Today’s the first day of school where I teach four and five-year-olds. There will be lots of tears. I will console, distract, bargain, and hand out tissues. I will have to coax one or two out of hiding in the bushes during outdoor playtime. But eventually, they’ll wave good-bye to their children and leave.
I’m reminded of another mom getting her son ready for the first day of school. It was a well-known private school. A school of divinity, devotion… and dysfunction with a capital D.
It was no secret that the principal was a lousy parent. His sons were bullies- so rebellious that years later they were sentenced to death, by God Himself. And these guys ran the whole show, with no womanly input to temper the situation- or at least make them get in back in there and floss and brush.
Into this environment Hannah placed her most treasured possession, Samuel. Samuel was a boy conceived through years of prayers and tears. God answered those prayers in the temple when Eli prayed for her (after accusing her of being drunk). Hannah dedicated Samuel to the Lord. I don’t mean as in a baby dedication ceremony. The deal was, Hannah would bring Samuel to the temple to live the rest of his life as Eli’s aide, as soon as Samuel was weaned. We don’t know how long Hannah breastfed, but if I’d been Hannah, morning conversations would have gone like this,
“Sammy dear- did you shave this morning? Before you go out and plow the lower forty, come to Momma…”
But Hannah keeps her promise. The Bible doesn’t give a lot of emotional detail. As Sam’s first day approaches, we can only imagine his mother’s turmoil, human nature being what it is. A little verbal exchange with her husband hints at an inner struggle (1 Sam. 1:21-23), but nowhere does the Bible say she wallows in self-pity, fretfully hiding in a burning bush to observe her son’s first day. We read just the opposite. She responds to the relinquishing of her heart’s desire in the same manner she received it; with a heart of gratitude and worship.
Though it looks as though she’s feeding Sam to the wolves, she knows the Good Shepherd will protect him. She says, “For his whole life he will be given over to the Lord,” she does not say, “…Given over to Eli and his sons.”
The Bible tells older women to teach the younger, and this is what Hannah teaches me:
When we sacrificially give up something in obedience to God, He gives us the gift of praise. When we offer back to Him the gift of praise, He relieves the pain of our sacrificial obedience. What an amazing gift exchange. Read all about it in 1st Samuel 2:1-10.
“My heart rejoices in the Lord…the Lord brings death and makes alive; He brings down to the grave, and raises up…He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap…”