We find the description of the dedication of two children in the Old Testament, a girl and a boy. When parents dedicate a child to the Lord, they have the responsibility of rearing that child properly. They need to set the right example. They need to instruct the child in things of God.
I. JEPHTHAH AND HIS DAUGHTER.
And Jephthah vowed a vow unto the LORD, and said, If thou shalt without fail deliver the children of Ammon into mine hands, Then it shall be, that whatsoever cometh forth of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the children of Ammon, shall surely be the LORD’S, and I will offer it up for a burnt offering. So Jephthah passed over unto the children of Ammon to fight against them; and the LORD delivered them into his hands. And he smote them from Aroer, even till thou come to Minnith, even twenty cities, and unto the plain of the vineyards, with a very great slaughter. Thus the children of Ammon were subdued before the children of Israel. And Jephthah came to Mizpeh unto his house, and, behold, his daughter came out to meet him with timbrels and with dances: and she was his only child; beside her he had neither son nor daughter. And it came to pass, when he saw her, that he rent his clothes, and said, Alas, my daughter! thou hast brought me very low, and thou art one of them that trouble me: for I have opened my mouth unto the LORD, and I cannot go back. And she said unto him, My father, if thou hast opened thy mouth unto the LORD, do to me according to that which hath proceeded out of thy mouth; forasmuch as the LORD hath taken vengeance for thee of thine enemies, even of the children of Ammon. And she said unto her father, Let this thing be done for me: let me alone two months, that I may go up and down upon the mountains, and bewail my virginity, I and my fellows. And he said, Go. And he sent her away for two months: and she went with her companions, and bewailed her virginity upon the mountains. And it came to pass at the end of two months, that she returned unto her father, who did with her according to his vow which he had vowed: and she knew no man. And it was a custom in Israel, That the daughters of Israel went yearly to lament the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite four days in a year. (Judges 11:30-40)
- I am sure that Jephthah never thought his daughter would be the first to come to meet him. He probably thought an animal or servant would come to meet him.
- Nowhere in the Bible do you find God requiring or accepting a human being as a burnt offering, in fact, He condemned it.
And they have built the high places of Tophet, which is in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire; which I commanded them not, neither came it into my heart.
- This is the only passage I know of that seems to imply such an offering to God.
- According to Hebrew scholars the word “vau” can be translated “and” or “or”.
- When we read our text carefully it is possible that the last part of verse 31 should read, “shall surely be the Lord’s, or I will offer it up for a burnt offering”.
- She was evidently a godly girl and willing to perform her father’s vow. v. 36
- Why would she bewail her virginity if she were going to die. v. 37
- When she returned, it talks of her never knowing a man, not dying. v. 39
- When someone dedicated a person to God, they could not be redeemed.
Notwithstanding no devoted thing, that a man shall devote unto the LORD of all that he hath, both of man and beast, and of the field of his possession, shall be sold or redeemed: every devoted thing is most holy unto the LORD. (Leviticus 27:28)
- So in reality, she probably served in some capacity concerning the Tabernacle, for the Temple had not yet been built.
NOTE: Every time the Bible mentions dancing something undesirable happens. v. 34
- It is interesting to note that in Judges we have the dedication of a girl to God, in Ruth we have the dedication of a woman to God and in I Samuel We have the dedication of a boy who became a great man of God.
II. HANNAH AND SAMUEL.
So Hannah rose up after they had eaten in Shiloh, and after they had drunk. Now Eli the priest sat upon a seat by a post of the temple of the LORD. And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the LORD, and wept sore. And she vowed a vow, and said, O LORD of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the LORD all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come upon his head. And it came to pass, as she continued praying before the LORD, that Eli marked her mouth. Now Hannah, she spake in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard: therefore Eli thought she had been drunken. And Eli said unto her, How long wilt thou be drunken? put away thy wine from thee. And Hannah answered and said, No, my lord, I am a woman of a sorrowful spirit: I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but have poured out my soul before the LORD. Count not thine handmaid for a daughter of Belial: for out of the abundance of my complaint and grief have I spoken hitherto. Then Eli answered and said, Go in peace: and the God of Israel grant thee thy petition that thou hast asked of him. And she said, Let thine handmaid find grace in thy sight. So the woman went her way, and did eat, and her countenance was no more sad. And they rose up in the morning early, and worshipped before the LORD, and returned, and came to their house to Ramah: and Elkanah knew Hannah his wife; and the LORD remembered her. Wherefore it came to pass, when the time was come about after Hannah had conceived, that she bare a son, and called his name Samuel, saying, Because I have asked him of the LORD. And the man Elkanah, and all his house, went up to offer unto the LORD the yearly sacrifice, and his vow. But Hannah went not up; for she said unto her husband, I will not go up until the child be weaned, and then I will bring him, that he may appear before the LORD, and there abide for ever. And Elkanah her husband said unto her, Do what seemeth thee good; tarry until thou have weaned him; only the LORD establish his word. So the woman abode, and gave her son suck until she weaned him. And when she had weaned him, she took him up with her, with three bullocks, and one ephah of flour, and a bottle of wine, and brought him unto the house of the LORD in Shiloh: and the child was young. And they slew a bullock, and brought the child to Eli. And she said, Oh my lord, as thy soul liveth, my lord, I am the woman that stood by thee here, praying unto the LORD. For this child I prayed; and the LORD hath given me my petition which I asked of him: Therefore also I have lent him to the LORD; as long as he liveth he shall be lent to the LORD. And he worshipped the LORD there. (I Samuel 1:9-28)
- Hannah kept her vow, Samuel became a great prophet and served God his whole life. v. 27-28
- When we give a child unto God, we must see to it that he is properly trained.
- As they grow we should look after their other needs as well – Hannah made Samuel a coat every year.
Moreover his mother made him a little coat, and brought it to him from year to year, when she came up with her husband to offer the yearly sacrifice. (I Samuel 2:19)
- God blessed Hannah with more children because of her performing her vow.
And the LORD visited Hannah, so that she conceived, and bare three sons and two daughters. And the child Samuel grew before the LORD. (I Sam. 2:21)
- First we should dedicate ourselves to the Lord.
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. (Romans 12:1-2)
- Then we should train them in the ways of the Lord.
Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6)
- That does not mean every dedicated child will turn out right, but it is more likely.
- When we fail to follow through with our part of preparing a dedicated child to serve God, that child may become the source of God’s chastening in our lives.
But if ye will not do so, behold, ye have sinned against the LORD: and be sure your sin will find you out. (Numbers 32:23)
- But what a joy and blessing to see a child who will commit himself to the Lord because of his parents dedicating him to God.