I Samuel Introduction
The books of Samuel cover a very important time period in the history of God’s nation of Israel. They have their beginning in the closing days of the period of the judges, when God was ruling through men like Gideon, Barak, Samson, and Jephthah. They continue through the reign of the first king over Israel, Saul, and the second, David. Therefore, an important transition takes place in these books for Israel, both governmentally and politically.
Also important in the books of Samuel are the changes in the way God deals with His people that we see in them. We see the failure of the priesthood God established in the person of the unfaithful priest Eli. Thus in this book we see God introduce the office of prophet in Israel with the man Samuel. The prophet takes the place of a spokesman for God that the priest was formerly supposed to take, just as the king takes the place of governor for God that the judge was formerly supposed to take. (This is not to deny that Abraham and Moses are both called prophets, or that there is an unnamed prophet mentioned in Judges 6:8. The point is that at the time of Eli the priests failed of their role as God’s spokesmen, and it was with Samuel that the office of prophet started to take their place.)
All these transitions we have mentioned center around Samuel, a man who was himself a priest, the last of the judges, the first of the new order of prophets, and the appointer of the first two of the kings. Samuel was probably also the author of the first portion of this book, although no authors are actually named anywhere in Samuel. Since Samuel dies partway through I Samuel, it is impossible to think that he wrote the entire book. It is likely that this book was written in the form of a chronicle, with the book getting passed from one prophet to the next to be continued, until it was completed and the final prophet who was tasked with writing it edited it into its final form. If we would have to guess, we would say that Samuel began the book, the prophet Nathan continued it, and the prophet Gad completed it. This is not just a random guess, but is based on I Chronicles 29:29, which reads:
29. Now the acts of King David, first and last, indeed they are written in the book of Samuel the seer, in the book of Nathan the prophet, and in the book of Gad the seer, 30. with all his reign and his might, and the events that happened to him, to Israel, and to all the kingdoms of the lands.
Although there is no way of “proving” that this is a reference to the books of I and II Samuel, this description fits them to a “T.” The acts of David are recorded quite thoroughly in the books of Samuel, much more thoroughly than in Chronicles. His reign, his might, and the events that happened to him and to Israel and to the other kingdoms that interacted with Israel are all written there as well. If there is another book that could fit this description better, we certainly do not know of it or have it in our Bibles. So it would appear that these books are actually the books of Samuel, Nathan, and Gad. Yet that is an awkward name, and we can see why naturally the last two names were dropped, and the whole ascribed to Samuel.
It is also necessary to keep in mind that the books of Samuel were one in the original Hebrew, comprising a single book called “Samuel.” This is why I Chronicles refers to it as a single book. The splitting of the book into two parts appears to have taken place when the Greek translation of the Old Testament was made, called the Septuagint. At this time, three books, those of Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles, were all split in the same way.
It is impossible to say at this point what induced the translators of these books to split them in this way. The books of Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel are also very large books, and yet they did not split them into half. The best guess might be that the cause was the size of Greek letters and the fact that the Septuagint was first written on scrolls. Greek is larger than Hebrew, and so scrolls of the Septuagint Greek must of necessity be longer than those of the original Hebrew. A good approximation would be that Greek scrolls are about a third longer than Hebrew scrolls. However, it would appear that whoever cut the scrolls for the Septuagint of these books forgot this fact, and cut them the same length he would have cut Hebrew scrolls. Therefore, they got to the end of the scroll and still had a good portion of the book remaining. Rather than attempting to lengthen the scroll, the translators just started a new scroll, writing “I Samuel” on the top of the first and “II Samuel” on the top of the second. Over time, this became the standard way to present the book in Greek, and when the record of Scripture was switched from scrolls to books, the division of Samuel into two was maintained, because by that time hundreds of years later, one could say, “That is the way we’ve always done it.” So tradition became solidified into fact, and this largely arbitrary division has been maintained.
