We all read in Scriptures about how Hannah made a vow and dedicated Samuel to the LORD at a very young age. While the Biblical authors narrate it in positive light, looking deeper into the law, scriptures and what Jesus taught, we can conclude Hannah was wrong to dedicate and leave young Samuel in the tabernacle.
The story of Samuel’s dedication is mentioned in the book of 1st Samuel 1st chapter. Long story short, Hannah was childless who made a vow to dedicate the child and prayed to God. God answered and she dedicated the child to the LORD. Elkanah lived in Ramah and came yearly to Shiloh to worship the LORD. This means, Hannah will be able to see her 3-4 year son only once a year and was doing the LORD’s service as a child.
Dedicating children in the law?
Every first issue of the womb of all flesh, whether man or animal, which they offer to the LORD, shall be yours; nevertheless the firstborn of man you shall surely redeem, and the firstborn of unclean animals you shall redeem.Numbers 18:15
Samuel, being the first born who opened the womb for Hannah must be redeemed. The intention of this law is to show how all first born males are God’s anyway and how He wants them to be redeemed.
“This is what applies to the Levites: from twenty-five years old and upward they shall enter to perform service in the work of the tent of meeting. But at the age of fifty years they shall retire from service in the work and not work any more.Numbers 8:24-25
God cares about children and also old men. He doesn’t have any interest in child-labor, by clearly mentioning the service age for His work which is above 20 and retirement at age 50.
Hannah is selfish in her vow
She made a vow and said, “O LORD of hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your maidservant and remember me, and not forget Your maidservant, but will give Your maidservant a son, then I will give him to the LORD all the days of his life, and a razor shall never come on his head.”I Samuel 1:11
Hannah was afflicted by Peninnah and she prayed to God because of her affliction. So she made a vow to give back to God if He gives Hannah a child. Was she asking God for a child so that she can grow him in the LORD? Nope, she just want her name to be cleared as being not-childless so that her affliction from Peninnah would end. In order to achieve this, she was happy to give away her child to grow alone in the tabernacle of the LORD. This kind of sending children to temple is only found in pagan customs. This is identical to what Jephthah did to her daughter as we can read in Judges 11.
The LORD God never asked for children to be dedicated for them to work in His temple or tabernacle.
As per Jesus, vows are evil
“Again, you have heard that the ancients were told, ‘You shall not make false vows, but shall fulfill your vows to the Lord.’ But I say to you, make no oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is the footstool of His feet, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. Nor shall you make an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. But let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no’; anything beyond these is of evil.Matthew 5:33-27
As we have seen, Hannah’s vows are against the heart of God and undoing everything what God intends in the law for selfish gains. She not only destroyed her son’s childhood by forcing to work at a very young age, she also never gave him a mother’s love a child would expect – all of this to end the bitter words of Peninnah. We can clearly see how evil these vows are. This is one of the reason Christ forbids His disciples from proclaiming any vows and branding them as from evil.
There is no dedication of children in the temple in the law (i.e, leaving them there) without redeeming. These kind of customs are of pagan. Hannah is selfish in her vows. She was happy to give away her son to grow alone in the tabernacle of the LORD just to clear her name as being not-childless. Finally, Jesus puts an end to all these vows to His disciples, stating anything beyond yes or no is of evil. Hence, Hannah’s dedication of Samuel is wrong.