The story of Hannah in I Samuel is one that has many lessons to teach, about perseverance, faith and keeping your word. Today, I want to focus on what happened to Hannah, the vow she made and the sacrifice she made to keep that vow to God.
Hannah was one of Elkanah’s wives but she was distraught because she was barren. On an annual trip to the temple, Hannah cried before the Lord, silently begging Him to open her womb. Eli, the priest there, thought she was drunk but she told him that she was not drunk but in despair. He blessed her with a prayer that God would answer her prayer.
This is the vow that Hannah made. If God would only give her a son, she would give him back to the Lord for his entire life. Sounds like a hard bargain to me, but she made it and kept it.
Hannah did indeed have a son, named him Samuel and did not go with Elkanah to the temple the next year because she told her husband that she was waiting until he was weaned so that she could give him to the Lord, just as she had promised. Now, think about it. She had no children, gives birth to her only son and promises to give him back to the Lord. That is dedication! That is keeping a promise!
Follow through is always important and Hannah is a model of following through. Once Samuel was weaned, she took him to the temple and gave him to Eli the priest to train him. Samuel worships the Lord at the temple after his mother leaves him there. I don’t know about you, but when one of my children was in a different aisle in the grocery store, I used to panic, looking everywhere him/her until they were safely next to me again. I cannot imagine leaving my child with another man, one who is a priest, but nevertheless not a relative or someone you know well and then walking away, knowing that the child will grow up there, not with me. Keep in mind that Hannah had been barren and Samuel was her only child. Yet she keeps her vow and walks away.
As a well-known commentator named Paul Harvey used to say, this is the “rest of the story.” God blessed Hannah with more children: three sons and two daughters. He saw her willing sacrifice and that she fulfilled it and blessed her above and beyond what she had given.
Hannah’s vow to God was a sacrifice that I am sure that I could not make, but she did and the nation of Israel was blessed because of her great dedication to the Lord. I am not saying that God will always do for each of us what He did for Hannah, but I am saying that when you pray to God, pray with purpose, with wholehearted determination to be heard and to hear from Him. He does always hear and always answers, just not always in the way we expect. Hannah had her prayers answered and her dreams fulfilled because she was a dedicated servant of the Lord, one who prayed instead of becoming bitter and blaming Him for her troubles. I want to be like Hannah, willing to listen to God and His answers and to receive the answer that He gives, in His time.
May you each have a blessed day and may you be fully aware of the sacrifice that God made of His Only Son so that we could become His children.