1Samuel 1-4 begins the story of the kings of Israel. Samuel is the the judge and prophet God would use to anoint the first king. Samuel - whose name means "heard by God" (in Hebrew the name would be pronounced something like...Shemuel), is the first man in a long time to hear God speak.
Shemuel's name carries several meanings. Hannah gave him that name in response to his birth, for she had prayed to God for a son. The oppressed and hungery and impovershed were also crying out to God, and Shemuel is the answer. And little Shemuel also heard the LORD, and answered, "Here I am; you called me."
Hannah had prayed for many years for a son, and finally the LORD opened up her womb. Hannah was so grateful that she dedicated little Shemuel back to God - literally. Shemuel would grow up serving in the temple, and Hannah would go on to give birth to three more sons and two daughters. Once Shemuel was weaned, Hannah took him up to Eli the priest at the temple to serve...how hard that must have been to give up her three year old son, who would be bright enough to know that Mommy is not coming back tomorrow. But each year she lovingly made a little robe for him. When he first put it on it probably hung low to the ground, around his ankles, and by the time she came back the next year it was below his knees. And it was in deep gratitude that she made the robe, not bitterness.
Amazing. Hannah didn't know how her extraordinary gift would be used by God in the great history of Israel. But she did know how it important it was to her to give a generous gift to God in grateful response to his beautiful gift to her.
What's the extraordinary gift that we've always wanted to give to God, but haven't?