Last week, we looked at Hannah's story as part of our women of purpose series. I want to return to Hannah this week to see what else we can learn, man or woman, from this woman of faith.
In the last Monday Memo, I pointed out that God required Hannah to give her child to Him before she had an y children to give. That meant she was so convinced that she would conceive that she surrendered her son to God before she ever laid eyes on him in the natural, promising she would not comb his hair. That indicated that she would not try to shape and fashion what God was doing in her child's life to her own satisfaction.
All that sounds super spiritual, which it was, but as soon as Hannah made this commitment, she was tested in two ways that involved the same man, Eli the chief priest. First, as Hannah prayed, she moved her lips but did not make a sound; her prayers were silent groans of unfulfilled purpose:
As she kept on praying to the Lord, Eli observed her mouth. Hannah was praying in her heart, and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard. Eli thought she was drunk and said to her, “How long are you going to stay drunk? Put away your wine" (1 Samuel 1:12-14).
As if Hannah was not already in enough pain, she had to endure the biting and sarcastic criticism from the man of God. Eli did not properly discern what Hannah was going through, and did not bother to make inquiries. He simply jumped to a conclusion that Hannah was drunk, and curtly chastised her. After Hannah explained, Eli did not apologize or investigate the cause for Hannah's agony, so that he could stand with her in prayer. Probably embarrassed, he sought to dismiss her as quickly as possible: “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him" (1 Samuel 1:17).
GIVING IT TO THE LORD - REALLY
God heard Hannah's prayer (not Eli's) and she conceived and brought forth a son whom she named Samuel. Hannah had made a vow in her distress, and once the pain was gone, she was not going to back away from the vow. As soon as the child was weaned, she took him back to house of the Lord to be raised there by the very man who had misjudged her spiritual condition. This man was not worthy of Hannah's sacrifice, but Hannah had given her situation to the Lord, and she was not going to renege on her vow:
After he was weaned, she took the boy with her, young as he was, along with a three-year-old bull, an ephah of flour and a skin of wine, and brought him to the house of the Lord at Shiloh. When the bull had been sacrificed, they brought the boy to Eli, and she said to him, “Pardon me, my lord. As surely as you live, I am the woman who stood here beside you praying to the Lord. 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 will be given over to the Lord.” And he worshiped the Lord there (1 Samuel 1:24-28).
The lessons for us are clear from this story. Your purpose belongs to God; you cannot seize it to use as you see fit. When you give your purpose future to the Lord, He will use it as He sees fit, perhaps investing or injecting you into situations that are not to your liking or that do not fully appreciate the sacrifice you are making. Finally, when you make a commitment to the Lord to do something, especially a vow you made in your pain, you need to follow through on your commitment when the pain is gone and God has answered your prayer. Next week, we will look at one more lesson from Hannah's purposeful life. Until then, make sure you have a blessed week.