Hannah was so desperate to have a child that she made a vow to the Lord,
“O LORD of hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your maidservant and remember me, and not forget Your maidservant, but will give Your maidservant a son, then I will give him to the LORD all the days of his life, and a razor shall never come on his head” (1 Samuel 1:11).
There is an interesting thing happening here and it makes us uncomfortable in our modern self-oriented world. We want God to work for us. But in this case it’s very clear Hannah would be working for God.
She is offering to give back whatever son God might give to her!!!!
Moms, let that one sink in. Dads, feel the desperation. “If you give me a son then I will give that son back to you.” And she’s not speaking figuratively. She’s speaking literally. I will give my son to God. I will take him to the tabernacle and leave him with the Priest to raise him. I will do that if God will allow me to have a son.
I’m reading these words asking myself if I could do that? Could I give my son to God? Could I lay a young child at the feet of a fat old priest and then turn and walk away? Would I be able to visit him once a year to see how he’s doing? Would I be able to allow someone else to invest in his training and teach him to skip rope or throw a ball or draw a picture? Could I let someone else care for him and hold him when he hurts and laugh with him when he’s happy?
Could I give my son to God and by doing that miss my son’s entire life!!
All of a sudden the weight of what it means to worship God is felt in a very different way. We come before him with gifts but do we really know what it is to sacrifice? Do we? I mean really.
Dietrich Bonheoffer said, “When Christ calls a man he bids him come and die.”
Bonheoffer was one of those rare lights that shone brightly and yet briefly in the church. He and his twin sister were the sixth and seventh of the eight Bonheoffer children. His father was a brilliant agnostic psychiatrist. His mother was a devoted believer, the daughter of one of Germany’s great theologians.
Genius ran in the family. Bonheoffer’s brother helped discover spin isomers in hydrogen.
Dietrich’s father was disappointed when he went into theology, but keeping up the family tradition young Dietrich overachieved and had two doctor’s degrees by the time he was 24.
In 1930 Bonheoffer was in America teaching at Union Seminary. While there he had two life changing experiences. First, he became close friends with Reinhold Niebuhr. And second, Dietrich fell in love with a small African American church.
I smile every time I think of that great theologian worshipping in a raucous meeting with the Black choir swaying and singing those beautiful old spirituals.
That little church changed Bonheoffer. Somewhere along the way his faith migrated from his mind to his heart. Dietrich Bonheoffer’s theology turned into biology. He no longer saw theology as something you thought about or talked about. Theology was something you lived out.
Bonheoffer returned to Germany and along with Karl Barth began to work against the Nazis. By 1938 Himmler had him been banned from Berlin. By 1939 the Nazi goons were gunning for him. Friends helped get Dietrich out of the country and back to the United States.
Bonheoffer regretted running. He wrote to Niebuhr,
“I have come to the conclusion that I made a mistake in coming to America. I must live through this difficult period in our national history with the people of Germany. I will have no right to participate in the reconstruction of Christian life in Germany after the war if I do not share the trials of this time with my people… Christians in Germany will have to face the terrible alternative of either willing the defeat of their nation in order that Christian civilization may survive or willing the victory of their nation and thereby destroying civilization. I know which of these alternatives I must choose but I cannot make that choice from security.”
Dietrich returned to Germany and joined the underground movement to rid the world of Adolf Hitler. He was arrested and imprisoned.
In 1945, just two weeks before the Allies invaded Berlin, and three weeks before Hitler’s suicide, Dietrich Bonheoffer was executed. Sacrificed is a better word for it. His death did more for the cause of Christ than most people’s lives ever will.
Hannah had her baby boy and after he was weaned she kept her promise to God. That sweet little momma took her precious little baby and laid him at the feet of that fat old priest.
The boy Samuel grew to become the leader of the Jewish nation, and then one day when the time was right, he passed his mantel of anointing to a pencil necked red-headed kid named David. You might remember David. It was through David that the lineage of the Messiah is traced. Jesus was called, “Son of David.”
Without Samuel there might have been no David. Without Hannah’s sacrifice there would have been no Samuel.
Romans 12:1 Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.