This word, this mission, this path of taking their only son, the son God has given them, to serve in the temple at Shiloh weighs heavily on both Hannah and Elkanah. Elkanah has asked Hannah to test the word she has heard from God. How she would love it if she were wrong. But through the year, God confirms this very hard path.
Hannah savors this year with Samuel. He goes from being a baby to being a toddler. She makes balls out of scraps of linen for Samuel to roll, and kick, and throw. His toddling turns to walking, and before Hannah can blink, her baby is running. Her day is punctuated with laughter and “Mama up!” And several times a day, she and Samuel put aside the balls and strings. He settles in at her breast and she closes her eyes enjoying the moment and trying not to think about the separation that is to come.
Samuel grows. He’s healthy and strong. It is time. Hannah nurses him one last time, sings over him, cries bittersweet tears, and together, she and Elkanah pack for the trip.
Hannah, Elkanah, and Samuel arrive at the temple. They approach the priest, Eli, who met Hannah three years before. She had prayed so fervently for a child that Eli had actually thought she was drunk. Now she is to leave her child with him, to serve God by serving this same priest.
Hannah stands before Eli with Samuel by her side. In a rush of words she says to the priest, “Do you remember me? Three years ago I stood in this temple begging God for a baby. You saw me praying. Now look! This sweet, sweet boy is the child God gave me. His name is Samuel. His father and I have dedicated him to the Lord. And now we are giving him to your care, to serve the Lord by serving you.”
Without pausing, Hannah prays. She praises God, rejoices in him, and prays God’s heart for the hungry, the barren, the poor, and the needy. And then she prays a prayer of affirmation, “He keeps the feet of His godly ones.”
God has given Hannah a hard word, a hard mission. He has set her feet on a hard path. And now, as she stands before Eli with her son’s hand in hers preparing to turn around and leave him, she trusts that God will keep her feet to the path that He has established.
God keeps the feet of His godly ones. (To be continued…)
Most likely God is not asking you to turn your child over to the care of another adult, but He likely is asking you to do something that is very, very hard. He often does. He may even set your feet on a path that is already hard, and then increase the challenge. Perhaps you wouldn’t have stepped onto the path if you had known just how very hard it would be. Next week, join me to hear what happens with Hannah, what happened with Piper’s burn, and how you can keep your feet on the very hard path.
Digging Deeper: 1 Samuel 1:24 – 2:10