So. We are looking at this marvelous book of I Samuel. We have seen some of the story of Hannah, her barrenness, and her anguished prayer for a son. The Lord granted her request. In this last section of chapter 1, we see that Elkanah goes up for the annual sacrifice, but Hannah stays behind, promising to take the boy and give him over to the Lord after he is weaned (v. 22).
Then Elkanah says the six scariest words any man can say to any woman: “Do what seems best to you”! [Just kidding]. I wonder what he means by “only may the Lord make good his word” (v. 23)? [That question I’ll have to think more about].
The World Health Organization reports that the average weaning age is 4.2 years worldwide at present, however the weaning age has declined in modern times and the weaning age would have been higher in the past.
This is supported by the book of II Maccabees, 7:27 wherein a mother casually mentions giving milk to her son for three years which would be consistent with Samuel being about 3-5 years of age when he was dedicated at the temple and consistent with present and historical averages.
If you further read the text in 1 Samuel 2:5, AFTER Hannah leaves Samuel with Eli and when she is praising the Lord she says, “She who was barren has borne seven children, but she who has many sons pines away.” Hannah is referring to herself in the first part of that sentence, so by the time she committed Samuel to the Lord as a servant of the priest (which was the official title), she had seven children (including Samuel). Technically, if she got pregnant immediately after she finished her six weeks of healing after birth which made her unclean in that day, it was 6 years and 1 month old. Not-so-ironically, research has shown that children are essentially who they are going to be and have core beliefs intact by 6 years of age. (https://hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/8951/how-old-was-samuel-when-hannah-took-him-to-the-temple)
At any rate, Hannah keeps her promise to the Lord [note that the bull she brings to sacrifice is three years old]. She brings the boy to Eli and reminds him that she is the one who prayed beside him for a child — “and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him” (v. 27).
Hannah then turns over her preschooler to Eli the priest, saying, “So now I give him to the Lord. For his whole life he will be given over to the Lord.” And Eli worshiped the Lord there. (v. 28).
What a marvelous example of keeping one’s vow before the Lord! May your life — and mine — be a life filled with giving ourselves over to the Lord!