21 Indeed the Lord visited Hannah, and she conceived and bore three sons and two daughters. And the boy Samuel grew in the presence of the Lord.
(1 Samuel 2:21)
A couple of days ago we read about the corrupt sons of Eli who were serving in the tabernacle. Then yesterday we read how Samuel, who was just a boy at the time, was also serving in the tabernacle. This chapter of 1 Samuel jumps back and forth between the corrupt Hophni and Phinehas and the godly Samuel, juxtaposing their behaviors in alternating passages.
But today’s passage take a bit of an aside to let us know what was going on back in the home of Samuel’s parents.
If we recall, Hannah had been barren for many years. And during that time she was the object of ridicule from her husband’s other wife. She prayed for a son repeatedly but never got pregnant. Hannah’s life was miserable for a long time.
Then she had a realization that she was praying incorrectly. She was praying for God to bless her for the sake of blessing her. Once she realized that God wanted to bless her so that she could be a blessing to others, she promised God that she would give back her son to Him, if He would only allow her to conceive, which she finally did – giving birth to Samuel.
After all those years of disappointment and heartache it would have been easy for Hannah to go back on her promise. She finally had a son and the ridicule from Peninnah had stopped. Life was good and getting better. How difficult it must have been for her to go through with her promise and leave Samuel at the tabernacle after having him in her life for just a few years and to once again be childless.
Hannah demonstrated tremendous devotion to God. For all she knew, Samuel would be her only child. Yet she kept her promise. because she understood God’s purpose for allowing her to give birth to Samuel. And God rewarded her devotion by giving her three more sons and two daughters. Hannah gave up one child and got five more in return. Not a bad return on investment.
Hannah’s obedience resulted in God blessing Hannah and Elkanah with more children. Not to mention, they were the proud parents of Samuel who grew in the presence of the Lord. Samuel was becoming the young man – and eventually adult – that God would use to lead Israel. That in itself was a blessing to Elkanah and Hannah. It is always a blessing to parents to see their children grow up to be successful and especially to serve God loyally.
Our God is a generous God. He often gives to us without our even asking or knowing that we need what He is giving as was the case when He gave Jesus to the world [John 3:16].
But when we give to Him He gives us back much more in return [Job 42:10; Mark 10:29-30]. We can never give more to God than He gives back to us. God will be a debtor to no one.
Therefore we should never hoard God’s blessing to us. God gives us gifts so that we can use them not on ourselves but on others. Whatever God gives us – be it children, or money, or talent – we should give these things back to Him. Then watch as He gives us even more in return for our devotion to Him.
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