Hannah the mother of Samuel is not a major figure in the unfolding Old Testament drama of God’s interactions with Israel. But her example lights the way for all who would honor the LORD in gratitude and praise. Perhaps you remember her story…
Hannah is barren — a circumstance that would have been difficult enough for a woman of her time and culture, but one that is made worse by the constant taunting of her husband’s other wife. [We could pause here to reflect on “biblical family values,” but I’ll leave that for another day.] In desperation, Hannah goes to the house of God, where she cries out in anguish and vows that if the LORD will grant her a son, she will dedicate him to the Lord’s service…and God hears her prayer. Hannah gives birth to a son; and once he is weaned, she brings him back to the Lord’s house and says, “I prayed for this child, and the LORD has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to the LORD. For his whole life he will be given over to the LORD.” (1 Samuel 1:27-28)
Let that sink in for a moment. Hannah has finally received the blessing for which she has waited much of her life — a child. But because she recognizes that God is the Giver of this gift, her gratitude and sense of worship lead her to offer the boy entirely to the LORD. His life and ministry will be her offering — an offering that costs her dearly, to be sure — but one that acknowledges the magnitude of God’s generosity and goodness.
Can we say the same about our offerings — and not just our offerings of money, but our offerings of time, energy, worship, and even our dearest relationships?
Years ago, the singer/songwriter Keith Green composed a tune called “Pledge My Head to Heaven.” In that song, he says:
Well I pledge my son to heaven for the gospel.
Though he’s kicked and beaten, ridiculed and scorned.
I will teach him to rejoice, and life a thankful praising voice,
And to be like him who bore the nails and crown of thorns.
Hannah’s child, Samuel, grew up to be one of the greatest prophets of Israel. And among other things, he anointed a shepherd boy named David to be a king after God’s own heart and to be the progenitor of God’s Messiah. And David once said: “I will not sacrifice to the LORD offerings that cost me nothing.” (2 Samuel 24:24)
I wonder who he learned that from…