Sunday, June 1, 2014

1 Samuel 1:8-11 -- On Keeping our Promises to God

"Then said Elkanah her husband to her, Hannah, why weepest thou? and why eatest thou not? and why is thy heart grieved? am not I better to thee than ten sons?
So Hannah rose up after they had eaten in Shiloh, and after they had drunk. Now Eli the priest sat upon a seat by a post of the temple of the Lord.
And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the Lord, and wept sore.
And she vowed a vow, and said, O Lord of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the Lord all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come upon his head."
1 Samuel 1:8-11

This is at the beginning of the Book of Samuel, because Hannah in these verses is Samuel's mother.  And she vows to give her son to the Lord, if he will allow her to have a son.  ... And he does, and she keeps her promise, and later the Lord allows her to have more children as well.  The whole story is a good one, but this beginning is interesting to me today because I think it is interesting that out of the desperation of our lives can come mighty miracles.  We all have things sometimes in our lives that we want desperately.  In this case, her husband's other wife was torturing her with the thought that she would never have children.  And even though we can see by the first verse of the selection that her husband was well-meaning, he couldn't do anything about that particular pain in her heart.  But God could, and so she went to him about it.  She offered, sincerely, everything she could, and God listened.
I don't think that making deals with God always works.  One reason is that we try to make deals with God about things that we shouldn't be doing in the first place.  Another is that we just aren't sincere.  It is clear that if the extremity of the moment is gone, that we'll just think that the answer to our prayer was coincidence and laugh off our promise, if we even remember it.  I'm not even advocating making deals with God.  Often, it is better to learn to be satisfied with what we have.  However, if we are going to make vows like this, and we do make promises to the Lord throughout our lives, let's make sure that we are as sincere and dedicated as Hannah was.  She told the Lord she would give her child to him, and she did.  After he was weaned, he served in the temple the rest of his life.  Hannah made clothes for him and brought them to him during their yearly trip.  She honored God's gift, and her vow.  Today, let's remember our promises to the Lord.  Let's not ever make them lightly, or take them lightly.  God works miracles through us, through our works, and definitely through our children.  Samuel was a great prophet, and his mother's prayer for his life, and her willingness to let go of him to serve the Lord is reflected in the dedication of parents now who pray for and support their children on missions and teach them to serve the Lord in many other ways.  It is also reflected in our own personal dedication of *our* lives to the Lord, as each day we study and learn and draw closer to God.  Let's take that dedication seriously.  Let's keep our promises to the Lord.  And, like Hannah, when we have pain in our lives that no one else can relieve, let's go to the Lord and ask him for help.

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