Harper's Young People, November 23, 1880 (Illustrated)by Various Various
Hannah was a tender-hearted
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A long time ago—more than three thousand years—a little boy was born to a loving mother. She was a Jewess, and in those days it was the custom to be called by only one name. Her name was Hannah, or Anna. She lived with the father of her little boy in a mountain village six or eight miles north of the city of Jerusalem.
Hannah was a tender-hearted woman, and as good as she was gentle. She longed to have a little boy who might grow up and be trained to be a teacher of the true God among the people around her, who were very ignorant and wicked in those days. So she prayed, and God heard her prayer. Upon the birth of the little fellow she named him Samuel, which means Asked of God. So happy and grateful to God was this Jewish mother that she wrote a wonderful song, which has been preserved all these years, and may be still read in the Bible.
When her boy was two or three years old she carried him to the place where the people of the country met to worship God, where was the great tent called the Tabernacle, with its different coverings, of which we are told in the second book of the Bible, and where the priest of God and those that assisted him lived. Here she left him, with many warm kisses and tears, that he might be taught by these religious men, and be fitted to become in after-years a prophet or teacher of the true God. His school had no vacations; but once a year regularly his mother came to see him, bringing him a new, rich mantle as a gift of love, and a proper robe for one who assisted in public worship, although a child, to wear.
Every one saw that he was a remarkable boy. The old priest loved him as a son. The blessed God in heaven also loves children, and knows how to express His love to them so that they will understand it. He sometimes intimates to them, when He is about to call them to some great work, that they are by-and-by to become His ministers. Many a little fellow as young as Samuel has felt in his mind, he hardly knew how or why, that he would some time be a preacher of the Gospel.
When Samuel was about twelve years of age this wonderful thing happened to him. He had a little room by himself within the great tent where the people worshipped. The aged priest, whose name was Eli, had another quite near to him. In the night, while the lamps were still burning in the Tabernacle, and he had fallen asleep on his bed, he was suddenly awaked by a voice calling him by name. He supposed, of course, it was Eli calling, and he hurried to the old man's chamber, saying, as he entered, "Here am I."
"I did not call you," said Eli; "go, lie down again."
He had hardly dropped into slumber once more, when the same voice awaked him again: "Samuel, Samuel," it said.
He ran again to the room of Eli, and said, "Here am I; for thou didst call me."
The old man thought, probably, that he was disturbed by terrifying dreams, and said to him, "I called not, my son; lie down again."
A third time the voice called. It is wonderful that the lad was not affrighted. But if one loves God and does right, there is nothing that can harm him. The open-faced child of the Tabernacle, obeying without hesitation, although answering twice in vain, hastened to the chamber of Eli with his ready and filial response, "Here am I; for thou didst call me."
The aged minister then knew that it was not a human voice, but the voice of God. He said to the child, "Go, lie down, and if the voice is heard again, say, 'Speak, Lord, for Thy servant heareth.'"
He went alone to his chamber and to his bed in the silence of the night, and once more the voice came, so sweet and gentle as not to terrify him, "Samuel, Samuel."
"Speak, Lord," he answered, as he sat up on his bed, "for Thy servant heareth."
Then God gave him a message to his master, and to the people, and made him at this early age a teacher and a prophet of the Lord.
It was just at this moment, when the boy sits up, solemnly, with his eyes wide-opened, listening to the Divine voice, that the great English painter Sir Joshua Reynolds, in his well-known picture, represents the prophet-child. It is at this moment that his wondering and prayerful face is caught by the artist in the beautiful picture which is given in this paper.
God does not now speak audibly in the sleeping-rooms of little fellows; but when they kneel, night by night, by their bedsides, and say, "Speak, Lord, for Thy servant heareth," He comes into their minds and leads and teaches them just as if He called them by name. There is no prayer goes up to Heaven more readily heard or answered than the simple words of a sincere, praying child.
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