1 Samuel 1:24
Once she had weaned him, Hannah took the boy with her, along with a three-year-old bull, an ephah of flour, and a skin of wine. Though the boy was still young, she brought him to the house of the LORD at Shiloh.
Samuel's Birth and InfancyB. Dale 1 Samuel 1:19-28
Of Infant Baptism and of Childlike ChildrenDean Goulburn.1 Samuel 1:24-28
The Duty of Presenting Children to God in the Way of Religious EducationD. Wilson.1 Samuel 1:24-28

1 Samuel 1:19-28. (RAMAH and SHILOH)
(References - 1 Chronicles 29:29, "the seer;" Psalm 99:9; Jeremiah 15:1; Acts 3:24; Acts 13:20; Hebrews 12:32; Apoc. Ecclus. 46:13-20.) Consolation and hope were from the first associated with the birth of children (Genesis 3:15; Genesis 4:1, 25; Genesis 5:29; Genesis 21:6). More than ordinary joy (John 16:24) was felt at the birth of Samuel by his mother, because of the peculiar circumstances connected therewith, and the expectations entertained by her of the good which he might effect for Israel. Often as she looked upon her God-given infant she would think, "What manner of child shall this be?" (Luke 1:66), and ask, "How shall we order the child, and how shall we do unto him?" (Judges 13:12). Nor did she fail to do her utmost towards the fulfilment of her exalted hopes. The child was -

I. REGARDED AS A DIVINE GIFT (Psalm 127:4). Every little infant bears the impress of the "Father of spirits" (James 3:9).

"Trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home." The gift of a fresh, new, mysterious human life, with its vast capabilities, is a great gift, and demands grateful acknowledgment of the Divine goodness; but it is not an absolute gift; it is rather a trust which involves serious responsibilities on the part of those into whose hands it is placed. God says in effect, "Take this child," etc. (Exodus 2:9).

II. DESIGNATED BY AN APPROPRIATE NAME (ver. 20). Samuel = heard of God. "The mother names, the father assents, God approves, and time confirms the nomination" (Hunter). Like other personal names in the Bible, it was full of significance; being a grateful memorial of the goodness and faithfulness of God in the past, and a constant incentive to faith and prayer in the future. "Our very names should mind us of our duty." The name "Samuel" was uttered by the Lord as mindful of his history, and recognising his special relation to himself (1 Samuel 3:10). The name of a child is not an unimportant matter, and it should be given with due consideration. When parents give their children names borne by excellent men, they should train them to follow in the footsteps of such men.

III. NURTURED WITH MOTHERLY TENDERNESS (vers. 22-25). His mother was herself his nurse (ver. 23), not intrusting him to others, and not neglecting him, whereby many young lives are sacrificed; but thoughtfully, carefully, and constantly ministering to his physical needs, praying over him, and directing his thoughts, with the earliest dawn of reason, toward the Lord of hosts. That she might the more perfectly fulfil her trust, she remained at home, and went not up to Shiloh until he was weaned. Her absence from the sanctuary was justifiable, her worship at home was acceptable, and the service which she rendered to her child was a service rendered to God and to his people. "A mother's teachings have a marvellous vitality in them; there is a strange living power in that good seed which is sown by a mother's hand in her child's heart in the early dawn of the child's being, when they two are alone together, and the mother's soul gushes forth on her child, and the child listens to his mother as a God; and there is a deathless potency in a mother's prayers and tears for those whom she has borne which only God can estimate" (W.L. Alexander). "Who is best taught? He that is taught of his mother" ('Talmud').

IV. PRAYED OVER WITH FATHERLY SOLICITUDE. Elkanah consented to the vow of his wife (Numbers 30:6, 7), and appears to have made it his own (ver. 21). He was zealous for its performance, and whilst he agreed with her in the desire of its postponement for a brief period, he expressed the wish in prayer, "Only the Lord establish his word" (ver. 23). "Word, that is, may he fulfil what he designs with him, and has promised by his birth (vers. 11, 20). The words refer, therefore, to the boy's destination to the service of God; which the Eternal has in fact acknowledged by the partial fulfilment of the mothers wish" (Bunsen). HIS PRAYER indicates, with respect to the Divine word -

1. Confidence in its truth. He believed

(1) that it was his word which had been uttered by the high priest (ver. 17);

(2) that its Divine origin and faithfulness had been in part confirmed by his own act (ver. 20); and

(3) that it would be completely established by his bringing about the end designed.

2. Desire of its fulfilment.

(1) As a matter of great importance.

(2) Deeply felt. "Only."

(3) Through the continued and gracious operation of God. "The Lord establish his word."

3. Obedience to its requirements. In order to its establishment, cooperation on their part was -

(1) Necessary. God's purposes and promises are fulfilled in connection with human endeavour, and not independently of it.

(2) Obligatory. It had been solemnly promised by them, and was a condition of the bestowment of the Divine blessing.

(3) Fully resolved upon. "His father used to open his breast when he was asleep and kiss it in prayer over him, as it is said of Origen's father, that the Holy Ghost would take possession thereof" ('Life of Sir Thomas Browne').

V. CONDUCTED TO THE HOUSE OF THE LORD. As soon as he was weaned (the first step of separate, independent life) "she took him up with her" (ver. 24), and "they brought the child to Eli" (ver. 25). Children are in their right place in the temple (Matthew 21:15, 16), and their praises are acceptable to the Lord. Even infants (sucklings) belong to the kingdom of heaven, and are capable of being blessed by him (Matthew 19:13). Therefore the "little ones" should be brought unto him (Matthew 18:14).

