“I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to the Lord. For his whole life he will be given over to the Lord.” And he worshiped the Lord [in Shiloh]”1 Samuel 1:27-28
There is a really intriguing story that starts the book of Samuel. A man and his 2 wives make an annual trip to worship the LORD at the Tabernacle in Shiloh. One of the wives, Hannah, had not been able to conceive, and so one year, she breaks down in such an emotional prayer that the High Priest, Eli, thinks she is drunk!
In her pain and anguish, she prays for a son and promises to dedicate him to serving the LORD if she is blessed with one. Scripture states that the LORD blessed this woman to have a baby. She was a woman of honor. So after he was weaned, she took him to the Tabernacle, where she left him to be raised by the High Priest, Eli.
I am a pastor’s kid. I was always in church. Even when my dad wasn’t working in the church. In fact, before Covid, I could count the number of missed Church services on 1 hand. Maybe 2… Suffice to say, this story isn’t new to me. And I wager, even if you don’t know all the ins and outs of it, it is somewhat familiar to you, too.
This boy, Samuel, goes on to hear the LORD call him, he becomes a prophet, anoints King David, etc.
It is a neat story, but it is also familiar.
Be careful with that.
I stood before my 6th & 7th graders and shared with them this story. Hannah, tearfully and honorably bringing her precious 3-year-old to the Tabernacle to live and grow. Meanwhile, I thought about how much faith that act would take. My boy is 2. I can’t imagine it.
However, my students were thinking about something different.
Clay, one of my 7th graders, who has suffered so much pain and loss in his young life, croaked out, “His mom just left him there?”
And I froze. Hearing what he had just said and allowing the students to digest the story.
I always think of Hannah’s faith. Of her resolve. Of her dedication.
On the other hand, Clay thought about Samuel. His fear, his tears, his pain, his confusion.
After a moment I gathered myself and said, “She had prayed for her child. She loved him. She wanted to honor God with this child. And after prayer, she decided that this was the place and the person who would raise her boy to love the LORD fully. To teach him to reach his full potential.”
After that, a 6th-grade girl, Ryann, spoke up.
And I stumbled again.
Here, in my classroom of children who resonated with Samuel, they were thinking of the pain and confusion of watching your parent or guardian drive away. They were thinking about the frustration of new rules. The trepidation with which they navigate their new relationships. The irritation at their new parents and siblings.
They saw themselves as a part of this story because they know what it is like to be placed at Cookson Hills. A place filled with people who will raise them, love them, and help them reach their full potential. And as a result, resonated with Samuel.
Even though I was a preacher’s kid and I have heard this story more times than I can count. Although I know it inside and out… My 6th and 7th-grade students pulled me out of my Bible knowledge and dropped a kernel of Biblical wisdom.