The Birth of Samuel (1:1–20)
Hannah Dedicates Samuel (1:21–28)
21–23 The annual sacrifice for which Elkanah took his family to the tabernacle was probably the Feast of Tabernacles (Feast of Ingathering) at the end of the harvest season (Exodus 23:16; Leviticus 23:33–43). Elkanah had likely made a vow at one of the earlier festivals, which he would then have to fulfill during the Feast of Tabernacles (verse 21). Hannah stayed home on this occasion and Elkanah agreed with her decision (verse 23). He only hoped that the Lord would make good his word—probably the word He had spoken through Eli (verse 17), in which the Lord’s acceptance of Samuel as His servant was implied.
24–28 When Samuel was weaned, Hannah brought him to the tabernacle, together with a bull and a large amount of flour and wine for offerings (verse 24). Then Hannah gave Samuel over to the Lord for life, as she had vowed (verse 11). And [Samuel] worshiped the LORD there (verse 28).
The Lord had answered Hannah’s prayer. But this doesn’t mean that the Lord will answer all our prayers according to our wishes. The Lord answers our prayers according to “His wishes”—in His way and in His time. If He had given Hannah a son earlier, she would not have dedicated him to the Lord. Believing prayer is extremely important and God always responds to it in one way or another; but God also overrules our requests in order to work out His greater purposes. And those purposes are always good for those who put their FAITH in Him (Romans 8:28).
The story of Hannah reveals something else: God is pleased when we offer to Him our most cherished possessions (see Genesis 22:15–18). Hannah wasn’t trying to “bribe” or “manipulate” God when she vowed to give her son to Him. She was acknowledging that the children God gives belong to Him in the first place. Furthermore, by offering her son to God she was ensuring that his life would be of greatest possible use to Him and the greatest possible blessing to herself and to her nation. This is always what happens when we give our talents, our possessions, our children, and ourselves to God: He is able to best utilize the things we offer up to Him.
Finally, the story of Hannah teaches us this: we may not be ready to receive from God our greatest desires until we first agree in our heart to give them up to Him. When we have truly placed our desires in His hands, then He knows that when He grants those desires they will be surrendered to His will.