1 Samuel 1:27-28 “I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to the Lord. For his whole life he shall be given over to the Lord.” And he worshiped the Lord there.
Hannah was fully serious in her vow to the Lord, and she proved it. Some very good things came from that, but there were some negatives as well. Samuel grew to be one of the pivotal figures in Jewish history, anointing both Saul and David as kings and in the process proclaiming some fundamental truths. (eg 1 Samuel 15:23) However, the only father figure he had in growing up was Eli, who did a bad job raising his own sons. As a result, Samuel’s sons weren’t fit to follow him in leading Israel. (1 Samuel 8:1-5) That fits right into the pattern of “no success without a successor.” However, Hannah was doubtless long gone by that point, and she was certainly true to her word. Humanity has a long history of people promising God things if He will bail them out of whatever fix they are in, but the vast majority don’t follow through as thoroughly as Hannah did. There are problems from the outset with trying to bargain with God. That we would do so betrays our lack of understanding of Him and of ourselves. He is more than worthy of our total devotion even if He never grants a single request we make, but the flip side of that is, if we are that devoted to Him, our requests are going to be in line with His will. We need to take Him completely seriously, knowing that we are totally dependent on His grace and mercy. However, that isn’t all dull and dark, because such knowledge of God will also teach us His love and grace, and that is joyous indeed.
I don’t think I’ve ever tried to bargain with God, but that doesn’t mean I’ve always responded rightly to Him. I continue to grow in my knowledge of and love for Him, demonstrated by greater obedience. I am learning that it is just as Jesus said: if I love Him, I will do what He says. (John 14:15) I desire that everyone to whom I minister would grow in the grace and knowledge of God, but I’ve got to give them to Him as thoroughly as Hannah gave Samuel to God. I am not to be irresponsible, but at the same time I must remember that my flock belongs to Him and not to me. The balance there can be difficult at times! Like Paul I am not to hold back anything in teaching and training them, (Acts 20:20) but at the same time I must remember that my strength and wisdom aren’t going to get the job done. I can’t carry them, but God can, and He can use me in the process.
Father, thank You for Your plans, just as Takahiro preached on yesterday, and for including me in them. Thank You for getting us through the packed day yesterday, and for the reminder of my own fallibility. Help me remember not to eat stuff that far out of date again! Thank You that it seemed to be a good experience for all involved, and that my food poisoning didn’t keep me from any of my responsibilities. There’s a lot of physical labor on the schedule today, and not as much physical strength on my part as I would like. Help me listen to You accurately and let Your strength operate through me, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!