”After he was weaned, she took the boy with her, young as he was, along with a three-year-old bull,[e] an ephah[f] of flour and a skin of wine, and brought him to the house of the Lord at Shiloh. 25 When the bull had been sacrificed, they brought the boy to Eli, 26 and she said to him, “Pardon me, my lord. As surely as you live, I am the woman who stood here beside you praying to the Lord. 27 I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him. 28 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 1.24-28
Some people wonder why the Jews circumcise their baby boys, why some traditions baptize infants and why others perform baby consecration or dedications. I can find no better example of the idea of committing one’s child to the Lord then the example given here from Hannah for Samuel.
As you remember, Hannah was barren. She could not bare children and for her this was a major struggle. She desperately wanted to give her child to her husband Elkanah and so she prayed to the Lord telling God that if he granted her a son, she would give him back to the Lord for his service.
So here we are with the boy Samuel, perhaps a few years old, and Hannah is keeping her promise. She is dedicating her child to the Lord, not unlike the Jewish and Christian rites and sacraments mentioned above. She is doing what all godly parents should and must do — offer their child to God for his service.
So Hannah goes to the house of the Lord at Shiloh with her sacrifice — a three year old bull, thirty six pounds of flour and a skin of wine. (Was the flour used to prepare the meat for consumption of the bull after the sacrifice was complete?) Her sacrifice was not a small one but worthy of the dedication of her son to the Lord’s service.
Hannah enters the house of the Lord and reminds the priest Eli who she was and what she is doing. She tells him how she has prayed for this child and that the Lord granted her what she asked. And then she says this, “So now I give him to the Lord. For his whole life he will be given over to the Lord.”
I don’t know if she left him that day at the house of the Lord, if she went away and didn’t see him again or if she remained close by and was able to help raise him from a distance. The significant thing is that she gave him to the Lord. She not only made a promise but she kept it. She dedicated her son to the service of the Lord even before Samuel had a say in the matter. He had no clue what was happening but was himself offered as a sacrifice for the service of the Lord.
How often have we, through prayer, offered our children to God? Maybe we don’t physically take them to the monastery or drop them off at the convent. Maybe we don’t enroll them in the “early priesthood development center” but we give them in our hearts, souls and minds to God. We realize that children are a gift and who better to care for them then the Lord?
Samuel’s service was an actual physical reality as he eventually moved in to live with Eli and serve the Lord through offering sacrifices and worship to God. Our children may not be in seminary but we can give them to the Lord, ask him for his blessing, and depend upon him to turn their hearts toward his purpose.
And lastly, dedicating our children to God is as much about them as it is about their parents. When we give our children to the Lord for his care and his keeping, we affirm our trust in his promises to bless.
Why not commit not only your own heart but your family (children included) to the Lord this day. Ask him to strengthen you, guide you, and bless you just as Samuel was blessed by his dedication by his mother Hannah.
“O Lord God, you hold the whole world in your hands! You are sovereign and you are Lord over all. We commit our ways to you. We turn our hearts from sin and ask that you would bless our nation. We repent of past hurts and ask that you heal our land. Come now, Holy Spirit, we give our children, our parents, our families to your care. Come now, Holy Spirit, pour out your grace upon us. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen