12th August 2011

God Is Their Father

Samuel before Saul series (I Samuel 1:19-2:2:21) 

So now I give him to the Lord. For his whole life he shall be given over to the Lord.”
1 Samuel 1:28 (NIV UK)

Prayer flows from our perceptions of God. 

The words we use reveal who we think God is and how we think he operates. Hannah’s religious background was the Old Covenant, an agreement between Israel and God. If Israel behaved itself in a pre-described manner, then God would bless them. Hannah grew up thinking that you make deals with God. 

Thus Hannah had a bargain to make with God. “I’ll tell you what”, she proposed, “if you bless me with a son, I’ll give him back to you, and what’s more, he’ll never shave”. I am not so sure how happy I would be had my mother pledged that to God. I like shaving! 

Samuel’s mother, Hannah, acted bizarrely by today’s standards. She had waited years for a child, and, after Samuel was born, her sole intent was to give him away. When the boy was weaned she went back to the Tabernacle to give her son to Eli. Would you do that? Leave your toddler with an elderly priest whose family was corrupt? 

Hannah, in keeping with her culture, was holding up her part of the bargain she thought she had struck with God. It’s not clear whether God had the deal in mind when he intervened and Hannah conceived miraculously. In his graciousness God works with us even when we are confused about who he is. The scripture notes simply that “the Lord remembered her”. What if Hannah had not given the child to Eli? Would God have ceased to remember Hannah and have cursed the child? I doubt it. My own perception is that God does not operate in that way. God is greater than our bargains and deals. 

Should we dedicate our children to God from their birth? All children are born into God’s grace, and they are his more than they are ours. In a sense we dedicate them to God as we devote our spiritual energies into helping them grow up in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ. Thankfully, however, their salvation is not dependent on anything we do as parents. It has often consoled me that, when I know that I have failed in some way as a father, that God is my children’s Father and has been since their birth.

Hannah had other children but she still remembered Samuel, whom she had left in God’s care. She made clothes for him and took them to him. She set an example for us. 

Our children are very special. Give them gifts. Pray for them every day, that God would enrich their faith. God is their Father and he will never let them down. 

Great God, thank you that you are a compassionate and loving Father, not only to us, but also to our children. In Jesus’ name.

Study by James Henderson

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