"...they worshiped the Lord there." 1 Samuel 1:28
As we continue in our observation of Hannah's life, we enter into an episode several years after her pregnancy:
"When the child was weaned Hannah took him to the Tabernacle in Shiloh. They brought along a three-year-old bull for the sacrifice and a basket of flour and some wine. After sacrificing the bull, they brought the boy to Eli. 'Sir, do you remember me?' Hannah asked. 'I am the woman who stood here several years ago praying to the Lord. I asked the Lord to give me this boy, and He has granted my request. Now, I am giving him to the Lord, and he will belong to the Lord his whole life.' And they worshiped the Lord there." (1 Sa. 1:24-28)
The dedication of Samuel to the Lord's service is begun and ended in moments of worship. Hannah had weaned the child and was ready to carry out her promise to God: to give him back. (see the Words for Today July 26th entry) The first act of worship is found in their sacrifice of a young bull. The sacrifice was given to God in keeping with Levitical law, as well as a symbol of atoning for sin. Many years later, the psalmist would write:
"Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in His holy place? The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god." (Ps. 24:3)
The blood of the bull pointed to the final sacrifice of God's only Son on the cross of Calvary, and was God's requirement to atone for sin. Hannah and Elkanah wanted the gift of their son to be a pure offering to God, and to do so, they fulfilled God's requirement for their own purity before approaching God with their gift. (read Leviticus 1:5; 3:8-12; 4:4-15 for further insight into the Levitical requirement)
The second act of worship reflected Hannah's joy and fulfillment through God's rich mercy and favor. Her prayer of praise is recorded in the next chapter (2:1-11). It was not a time of sorrow for her, as her heart was prepared to surrender her desires to God's eternal purposes. She kept her promise to God just as God had been faithful to provide her a son. Today's five understand-able words is the proof of such surrender: "...they worshiped the Lord there." (v.28) Her prayer echos with her confidence in God's sovereignty and her gratitude to Him for how God had opened her womb to bear a child (giving her confidence to bear other children). She affirms her confidence in His unchanging character by describing Him as the Rock. She revealed the hurtful actions of Peninnah, in her prayerful chant, "...He will judge your actions." Hannah even prophesies with her words, "He sets them among princes...", revealing Samuel's own influence for Israel in the years to come (Samuel anointed both Saul and David as King).
There is another prayer of praise given to God by an expectant mother whose name was Mary. The young virgin praised God for His providence and the mysteries of His love, acknowledging God's control over our lives. (read Luke 1:46-55) She became pregnant as a virgin when the Holy Spirit created life within her womb, "and that life was the light of men." (John 1:4)
By giving Samuel back to God Hannah was dedicating her son to a lifetime of service for God. This in no way belittled her love for her son, neither did she just drop him off and forget him. In fact Hannah visited Samuel regularly, and each year, as her son grew, she brought him a priestly robe - just like Eli's! (1 Sa. 2:19) As an adult, Samuel resided in Ramah (his parent's hometown, see 1 Sa. 7:17; and 1:19-20).
We can be encouraged through the life of Hannah. She had such confidence in God to write the story of her life... and God rewarded her for her faith. In fact, Hannah had three sons and two daughters (1 Sa. 2:21). In the story of her life, we can be assured that God is in control. He will write the story of our lives as we surrender our will, our fears, our failures, our doubts, and our hurts to Him. He will work out His purpose for each of our lives to bring His name glory.
I've got to surrender each day...
steve (Jn. 3:30)