Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Born into Servitude

[Hannah] said... For this boy I prayed, and the Lord has given me my petition which I asked of Him. So I have also dedicated him to the Lord; as long as he lives he is dedicated to the Lord.” And he worshiped the Lord there.
I Samuel 1:26-28
Hannah was a childless woman in a culture that measured a woman's worth by the number of her children. Worse than that, her husband had two wives. Though he favored Hannah more, his other wife had many children, and taunted Hannah with that fact. In despair, Hannah turned to the Lord for help vowing that if He would give her a son, she would give him to God's service all the days of his life. In today's verses Hannah takes her son, Samuel, who has now been weaned off her breast, to the temple and gives him over to the Lord's service. Samuel must have been a very young boy, maybe only two or three years old. From that time on he lived in the temple and served the Lord there.
Normally a child being born into servitude would be a reason for us to weep, but this particular servant gives us an example to follow. Samuel must have seen himself as belonging to God. He was God's servant in a literal sense of the phrase. "As long as he lived, he was dedicated to the Lord."
How would your life be different if you viewed yourself the same way? Now, I doubt that your parents made a vow to God when they were trying to get pregnant, but in a very real sense you belong to God as well. You may choose to rebel against Him, but He owns the cattle on a thousand hills and He owns you and me as well. What if you accepted that fact and lived your life accordingly? What if you were dedicated to the Lord as long as you lived? What if you decided that you wouldn't live your life to make yourself happy, or be financially secure, or even change the world, but that you would live as God's servant doing always and only what He called you to do? Would your life look very different?
For further reading...
  • Samuel's life points us to another man who did live like this. Normally we don't think of Samuel as pointing forward to Jesus in significant ways, but the writer of the gospel of Luke must see a parallel because he seems to allude to I Samuel 2:26 ("And the boy Samuel continued to grow in stature and in favor with the Lord and with people") in Luke 2:52 as he summarizes Jesus' childhood ("And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man"). Indeed, as we look closer we see that Samuel reminds us of Jesus in several ways. Both entered this world through a miraculous birth. Both came after corrupt religious leaders and led the people of Israel back to true religion. Both were "faithful priests who did what was in God's heart and mind" (I Samuel 2:35). And both were servants of God from birth.
  • Luke 17:7-10- Consider this high expectation Jesus places on His followers as servants.
  • I Samuel 2:18-20 endearingly records that Hannah made Samuel a new robe each year and brought it to him when they made the yearly sacrifice. Though Samuel did not live with his mother, it is clear she loved him dearly.

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