|After he was weaned, she took the boy with her, young as he was, along with a three-year-old bull, an ephah of flour and a skin of wine, and brought him to the house of the LORD at Shiloh. 25 When they had slaughtered the bull, they brought the boy to Eli, 26 and she said to him, "As surely as you live, my lord, I am the woman who stood here beside you praying to the LORD. 27 I prayed for this child, and the LORD has granted me what I asked of him. 28 So now I give him to the LORD. For his whole life he will be given over to the LORD." And he worshiped the LORD there. (1Samuel1:24-28)|
Eli is the busy high priest of the tabernacle at Shiloh. He has two sons, who, as we will see, were not good priests. They were in a spiritual drought - the "words of the Lord had been rare." (ch.3) and the future of the nation is uncertain.
I would think that the last thing Eli needed was a three-year-old little boy hanging around and needing to be nurtured in ways of the priesthood. In Eli's shoes I might have been tempted to graciously let Hannah off the hook and there is precedent for this in the story of Abraham and Isaac: "Hannah and Elkanah, the Lord sees your hearts and sincerity and is pleased with you - you are released from your vow."
But Eli accepts the responsibility.
He recognises God at work.
Maybe he even sees that he has been given a second chance.
Why do I say this? Well, in the next chapter we will see that Eli's sons are corrupt and Eli knows it and is ineffective in trying to correct it. Maybe Eli recognised that God was giving him Samuel so that he can try again.
The last phrase in v.28: "And he worshipped the Lord there" is ambiguous.
It could mean "Samuel worshipped" or "Eli worshipped".
If it is that Samuel worshipped then we must either think of a three year old worshipping or that it refers to his whole life as a living sacrifice.
Alternatively it is Eli worshipping - receiving the child that was an answer to prayer - a word from the Lord - and intuitively realising that God is at work...
Sometimes God works in mysterious (and even mischievous) ways in our lives sometimes bringing awkward situations into our worlds, but we like Eli, should be open to God working in unusual ways!