As I was reading the book of Samuel, conviction struck hard within the first serval pages.
Most know the story well: Hannah is longing for a son because up till this point, she has been barren. There were many cultural pressures around having children at this time (though in the opposite way our current culture’s is), but the Scriptures show that this was truly a desire from the deepest depths of her heart.
After much faithful prayer, God grants her request, but what was convicting to me was her response; she takes what she desired so desperately, and gives back to Him who she desires and loved most.
Hannah gave her Son to work in the service of YHWH her God because she revered God more.
She knows she is only going to be able to see her Son once a year, and this would tear any loving parent’s heart, yet the passage does not indicate she made this sacrifice begrudgingly. In fact, Hannah prays a magnificent prayer of worship and praise:
“My heart exults in the Lord;
my horn is exalted in the Lord.
My mouth derides my enemies,
because I rejoice in your salvation.
“There is none holy like the Lord:
for there is none besides you;
there is no rock like our God.
Talk no more so very proudly,
let not arrogance come from your mouth;
for the Lord is a God of knowledge,
and by him actions are weighed.
The bows of the mighty are broken,
but the feeble bind on strength.
Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread,
but those who were hungry have ceased to hunger.
The barren has borne seven,
but she who has many children is forlorn.
The Lord kills and brings to life;
he brings down to Sheol and raises up.
The Lord makes poor and makes rich;
he brings low and he exalts.
He raises up the poor from the dust;
he lifts the needy from the ash heap
to make them sit with princes
and inherit a seat of honor.
For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s,
and on them he has set the world.
“He will guard the feet of his faithful ones,
but the wicked shall be cut off in darkness,
for not by might shall a man prevail.
The adversaries of the Lord shall be broken to pieces;
against them he will thunder in heaven.
The Lord will judge the ends of the earth;
he will give strength to his king
and exalt the horn of his anointed.” (I Samuel 2:1-10)
This was a true act of worship and joy on Hannah’s part; to give back to her God what He had given her.
She who longed for a child so desperately, longed for the worship of her God more.
The emotions of that sacrifice were real to her, but she had a faith and love for God that most of us will probably never obtain this side of eternity.