VI. DEDICATED TO A LIFE-LONG SERVICE (vers. 25-28), i.e. a continual (and not a limited or periodical) service at the sanctuary as a Levite, and an entire (and not a partial) service as a Nazarite. It was done

(1) with a burnt offering,

(2) accompanied by a thankful acknowledgment of the goodness of God in answer to prayer offered on the same spot several years previously, and

(3) in a full surrender of the child. "My child shall be entirely and absolutely thy servant. I give up all my maternal rights. I desire to be his mother only in so far as that he shall owe his existence to me; after that I give him up to thee" (Chrysostom). "For this child I prayed, and the Lord hath granted me my request which I asked of him; therefore I also make him one asked of the Lord all the days that he liveth; he is asked of the Lord" (Keil). So the vow was performed. And in the spirit of this dedication all parents should give back to God "the children which he hath given them."

VII. FOLLOWED BY PARENTAL PRAYERS AND THANKSGIVINGS. "He (Elkanah) worshipped the Lord there" (ver. 28). "And Hannah prayed, and said, My heart rejoiceth in the Lord." (1 Samuel 2:1). "And Elkanah went to Ramah to his house" (1 Samuel 2:11). The sacrifice made in learning the child behind was great, but it was attended, through Divine grace, with great joy. The more any one gives to God, the more God gives back to him in spiritual blessing. Hannah felt little anxiety or fear for the safety of her child, for she believed that he would "keep the feet of his saints" (1 Samuel 2:9). What holy influences ever rest on children whose parents pray for them "without ceasing!" and what multitudes have by such means been eternally saved! - D.

"The boy was vowed
Unto the temple service. By the hand
She led him, and her silent soul, the while,
Oft as the dewy laughter of his eye
Met her sweet serious glance, rejoiced to think
That aught so pure, so beautiful, was hers,
To bring before her God.

I give thee to thy God - the God that gave thee,
A wellspring of deep gladness to my heart!
And precious as thou art,
And pure as dew of Hermon, he shall have thee,
My own, my beautiful, my undefiled!
And thou shalt be his child.

Therefore, farewell! - I go, my soul may fail me,
As the stag panteth for the water brooks,
Yearning for thy sweet looks. -
But thou, my firstborn, droop not, nor bewail me!
Thou in the Shadow of the Rock shalt dwell,
The Rock of Strength. - Farewell!"

(Mrs. Hemans)

And when she had weaned him, she took him up with her, with three bullocks.
There is nothing more characteristic of Christianity than the tenderness and sympathy which it inspires. The Bible delights in domestic scenes; and it presents to us the pious mother in her anxieties, in her prayers, in her vows, and then in the dedication of the child obtained by prayer to the Lord her God.

I. The first question we purpose to consider is, AT WHAT AGE DO WE PROPOSE TO COMMENCE THE EDUCATION OF CHILDREN? And I answer, at the age at which Samuel was brought by Hannah to the Lord; "when she had weaned him" — when "the child was young." Now, the reason why we begin with children so early, even under the age of seven years, is important. The reason, therefore, why we begin so early is, because their depravity begins to manifest itself so early: the disorder begins early, and we must begin early to apply the remedy.

2. And, also, because habits are early formed.

3. Because, also, in early age they are most susceptible.

4. Also, because in this age juvenile depravity abounds.

5. But it may be asked, not only at what age do we begin, and why do we begin so early; but, how do we apply ourselves to the work? I answer, we seize on the natural vivacity and buoyancy of children, and aim to improve it to good purposes.

II. THE OBJECT WE HAVE ULTIMATELY IN VIEW. And that is, their dedication to God; we lend them to the Lord, that, as long as they live, they may be His.

1. Instruction in the elements of the Christian religion. The first thing that Eli would probably do with the young Samuel, would be to instruct him in the history of the Old Testament.

2. But there would be a danger, even in religious instruction, if the children were not early taught to deny themselves; if they were not duly disciplined, and made to practise self-government.

3. But beside this, due regard must be paid to the great sacrifice of the Christian system. I gather this from the first verse of the text. When Hannah took the young child to the house of God, she took with her "three bullocks."

4. There is the hope that these children will be brought to dedicate themselves to God all the days of their lives. "As long as he liveth, he shall be lent unto the Lord."

5. And then, all this must be accompanied by fervent prayer.

III. THE MOTIVES WE HAVE TO ENCOURAGE US. The first is gratitude, looking back to the past; the next is hope, looking forward to the future.

(D. Wilson.)

And the child was young.
In the Hebrew of this passage, the word translated "young" is the same as that translated "child," so that the literal rendering of the words is, "and the child was a child." This may have two meanings, both of which are very instructive. The first meaning is that the child was young in age, when he was dedicated to the Lord by his parents. Very likely the words before us, "the child was young," are put in as a sort of explanation, as much as to say: "He was entirely dependent upon his mother and father; so young that he could not have gone up to Shiloh by himself; if he could walk a little, it was all he could do; he could not have brought himself to Eli, or into the house of the Lord." But the words, "and the child was young," may bear another and perhaps a more satisfactory meaning. It would be high praise if it were said of a man, "and the man was a man"; we should understand by it that he was brave, outspoken, fearless, upright, possessed of all manly virtues. And when it is said, "the child was a child," perhaps we are to understand that the little Samuel had all childlike graces, was gentle, teachable, humble, submissive to his parents, and those set over him. And this may lead us to think how the young people of our own days have too often none of those graces, which should distinguish young people; the children are too often children no more — in forwardness, in conceit, in insubordination, in want of respect for parents and elders, they are like persons three or four times as old as themselves: a very bad sign of the times, and only matching too well with others which we see around us.

(Dean Goulburn.)

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