Giving Back To GodI prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to the Lord. For his whole life he will be given over to the Lord.” And he worshiped the Lord there.1 Samuel 1:27-28
For context, read 1 Samuel 1
What is the one thing that you have prayed hardest for? Something that drove you to your knees, crying and pleading with God, completely pouring out your heart to Him? Imagine being granted that desire of your heart but then willingly giving that gift back to God forever.
That’s exactly what Hannah did. When we meet Hannah, she is a beloved but barren wife of Elkanah. He had two wives. Once again, we read a narrative of a man with two wives, one was barren and the other one had children. And as was often the case, the wife with children lorded it over the barren wife. Peninnah had several children and she would mock and humiliate Hannah over her barrenness. But it appears that Hannah handled this mistreatment with godly character and grace. No retaliation is mentioned on her part. Rather, we see her dealing with her pain by pouring out her heart to God and asking Him for help.
Her family went to Shiloh every year to worship and sacrifice to the LORD. Every year, Peninnah would make Hannah miserable with her ridicule. Elkanah tried to make her feel loved. But after so many years of pain and heartache, she could not be comforted. She went to the priest, Eli, and prayed to the LORD. She poured her heart out to Him but she did not make a sound. Only her lips moved as she vowed to the LORD that if He would answer her prayer for a son, then she would give him back to God as His servant for the rest of his life.
Eli, the priest, believed that she was drunk because she was not praying audibly and he only saw her lips move. But when she explained that she had been praying out of deep heartache and pain, Eli blessed her and said, “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of Him” (1 Samuel 1:17
The LORD answered her prayer. In time, she conceived and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel. Samuel sounds like the Hebrew for “heard of God”. It would only be natural for Hannah to want to keep her boy and raise him to manhood. Now that Hannah had her prayers answered, would she make good on her promise to God?
She did. As soon as Samuel was weaned, Hannah took him to the tabernacle in Shiloh to live in service to the LORD for the rest of his life. Now, you might think that after dropping her son off at the tabernacle and leaving a piece of her heart behind for his whole life, that Hannah would return home with a broken, miserable heart. After all, she got what she prayed for and then had to give him up!
But that is not what we see Hannah doing. In 1 Samuel 2:1-10
, we read Hannah’s Song of Thanksgiving. She rejoiced and worshipped after giving her son back to God. The LORD noticed her faithfulness and blessed her with 5 more children-3 sons and two daughters. And her son, Samuel? He went on to be a great judge in Israel as well as a prophet and priest. He was a lifelong servant of God and he served Him well.
There are many lessons we can take from Hannah’s story. Her grace in the midst of deep pain, her restraint to not retaliate against Peninnah, that she humbly sought the LORD to handle her problem rather than taking matters into her own hands like Sarah had done, her faithfulness to her vow, and her attitude of gratitude. But I think the greatest lesson we can learn from Hannah is that our children, and all other good gifts, come from God. They are on loan to us for His purposes and ultimately belong to Him.
The WORD about women in the story of Hannah is that God can work in mighty ways when we give His gifts to us right back to Him.Reflect If you are a parent, how can you give your children back to God in today’s context? If you are not a parent, how can you dedicate the gifts that God has given you to the Lord’s purposes?PrayLord, I know that You have given me every good thing. Help me to remember that these good gifts are simply on loan from You. Help me to steward them well and give them back to You for Your purposes. Amen.