I was making up a Baby Dedication Certificate for the tiniest member of our congregation once, and decided to incorporate the scripture from 1 Samuel 1:27 where Hannah dedicated baby Samuel. That got me thinking about different church traditions: some baptize babies and some dedicate babies.
I believe in infant dedication rather than baptism but this isn’t about picking at doctrines. Regardless of which way churches do it, usually they desire to start a child on the right track and to put them officially under God’s grace and protection.
Still, the child Samuel himself gives us a wonderful pattern about the way things should go. Hannah and Elkanah dedicated Samuel at the time he was weaned. They waited that long because in this case Hannah was going to fulfill her promise to the Lord to literally give him to God. From then on he would live in the temple and minister under Eli the priest.
At the point that he was handed over, Samuel was too small to have a clue about what was happening to him. His mother consented on his behalf to his serving the Lord. But that changed the day Samuel responded to God’s audible voice by saying: “‘Speak, for Thy servant is listening'” (1 Samuel 3:10). Thus began his destiny as Israel’s greatest prophet.
Ultimately Samuel had to make up his own mind about serving God. Each of us faces the same decision no matter what our parents did when we were infants. Did the dedication count for anything then? Oh yes, it prepared the outcome! Hannah never had the least reason to regret her decision on Samuel’s behalf, did she?