Vow or Not

1 Samuel 1:9-18

9Once when they had finished eating and drinking in Shiloh, Hannah stood up. Now Eli the priest was sitting on his chair by the doorpost of the Lord’s house. 10In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the Lord, weeping bitterly. 11And she made a vow, saying, “Lord Almighty, if you will only look on your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head.” 12As she kept on praying to the Lord, Eli observed her mouth. 13Hannah was praying in her heart, and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard. Eli thought she was drunk 14and said to her, “How long are you going to stay drunk? Put away your wine.”

15“Not so, my lord,” Hannah replied, “I am a woman who is deeply troubled. I have not been drinking wine or beer; I was pouring out my soul to the Lord. 16Do not take your servant for a wicked woman; I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief.” 17Eli answered, “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him.” 18She said, “May your servant find favor in your eyes.” Then she went her way and ate something, and her face was no longer downcast.

Introduction

          Think about this for a moment! Would you choose to live your best life now or your best life in eternity? If you’re craving for greater than the life you’ve got now, and which you wish to have or experience it now, you might unknowingly choose life on earth and set aside life in eternity. Surely, we don’t disregard living a better lifestyle in this world because our lifestyle speaks of what we believe.

Try this to check which life is more important (best life now or best life in eternity): The things we are most concerned of may reflect if life on earth is more important and overlook eternal life. If our heart and mind are more concerned of earthly things, living on earth is more important than living in heaven. Really?

Christ instructed us in Matthew 6:19-21, 19Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Life on earth is always wanting for more—it’s unending thirst for something as exemplified or showcased by the wives of Elkanah—Peninnah and Hannah. Peninnah had children but most often, she pestered Hannah who had no child. Peninnah may want to believe as if Elkanah loved her more than Hannah.

Life on earth always craves of what others have. Elkanah gave double portion as proof that he loved Hannah but it was not enough for Hannah. Hannah desired to have children just like Peninnah. She may have wanted to stop the provocation of Peninnah. So, she prayed in her anguish to have a child.

1. Pray

9Once when they had finished eating and drinking in Shiloh, Hannah stood up. Now Eli the priest was sitting on his chair by the doorpost of the Lord’s house. 10In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the Lord, weeping bitterly. 

Can you sense if Hannah was angry with Peninnah? She did not confront Peninnah. Peninnah may have been telling that Hannah was disgraceful because she had no children. And because of that, Hannah may have internalized the idea that children are practical proofs of being blessed by the Lord.

11And she made a vow, saying, “Lord Almighty, if you will only look on your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head.”

In her prayer, Hannah described as miserable her life with no children so that she made a vow to the Lord, to dedicate her son to serve the Lord all his life.

It says in Ecclesiastes 5:4-5, 4When you make a vow to God, do not delay to fulfill it. He has no pleasure in fools; fulfill your vow. 5It is better not to make a vow than to make one and not fulfill it.

Many people would gamble as their last resort to solve their problem. Hannah made a gamble when she made a vow to the Lord. It appears like God was at work in Hannah’s heart when she bitterly wept. In her bitter anguish, Hannah expressed her earnest desire to have child even if her child would be separated from her to serve the Lord all his life. She just wanted to have a child.

12As she kept on praying to the Lord, Eli observed her mouth. 13Hannah was praying in her heart, and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard. Eli thought she was drunk 14and said to her, “How long are you going to stay drunk? Put away your wine.”

Many people get drunk to forget their problem. Most often, people who have problem when they got drunk, they become violent or angrily express their selves. Hannah drank wine but not to forget her miserable life for having no child. And all the more, she felt miserable because Peninnah tormented her.

When Hannah prayed, it was a quiet prayer, and Eli the Priest thought that she was too drunk. Eli advised her to stop drinking. Hannah may have been praying strangely as compared to other devotees. Do you pray mindfully by not creating any uncommon movement or action that may attract attention?

The Holy Spirit Comes at Pentecost

It reminds us of what happened during the Pentecost in Acts 2:1-13, 1When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

5Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. 6When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. 7Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? 8Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? 9Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome 11(both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” 12Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?” 13Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.”

Have you observed church-goers who exaggerate their manner of worship?

They may not be worshipping! They just want to appear more spiritual than others. Nonetheless, when we sense the Lord’s presence, we become unmindful of what others may think or say. We worship as the Holy Spirit leads us.

Hannah did not mind what others may say. She was more concerned of seeking the Lord’s favor when she poured out her great anguish in prayer.

2. Pour

15“Not so, my lord,” Hannah replied, “I am a woman who is deeply troubled. I have not been drinking wine or beer; I was pouring out my soul to the Lord. 16Do not take your servant for a wicked woman; I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief.” 17Eli answered, “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him.” 18She said, “May your servant find favor in your eyes.” Then she went her way and ate something, and her face was no longer downcast.

When Eli the Priest said to Hannah to go in peace, it’s like saying ‘Amen’ to her prayer. Eli interpreted that Hannah’s prayer was sincere, and hope that God may favor her. When she consumed her meal and the anguish of her heart has gone, it may have assured her that God had answered her prayer positively.

It says in 1 Peter 5:6-7, 6Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 7Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

This is tough advice because it takes faith to believe that God cares for us.

Truly, God’s way of showing His love for us can only be understood when the Spirit of Christ is in control of our life. Christ understands our misery when we face difficulties because He Himself felt abandoned when He was crucified.

It says in Mark 15:34, 34 Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).

Crying in a loud voice implies that magnitude of anguish Jesus may have felt. Yet, God the Father endured watching His only Son crucified, why? God’s plan was to give the Christ all glory and honor and praise. Christ’s obedience even unto His death exemplifies faith that God’s plan is the greatest of all.

It says in James 1:2-5, 2Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.

When we face difficulties, we should not pretend or say everything is fine. Instead, pray fervently for wisdom to understand why God let events in your life.

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