Hannah wanted a child badly. She had been married to Eli for many years and had been unable to get pregnant. She was depressed, cried and even refused to eat. Other mothers taunted and teased her about her inability to bear a child. She was miserable!
She and Eli did, however, have a strong faith. Each year they would travel quite a distance, much like going on a spiritual retreat. In Hannah's day they didn't have a church in each neighborhood and so going on a retreat to visit a church and pray in this special place, called Shiloh, was very special. On one trip in particular Hannah was feeling very depressed about not having a child. She got up early and went into the church to pray. She cried and prayed silently for quite some time. A priest saw her in the church and, not knowing Hannah personally, thought she might have been drinking and so he asked her to leave. Hannah very quickly shared her story with the priest. He then understood her sadness and prayed with her asking that God bless her and Eli with a child.
Hannah and Eli returned home and a short time later she became pregnant. Imagine the happiness that she and Eli felt. She gave birth to a baby boy she named Samuel, meaning "I asked the Lord for him."
The following year rolled around and Eli began to prepare for the family's next trip and spiritual retreat. Hannah was still nursing little Samuel but felt God talking to her. She spoke to Eli and shared how blessed and happy she was with her life and baby son. She recounted the events in the church with the priest and told Eli that she would stay home with baby Samuel until he was weaned. But, the following year she would go on retreat with Eli and back to Shiloh where they would leave him to be raised as a priest for the church. We're not told of Eli's reaction to this other than that he loved Hannah and respected her wishes.
So, the following year Eli and Hannah packed up again, with young Samuel, and they travelled to Shiloh. As people did in that day, they brought offerings to God to be sacrificed. The same priest that had prayed with Hannah before the birth of Samuel was still at Shiloh. Hannah approached the priest and shared her vision with him. She presented Samuel to the priest and they prayed and worshipped God until she and Eli returned home.
Little Samuel grew and became one of God's special ministers on earth. We are told that Hannah and Eli visited Samuel each year and that she made clothes for him. I am sure that they returned year after year for and continued to have a relationship with God and their son Samuel. God also blessed Hannah and Eli with other children as well. The Bible tells us that Samuel grew and was a favorite of God's and the people that he served in Shiloh.
It is hard to imagine a mother giving her child to anyone. But, what we can understand is that Hannah understood God's gifts and blessings in her life and chose to dedicate her son to God's service as a token of her faith and love. Not many mother's could give up their young children in this way and this is what makes Hannah a "gutsy woman" in my eyes.
You can read more about Hannah, Eli and Samuel in the Bible in 1 Samuel chapters 1-2 and beyond. Hannah, mother of Samuel, we thank you for showing us absolute trust, faith and service to God's work!
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