1 Samuel 1:24-28
It’s hard for us to understand why a parent would leave a child in a religious leader’s care to fulfill a religious vow. It’s difficult in the same way that it troubles us to read about God calling Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, or Jephthah’s fulfilling a vow by sacrificing his daughter to God. The idea that God would expect such action from a parent or be honored by it is absurd, yet this scenario appears more than once in the Bible. We cannot deny this moral problem with the Bible’s treatment of certain children.
We cannot deny the complexity of Hannah’s faithful action in her ancient context either. Samuel is Hannah’s key to securing her position in her household, her family, and her community. This is true whether Samuel lives at home with her or resides in the temple. For ancient women, bearing children was the defining factor for their social, financial, and religious standing.
We can only imagine what it felt like for Hannah to “leave him there with the LORD” (v. 22, NLT). Was it harder for her than living with Peninnah was? Harder than the thought of her (likely) older husband dying and leaving her economically vulnerable? Harder than being identified only as “barren”?
What we know for certain is that Hannah’s story mirrors the complexity of our lives and faith, particularly the reality that God’s transforming work calls us to acts of devotion that are difficult, even impossible. Hannah’s story mirrors the points on our journey when we are called to leave something behind in order to follow Christ: a dream, a desire, revenge, comfort, control. In such moments, we need the power of the Holy Spirit in order to “leave [it] there with the Lord.”
What is one thing God invites you to leave behind or release in order to follow Christ more fully?
God, reveal to me what I might release in order to more fully embrace life with you. Amen.