In the early Christian Church, Greek was the predominant language spoken, and so the Septuagint was the Old Testament Bible of the people. Therefore, this mistaken division has been maintained by Christianity up to today, to the point where many Hebrew manuscripts have had this error imposed upon them! It might be nearly impossible at this point to rectify this arbitrary and mistaken division, as far too many reference works and other articles and books would be made obsolete by an elimination of “II Samuel.” However, it is good if we keep it in mind that this is in fact one book, and that there is no God-created division between First and Second Samuel.
Finally, the book of Samuel presents the interesting picture of God’s kingdom being set up in the Old Testament. It begins with something of a misstep with the people’s choice of Saul, but then appears as the Lord intended it to be under the man David. The book of kings sees it reach its highest point under King Solomon, but things quickly begin to fall apart, and the book of Kings records its division and eventual downfall. Nevertheless, while it existed, particularly under David, God produced at least a partial picture of the way things will yet be when His full Kingdom comes at last to earth in the future. In this way, the books of Samuel and Kings mirror the book of Acts, which in the New Testament provides another partial picture of the way the kingdom of God is going to be. Yet ultimately, this foretaste of the kingdom of God ends in failure, and we learn that without the work of Jesus Christ to give men new hearts, God’s kingdom could never get the victory in the world.
I Samuel 1
1. 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.
Starting off the book of Samuel, we are introduced to a certain man of Ramathaim Zophim. Ramathaim Zophim means “Double Height of the Watchers.” We learn that this place was in the mountains of Ephraim. Ephraim was one of the two tribes associated with Joseph the son of Israel. Joseph had two sons: Manasseh the oldest, and Ephraim the youngest. However, God had predicted through Israel that Ephraim the younger would be greater than Manasseh the elder, and thus it turned out to be. The mountains of Ephraim were actually much smaller than what we would think of as “mountains,” so thinking of this as “hill country” might be more accurate.
Now this man’s name is Elkanah, which means “Acquired by God” or “Created by God.” He was of the mountains of Ephraim, but appears to have been a Levite. This becomes clear when we consider the lineage of Levi in I Chronicles 6:16-30. There, Eliab is revealed to have been a son of Kohath, so he was a Levite, though he was not of the family of Aaron. It might surprise us to find a Levite in tribal land belonging to Ephraim, but it should not. The Levites had no ancestral home of their own, but were supposed to scatter throughout the rest of the tribes. Since they would not be landowners, they would not be so concerned with working the fields, so they would have time to get educated, learn the law of the LORD, and teach it to the other, less educated Israelites around them. How often it actually worked out this way it is hard to say.
This Elkanah is listed as the son of Jeroham (Showing Pity) the son of Elihu (He Is My God) the son of Tohu (Lowly) the son of Zuph (Honeycomb.) In I Chronicles 6, we have the list in the opposite order, as follows:
I Chronicles 6:26. As for Elkanah, the sons of Elkanah were Zophai his son, Nahath his son, 27. Eliab his son, Jeroham his son, and Elkanah his son.
Here, we learn that Elkanah’s great-great-great grandfather was also named “Elkanah.” Zophai is a slightly different spelling of Zuph. Tohu is called Nahath, which means “Rest.” This was probably a second name he had, which is not too unusual, since even today people will often have two names. Elihu is called Eliab, which means “My God is Father,” again probably a second name. Jeroham and Elkanah share the same name between the two. We have Samuel’s lineage again a third time in I Chronicles 6 a little later in the chapter.
I Chronicles 6:33. And these are the ones who ministered with their sons: Of the sons of the Kohathites were Heman the singer, the son of Joel, the son of Samuel, 34. the son of Elkanah, the son of Jeroham, the son of Eliel, the son of Toah, 35. the son of Zuph, the son of Elkanah, the son of Mahath, the son of Amasai, 36. the son of Elkanah, the son of Joel, the son of Azariah, the son of Zephaniah, 37. the son of Tahath, the son of Assir, the son of Ebiasaph, the son of Korah, 38. the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, the son of Israel.
