Summary: Baptism,be it infant or adult,is giving back to God what He has given to us.
(I. Samuel 1:3-11)
One thing I have learned in my ministry over the years is that there are many different reasons why people want to be baptized. Having just baptized young Javen, I thought it would be a good time to look again at the story of Hannah to see how that story relates to the biblical meaning of baptism.
As the story is told Elkanah had two wives, Hannah and Peninnah. Hannah was barren with no children and Peninnah had sons and daughters. Each year the family would go up to Shiloh to make their annual sacrifice to God and to worship. Elkanah would give each family member a portion of the sacrifice to offer to God. Elkanah’s love for Hannah must have been greater for her than
Peninnah because Peninnah tormented Hannah to the point that Hannah became so desperate to have children that on this particular year at worship in Shiloh she went into the temple and prayed to the point of tears and anguish that if God would give her a son, she would give the boy to the Lord all the days of his life.
The Lord answered her prayer with a “yes”. A year later Hannah bore a son and called him Samuel. True to her promise to the Lord when the child was
weaned at age three when the family went up to Shiloh, she gave Samuel to the temple priest, Eli. Samuel grew up under the teaching and instruction of Eli and became Israel’s first great prophet of the Lord.
Any mother here knows or can identify with Hannah in the wanting and bearing of a child, but it is this giving the child to God that I want to emphasize.
Hannah could have easily rationalized her way out of her promise by telling herself that I was just too distraught at the time with Peninnah ridiculing and harassing me about not having a child that I didn’t realize or mean what I said
or “I just can’t do it; yes, I told God I would give Him the child but now
that the time has come; this is my child and I love him too much to give him to anybody.
If that were to happen today many friends of Hannah would likely say
we understand, Hannah, you’re right Samuel is your child and you have
the right as the parent to keep and raise that child.
But such a sin did not occur, the moment that child came out of the womb, Hannah knew whose child it was- there was never a question or doubt in her mind. And it was not as if she would never see her son again; each year
the family continued to go to the Temple at Shiloh and Hannah would bring gifts and/or make clothes for him as she watched Samuel grow up into a man of God.
Best of all she knew what she had done by keeping her promise to the Lord, was right and good; she carried no guilt or shame or regret in her heart.
Her giving to the Lord was done freely and the rewards to her were far greater than she could have imagined; for she went on to have 5 more
children, three sons and two daughters. Listen to part of Hannah’s prayer of thanksgiving to God when she had given Samuel to Eli:
My heart finds joy in the Lord. My head is liftedto the Lord. My mouth mocks my enemies. I rejoice because You (Lord) saved me. There is no one holy like the Lord. There is no one but You O Lord. There is no rock like our God. (I.Sam.2:1-2)
The story may sound a bit extreme something out of the past when people did radical things to win God’s favor which seems out of step and impractical to us today.
But my point is:
For the Christian be it today or yesterday or tomorrow, Hannah has shown to us what every Christian is called to do if he or she is to be a follower of Jesus Christ
and that is to surrender our life to God, as we say in the prayer not my will but thine be done – thy kingdom come thy will be done.
Once again a mother has come into the Temple of God and has made a promise:
Do you desire to have this child baptized into the Christian faith and do
you promise with God’s help by your life and teaching to lead the child
toward an understanding of this faith and into the service of Jesus Christ?
If the person were an adult being baptized after the questions of faith comes
this question: Will you then obediently keep God’s holy will and commandments and walk in the same all the days of your life?