As I’ve been meditating on the story of Hannah in the Bible, her persistence, unselfish devotion, humility before God, and her resolve to keep her promise to God have inspired me. They have also made me ask a few questions, “Where did Hannah find the strength to follow through with her solemn vow to give her son back to the service of God? How could she possibly take her small son and leave him at the temple?”
|West End Baptist Church, Halifax|
When our son was three weeks old, we took him to our church on a Sunday morning to dedicate him to the Lord. As believers and followers of Jesus Christ, we desired to publicly seek God’s blessing on his life. When our pastor cradled our precious little boy in his arms and prayed for him to grow up to know and serve the Lord, he also prayed for us as parents that we would have the wisdom and strength to raise our son in the ways of the Lord. Our church family also stood with us and committed themselves to help us in this responsibility. We knew it was a solemn occasion and that we were placing our son’s future in God’s hands. It was also a joyful time which we celebrated afterward with many close family members. The most wonderful part was being able to take him home with us and begin the privilege and joy of raising him in our own home. Would I ever have found the strength in a couple of years to leave him at our church in the care of our minister knowing I would only see him once a year for the rest of my life?
That was the reality that faced Hannah as she cradled tiny Samuel in her arms and lovingly nursed him. When the time came for the annual sacrifices, she told her husband, “After the boy is weaned, I will take him and present him before the Lord, and he will live there always.”[i]
I pause to wonder how much input her husband, Elkanah, had in Hannah’s decision. Despite his feelings as Samuel’s father, he fully supported Hannah. “Whatever you think is best,” Elkanah agreed, “Stay here for now, and may the Lord help you keep your promise.”[ii]
When Samuel was weaned, likely between the ages of two and four, “she took the boy with her, young as he was…and brought him to the house of the Lord at Shiloh.”[iii]As she presented him to Eli, the priest, she said, “So now I give him to the Lord. For his whole life he will be given over to the Lord.”[iv]
I’m sure there were tears, hugs, and kisses as this loving mother said goodbye to her little one. Did Samuel cry and cling to his mother? Did Eli have to hold him tightly as Samuel peered through tearful eyes at his mommy disappearing from view? I wonder if he cried himself to sleep at night longing for the safety and security of his mother’s arms. Scripture doesn’t provide these details, but as a mother I can well imagine the scene and the aftermath. It surely wasn’t easy for Samuel and Eli.
And what about Hannah? It would seem from chapter 2 that before she left the temple to go home, she once again offered up a prayer to God. It is here we discover the secret of her strength.
“My heart rejoices in the Lord; in the Lord my horn is lifted high…”[v]This latter phrase is repeated several times in the Old Testament[vi] and in each passage “horn” is a metaphor for strength. Animal horns, particularly those of an ox or ram, had many purposes. One usage was to raise the horn high in triumph after a victory had been won. It was a display of strength and restored dignity. Hannah rejoiced that God had seen her state of dishonor, humiliation, and deep sorrow and had exalted her and lifted up her strength. What an encouragement to know that God will do the same for each of us, in our own place of challenge, as we faithfully trust in Him!
|Near Burlington, Ontario|
Hannah’s prayer continued to praise the Lord for coming to the aid and deliverance of those who are hungry, barren, poor, and needy. She recognized that her strength came from the One who had lifted her up.
“There is no one holy like the Lord; there is no one besides you; there is no rock like our God.”[vii]
I’ve learned so much from Hannah! I pray that as I continue to face the challenges of my life that I will rely on the strength of my Rock and the horn of my salvation, Jesus Christ[viii]
Until next Sunday,