Here, the lineage begins with Heman Samuel’s grandson through Joel his son to Samuel. Elkanah and Jeroham are again the same, but then we have Elihu given as Eliel, which means “My God is God.” This man’s three names, then, are given as “He Is My God,” “My God is Father,” and “My God is God,” all of which are interesting variants of the same idea. Tohu is called Toah here, both of which names mean “Lowly.” From there, Zuph is the same and Elkanah is the same. In this case, though, the lineage is carried on back from there all the way to the man Israel. Since we are dealing with I Samuel, however, and not with I Chronicles, we will not carry the lineage back further than Samuel carries it, other than to note what I Chronicles says.
2. 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.
We learn here that Elkanah was a polygamist, and had two wives. God’s law never made provision for this, but the Israelites picked it up from the nations around them. Many who read the Scriptures seem to make the mistake of thinking that if the Bible records a thing, this means It must approve of it. No such thing is the case. What we have here is an historical record. Jehovah the Author here makes no comment on the rightness or wrongness of this arrangement. All He does is record it. And the facts in the case are that Elkanah had two wives.
The first wife’s name was Hannah, which means “Grace.” The other wife’s name was Peninnah, which means “Pearl.” Then we learn the fact that Pearl has children, but Grace does not. To understand the import of this we need to realize that it was a tragedy for an Israelite woman not to have children, because children carried on your inheritance from the Lord. Every Israelite had a piece of land that was his inheritance from God. One of the most important things he could do in his lifetime, then, was not only to be a good steward of that land, but to raise up a son of his bloodline to inherit that land and carry it on after him. The weight of this responsibility fell also on his wife, and it was definitely true that her biggest service to her husband in her lifetime was considered to be the raising up of a son for him to carry on his line.
Now there was much good in this. It created a strong sense of family in people, as well as a sense of purpose. You were not just a lone individual out there unsure of your place in life. You were one of a long line of ancestors. You worked the land that your fathers and grandfathers had worked, and your sons and grandsons would work it after you. Your job was to carry on what your ancestors had started, so you could pass it on successfully to your children. This provided a sense of place and purpose that is largely lacking in our mobile society where family history usually doesn’t go back much before the latest couple’s marriage.
The bad in this, though, was if you were unable to raise up a child to carry on your line. If a couple in our day who wants to have a child fails to have one, there is a great burden of sadness that they have to carry. However, there are other options, like adoption. However, for those in that day, to fail to have a child was not just a disappointment, but was considered letting down your entire line of ancestors all the way back to those who first entered the land of Israel, since you failed to produce an heir to pass on the inheritance they left you. This was a serious failure, and the woman who could not produce a child, and especially a son, for her husband often felt like she had failed at the most important task of her life. Thus we can understand that this seemingly simple statement is really telling us that Hannah was facing the most serious disappointment that could ever happen to a woman in that day.
3. 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.
Now we read that Elkanah leaves Ramathaim Zophim yearly to go to the feast. As we know from the law, there were three yearly feasts the Israelites were supposed to attend. This man is faithful to keep the law and go. Yet it is interesting that he only is said to go yearly, rather than three times a year. We would wonder if worship in Israel had slipped to the point where they only went to appear before Yahweh once a year, rather than three times. If so, which of the three yearly feasts did he attend? It is difficult to say. All the Bible says is that he went yearly.
We read that he went to worship and sacrifice. There was worship involved at these three feasts, and also sacrifice, for every male in Israel was supposed to appear before Yahweh at the feasts, and they were not supposed to appear empty-handed, but were supposed to bring some sacrifice.
The sacrifice is said to be made to the LORD of hosts. This is Yahweh Tsaba’oth, or the LORD of armies. Of course, He is the commander of the armies of heaven, yet we would not tie this phrase down to only this, for He is also the true Commander of Israel’s armies on earth. Both are probably in mind when this phrase is used.
The place they went up to was Shiloh. This means “Place of Rest.” It was the place where Yahweh had chosen to place His name at this time. The ark of the covenant was there, as well as the tabernacle. We are much more familiar with Jerusalem as the place where Israel was to worship, but this was not true yet. The permanent building of the temple had not yet been built, and Yahweh still identified Himself with the movable tent of the tabernacle. This tabernacle was now pitched in Shiloh, the city of the priests, and so it was here that all Israel was to go at feast time.
