A man named Elkanah had two wives, named Hannah and Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah didn’t, because God wouldn’t let her. Peninnah kept tormenting Hannah about this for years, and she was miserable. Her husband told her she should stop crying, because she had him, which was better than having children. Hannah silently asked God to give her a son. When Eli, the priest and leader of Israel, saw her mouth moving but didn’t hear her saying anything, he told her she needed to stop getting drunk.
Then God let Hannah have a son, and she named him Samuel. She was so happy to finally have a son that she gave him away to Eli, whose sons were scoundrels. Eli tried to get his sons to change their ways, but God wouldn’t let them repent, because he wanted an excuse to kill them.
One night, God started calling to young Samuel, but didn’t say who was calling. Samuel assumed it was Eli, so he went to let Eli know that Eli was calling him. When Eli figured out what was going on, he told Samuel to stop coming to him when he was called. So Samuel went back to bed and stayed there, and God gave him a prophecy. The next morning, Eli asked Samuel what God had told him. Samuel was afraid to tell him, but Eli told Samuel that God would punish him severely if he kept anything from him.
So Samuel told Eli that because he had failed to stop his sons from sinning when God was forcing them to keep sinning, God was about to punish his whole family, and he would never forgive them. Eli’s two sons would die on the same day, and then all the other descendants Eli would ever have would die young. Eli said if God thought that was a good thing to do, then it was fine with him.
The moral of the story
Don’t come when you’re called.