"I will give him back..." 1 Samuel 1:11 (NLT)
In this simple phrase is found the heart of a mother with such a profound gratitude, she was willing to not only recognize the Giver of all good things, but to acknowledge her child as God's to use as He saw fit. Let's look at this story a bit deeper.
Hannah was married to a seemingly devout man, Elkanah, who lived in the hill country of Ephraim (just north of Jerusalem). (v.'s 1:1-2) He followed a common practice of polygamy (which, by the way, does not make it right), and Hannah was one of two wives. The other wife was named Peninnah.
Each year, Elkanah would travel to Shiloh to worship (probably at the Passover). At the point of sacrifice, portions of the meat went to Peninnah and her children, then Elkanah would ensure one choice portion went to Hannah. Penninnah would taunt and humiliate Hannah's infertility, reducing Hannah to tears. (v.'s 3-8)
One year, Hannah got up from the sacrificial meal to pray. She was in such deep anguish and distress that Eli, the priest stationed at the entrance to the Tabernacle, accused her of being drunk, even stipulating she discard any wine she may have on her. Hannah assured Eli she was in no way defiling the Lord's sacred area by such dissipation, and conveyed her deep heartbreak over her infertility. Eli encouraged her with words affirming his agreement with her prayer request that God would grant her a child. Eli's encouragement lifted her spirits and she was no longer sad, returning to the sacrificial meal. (v.'s 9-18)
It was during her tortuous prayer to the Lord when Hannah stated this covenant to God: "...if You will look upon my sorrow and answer my prayer and give me a son, then I will bring him back to You." As an act of gratitude, she promised to return her first born son to the tabernacle to live his entire life and to live for God's purposes as He saw fit. Her promise would be displayed by never cutting the child's hair.
Parents of children, have you given your children into God's hands? Have you placed your children's futures into the hands of a kind benevolent Father? Have you exercised your faith in God in such a way as Hannah? Now, please understand, I'm not necessarily encouraging you to not cut your children's hair... Instead, let her example motivate all parents to trust God with our children's lives as we pray for their futures.
God bless our children with wisdom and favor.