At this time as Elkanah is going up, the man Eli, a descendant of Aaron, is the high priest. Eli means “Ascension.” He has been high priest for a long time, but now he is old and semi-retired, it seems. His two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, are performing the daily duties of the high priest for him. Hophni means “Pugilist” or “Fighter.” Sadly, he was a man who fought with Yahweh rather than serving Him. Phinehas means “Mouth of brass.” It was a good name that had been held by a very good man before him, Aaron’s grandson and God’s faithful priest. Now this man holds his name, but he is not like the former Phinehas.
4. 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.
What this means depends on the offering he was making. If this was the Passover, we know that all the family were to eat of the Passover that the father or patriarch of the family was to offer. Since the Passover was the first and most important of the feasts, this is probably what this is referring to.
We read that Elkanah would give portions of the offering to Peninnah his wife and to all her sons and daughters. This was according to the law, and also what any good father would do, providing food for his children, and any good husband would do, providing food for his wife.
5. But to Hannah he would give a double portion, for he loved Hannah, although the LORD had closed her womb.
Grace, however, receives the double portion. Elkanah loves Grace more than the beautiful Pearl or her children. A wise man! And this is true, even though the LORD has closed the womb of Grace.
6. And her rival also provoked her severely, to make her miserable, because the LORD had closed her womb.
The Pearl was jealous of Grace, in spite of her advantage of having children. No doubt she saw that Hannah was loved more, and resented it. Therefore, she teases and provokes her to make her miserable, constantly taking every opportunity to point out to her that Jehovah has closed her womb. A sad situation indeed. We can see the problem in having a rival wife for your husband’s affections. Certainly not a good situation to be in, and not what God intended in instituting marriage at all.
7. 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.
Every year the rivalry continued. Perhaps the two wives did not have much to do with each other the rest of the year, but at the yearly feast the whole family had to get together to celebrate the feast, and so at this time the hard feelings between the two came to the forefront. Again we can see that multiple wives bring jealousy and rivalry. The result is that Hannah is full of sorrow. She weeps and refuses to eat her double portion.
8. 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?”
Elkanah sees her distress and tries to comfort his wife Hannah. Elkanah’s words about her being better to him than ten sons are interesting. It could be that this was a proverb that men used to comfort their beloved wives who had no children. His words are sweet, and must have been touching to Hannah, but they are ultimately ineffectual. She knew he loved her, and even favored her. Yet it was not his love and favor that she was desiring, since she already had these things. What she wanted was a son.
9. 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.
Hannah gets up from the table after the meal is over there in Shiloh. Now we read that Eli the priest was sitting on the seat by the doorpost of the temple of Yahweh. Again, Shiloh was where the ark and the tabernacle of the LORD were at this time. Eli was resting. As we will soon find out, he was old and fat.
The New King James Version has interpreted the Hebrew rather than translating it here, for what it says is he sat by the doorpost of the temple (or the palace) of Yahweh. By this, of course, it means the tabernacle, for the permanent building of the temple had not yet been built. Yet the tabernacle was God’s temple as surely as the permanent building was, and it is rightfully called that here. There was no need to alter the word to tabernacle, for any reader who is paying attention can figure out what is meant.
10. And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed to the LORD and wept in anguish.
Hannah’s soul, her deep inner emotions, are full of bitterness because of this. So Hannah turns to Jehovah in her trouble. This was a very wise decision! We can look to no better source of help in trouble than Him. As she prays to Him, she is weeping for anguish of soul. Her tears did not help her petition be heard, of course, but they did show the sincerity of her request.
11. 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.”
As Hannah prays, she vows to Yahweh. This was not necessary, for Yahweh does not need to be bribed to answer prayer, but she does it by her own choice. Her vow is that if she has a male child, she will give him to Yahweh all his life. When she says no razor will come on his head, she probably means he will be a Nazarite all his life, for this was the great outward sign of a Nazarite. The other two things he had to do was not go near a dead body, and not drink wine or any other kind of alcohol or eat anything having to do with grapes. Usually this vow was taken by a person to be kept for a period of time, but in this case Samuel is to keep the vow his entire lifetime.
