Summary: A Child Dedication Sunday sermon.
Children: Given to Us to Give Back to God
TEXT: Psalm 127:3: – “Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.”
Illus. – In this life there are certain important events which we often refer to as “rites of passage”—which are basically important first experiences in our lives.
• There’s when you went off to school for the first time.
• Then when you turned 16, you went to the local Driver’s License office to take your written test and then your driver’s test, and if you passed them both, they took your photo and put it on a card, laminated it and handed you your driver’s license. – That’s one of the most momentous rites of passage in our lives because it’s the first time we really start to feel grown up as a child.
• There’s the first time you voted; your first car; your first date; your first kiss; your wedding day; and the birth of your first child.
Rites of passage. And then as your kids grow up, you get to go through each of those rites of passage again with each of your children.
Today is a very important rite of passage: The day several parents dedicate their children to the Lord.
We’ve already seen the biblical basis for child dedication during the ceremony itself. I mentioned in passing the story of Elkannah and Hannah who gave their son, Samuel, back to the Lord, and now I’d like to elaborate on that story a little: Hannah had been distraught because she had not been able to have a baby.
One day at the altar, she prayed earnestly with tears of anguish and longing that God would open up her womb and give her a child. She promised God that if He would give her a child, she would give him back to the Lord. So troubled was she—mumbling this prayer at the altar almost in an almost uncontrollable state of distress and tears running down her face—that Eli, the priest, rebuked her for being drunk at the altar. But she responded by pouring her heart out to the man of God, who, after hearing the cry of her soul, gave her a blessing instead of a rebuke.
By the time Hannah had left the temple, she was at peace with the Lord. Whether God gave her a child or not, she was at peace with God’s will in her life.
Well, the Bible says God did open up her womb and she did have a child. When it was time to dedicate Samuel to the Lord, Elkannah talked to Hannah about it, but she said, no, she didn’t want to dedicate him to the Lord just yet. She asked to wait until she had weaned him because she meant to do exactly what she had pledged to the Lord, that if He would give her a child, she would literally give him back to the Lord to live and grow up and serve in the temple itself.
And just as she had promised, when she had weaned him, she and Elkanah brought Samuel to the temple where Eli slew a bullock in accordance with the Law of Moses. At this point, Eli did not remember who she was. But then she said this in 1 Samuel 1:26-28 “…Oh my lord, as thy soul liveth, my lord, I am the woman that stood by thee here, praying unto the LORD. 27 For this child I prayed; and the LORD hath given me my petition which I asked of him: 28 Therefore also I have lent him to the LORD; as long as he liveth he shall be lent to the LORD. And he worshipped the LORD there.”
Now let that passage be a counterpoint to our text: “Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.” Children in God’s estimation are not a burden. They’re A HERITAGE and they’re a REWARD. In other words, they are special GIFTS to us from God.
Now let me share with you three truths about these little gifts from the Lord:
I. FIRST, THEY’RE TO BE GIVEN BACK TO GOD.
Now here’s the teaching of these verses: God gives us children as gifts of His grace; but God is honored when we trustingly give them back to Him for His glory. Here is Samuel, this very special gift of God given to Hannah as an answer to the deepest prayer of her heart, and she gives Samuel back to the Lord.
This reminds me of the story of Isaac, who was Abraham’s son of promise. God had promised Abraham to bless his seed as the sands of the sea in number and as the stars in the sky. Well, by the time Abraham was 99 years old and Sarah was 90, it didn’t seem like there was much chance of her having a baby. I think by this time they had sold the baby crib and redecorated the nursery for another use due to this little thing called “the change of life.”