"Whatever you think is best..." I Samuel 1:23
Herein are five simple words which may be of great import in the conversations within marriages today... especially by husbands. You may remember the continuation of Hannah's story in this blog two weeks ago, when polygamy was exposed as both dysfunctional and outside of God's plan for marriage. However, I did show that, even in the corrupt systems of man (polygamy), God can choose to work on behalf of those whose hearts are strong for Him. Such was true in the life of Hannah.
After the memorable trip to the Tabernacle at Shiloh, when Hannah received a blessing from Eli, the priest, she became pregnant when "...the Lord remembered her plea..." (v.19). The following year, Elkanah and his family were gearing up to take the annual trip to the Tabernacle. However, Hannah took leave from the trip. It seemed a boy had been born to Hannah, and she protected him from the rigors of the journey, stating she would take him after he had been weaned - and not only take him, but leave him there to grow up at Shiloh, serving the Lord. Elkanah agreed, speaking today's five understandable words:
"Whatever you think is best... stay here for now, and may the Lord help you keep your promise." (v.23)
I heard a joke once that went something like this: My wife and I don't argue very often, but when we do, I ALWAYS have the final word: YES DEAR. Now, this is not to say that wives are never wrong. However, I've often seen how God has gifted godly women with discernment, wisdom and grace to offer sound guidance in life issues... and I, for one, am thankful for my godly wife - whose love for me is a wonderful example of God's redeeming, reconciling love.
There is another short phrase that we should not ignore, though. Elkanah also encouraged his wife's heart by directing her back to the Lord's strength to provide the courage and fortitude to carryout her decision of gifting her son to the Lord for service in the Tabernacle. He knew all too well the attachment between mother and child, and I'm sure he remembered how she had struggled for this child in prayer. It would not be an easy act to deliver him to Eli as a young boy.
She kept her promise to give Samuel back. As we reflect on this extravagant personal sacrifice we see God's love reflected in Hannah's offering of her only son to the Lord... a picture of God's love for us... offering His only Son as a sacrifice for our sin. It is difficult to even fathom such a sacrifice by Hannah... giving up one's own child. As we see how she kept her promise to give him back, I am prone to wonder what we might be holding back from God.
Are there personal treasures we could offer on the altar of sacrifice toward advancing His Kingdom? Are we holding back our time? Our talents? Our skills? And, in a different way, are we holding back from giving Him our troubles, our grievous sins that enslave us, or our unforgiveness toward others?
Not holding back, not looking back, not taking back...