12. And it happened, as she continued praying before the LORD, that Eli watched her mouth.
As she continues her prayer, Eli notices her and is watching her as she prays.
13. Now Hannah spoke in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard. Therefore Eli thought she was drunk.
It tells us something sad about the condition of Israel when Eli assumes she is drunk rather than praying! Israel as a whole was not following the LORD very well at this time. The priests were to teach Israel better, but Eli was not really the model of a faithful priest, as we will see as we continue to examine the record.
Yet it would seem likely from the fact that Eli made this mistake that this style of praying was unusual at this time. Probably most prayers were spoken aloud, and so Hannah was doing something unusual by speaking only in her heart. Of course, this type of prayer is much more common in our day. Perhaps her actions were even more confusing because she was moving her lips, though she was not speaking in an audible voice. It seems that Eli misunderstands what she is doing because it does not fit with his idea of what praying should look like. This kind of attitude is common even in our day, when many have religious ideas about prayer, like it has to be done with the hands folded and the eyes closed, or even that it has to be done from a kneeling position. These people make a ritual surrounding prayer, and determine that nothing is a prayer if these outward forms are not followed. How sad! It is not the outward forms of prayer that are important, but the heart of a person speaking to God that matters.
14. So Eli said to her, “How long will you be drunk? Put your wine away from you!”
Eli chides her for what he thinks is her fault. Indeed, his advice would have been good, if this had indeed been what she was doing.
15. 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.
Hannah rightfully denies this, and explains her sorrow. She has not drunk anything intoxicating. It is because she is praying and pouring out her inner emotions to Jehovah that she has been acting like this.
16. Do not consider your maidservant a wicked woman, for out of the abundance of my complaint and grief I have spoken until now.”
Hannah begs Eli not to count her as a wicked woman. In Hebrew this is “daughter of belial.” Belial in the King James Version was treated as if it was a proper name, which no doubt leads to the conclusion that it is a name for Satan. However, this is not the case. Belial is simply a word that means “worthlessness.” This is her assessment of what drunks are, and it is a good one.
17. Then Eli answered and said, “Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant your petition which you have asked of Him.”
Now that he knows the truth, Eli gives her his blessing. As the high priest he had the right to speak for the LORD. As such, his words here were a prophecy of something the LORD had told him which was going to happen. Hannah could be assured that she would be granted her petition, though Eli himself did not know what it was.
18. 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.
Hannah admits that she has found favor (or grace) before Jehovah and Eli. Then, she trusts that Jehovah has heard her and returns to her family. There, she eats, and is no longer sad.
19. 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.
The next day early Elkanah’s family gets up early and worships before Yahweh. This apparently was the closing out of their obligations at the feast. Then, they return to their house at Ramah. “Ramah” means “Hill,” and seems to be a shortened form of “Ramathaim Zophim,” which we learned was the name of their hometown in verse 1. Ramah remains Samuel’s home throughout his life, though for a while in his youth he will live with Eli at Shiloh.
Now back home Elkanah knows Hannah, which is another way of saying that He has sexual relations with her. The Bible generally speaks clearly enough that a society that talks openly about such things like ours can understand, but in enough of a figure that a more closed society like some in the past will not find Its words too offensive.
Then Yahweh remembers Hannah. This is a way of saying He acts on her behalf, removing whatever it was that was stopping her from getting pregnant, so that she is now able to have a child. We do not know how God did this. But one thing we should not do is carry this verse too far. This is not saying that every time a woman becomes pregnant, it is because Yahweh decided she should. Many women are not ready to be mothers and do a terrible job of it. If Yahweh was deciding who got pregnant, He would not doubt refuse this gift from such as these. Yet He has put the natural process of pregnancy in women, and this process works to produce a baby under the right circumstances, without any interference from Yahweh at all. Just because He interfered here does not mean that He always is the One Who decides where and when babies happen. That is not the way He works in the dispensation of grace.
20. 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.”
