This morning I was at an event where State Treasurer Walker Stapleton was the speaker. I recall when I was in the hospital and when the phone rang and I answered, it was Walker checking in to see how I was doing. I have always appreciated his kindness and consideration with that call.
BIBLE VERSE FOR TODAY…. “Oh, my lord! As you live, my lord, I am the woman who was standing here in your presence, praying to the Lord. For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition that I made to him. Therefore I have lent him to the Lord. As long as he lives, he is lent to the Lord.” 1 Samuel 1:26-28 ESV
In reading the early chapters of 1 Samuel, the faith and sacrifice of Hannah stood out in vivid contrast to the compromise of Eli the Priest.
First we see Hannah’s faith and obedience. She was carrying the curse of barrenness in the context of Eli having another wife who had children. But we see Hannah as one who “poured out” her heart to the Lord. Instead of blaming God and viewing Him as the reason for her problems, she realized that God was the One who could help her and solve her problem.
As she becomes pregnant and gives birth to Samuel, the real test comes with time. She made a vow in the midst of her desperation, now she would have to face the test of keeping that vow. The Lord had show Himself faithful to Hannah, how would she respond?
Samuel represents one of many “promised children” in scripture. We think of Abraham and Isaac and how that the Lord tested Abraham with the call to sacrifice his son. Now Hannah was facing a sacrificial decision and commitment. She would give up the promised child to serve the Lord or would she give in to motherly instincts and renege on her commitment? We don’t see the anguish but I’m sure that it was there none the less.
What we do see is “Hannah’s prayer” where she doesn’t complain or express doubt, but instead rejoices and worships. She declares, “There is none holy like the Lord: for there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God.” (1 Samuel 2:2 ESV) In the end, the Lord rewarded Hannah’s faith and trust with more children.
Eli the Priest was a failure as a father, more by what he did not do, than what he did do. The Lord’s first appearance to Samuel contained this message, “I will fulfill against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end. And I declare to him that I am about to punish his house forever, for the iniquity that he knew, because his sons were blaspheming God, and he did not restrain them.” (1 Samuel 3:12,13 ESV)
Eli’s sons are described as being wicked. They were immoral and they were treating the Lord’s offerings and sacrifices of the people with contempt. They practiced extortion and abused their position and power. We see a record of Eli rebuking his sons, but it seems that his words were contradicted by his actions. The prophet confronted Eli with these words:
“Why then do you scorn my sacrifices and my offerings that I commanded for my dwelling, and honor your sons above me by fattening yourselves on the choicest parts of every offering of my people Israel?’” (1 Samuel 2:29 ESV) Eli’s actions spoke louder than his words. Eli tolerated the sin of his sons more than fulfilling his duty to honor the Lord. In our lives will we put God first and foremost, even when it calls for challenging choices?
Hannah did so in following through on her commitment to give Samuel in service to the Lord. For whatever reason, Eli failed to do so and the ramifications impacted, himself, his sons, Samuel and eventually a nation.
Prayer for today…. Lord allow us to see that honoring You, even when it is difficult, is always the best. Give us faith to trust in You knowing that You will be faithful to Your word as we are to ours.