Can you recall a time when you cried out to God, wanting something so desperately, only to have your prayer answered differently than you wanted? I’m guessing that’s a common occurrence. In today’s reading, we see how David responds.
In the time of earnest asking (or pleading), David kept himself set apart from his normal routine. He was fervent in his plea to God to spare his son. David knew God’s proclamation of death for the child was a result of his own sinfulness. We see David acknowledge his wrongdoing when he confesses to Nathan.
What struck me in this reading is how the relationship between David and God seems so natural, almost like they’re old friends. I have not personally had a conversation like that with God where I am totally clear on a particular life or death, what should I do next, kind of question.
We see first the victory over the Philistines. We didn’t see David rushing ahead before God with confidence and might. David prayed. First and foremost we need to keep that model in mind. Before rushing forward with decisions in our life, we need to get on our knees.
We know from reading through the book of Judges how God raised up leaders for a certain victory and to watch over a certain region. After all the Israelites have been through with the fiasco surrounding the Ark of the Covenant, the people were feeling abandoned by God. By using Samuel in this way, God let the people know his power was still with them.
Thankfully, the people understood the seriousness of the situation and heeded Samuel’s advice. “Turn your hearts to the Lord and obey him alone; then he will rescue you from the Philistines.” The day the people gathered at Mizpah, for what sounds like a revival of sorts, was the day Samuel was appointed as judge.
Now we’ve met Samuel. Answered prayer personified! You will recall how desperately Hannah had wanted a son. While we saw the side of her who was feeling inadequate and hurt from the bullying, she was probably also feeling the emptiness that can come when God doesn’t give a woman a child. Those feeling are deep.
Can you imagine her joy when she realized God had heard her prayer and answered it! Think of a time in your life when you turned around and God granted a desire of your heart. It could be as simple as an open parking space at the mall! Multiply that almost insignificant moment with giving life to a child, and you may be able to relate to Hannah’s joy!
Hannah shows us raw humility and great wisdom. She doesn’t know what to do with her despair, so she cries out to the Lord. “O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, if you will look upon my sorrow and answer my prayer and give me a son, then I will give him back to you. He will be yours for his entire lifetime, and as a sign that he has been dedicated to the Lord, his hair will never be cut.” What a vow!
We may remember that Samson was dedicated to the Lord as a Nazarite. He was set aside for God’s purpose, and his great strength and power from God was in his uncut locks. Presumably, this type of lifestyle was known to Hannah. She wanted a child so badly she was willing to give him back to the Lord.