After reading this passage I found it remarkable that Hannah prays to the Lord after receiving Samuel, and yet does not even mention the kid through the whole prayer. Why would she not even mention him? She has gone through so much emotional trouble of being barren that in the first chapter it seemed to consume her life. She even tells Eli, after he thought she was drunk, that she wasn’t hammered but just full of anxiety. Why then does she not thank God for giving her Samuel? I believe it is because the gifts that God gives His people are not to be praised, but rather the character of God.
I have been blessed with a wife that genuinely loves giving presents. She doesn’t just give me presents, but makes it an effort to always have something for her nieces and nephews as well (which is no small feat since she has ten of them). She always gives me gifts that I honestly love and desired, but it would be extremely shallow of me to thank her only for the things she gives me rather than having joy in her caring and generous heart. My wife is not some claw machine that luckily drops a few toys into my hands, she is a person who loves me and has a character of love, and I believe that this is what Hannah recognizes in God.
We can often pray for things for a long time and after we get them we simply give God some lip service “thank you” and go on our way, making our pleasure in the gift He has given us rather than in Himself. However, the gifts that God gives to us are not to be delighted in and of themselves, but are made to point us to look and praise the awesome character of God. This is why Hannah gives her prayer to describing and delighting in God’s character rather than in her son. All the gifts we receive are meant to point us to the One who is the Giver of gifts and to look upon His very nature. We can become disillusioned with Christianity after a while because we simply believe God is just the genie in the sky, only giving us gifts if we pray hard enough. This is a shallow Christianity; true Christianity mimics the prayer of Hannah, seeing God for who He is, and delighting in Him.
Do you have more joy in God’s blessings or in God`s character?
Do your prayers mimic Hannah’s or are they just lip service to God?
How are you going to look at God’s gifts after reading this passage?
By: Jacob Godbey
Participant in the Pastoral Ministry Exposure Program