It's kind of ironic that one of the headlines on tv today was about Planned Parenthood.....the plans they would make for the unborn are not the same as those that Hannah made, no? Let's get back to our story!
Hannah was so urgently wanting a child that she was willing to fast and pray. Fasting was far more common in the ancient societies; one lady that we studied earlier was mentioned in the second chapter of Luke: Anna fasted and worshipped. It seems that in the New Testament, the aim of fasting was a little different than in the Old. Prayer and fasting are combined in the Old Testament in times of deep repentance, of mourning, and of intense prayer. Hannah's prayers were so intense that she had no clue that Eli was observing her, and he thought that she was drunk!
In her prayers, she vowed that she would "give the child to the Lord all the days of his life." She dedicated his life to God. Today many parents participate in dedication services, which are not to get our children saved, nor to make them spiritual. We're asking for God to help us build a "hedge" around them to keep them safe, and we're asking for help in preparing their hearts to accept Christ. I guess in actuality, the dedication service is for the parents -- we sure need help raising our children in the fear and admonition of the Lord!
After that prayer, Eli sent her away with a blessing, and she no longer wore that sad face, but ate meals and showed a happy countenance . . . and the Lord enabled her to conceive that longed-for child. After he was born, she stayed home from the temple visits until Samuel (his name means "to ask") was old enough to go. Weaning generally was by rabbinical tradition somewhere between eighteen months and five years(!) and the verse mentions that Samuel was "young" -- most of the commentaries that I read said that he was probably somewhere between two and four years old when Hannah took her sacrifices and her son to the temple. She told Eli:
For this child I prayed; and the Lord hath given me my petition
which I asked of him: Therefore also I have lent him to the Lord;
as long as he lives he will be lent to the Lord. (I Samuel 1:27-28)
After that, she would see her son once annually, and bring him a coat that she made for him. Can you imagine giving up being with your child at that young age? Many people make promises to God, and then don't keep them. What an example for us, as we read how Hannah kept her promise. The training that Hannah had begun was continued in the temple; verse 18 says that even though Samuel was only a little boy, he was the Lord's helper, and he grew up in the presence of the Lord.
Not a hint of rebellion there. Hannah's training caused Samuel to be submissive to God. He didn't see conflict between his parents; he didn't lack for proper discipline; his parents didn't criticize him and break his spirit; and he reflected the spirituality that he saw modeled at home by Hannah and Elkanah. She not only prepared for her child, and trained him while a toddler, she also prepared him for his temple life. Each year after she dedicated Samuel to temple service, she would go up to see him. Since he wore a linen tunic like the priests, she would make a coat for him each year. I'm sure that there were things that Samuel missed, living in the temple. He didn't have his mom's good cooking, nor the time playing with his dad. But each day when he put on his coat that his mom had lovingly made for him, he was reminded of her caring, and her godliness.
This loving mother prepared him for an amazing life: Samuel led Israel in its first great revival; he re-established the worship of Jehovah; he drove the Philistines back into their territory; he set up the kingdom of Israel and anointed David to be king. Then (as if all that were not enough) he sat down and wrote I Samuel!
God blessed many, many people because of Hannah's prayers. When He blesses, He doesn't do a "halfway job," does He? He blesses us abundantly!
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, (Ephesians 3:20)We can see this in Hannah's life, as well. Look at what else happened in her life . . . Each year Hannah and Elkanah would go up to the temple and visit, and hand-deliver a new coat to their young son who served there. Eli would bless the parents and tell them again, "May the Lord give you other children to take the place of this one she gave to the Lord."
And He did! God blessed them with three sons and two daughters! (And we will see that in her song, which we will study tomorrow, she says she has seven children, so one more was born after this chapter was written!
Here is a note of encouragement to those of us who deal with scornful people, or folks who mock us. Do you know what happened in the life of the other wife? The one that was persecuting Hannah? She stopped having children. God not only blessed Hannah, but the Word says that He judged Peninnah, the other wife.
Tomorrow we will conclude our study by looking at Hannah's song, and her praise to God for her children.