Getting deeper into chapter 1 of I Samuel, we get a glimpse of Hannah’s trust in God as she slipped away from her family to pray alone for her particular challenge in her living situation:
9 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. 10 And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the Lord, and wept sore. 11 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. I Samuel 1:9-11
On the surface, this looks like she is trying to influence God in answering her prayer. It actually shows her trust in God. Whether a vow is right or wrong in God’s eyes is not the what God looks at. It is the heart that God reads, not the vow. People of this culture made vows to God frequently.
To be ‘given unto the Lord’ meant that she would be turning her child over to the religious leader, in this case Eli, to serve God. This involved another act of trust, as we shall read on in Samuel. Eli was not the sharpest crayon in the box of spiritual awareness:
12 And it came to pass, as she continued praying before the Lord, that Eli marked her mouth.13 Now Hannah, she spake in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard: therefore Eli thought she had been drunken.14 And Eli said unto her, How long wilt thou be drunken? put away thy wine from thee. I Samuel 1:12-14
Hannah’s answer exposes her heart. She didn’t go after Eli for his mis-judgment and lack of spiritual perception, she explains simply:
15 And Hannah answered and said, No, my lord, I am a woman of a sorrowful spirit: I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but have poured out my soul before the Lord. 16 Count not thine handmaid for a daughter of Belial: for out of the abundance of my complaint and grief have I spoken hitherto. I Samuel 1:15
Hannah knew who she was and she knew who was her God. It is not easy being around people who misjudge, especially in the religious category. It happens all the time. Had Hannah not been so secure in her God, she might have either been reactive in self-righteous anger or have maybe even felt cringing shame. Instead, she responded by enlightening Samuel’s eyes:
17 Then Eli answered and said, Go in peace: and the God of Israel grant thee thy petition that thou hast asked of him. 1 Samuel 1:9-17
God answered her prayer not Eli. So often in life we trade the great peace of knowing our God for worrying about what people think. It is so easy to do. We are affected by a culture today that may be more chaotic and pagan than the culture of Hannah’s day. We, however, have greater options in that we live under a new covenant with the grace of knowing our Lord Jesus Christ and what his life means to us. We have power, love and peace because of the assurance that was his is now ours. It is something we need to remind each other about as we deal with our own challenges of living in this world. Isn’t that what the ministry of reconciliation is all about?