#HINENI – HERE I AM
There is a powerful word in Hebrew that sums up three words in English. The word is Hineni (הנני), which means “Here I am!” But you’ve got to watch out how you say it, because it is a way of expressing total readiness to give oneself – it’s an offer of total availability.
When God called out to Moses from the burning bush, Moses replied, “Hineni!” And you know what assignment he was given, and what happened next. When God approached Abraham to ask him to offer his only son as a sacrifice, Abraham responded, “Hineni!” not knowing what God was about to ask. God called out to the young boy Samuel three times before Samuel finally responded, “Hineni! I’m listening!” Many hundreds of years later, when God asked who would go for him in Isaiah 6, and the prophet willingly offered himself with a cry of “Hineni!” Send me!” It can be used by family members, ready to be fully available and ready to pay attention, or ready to obey instructions. A bit like turning up and reporting for duty. Some translations include a “Behold” in the “here am I” statement, emphasising that they are present and ready for action. It is often children saying it as an expression of readiness to submit to their parents’ requests, although not exclusively.
It is, of course, the appropriate way to respond to God whenever he calls. His wish should be our command.
But God often says it of himself, when announcing what he is going to do. Often they are very gracious acts that cost him dearly. Interestingly, the very first one is bringing the flood – we cannot imagine how much that must have hurt him to do. But God also says “Hineni” when he is announcing a covenant he will make, the brunt of which he would always end up bearing. It appears many times in the prophetic writings, often translated, “Behold, I will…” But it is more like, “Behold! Here I am, doing this thing!” God is our ever-present help, as David reminds us in Psalm 46, and there are multiple times throughout scripture where we read the question, “What can I do for you?” As ridiculous as it might seem, God actually makes himself available to us, and has shown that he is ready to pay the highest cost – even the life of his only Son.