Hannah: Striking a bargain with God

The story of Hannah has always been one of my favorites in the Old Testament (1 Samuel 1,2). Imagine her joy upon learning she was pregnant after many years of infertility (her husband, Elkanah, was also married to another woman — and of course, the other wife had NO problems getting pregnant). But Hannah does something no other woman does in the Bible. She actively searches God out on sacred ground (the temple in Shiloh) and negotiates with him for a son. I like that. Talk about knocking on doors. She goes right to the top.

Here’s the deal she struck: If God would give her a son, she would give him back for God’s service. God, to his credit, grants her request; she gives birth to a son and names him Samuel, and when he stops nursing (about age three), she brings him back to serve in the temple.

Consider the strength it took to give up little Samuel, to leave him at the temple at such a young age to be raised by the old priest, Eli. It It is hard enough to set free a young man or woman who has reached adulthood; it is another thing, and considerably much harder, to walk away from a toddler.

That same sense of putting children in God’s hands was demonstrated by Jochebed, Moses’ mother. Appointed to die — along with other Hebrew babies of the same age — Moses was placed in a basket in the Nile River rather than face the sword of Pharoah’s soldiers. He still could have been killed, of course, but perhaps his mother knew that Pharoah’s daughter would take a liking to the little one. Either way, she dug down into her soul and imagination, came up with a plan, set it in motion, and no doubt, prayed with all her might.

Moses and Samuel were of great service to God. But they didn’t do it on their own. Their lives began with mothers who had the courage and inspiration to help them come into being and then set them free at early ages to serve God.

Motherhood. It’s still the same. Praying. Dreaming. Risking all to help our children grow safely. And then letting them go into God’s hands, God’s world, whether they be babies, toddlers, teenagers or young adults.

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