people there was a man who belonged to the tribe of Levi. Who lived in the town of Ramah among the people of the tribe of Ephraim. This man, named Elkanah, had two wives. This was before God had said that one wife was enough for a man. One had children but the other, named Hannah, did not.
Now every year this family would go to Shiloh where the tabernacle was set up and where Eli the high priest was the judge ruling the Israelite people. And every year when they were eating after the sacrifice, Peninnah would make fun of Hannah because she had no children. Hannah would cry and refuse to eat anything. One year, Hannah was very upset and went to the tabernacle to pray. She prayed, "Lord, if you will give me a son, I will give him back to you for his whole life." She was praying silently, but her lips were moving. When the priest Eli saw her, he thought she was drunk. He told her, "Stop drinking and sober up!" "I'm not drunk, sir," she said. "I've just being praying, pouring out my troubles to the Lord." "Go in peace," Eli said, "and may God give you what you have asked him for." Then she went away and was no longer sad.
The Lord answered her prayer and she gave birth to a son, who she named Samuel. She did not take him to Shiloh for several years. But when he was old enough to be left alone, she took him to Shiloh with her. There she took him to the priest Eli. She said, "Do you remember me, sir? I am the woman you saw standing here, praying to the Lord. I asked him for a child and he gave me what I asked for. So I am giving him back to the Lord. As long as he lives, he will belong to the Lord." So the boy Samuel stayed at Shiloh and helped Eli the priest serve the Lord. Every year when his mother would come to Shiloh she would bring him new clothes. And Eli would bless Elkanah and say, "May God give you other children by this woman to replace this one you have given to him." And the Lord did bless Hannah and she had three more sons and two more daughters.
Now Eli had two sons who were priests. But they were wicked men, who would not offer the sacrifices right. Eli would tell his sons to stop doing wrong, but he still let them be priests, and they still kept doing wrong. So God sent a prophet to Eli to tell him, "Why do you honor your sons more than you do me?" The time is coming when I will kill the young men in your family. Your two sons will die on the same day."
Now not many people had visions in those days. One night Eli was sleeping in his own room and the boy Samuel was sleeping at the tabernacle. Before morning came, the Lord called to Samuel. The boy thought it was Eli calling and ran to him, "You called me, and here I am," he said. Eli answered, "I didn't call you, go back to bed" So Samuel went back to bed. Again God called Samuel and again Samuel ran to Eli. "My son," he said, "I didn't call you; go back to bed." But when the same thing happened the third time, Eli knew that God was calling the boy. So he said "Go back to bed and if He calls again, say, 'Speak, Lord; your servant is listening.'" So Samuel went back to bed. Again, God called him, "Samuel, Samuel." And Samuel answered, "Speak your servant is listening." And God told him, "I am going to do to Eli what I warned him I would do. He knew his sons were sinning, but he did not stop them."
In the morning the boy Samuel got up and opened the doors. But he was afraid to tell Eli what God had said. But Eli came to him and wanted to know what God had told him. When Samuel told Eli, the priest said, "He is the Lord, let Him do what He thinks best."
As Samuel grew up, the Lord spoke to him at other times. And all that Samuel said came true. So people came to know that Samuel was really a prophet of God.