Tuesday, October 27th 1 Samuel 1:9-11

After they had eaten and drunk at Shiloh, Hannah rose and presented herself before the LORD. Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat beside the doorpost of the temple of the LORD. She was deeply distressed and prayed to the LORD, and wept bitterly. She made this vow: “O LORD of hosts, if only you will look on the misery of your servant, and remember me, and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a male child, then I will set him before you as a nazirite until the day of his death. He shall drink neither wine nor intoxicants, and no razor shall touch his head.” 1 Samuel 1:9-11

So the story goes of the rich man who found himself tossed about his expensive yacht in the middle of a horrible storm at sea. Fearing for his life, he cried out to God. He promised that, if God saw fit to rescue him, he would give half of all his wealth, half of everything he had, to the poor.

The hours went by. The storm didn’t stop. Suddenly the man heard a call from a Coast Guard rescue ship. They brought him on board. Gave him dry clothes and something warm to drink.

By the time he got to shore, the rich man explains to God that what he really meant was that he would give half of everything he had on him in his wallet to the poor.

Crying out to God in pain. Bargaining with God. It’s what we do when life takes us to the point of no return. It is what Hannah did.

She prayed for a son. In a long line stretching back to Sarah, she prayed that God would bless her with the birth of a child.

But there is a strange twist in her prayer. She promised that she would give the son back once she had him.

Once again we run into the cultural divide. Traveling to a religious festival, a pilgrimage to a holy site, we understand that. But to make the vow of a “nazarite” is strange territory. To promise that the child would not drink alcohol, we understand that. But then to promise that she wouldn’t cut the child’s hair…that doesn’t make much sense.

So it is. Culture changes. Religion changes. Over time, what is holy to one group of people becomes meaningless to another. But so much of human nature endures – the pain of childlessness, the cries too deep for words which we send out to God in our distress, the idea that God hears our prayers best when we pray from a holy place, all of this endures.

Our task then is to discern what endures and what passes away with time. The task of interpretation includes such discernment. Why? To preserve the religiosity of long hair? No, but to make the good news of God’s love and provision real in the lives of hurting people like Hannah.

Let us pray: Gracious Lord, you hear all of our prayers, even those we pray in desperation and pain. Thank you for planting deep into our hearts the desire to bring our cares and concerns before you. Thank you for hearing the prayers of the distressed, for those broken like Hannah. For us. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

3 Responses to “Tuesday, October 27th 1 Samuel 1:9-11”

  1. Melanie Says:

    Your comment that “our task is to discern what endures and what passes away with time” is particularly poignant following the recent desicion of the ELCA. Too often we tend to get tangled up in trying to apply the customs and rules of cultures from thousands of years ago rather than trying to discern the deeper meaning of God’s word to us.

  2. Paul Says:

    And I ask myself, “What happens to Peninnah at this point, a woman with her only trump cards taken?” Perhaps Samuel’s dedication will alleviate the situation for her, but we don’t learn. It’s not a soap opera; it’s papyrus.

  3. Nova Ortaga Says:

    Shots to the Seattle Storm champs succa

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