There is a man named Elkanah who had two wives: Peninnah and Hannah. Biblical marriage.
Peninnah had kids and Hannah didn’t, which in those days meant that Hannah was pretty much worthless socially, because your primary value lay in how many boys you could pop out of your downstairs, ladies, even though in many fertility cases it’s the guy’s equipment that’s malfunctioning. And Peninnah mocked her and made her cry.
So despite her husband’s best efforts to show that he loved her, she felt like a sack of crap.
So one year, she went to God’s tent and prayed that if God gave her a son, she’d dedicate him to God’s service. And Eli, the high priest, saw her and thought she was drunk because she was moving her lips, but not speaking.
Eli: Get out of here, ya stinking drunk!
Hannah: I’m praying silently, sir.
Eli: Oh, okay, well, uh… I hope God gives you whatever you want… go with God and all that stuff… yeah… sorry…
So God answers her prayer, she gets knocked up and has a boy that she calls Samuel. She nurses him for a few years, then returns to the temple and offers Samuel to Eli the high priest so Samuel can serve God in God’s tent.
Hannah sings a song. It’s the usual stuff: God is great. God is in control. God’s going to seriously mess up the proud and arrogant. God’s going to bless the hungry. Nothing in this song about making someone’s mom cry, so that’s nice.
So Eli had two sons who served as priests, but didn’t respect the rules of the cult of Yahweh and would steal the best portions of the meat offerings and wouldn’t follow the rules about burning the fat of the animals they killed before taking the meat, so that really hacked off the Lord.
And they also liked to have sex with the women who served at the door of God’s tent.
So Eli rebukes them: “What are you doing? Who is going to save you from God? Knock that stuff off.”
But they blow him off because God wants to kill them. Well, what’s stopping Him? We just finished a song about how God is in control and makes life and inflicts death as He chooses, where’s the asps? Or the earth splitting in two? Or heavenly fire? Or a stroke or heart attack? If God wants them dead, why aren’t they dead? Is He busy working in His shed and He’ll get around to it?
Instead God sends a messenger that says, “I’m mad at you. You’re not following the priest rules, so remember how I said you and your sons would serve before me forever? Yeah, I changed my mind. You’re all going to die now.”
Which, again, I don’t really want to harp on, but if God is omniscient, wouldn’t He know about how awful Eli’s kids would be before He made the promise that they could serve as his priests forever? He really should have seen this coming and just not made the promise to begin with.
God: I have a lot of things on my plate, you know?
So Sam’s staying in one of God’s tents or lesser tents that God won’t kill you for sleeping in, and God comes down for a chat:
God: Knock knock.
Samuel: You called, Eli?
Eli: No, go to bed.
God: Knock knock
Eli: NO! Go to sleep!
God: Knock knock…
Eli: No, it’s not me. Probably God. Go bug him.
God: Knock knock…
Samuel: Okay, I know it’s you, God
God: You’re supposed to say, “Who’s there?” Has that not been invented yet? GABRIEL? Yeah… have they invented “knock knock” jokes yet? No? Aw crap…I had a whole routine… I say, “Knock knock” and you say, “Who’s there?” Then I say, “Tell Eli…” Then you say, “Tell Eli who?” and I say, “Tell Eli I’m coming to kill him!” and then we laugh and laugh… you’re not laughing… That was funny… GABRIEL? You thought that was funny, right?
Gabriel: Yes, oh all powerful maker of the universe who could throw me into eternal torture on a whim…it was hilarious…
God: I thought so, sigh… what am I going to do with these humans? Look, kid, just tell Eli that everything that other messenger I sent him is going to happen soon. I’m coming to kill him and his family. Now, why don’t you go back to bed and get a good night’s sleep and try not to think of how I’m totally going to kill the man who’s like a father to you. Nighty-night.
Eli: So what did God have to say? Good news?
Eli: If you don’t tell me, He’s going to get you too.
Sam: God’s going to kill you.
Eli: Oh, okay… well, I guess you kind of expect that message when you work with God long enough. Not sure why he needed to tell you that in the middle of the night instead of just telling me… I guess say what you want, the Lord has a good sense of the dramatic.