Child Dedication

1 Samuel 2:18-26

18But Samuel was ministering before the Lord—a boy wearing a linen ephod. 19Each year his mother made him a little robe and took it to him when she went up with her husband to offer the annual sacrifice. 20Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife, saying, “May the Lord give you children by this woman to take the place of the one she prayed for and gave to the Lord.” Then they would go home. 21And the Lord was gracious to Hannah; she gave birth to three sons and two daughters. Meanwhile, the boy Samuel grew up in the presence of the Lord.

22Now Eli, who was very old, heard about everything his sons were doing to all Israel and how they slept with the women who served at the entrance to the tent of meeting. 23So he said to them, “Why do you do such things? I hear from all the people about these wicked deeds of yours. 24No, my sons; the report I hear spreading among the Lord’s people is not good. 25If one person sins against another, God may mediate for the offender; but if anyone sins against the Lord, who will intercede for them?” His sons, however, did not listen to their father’s rebuke, for it was the Lord’s will to put them to death. 26And the boy Samuel continued to grow in stature and in favor with the Lord and with people.

Introduction

What effect does ‘Child Dedication’ have in a child’s life? Are you bothered that some children of spiritual leaders have rebellious attitudes?

A number of spiritual giants have rebellious children. Ham son of Noah, Ishmael son of Abraham, Esau son of Isaac, the sons of Jacob except for Joseph and Benjamin, some of the sons of Aaron the priest, the sons of Eli the priest, and some of David’s sons. Have they dedicated their children to the Lord?

These days, not only children but former pastors and church leaders claim to be atheists and totally left Christianity. ‘Child Dedication’ may not reflect the future behavior of a child but we should mediate and pray for them. Why would God allow such unpleasant behavior of children dedicated to the Lord?

Our part is to minister and mediate for children. The Lord has declared in Genesis 8:21, 21Every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood.

Most often, it is thought that children are innocent. Indeed, every child is innocent and knows nothing how to behave like adult but actions or thoughts of children are selfish. Imagine: A child who doesn’t know how to speak like adult, he cries hungry. Why would the child cry and not wait for his food? It’s because a child has no idea of ethical behavior acceptable to adults, just yet.

Most often, we consider things favorable to us, right? If you were stuck or caught in a traffic jam, and you see an opportunity to overtake the car ahead of you, would you overtake? Yes! Why would you not take an opportunity favorable to you? Is it selfishness if you are concerned about your personal interest?

When the sons of Eli did things favorable to them, why was it wicked? Their concern was selfishness. Their disrespectful practices were not ordered by the Lord. Their wicked lifestyle was very opposite to the exemplary lifestyle of Samuel who started ministering before the Lord at very young age.

1. Minister

18But Samuel was ministering before the Lord—a boy wearing a linen ephod. 19Each year his mother made him a little robe and took it to him when she went up with her husband to offer the annual sacrifice. 20Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife, saying, “May the Lord give you children by this woman to take the place of the one she prayed for and gave to the Lord.” Then they would go home. 21And the Lord was gracious to Hannah; she gave birth to three sons and two daughters. Meanwhile, the boy Samuel grew up in the presence of the Lord.

Samuel was blessed with privilege to minister before the Lord at a young age. He may have helped Eli the priest in many things. Eli may have assigned him minimal task, and he may have noticed the diligence of Samuel.

When Eli the priest blessed that the Lord may give Samuel’s parents, Elkanan and Hannah, children to take the place of Samuel, does it suggest that Eli had been pleased to have Samuel ministering before the Lord? When Eli prayed for Hannah, did the Lord give him what to pray for? Did Eli desire also for Hannah to have more children as obedient and good natured like Samuel?

Do you have another brother?

Have you heard this story, yet? There was a good-looking man who had a wholesome personality. Each time he visited his girlfriend, he also brought gifts to his future mother-in-law. A neighbor was very curious and observed closely the man’s behavior. Finally, she asked him, “Do you have a brother?” She was hoping that her daughter would be married to the man’s brother.

It says in Proverbs 22:1, 1 A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.

Truly wealth cannot buy respect. There are many wealthy people, children and adults who are not very respectful. People may admire wealthy people for their financial success but not necessarily respect them. To be wealthy and respected is a very rare but not impossible. Showing respect is godly behavior.

It says in 1 Peter 2:17, 17Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.

In Romans 13:7, 7Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.

The command to ‘show respect’ does not require us to respect only those who are worthy of respect or those who have earned our respect. God will deal with those who live a lifestyle not worthy of respect. And God will also deal with us if we fail to obey His command to ‘show respect.’

The sons of Eli disrespected the sacrificial offerings for the Lord, and God dealt with them tragically. Who can mediate for us if we disrespect the Lord?

The tragic end of the sons of Eli illustrated God’s punishment for wickedness.

2. Mediate

22Now Eli, who was very old, heard about everything his sons were doing to all Israel and how they slept with the women who served at the entrance to the tent of meeting. 23So he said to them, “Why do you do such things? I hear from all the people about these wicked deeds of yours. 24No, my sons; the report I hear spreading among the Lord’s people is not good. 25If one person sins against another, God may mediate for the offender; but if anyone sins against the Lord, who will intercede for them?” His sons, however, did not listen to their father’s rebuke, for it was the Lord’s will to put them to death. 26And the boy Samuel continued to grow in stature and in favor with the Lord and with people.

Eli the priest did the best parenting style he knew but his sons had been disrespectful to the Lord, and their character was reflected also in their behavior toward their father Eli. They have no regard for the position of their father as priest of the Lord, why? They have no regard of the Lord at first.

They also have no respect of others. Other Israelites were gossiping about their wicked behavior but they had no shame of what they were doing. They may have adapted to the deplorable lifestyle of Canaanite people who have no regard of the Lord. The Lord has actually warned the Israelites against such lifestyle.

The Lord has commanded in Leviticus 20:23, 23You must not live according to the customs of the nations I am going to drive out before you. Because they did all these things, I abhorred them.

Not everything that that sons of Eli did were detailed. But their father said that he heard no good things spreading among the Israelites. People were gossiping about the wickedness of Eli’s sons. Yet, they disregarded his rebuke.

The Lord warned in Leviticus 26:14-17, 14If you will not listen to me and carry out all these commands, 15 and if you reject my decrees and abhor my laws and fail to carry out all my commands and so violate my covenant, 16then I will do this to you: I will bring on you sudden terror, wasting diseases and fever that will destroy your sight and sap your strength. You will plant seed in vain, because your enemies will eat it. 17I will set my face against you so that you will be defeated by your enemies; those who hate you will rule over you, and you will flee even when no one is pursuing you.

The Lord promised great things for obedience to His commands but He sternly warned against disobedience to His commands. We will find out in the succeeding chapter what happened to the disobedient sons of Eli when they went to war against the Philistines. What happened to them may have been a warning for Samuel to live an exemplary lifestyle pleasing to the Lord.

To serve the Most High God is a great privilege but it is not a license to commit wickedness. By faith, we were given the right to become God’s children. A practical proof of faith in Christ is to be alive in Christ and died to sin.

It says in Romans 6:11-14, 11In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. 13Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness 14For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.

What is dead to sin? Sin cannot control us. What is alive in Christ? Christ’s righteousness prevails in us. We follow Christ and reject sin. Sin may pressure but pray that Christ will empower us to resist sin. May children learn this truth.

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