From a human standpoint, it’s hard to understand how Hannah could bring herself to fulfill this vow she made to the Lord, this vow to give her son back to Him, to have Samuel raised in the Lord’s house instead of in her home and in her arms. It’s hard to imagine how a woman who has struggled with barrenness for years could finally experience the joy of holding a child in her arms, nursing him, singing to him, cherishing him, and then just hand him over. Certainly, she made a vow, but especially for those of us who live in a world where we think our vows only last as long as the emotions behind them, it’s almost impossible to comprehend.
But everything starts to make a bit more sense when we consider our reading from Luke and the strange happenings in the temple when the infant Jesus is presented there. Once again, we have a miraculously conceived child, born of a womb that should not have been fruitful. And through the words of Simeon and Anna, Mary is reminded that, like Samuel, Jesus has been set apart, born to perform a special work for the Lord. In other words, he hasn’t been born to remain in her arms but to pour out the gifts of God upon His people. Samuel was set apart to show the way of the Messiah. Jesus was born to be that Messiah.
And so, in all of this, Hannah’s incomprehensible faithfulness to her vow makes quite a bit more sense. God had promised His people that one day, the seed of a certain woman would bring salvation to the world, undoing the work of the Fall. God Himself would provide the sacrifice, our Lord had told Hannah through the ram sacrificed in the place of Isaac. And so Hannah had the strength to give her son back to the Lord because God had sworn to give His Son to her.
And He gave that Son to you as well. Out of love for you, God sent for His only begotten Son, born of woman, born under the law to fulfill the law for you. Jesus Christ left His Father’s side and entered this world of pain and misery. He was raised in the temple of sin in order to tear down that temple with His righteousness and give you the right to live with Him in His kingdom forever. And now He has.
Because of Jesus, Hannah and Samuel are reunited in His Kingdom. Because of Jesus, Mary can hold her Son forever without weeping. And in the same way, you and all your loved ones who belong to Christ can and will stand beside each other forever because you will forever rest in the arms of the God who gave His Son to you and made you His own.