In the process of time Hannah conceives and bears a son. She calls his name Samuel, which means “Asked of God” or “God-Heard.” She calls him this because, as we saw, she had asked for him from the LORD. A better spelling might be “Shemuw’el,” but this probably is not worth arguing about.
21. Now the man Elkanah and all his house went up to offer to the LORD the yearly sacrifice and his vow.
The pregnancy had taken nine months, and now a full year has passed, and the time has come once again for Elkanah and his household to go up to Shiloh to offer the yearly sacrifice, as well as other things that Elkanah has vowed to give Jehovah. Yet this year is different, for this year Hannah too has a child.
22. But Hannah did not go up, for she said to her husband, “Not until the child is weaned; then I will take him, that he may appear before the LORD and remain there forever.”
Hannah, however, does not go up with them. She explains to her husband that she will not go until her child Samuel is weaned. Then, she explains, she will fulfill her vow to Yahweh by bringing Samuel before Him to stay there forever.
Now this word “forever” is, in Hebrew, “for the olam.” The basic idea of the Hebrew word olam means something that is moving or flowing. In this case, we could put this that Samuel would appear before Yahweh and remain there for the outflow, or continually. Of course, this could only last at most as long as Samuel was alive, so “forever” is overstating the case, and this is not what olam means.
23. So Elkanah her husband said to her, “Do what seems best to you; wait until you have weaned him. Only let the LORD establish His word.” Then the woman stayed and nursed her son until she had weaned him.
Elkanah her husband agrees with Hannah’s plan. He will allow her to stay behind with Samuel until he is weaned. It seems that weaning was a major milestone in their families. In Genesis 21:8, we read that “Abraham made a great feast on the same day that Isaac was weaned.”
Weaning may not simply mean when he is no longer drinking his mother’s milk. For one thing, the period of nursing may have been longer in that culture than it typically is in ours. Yet the idea of “weaning” here may also include a time of up-bringing. It could be that Samuel was about 5 years old when this period would have concluded.
24. Now when she had weaned him, she took him up with her, with three bulls, one ephah of flour, and a skin of wine, and brought him to the house of the LORD in Shiloh. And the child was young.
The period of weaning is over, and the time comes for Hannah to bring Samuel up to the LORD. This must have been very hard for Hannah to do, for no doubt she loved her little boy very much, and hated to part with him, as any mother would. Yet she has made a promise to the LORD, and that promise must be fulfilled. So she brings him to the house of the LORD, which is still the tabernacle in Shiloh. Samuel is young, we read. This word na’ar is used of newborns, but also of young men about twenty years old. Samuel was probably a young boy at this time, no longer an infant nor a toddler.
When Hannah comes to bring Samuel to the LORD, she does not come empty-handed. She brings an offering along with Samuel. This consists of three bulls, perhaps for a burnt offering, an ephah of flour for a grain offering, and a skin of wine for a drink offering. An ephah is about a bushel of grain. All of these offerings are more than she was required to bring, and would seem to indicate that Elkanah and his family are not poor.
25. Then they slaughtered a bull, and brought the child to Eli.
She and Elkanah slaughter one of the bulls first. Then, they bring Samuel to the priests. It is to Eli that Hannah brings Samuel, no doubt since he is the one who heard her request.
26. And she said, “O my lord! As your soul lives, my lord, I am the woman who stood by you here, praying to the LORD.
Hannah addresses the old man respectfully, and reminds him of their former meeting, and her prayer that he had witnessed.
27. For this child I prayed, and the LORD has granted me my petition which I asked of Him.
For the first time, Hannah informs Eli what her prayer had been about. She had been asking for a child, and he is now standing before Eli. She acknowledges Jehovah’s answer to her prayer in giving Samuel to her.
28. Therefore I also have lent him to the LORD; as long as he lives he shall be lent to the LORD.” So they worshiped the LORD there.
She explains that she is lending Samuel back to Yahweh, the One Who gave him to her. As long as he lives, he will be lent to Yahweh. Notice that this defines “forever” back in verse 22. So thus Samuel is dedicated to Yahweh by his parents. A great thing for any parent to do!