Keep your promises (even when it’s hard)

Today’s post is the second in a series of post on Parents of the Bible. These posts are the outcome of the question, “How do I be a good parent?” I am looking at the Bible stories we already know and seeing what I can learn about parenting. Throughout the summer, I hope to share some of what I have discovered.

Today’s post is designed to be read more like short devotional than a regular post. My hope is that as you read it, you will allow God’s Word to penetrate your heart and influence your thinking.

1 Samuel 1:1-3, 9-11, 19-28 ESV

1 There was a certain man of Ramathaim-zophim of the hill country of Ephraim whose name was Elkanah the son of Jeroham, son of Elihu, son of Tohu, son of Zuph, an Ephrathite. 2 He had two wives. The name of the one was Hannah, and the name of the other, Peninnah. And Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children. 3 Now this man used to go up year by year from his city to worship and to sacrifice to the Lord of hosts at Shiloh, where the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were priests of the Lord.

9 After they had eaten and drunk in Shiloh, Hannah rose. Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat beside the doorpost of the temple of the Lord. 10 She was deeply distressed and prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly. 11 And she vowed a vow and said, “O Lord of hosts, if you will indeed look on the affliction of your servant and remember me and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a son, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and no razor shall touch his head.”

19 They rose early in the morning and worshiped before the Lord; then they went back to their house at Ramah. And Elkanah knew Hannah his wife, and the Lord remembered her. 20 And in due time Hannah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Samuel, for she said, “I have asked for him from the Lord.” 21 The man Elkanah and all his house went up to offer to the Lord the yearly sacrifice and to pay his vow. 22 But Hannah did not go up, for she said to her husband, “As soon as the child is weaned, I will bring him, so that he may appear in the presence of the Lord and dwell there forever.” 23 Elkanah her husband said to her, “Do what seems best to you; wait until you have weaned him; only, may the Lord establish his word.” So the woman remained and nursed her son until she weaned him. 24 And when she had weaned him, she took him up with her, along with a three-year-old bull, an ephah of flour, and a skin of wine, and she brought him to the house of the Lord at Shiloh. And the child was young. 25 Then they slaughtered the bull, and they brought the child to Eli. 26 And she said, “Oh, my lord! As you live, my lord, I am the woman who was standing here in your presence, praying to the Lord. 27 For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition that I made to him. 28 Therefore I have lent him to the Lord. As long as he lives, he is lent to the Lord.” And he worshiped the Lord there.

Promises. They seem to be things easily made and easily broken. We promise ourselves that we will lose weight. We promise help with a ministry at church. But when the time comes, we back out because we are too busy. We promise to keep a secret, but pass the information along to our best friend. We promise God we will spend more time with Him, but forget and continue on the way we are.

Hannah promised God that if He would give her a son, she would give him back. Not many of us could make such a promise, let alone keep it. Yet Hannah did. Even when others might have accused her of going back on her promise because she didn’t participate in the Passover, she still remained faithful. She kept her promise and gave her only child back to God.

If we are to be good parents, we also need to keep our promises. If we don’t, our spouse and children won’t believe what we say.

Discipline is a good example of this. If we promise our children a punishment for bad behavior, we need to keep that promise. Failing to discipline in the way we promised will result in children who won’t listen and will continue to misbehavior.

Failing to keep marital promises in another example. Breaking the marriage covenant causes serious problems in our marriage, family and lifestyle. (See the devotional about King David for further illustration.)

Here is my takeaway from Hannah – Keep your promises, even when it is hard. She only saw her son once a year after she left him at the temple. God, however, rewarded her faithfulness by giving her more children. Even though we may not see it now, God will also reward us for keeping our promises to Him, our spouse, our children and the world.

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