“Then she took him up to Shiloh” (1 Samuel 1:24).
“Done made my vow to the Lord, and I never will turn back. Oh, I will go; I shall go to see what the end will be”.
As the words of that Negro spiritual rang out to the rafters, Hannah made her way out of the temple. Childless, she poured her heart heavenward, promising God that if He gave her a son, she would literally return him to the Lord. Back at home, money was tight, but faith was plentiful and prayer bountiful. Crushed year after year by a vengeful Peninah, Elkanah’s other wife of ten sons, Hannah could hardly be consoled. This last time, worn and torn, she dropped to her knees in penitent, but silent prayer, and was blessed by the high priest, Eli.
Sometimes, we are torn and worn, but we pause to pray, to ask God for that blessed request. In faith, we lay hold of God’s promises, to make that vow, a vow of service perhaps, despite the imperfections around. In her joyous moment, she vowed to give Samuel to the Lord— “after the child is weaned, I’ll bring him myself and present him before God—and that’s where he’ll stay, for good”. “Then she took him up to Shiloh”, to the little church school on the hill. She brought all that they had in upfront payment, a “prized bull, flour and wine”, a tremendous sacrifice. She had made a vow; nothing could turn her back, not even the rumors and speculation surrounding Hophni and Phineas at the school, two of Eli’s sons, who were constantly misusing and abusing their trusted positions at the temple gate. Hannah must have heard, must have known, yet she had made a vow, to send Samuel to that imperfect place, upon which God had showered His affection. “Then she took him up to Shiloh”.
I’d like to think that there is some parent waiting to take some child “up to Shiloh”. Funds are scarce, and rumors are plentiful, but it was at Shiloh that Samuel heard the voice; it was at Shiloh that the humble makings of a prophet began; it was at Shiloh that God chose Samuel; it was at Shiloh where a child reproved a high priest. It all began at Shiloh.
Perhaps, the school-house is not perfect and there is some overhaul that needs to happen or some “person at the gate”, but God never deserts Shiloh; He is always there, through the thick and the thin, the wane and the wax. You’ve made your vow and the die is cast in the service of the King. We have made our vows. How can we turn back? That’s why I am here, and you are there, for we are all headed to Shiloh.