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Dec 14 – Dedicated to God

But Samuel was ministering before the Lord—a boy wearing a linen ephod.

1 Samuel 2

What happens when we dedicate our children to the Lord? 

When one recent Sunday we celebrated the birth of a child to members of the congregation, I was moved by the family’s obvious joy and gratitude to God.

Likewise, when Samuel was born, at a dark time in Israel’s history, his mother gave him a name meaning “Because I asked the Lord for him.” When he was only three years old, she took him to the house of the Lord and gave him back to God.   

But Hannah did more than hand over her precious child. She dedicated him to God and to God’s service. “So now I give him to the Lord, for his whole life will be given over to the Lord.” He would never return home but would grow up in the Lord’s house under the watchful eye of the high priest Eli. 

At Samuel’s dedication service Hannah prayed, beginning, “My heart rejoices in the Lord; in the Lord my horn (strength) is lifted high.” Her prayer extols God’s power and God’s justice. 

But in nearly the next breath we read, “Eli’s sons were wicked men….”  What in the world could link Hannah’s praise to the bald statement that the two sons of Eli “have no regard for the Lord”? 

As we read on. Eli’s sons, Hophni and Phinehas, are found sinful in thought and action. They refuse to repent when Eli confronts them. Meanwhile, the child dedicated to God “worshiped the Lord, and “ministered before the Lord,” and “continued to grow in stature and favor with the Lord and with men.” 

Samuel ministered so dutifully that he became “a boy wearing a linen ephod.” An ephod was worn by the high priest. It was made of yellow, blue, purple and red yarns and ornamented with onyx and gold. Picture a child wearing such a priestly garment! 

While Samuel carried out grown-up responsibilities, Hophni and Phinehas kept sinning until God vowed that the two men would die on the same day, adding, “I will raise up for myself a faithful priest, who will do according to what is in my heart and mind.”

As we know, Samuel was that faithful servant of God. 

And it’s a sample of what happens when we dedicate, not only our lives, but the lives of our children, to the Lord.  

Merciful and just God, thank you for our children, who are really yours. Guide and protect them, and in your grace give families wisdom to dedicate children to you. Amen.

Susan Spencer-Smith

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