How did Samuel come to be Samuel? Why is he not Joshua or Jeremiah or Levi? What makes his name so special to me?
Here is the story of how we named our son.
Every month that I did not conceive, I would pour my frustrations out to the Lord. I would cry, yell, lay in bed for hours. My heart felt like it was shattered into a million pieces. How it could shatter every month for 22 months is beyond me, but it did. After crying out to the Lord for answers and not receiving them, I would give God the silent treatment. I couldn’t bring myself to talk to Him. I felt betrayed. I would see parents – bad parents, parents who cursed at their children, who neglected them; I would hear stories of women who aborted their babies because it was an inconvenience to them, or parents who would beat their children and I was so angry that God allowed those people to have children, but not Mike and I, not some of my best friends who wanted children just as badly as we did. It all seemed so unfair and I couldn’t bring myself to be honest about my feelings before the Lord. Ignoring Him, while going through all of my churchy duties seemed easier. Then as the months went on, I felt more and more desperate. I felt like I was falling apart. My relationship with Mike suffered. I felt hopeless and helpless and angry all the time. Sometime during the last 6 months or so of infertility treatment, I broke down and was honest with the Lord. Part of me feared punishment for my attitude but I knew the faithfulness and love of my God, so I poured out heart to Him. And of course, He picked me up and comforted me. He led me to the book of 1 Samuel in the Old Testament. As I read the first chapter, I was amazed that this story that happened thousands of years ago, could have been my story now.
1 Samuel 1:1-20
Now there was a certain man of Ramathaim Zophim, of the mountains of Ephraim, and his name was Elkanah the son of Jeroham, the son of Elihu, the son of Tohu, the son of Zuph, an Ephraimite. And he had two wives: the name of one was Hannah, and the name of the other Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children. This man went up from his city yearly to worship and sacrifice to the LORD of hosts in Shiloh. Also the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, the priests of the LORD, were there. And whenever the time came for Elkanah to make an offering, he would give portions to Peninnah his wife and to all her sons and daughters. But to Hannah he would give a double portion, for he loved Hannah, although the LORD had closed her womb. And her rival also provoked her severely, to make her miserable, because the LORD had closed her womb. So it was, year by year, when she went up to the house of the LORD, that she provoked her; therefore she wept and did not eat. Then Elkanah her husband said to her, “Hannah, why do you weep? Why do you not eat? And why is your heart grieved? Am I not better to you than ten sons?”
So Hannah arose after they had finished eating and drinking in Shiloh. Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat by the doorpost of the tabernacle of the LORD. And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed to the LORD and wept in anguish. Then she made a vow and said, “O LORD of hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your maidservant and remember me, and not forget Your maidservant, but will give Your maidservant a male child, then I will give him to the LORD all the days of his life, and no razor shall come upon his head.”
And it happened, as she continued praying before the LORD, that Eli watched her mouth. Now Hannah spoke in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard. Therefore Eli thought she was drunk. So Eli said to her, “How long will you be drunk? Put your wine away from you!” But Hannah answered and said, “No, my lord, I am a woman of sorrowful spirit. I have drunk neither wine nor intoxicating drink, but have poured out my soul before the LORD. Do not consider your maidservant a wicked woman, for out of the abundance of my complaint and grief I have spoken until now.” Then Eli answered and said, “Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant your petition which you have asked of Him.” And she said, “Let your maidservant find favor in your sight.” So the woman went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad.
Then they rose early in the morning and worshiped before the LORD, and returned and came to their house at Ramah. And Elkanah knew Hannah his wife, and the LORD remembered her. So it came to pass in the process of time that Hannah conceived and bore a son, and called his name Samuel, saying, “Because I have asked for him from the LORD.”
Like Elkanah and his family, Mike and I love and serve the Lord. We have walked with Him as faithfully as we could almost all of our lives. Obviously, Mike doesn’t have 2 wives, but just as Peninnah provoked Hannah, the men and women I spoke about earlier played the same part in my life. I can also relate to Elkanah asking Hannah if he was not better to her than ten sons. I am sure Mike felt like that. I remember him asking me if God did not give us a child, if he (Mike) would be enough for me. I also remember not answering his question. I also spent many hours praying to God, telling Him that if He gave us a child that we would dedicate the baby to the Lord. We would do everything we could to raise that child up to follow Christ.
I also find it so interesting that Eli the priest thought Hannah was drunk as she was pouring out her heart to the Lord as she wept in anguish. I always wondered if people knew my bitterness of soul or the way I cried out to the Lord some days that they would think I was a crazy person. I love the way Hannah describes her feelings – She uses phrases like “to make her miserable”, “she wept and did not eat”, “bitterness of soul”, “wept in anguish”, “I am a woman of sorrowful spirit”. Oh, how I know those emotions intimately! I have felt those things so strongly I didn’t think I would make it through the day.
I love how the story says that God remembered Hannah. Elkanah knew his wife and the Lord thought of her at that moment and He opened her womb. I sometimes wonder if it was the same when I conceived. Did God think of me at that moment and open my womb? I am overwhelmed at the thought!
When Mike and I found out that we were having a boy, we knew his name was Samuel. There was no other name that fit him so perfectly, no other name that is more of a testament to our journey or the faithfulness of our God.
This Scripture is on the wall above Samuel’s crib. I sometimes go into his nursery, sit in our rocking chair and let the tears flow. We are so blessed! I am due in just about 4 and a half week and I can’t wait to meet our miracle baby, this child we prayed to receive for so long. I can also relate to Hannah’s prayer in Chapter 2.
And Hannah prayed and said:
“My heart rejoices in the LORD;
My horn is exalted in the LORD.
I smile at my enemies,
Because I rejoice in Your salvation.
“No one is holy like the LORD,
For there is none besides You,
Nor is there any rock like our God.
I understand her excitement and awe of God and how He works. If we had not gone through the excruciating journey to have Samuel, we would not be the people or parents we are today. We may not understand why God did things the way He did, but we know that there is no other rock like our God, and as we raise our precious child, we will stand firmly on the ROCK of our salvation.