24 And when she had weaned him, she took him up with her, along with a three-year-old bull, an ephah of flour, and a skin of wine, and she brought him to the house of the Lord at Shiloh. And the child was young. 25 Then they slaughtered the bull, and they brought the child to Eli. 26 And she said, “Oh, my lord! As you live, my lord, I am the woman who was standing here in your presence, praying to the Lord. 27 For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition that I made to him. 28 Therefore I have lent him to the Lord. As long as he lives, he is lent to the Lord.” And he worshiped the Lord there.
(1 Samuel 1:24-28)
For years Hannah had wanted to become a mother. During that time she was harassed by another woman, her husband’s other wife, for not being able to have children. Despite these travails Hannah remained steadfast in her belief in God and after praying to Him for a son and promising to offer her son back to God, she became pregnant and gave birth to Samuel.
The Bible doesn’t tell us, so it is speculation, but perhaps it took all that time for Hannah to become pregnant because she was praying for a son all wrong. Perhaps she was praying selfishly for a son rather than praying to become the mother of a son who would serve God. When she finally “got it” and understood what God wanted, God blessed her with a child.
We need to remember that Israel at this time was very sinful. Very few people were walking with God at all. God wanted to rescue Israel from her sin but to do that He needed someone He could work through because, as we know, God doesn’t solve problems by waving a magic wand. He works through people. And who better to work through than the son born of a godly woman such as Hannah.
Even so, Hannah only had her child for about three years. After that time, when she had weaned him, and he was no longer totally dependent on his mother, she took him up with her to the house of the Lord at Shiloh. Here she would leave him in the presence of Eli the priest so he could serve God.
Again we see the godliness of Hannah. She made a vow to God over three years before. And she kept it. It would have been easy to back out and make excuses to renege on her promise. After all, Hannah had waited years and years to have a child and now she was going to give him up and leave him in the presence of the lazy Eli and his corrupt sons. But Hannah knew God would take care of little Samuel.
What faith and dedication she showed. Samuel was only about three years old at the time. He was probably doing and saying the cutest things. How difficult it must have been to leave him in Shiloh and return home without the son she wanted for so long and to whom she had certainly become attached. Her home would certainly seem empty without him.
But this is what prayer is all about. Prayer is not about getting the things we want. Prayer is about aligning ourselves with God and desiring what He wants instead of what we want. This is exactly how Jesus taught us to pray. He didn’t teach us to pray for our kingdom or our will but for God’s kingdom and God’s will [Matthew 6:10].
This is a tough lesson to learn. God may grant us wealth and power and influence. But those things – indeed all things – are given to us not for our own advancement but for the advancement of His kingdom. God gives us blessings so we can in turn give those blessings back to Him. And we are to do it cheerfully [2 Corinthians 9:7].
This is exactly what we see in Hannah. She kept her vow and gave the son God gave her back to Him. And she was totally at peace with it because she understood and believed that doing so would further God’s plan for other people. And that was more important than her plans for herself.
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