Valley - Israel, Hills of Galilee, Sea of Galilee
I wanted to share a little something from the scriptures that never fails to touch my heart whenever I'm reading through 1 Samuel. It's just one little word in chapter 7, but to understand it's significance you must know the background.
The story of Samuel begins with his mother Hannah. Unable to conceive and mocked by her husband's other wife, she was desperate to have a baby. During one of their yearly journeys to Shiloh to offer sacrifices and worship the Lord, Hannah went off for a private time of weeping and crying out to the Lord.
And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the Lord, and wept bitterly. And she vowed a vow, and said, O Lord of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a male child, then I will give him unto the Lord all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come upon his head. (1 Samuel 1:10-11)
The High Priest Eli, after ascertaining that Hannah was not drunk (his initial reaction to her behavior), blessed her and said,"...go in peace, and the God of Israel grant thee they petition that thou hast asked of Him." (1 Samuel 1:17)
And they (Elkanah, Hannah, his other wife Peninnah and her children) rose up in the morning early, and worshiped before the Lord, and returned, and came to their house at Ramah: and Elkanah knew Hannah, his wife, and the Lord remembered her. (1 Samual 1:19)
The Lord, who had shut Hannah's womb (1:5) now opened it and brought about conception (1:19).
When the child was weaned (probably at least 3 in that time and culture), Hannah took Samuel on the trip to Shiloh and left him there with Eli. For this child I prayed; and the Lord hath given me my petition which I asked of him. Therefore also I have lent him to the Lord; as long as he liveth he shall be lent to the Lord. And he worshiped the Lord there. (1 Samuel 1:27-28) And Hannah rejoiced! (1 Samuel 2:1-11)
I will step away from the initial direction of my post to make a confession. About ten years ago I was reading this story to my eldest son, and I was so convicted. Could I bow before my Lord and joyfully give Him my children? I spent much time on my knees over the next week as I wrestled with the issue of giving my children over to the Lord. I was afraid if I said they were His and He could do as He pleased that He would take them from me.
In my head, I knew all the Biblical answers, but in my heart, I feared. It was a trust issue. In the end, I was finally able to let go, knowing that God loves my children more than I ever could and knowing that He loves me more than I'll ever understand. Almost one year later our son Benjamin Samuel was stillborn. In His compassion, God had been preparing my heart for that journey.
And I will admit further that this giving away of my children unto the Lord is something that I have to revisit periodically. I have to search my soul and deepest heart to make sure that I'm not clinging to something I ought not to. Such are the beginnings of idolatry, and I want nothing ~ especially not a blessing from God ~ to come between my Lord and me. There are times when I realize that I need to let go again and confess to the Lord that I have not trusted Him enough.
Well, that went down a road I didn't expect ~ :o), but here is the sweet part. Oh, the tenderness of God!! Look at what He does.
And Samuel judged Israel all the days of his life. And he went from year to year in circuit to Bethel, and Gilgal, and Mizpah, and judged Israel in all those places. And his return was to Ramah; for there was his house, and there he judged Israel, and there he built an altar unto the Lord. (1 Samuel 7:15-17)
See that one word, Ramah? When Samuel grew to be a man and built his house, he did it in Ramah. Ramah was the town his parents lived in. (see 1 Samuel 1:19 posted above). Hannah gave Samuel to the Lord, and the Lord gave him back to her! Is He not an awesome God? We can never out give the Lord!
I feel like I cannot end this post without pointing out 1 Samuel 2:21. And the Lord visited Hannah, so that she conceived, and bore three sons and two daughters. . . God is a tender, compassionate and generous God!