Bread – Lent

June 16, 2015


Readings for Tuesday, June 16, 2015, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: 1 Sam. 1:21-2:11; Acts 1:15-26; Luke 20:19-26; Psalm 78

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In today’s reading from 1 Samuel, we find Hannah with the child Samuel who has not yet been weaned. Hannah was barren, but the Lord heard her prayer and brought her Samuel. “Samuel” means “I have asked for him from the Lord.” 1 Sam. 1:20

This is where our reading begins. Hannah is breast-feeding her baby and tells her husband that she will to up to the house of the Lord (then at Shiloh) once he is weaned.

At Shiloh, she (with baby Samuel) go to the chief priest Eli and says “For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition that I made to Him. Therefore, I have lent him (Samuel) to the Lord. As long as he lives, he is lent to the Lord.” 1 Sam. 1:27-28

Before we move on, let’s think for a minute about what happened. There is a tendency with these shorter narratives to burn right through them. In literally a few sentences, Hannah went from barren to bearing a male child, her first, to letting him breast feed from her (firmly establishing the mother-son relationship if it wasn’t before), and then “lending” him to the Lord. We know that Samuel stayed with Eli and became a prophet of God; therefore, the “loan” has more elements of permanency than a “loan” would typically imply.

What a tremendous sacrifice! How heartbroken must she have been to give up her just weaned son for the Lord! Most people would have been broken, but she was not. Immediately following her “loan” she begins a prayer with this – “My heart exults in the Lord; my strength is exalted in the Lord …” 1 Sam. 2:1

Now I started this Bread off with the word “sacrifice” but changed it to “lent” for a reason. I was impressed by how sacrificial her gift was compared to my meager, self-centered, leftover offerings to God, and I was ready to talk about that, but something bothered me about the word “lent.” I could have sworn that that was not the word I had seen in earlier readings. So I looked at an NASB Bible, and sure enough the word used was “dedicate,” which is what I remembered and is what made sense to me. “Dedication” has a more permanent air to it than “lent” and therefore “fits” the passage better. However, the word “dedicate” was footnoted in my NASB and the footnote said “Literally, ‘lent’.” So the direct and best translation is “lent” and not “dedicate.”

This got me more curious so I looked up the Hebrew definition. The Hebrew word in its primary sense means “To inquire, to ask, to entreat, to beg, to borrow, to ask for oneself, to consult.” (OT word definition 7592 as referenced in Hebrew-Greek Study Bible, NASB, Ed. Zodhiates (AMG 1990)).

So the “lending” of Samuel to the Lord by Hannah is a form of inquiry prayer, of asking God for help or wisdom or knowledge.

How the Word ties together! We cannot effectively pray until we are ready to sacrifice ourselves by “lending” ourselves to God’s will and His work. We cannot effectively worship until we have first “lent” ourselves to God. In order to receive answer to prayer, we need to be ready to give up those things which bind us – wealth, power, position, self.

When we are ready to give up what we most want, we are ready to receive what we most need.

Hannah did that. Will we?

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© 2015 GBF

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