1 Samuel 1:24-28 (The Message)
When the child was weaned, Hannah took him to the Tabernacle in Shiloh. They brought along a three-year-old bull for the sacrifice and a basket of flour and some wine. After sacrificing the bull, they brought the boy to Eli. “Sir, do you remember me?” Hannah asked. “I am the woman who stood here several years ago praying to the Lord. I asked the Lord to give me this boy, and he has granted my request. Now I am giving him to the Lord, and he will belong to the Lord his whole life.” And they worshiped the Lord there.
Elkanah’s wife Hannah had prayed for a baby. In 1 Samuel 1:11, she vowed to God that if she was able to have a child, she would dedicate him to God’s service.
When Samuel was born, Hannah was overjoyed! Her hopes and dreams had finally been realized. Holding her little boy in her arms, it would have been very understandable if she decided to “renegotiate” with God the terms of her vow.
But she doesn’t. As soon as he stops breastfeeding, she brings him back to the tabernacle where she made her vow to God, and gives him over to the care of the priest Eli.
When we’re in a difficult period in our lives, a normal, very human reaction is to bargain with God: “God, if you [insert what you want from God], then I promise to [insert what you think God wants from you].” Even if we know that God doesn’t “bargain” with us, we still try. We make promises, we take vows. But then, when the crisis is over, we can quickly forget and return to our old patterns and habits.
How amazing it is to realize that, although our memory is faulty and flawed, God’s is not. God made a covenant with us — a promise to us — to watch over us and be our God. Even when we turned away from God, God stayed faithful. That’s why Jesus came to earth, why he lived a human life, why he endured punishment he didn’t deserve, why he died our death, and why he was resurrected on Easter morning. Because although we are forgetful, God is not!
Have you ever “bargained” with God? What promise did you make?