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Sunday School

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THE LESSON BACKGROUND.


During the time of the judges, the nation of Israel was surrounded by enemies that occasionally attacked one or more tribes, enslaving them, but God raised up judges or deliverers for His people (see Judges 3:9, 12-31; 11:1-40:13:1). With religious life at a low ebb (see Judges 10:10; 18:30), the nation was in grave danger of losing its distinctive place as a witness for the LORD in the midst of heathen nations. Under Joshua’s leadership Israel had conquered Canaan and received their tribal inheritances, and at that time they generally followed the LORD (see Judges 2:7). But after Joshua’s death, things became chaotic. The spiritual condition of Israel also declined. Israelites often adopted the idolatrous and immoral practices of native peoples and surrounding neighbors, which invited God’s judgment (see Judges 2:11-15). But the LORD still had mercy on His people and raised up judges to deliver them from their enemies (see Judges 2:16). However, even some of the judges were men of mixed character, like Samson. The priesthood also reached a low point under Eli and his sons who brought disgrace to the priesthood through their dishonest and immoral acts (see I Samuel 2:12-17, 22-36). It was in this atmosphere that our lesson takes place. From the outset, Samuel was a special child born in answer to the prayer of the childless Hannah. She made a vow or promise to the LORD that if a son was born to her, she would dedicate him back to the LORD for his entire lifetime (see I Samuel 1:9-18). True to her word, after she had weaned Samuel, Hannah took him to the tabernacle at Shiloh and presented him to Eli the priest to serve in the tabernacle (see I Samuel 1:24-28; 2:18).