Thursday, July 28, 2011


Today's passage:  I Samuel 2
     Hannah had a dilemma.  She had prayed a prayer, promising her son to the Lord, if He should see fit to bless her with one.  He did.  She was determined to keep her promise.  She would raise this little boy for the first few years of his life and then give Him over to God.  She would teach Samuel to respect the priests, to pull his weight, to be a servant.  The time had passed quickly and it was now time to take little Samuel to the tabernacle and allow him to start serving God.
     Any mother would struggle with this promise.  But I think Hannah struggled for an even greater reason.  In the time she had vowed this to God, the priesthood in Shiloh had become increasingly corrupt.  Eli's sons, Hophni and Phinehas were involved in immorality, the offerings for sacrifices were being tampered with, the people were refusing to even bring their sacrifices to the tabernacle any longer because of the corruption.  They would prefer to take their chances by angering God, rather than allowing their offerings to be made an abomination.  Maybe Hannah was blissfully unaware of all this, I kind of doubt it since Elkanah was a Levite which means he would have to take a turn assisting the priests during some of the feasts.  It is clear that he and the family went to Shiloh every year to offer sacrifices, I'm pretty sure they noticed the differences as each year passed.  I'm guessing that the year before Samuel was to go live in the tabernacle, Hannah and Elkanah would have had some serious discussions.
      "The tabernacle is not becoming a place we should want Samuel to be raised, " Elkanah may have argued.  "Yes, I've noticed that too,"  Hannah may have said, "But I promised God that if He gave me a son, I would let Him have the child."  Elkanah would have reasoned that God would not expect her to keep that promise in the light of these circumstances. Really?  Why not?  Wouldn't God have known what the tabernacle would be like when it was time to go live there?  Wouldn't He have been the only One to know what the future would hold for young Samuel?  Hannah may have wavered on her promise, not because she wanted to hold onto her only son, but because she was uncertain at the influences that would bombard his young, impressionable life.  I can't blame her.  If I knew what she knew, I would have to seriously reconsider my promise to God.  I might have to renege on my vow.  But Hannah chooses to honor God, and keep her promise to Him.  She has to choose to let God take care of Samuel in these undesirable circumstances, instead of thinking she knows what is best, and raising him at home.  This is a difficult choice.  When it comes to our children, we always want their best.  But their best is giving them to God, and letting Him do with them what He will.  Trusting God with our children, is probably the greatest evidence of faith we can place in Him.  Doesn't He know what their futures hold?  Doesn't He want what is best for them, and in some cases, doesn't that sometimes mean exposing them to situations we would not want?  Hannah was right to keep her promise, even if circumstances had changed from when she made it.  There would be some unfortunate consequences that would affect Samuel later in his life, because of Eli's influence, but keeping him home would more than likely have brought consequences far greater.
Samuel is presented to Eli--Taken from Standard Bible Readers, Book Two
By Lillie A. Faris, Illustrated by O.A. Stemler and Bess Bruce Cleaveland
The Standard Publishing Company, 1925
     How lightly do I treat the promises I make to God?  How many times do I commit something to Him, and later take it back, thinking, well, God understands.  Does He?  Didn't He know what lay ahead before I uttered the promise?  I need to be sure that when I tell God I will give Him something, that I follow through.  Whether it be my children or my time.  There have been times I've told God I would be involved in a certain ministry and then backed out when other unforeseen things laid claim on my time.  The little voice inside me said, "Oh, God understands you can't do that now.  He knows you didn't know what you were promising."  The problem is, He does know.  He knew when I made the promise what might creep up to keep me from fulfilling it.  Do I use it as an excuse, or do I honor the promise I made?  Promises are meant to be difficult to keep.  But they are also meant to be kept.  And that is why I need to be careful breaking them even when I'm faced with a dilemma.

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