The peace offering in Leviticus 3 is not about making peace; rather it is about celebrating peace. This offering is voluntary and given in three specific situations; as a freewill offering, a fulfilled vow offering, or a thanksgiving offering. In all cases, the worshiper is praising God for His absolute goodness.

Perhaps this offering is better understood in Hannah’s story. Hannah desperately wanted a child, but Scripture teaches the Lord had closed her womb: “And whenever the time came for Elkanah to make an offering, he would give portions to Peninnah his wife and to all her sons and daughter, but to Hannah he would give a double portion, for he loved Hannah, although the Lord had closed her womb” (1 Sam 1:6). And if being barren wasn’t difficult enough, her rival Peninnah continued to severely provoke her. Year after year, as the family went up to the house of the Lord, Peninnah provoked Hannah causing her to weep and not eat. She was unable to partake in the peace offering; she could not celebrate in her deep despair. Hannah deeply respected God; knowing to participate in the offering would mean a level of pretense before God that was not authentic.

“And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed to the Lord and wept in anguish” (I Sam 1:10). Hannah prayed for a son and vowed to give him to the Lord all the days of his life. Eli the priest watched Hannah and mistook her sorrowful spirit for drunkenness, but Hannah assured him she was not a wicked woman, only a woman who had spoken out of an abundance of grief and sorrow…until now.

Eli responds: “Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant your petition which you have asked of Him.” And she said, “Let your maidservant find favor in your sight.” So Hannah went her way and ate, her face was no longer sad (1 Sam 1:17-18). She held onto God’s promise and her faith was certain.

The Lord remembered Hannah and gave her a son whom she named Samuel which means “asked of God.” After Samuel is weaned, Hannah fulfilled her vow with a peace offering; and she took not one but three bulls, one ephah of flour (grain offering) and a skin of wine and her most precious gift; her son Samuel to the LORD in Shiloh (1 Sam 1:24). She powerfully testifies before Eli that the Lord granted her petition. She breaks out in a prayer that would later inspire Mary’s Magnificat, as she sings about the joy of carrying the Promised Savior of the world. Hannah is a woman who trusted in the promises of God.

What we learn from Hannah is that her darkest moments kept her from celebrating what was already hers. However, she took her sorrows to the One who could do something about it and there she found faith for her journey. Hannah’s peace offering was of her free will, a fulfilled vow, and tremendous thanksgiving. God is faithful to keep His promises as we promise to trust His good and perfect plan for our lives; and that is always worth celebrating!

Margy Hill

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