1 Samuel 1:21-24 21 And the man Elkanah, and all his house, went up to offer unto the LORD the yearly sacrifice, and his vow. 22 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. 23 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. 24 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.
Verses 21-22 – Back in the day, it was not uncommon for mothers to nurture their children for a long time – sometimes even up to three years. If this was the case, it begs the question as to why Hannah would wait up to three years before she would fulfil her vow, and take Samuel to the tabernacle. Two possible reasons spring to mind.
The first reason could have been spiritual. Israel is still being an obstinate people. Disobeying the LORD. Doing as they would. Ignoring the commandments and statutes and laws and edicts of the LORD. They were wanton. The behaviour and reports coming forth about the conduct of Eli’s two sons did not help the situation either.
Could it be that since it appeared as though Eli had lost all control over his two sons, unable to discipline them and get them to turn from their wicked and evil ways and to serve the LORD with all their heart and might and strength, that the LORD spoke to Hannah’s heart and asked her to nurture and bring up her son Samuel in the fear and admonitions of the LORD from an early age? It is well documented, that most of a child’s learning – solid foundations takes place from birth to about five years old. An awful amount of learning also gets instilled within the first 18 months of a child’s life too. I submit, that it is possible the LORD prompted Hannah to teach Samuel the Word of God, and the ways of the LORD, and the LORD would hasten His Word to perform that which he the small lad had heard. Whatever his mother taught him, the LORD would bring it back to his remembrance.
The second reason could have been for physiological reasons. Mother’s breast milk is literally impossible to duplicate with modern medicine. The formula that we have today, cannot get anywhere near the hormones that mother’s milk possesses. Man simply cannot make a synthetic copy of it.
There are a number of benefits associated with breast feeding.
Breast milk gives your baby everything he/she needs to thrive.
Here are just a few of the ways that breastfeeding is best for your baby:
It may reduce your baby’s risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), also known as cot death.
It helps your baby to fight infection. Breast milk contains antibodies that help to protect your baby against tummy bugs (gastroenteritis), colds, chest infections and ear infections.
Breastfeeding plants good (probiotic) bacteria, which can fight inflammation, in your baby’s digestive system.
It helps you and your baby to feel close to one another and may help to prevent postnatal depression (PND).
It prepares your baby for different tastes. Unlike formula milk, the flavour of breast milk can change according to what you’ve eaten, so your baby may be less of a fussy eater when he’s/she’s weaning.
It can be a great comfort to your baby when he’s/she’s older and he’s/she’s too ill to eat, but still able to breastfeed. Breast milk can also help your baby to recover from illness more quickly.
Continuing to breastfeed your baby once he/she started solids at around six months may protect him/her against developing food allergies.
Exclusively breastfeeding for at least six months can protect babies against childhood leukaemia.
It can protect him/her long-term health. Breastfed babies may be less likely to become obese or develop diabetes as adults.
As well as the antibodies that are already in your breast milk, your body will make new antibodies as soon as you are exposed to an infection.
When your baby catches a cold, you’ll pick up the cold virus from him/her. Your immune system gets to work, making antibodies to fight the virus. Your antibodies transfer to your milk, ready to help your baby fight the infection next time he/she has a breastfeed.
Your baby is likely to recover more quickly from illnesses throughout his/her first year if you breastfeed exclusively for the first six months. This may motivate you if you’re thinking about stopping breastfeeding, or switching to mixed feeding.
Breastfeeding may also reduce the risk of your baby wheezing in early childhood and developing severe eczema.
Breast milk contains long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, which are essential for helping your baby’s brain to develop.
Breastfeeding is the healthiest choice for you, too. It may help you to lose weight and keep it off. It reduces your risk of type 2 diabetes, breast cancer and ovarian cancer in later life.
In the short term, breastfeeding can prevent ovulation, so you may be free of periods for a while, too.
Two practical benefits of breastfeeding are that it’s free, and can make life easier. You won’t have bottles and teats to wash, sterilise or prepare, and your milk is always at the right temperature. As soon as your baby needs a feed, it’s ready.
What’s more, you’ll feel a real sense of achievement to see him/her growing and developing thanks to the food your body has made for him/her.
Is extended breastfeeding for you? Read how your baby can continue to benefit from your milk.
Last reviewed: March 2017
Verses 23-24 – It seems as though the LORD has been working on Elkanah. Verse 23 highlights the Godliness, the submissiveness and the growth of Elkanah. Looks like he has come a very long way from Chapter 1:10 when it all started to happen. Did God do a powerful thing in Elkanah’s heart, in and which He did in his wife’s Hannah’s womb?
According to the Law, a husband could override the vow (Numbers 30:6-8).
Number 30:13: Every vow, and every binding oath to afflict the soul, her husband may establish it, or her husband may make it void.
For Elkanah to honour the vow that his wife made to the LORD even though it was made in his absence – verse 1:11 “And she vowed a vow and said”…….it showed his commitment towards Hannah. Elkanah could easily have disavowed her vow to the LORD, especially when it had to do with his long awaited firstborn son through Hannah. It clearly demonstrates how committed he is to his God and how supportive he is of his wife and her vow.
Elkanah needed to come to the place – that place. He needed to grow to that place. It came from his desire that he only wanted God’s Word to be established in his home.
By Emma Dufficy (Midwife)