1 Samuel 1:23-So Elkanah her husband said to her, “Do what seems best to you; wait until you have weaned him. Only let the Lord establish His word.” Then the woman stayed and nursed her son until she had weaned him.
The account of the birth of the prophet Samuel is filled with drama. We have Hannah, his mother, who is barren and desperate to have a child. We have Elkanah, her husband, who feels like she should just be glad that she has a wonderful husband who loves her so much. Then there is Penninah, the other wife of Elkanah, who has given him sons and daughters and has no trouble reminding Hannah that she is barren. It’s just a lot going on in this chapter.
But one year, when they go to the feast, Hannah is at her wit’s end with a desire to have a son. While the family is celebrating and eating, she’s fasting and praying, crying out to the God, who seems to be silent to her request. As she is praying, the priest Eli witnesses her lips moving, thinking that she is drunk:
Eli said to her, “How long will you make yourself drunk? Get rid of your wine.”1 Samuel 1:4 AMP
But Hannah wasn’t drunk with wine but with the misery of being barren. She was pouring out her heart to God. While she was praying, she made a deal with God that if He gave her a son, she would give him back to the Lord to serve the Lord all the days of his life. And although no words were heard, her mannerisms caught the eye of the priest. She explained to Eli that her heart was heavy and she was just crying out to God over the burden of her heart. Then Eli pronounced a blessing over Hannah:
“Go in peace; and may the God of Israel grant your petition that you have asked of Him.”1 Samuel 1:17 AMP
Hannah did indeed receive the petition of her heart from God. When it was time to return to the feast, she told her husband:
“I will not go up until the child is weaned; and then I will bring him, so that he may appear before the Lord and remain there as long as he lives.”1 Samuel 1:22 AMP
Elkanah was not with Hannah when she pledged Samuel to the Lord. Today, mothers may have a say over their children, but they really didn’t have the final say during Hannah’s life and culture. The Bible clearly states that if a wife makes a vow and the husband vetoes it, it is null and void (See Numbers 30:6-8).
Elkanah did not overrule Hannah’s vow, but he cautioned her to be sure that God was confirming His word in the situation. Elkanah’s word to Hannah leaped in my spirit as I reread this account. Making vows, or claiming God said something to us, or that we are obeying the voice of God is not a lite thing before the Lord. Even as New Testament believers, we must be careful of what we attribute to God or what God has said to us.
We can probably all recall a time when we or someone we know has said that God told us to do something. How many brides or grooms have declared with boldness that God told them to marry someone? I know I did! How many of us have heard that God told someone to leave their spouse? I have heard it on more than one occasion. How many people have said that God has called them into the ministry? It’s not uncommon to hear people say that God told them to do something.
In Hannah’s case, she promised God to give Him Samuel permanently. Her husband told her to be sure that God was in what she was doing because once it was done, it was done! Trusting God to confirm a decision that we are making is wisdom. David wrote these words:
Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.Psalm 37:5 NKJV
When God is in the decision-making process, His stamp of approval is on the decision. When we say that we need to make a decision and we don’t have time to wait on God, that’s a clear sign that we need to wait on Him. There are some decisions that we can’t afford to get wrong, and having God confirm a word to us or from us can say a lot of pain and disappointment in the future.
I mentioned that I was a person who said that God told me to marry my husband. We met in a military airport in Sicily, and he invited me to dinner. I wasn’t hungry, but I went with him. He seemed to be known by people at the airport (he was a pilot), and many saw me leave with him. I took the risk. We had a nice time sharing our faith in the Lord.
A few months later, he called me at my base in Italy, on a whim. I was passing by the payphone and just happened to answer it. Months later, when we were both back in the states, I called his base looking for him, as I had promised. We decided to get together. He told me that God had said I was to be his wife on our second date. That wasn’t my first time hearing that from a man, but I decided I needed to pray because I really liked him.
My prayer to God was simple, “Is this the one, or do I look for another?” I heard God speak to my spirit, and He told me to look no further. We were married four months later and have been married for 35 years. Not cohabitating and barely making it, but living in a loving, God-centered relationship. It wasn’t enough for him to tell me what God said. I needed to have God confirm that to me.
Through the years, I have genuinely come to appreciate the confirmation of what I believe God is saying to me. When I trust Him and wait for His confirmation, He brings to pass the thing that I am trusting Him for. When I don’t wait, I have to pray to get through something I could have avoided. Not always things that could be considered sin but things that drain my time and energy, or become problematic in getting it done.
Jesus spoke to Ananias about visiting Saul on the street called Straight. Ananias didn’t move until he was sure Jesus wanted him to do that. God wanted Peter to go over to Cornelius’ house to share the gospel. Knowing that Peter would need confirmation to do this, God spoke to him in a vision. Paul wanted to go to Asia to preach, but God didn’t confirm it, He sent Paul to Macedonia instead. Mary was told that she would give birth to Son of God, but she wanted confirmation that the angel wasn’t leading her astray. He said to her that Elizabeth was pregnant in her old age.
Throughout the word of God, in both the Old and New Testament, is a validation of the truth of what Elkanah said to Hannah, “Be sure that God is speaking”! Taking time to hear from God about any decision is a good thing; however, taking time for important decisions is wise. Remember, that if you ever feel like you don’t have to wait for God, that is a clear indication that you need to wait on God. Wonderful Jesus!