Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Our actions seen and weighed

TODAY'S SPECIAL: 1 Samuel 2:1-11

TO CHEW ON: “Talk no more so very proudly;
Let no arrogance come from your mouth,
For the Lord is the God of knowledge;
And by Him actions are weighed." - 1 Samuel 2:3

Tim Challies in his book The Next Story reminds us of how the internet and wireless technology has made much of our lives traceable. Search engine data, email, telephone and text message records, our twitter stream, not to speak of what we write on blogs and comment on web pages can all be cobbled together to form a picture of who we are. Of course, if we have nothing to hide, we don't worry a lot about this, relying on the improbability that anyone will actually take the time and effort to sleuth it all out and join the dots.

However, there is One who doesn't need Google's search engine records to know what kind of person we are: "The Lord, the God of knowledge." He is the One who knows us in an all-inclusive Psalm 139 way and will eventually weigh our actions.

Our focus verse today is part of a prayer, offered by Hannah after keeping her promise that if she would have a son, she would give him back to the Lord.  It's interesting that later in the chapter of today's reading, after Hannah has finished praying and gone home, probably in blissful ignorance of the tainted environment in which she's left Samuel (barely out of toddlerhood) the writer begins  the story of Eli's sons. They turn out to be a living illustration of what she has just prayed.

He begins the story about them: "Now the sons of Eli were worthless men. They did not know the Lord" - 1 Samuel 2:12. Then he describes how they were flaunting the rules of handling the sacrifices, and ends: "Thus the sin of the young men was very great in the sight of the Lord" - 1 Samuel 2:17.

Whether the people knew Eli's sons were sinning or not isn't clear, and isn't the issue. What mattered was that God saw and His evaluation counted.

I take two challenges from today's passage.

1. I need to realize that God knows even my most private moments. Despite the digital trail I leave with my daily actions, I may be able to maintain a comfortable degree of privacy from others. But I can't hide anything from Him. He not only sees my actions, but knows how to weigh them — interpret the motivations from which they come.

2. I want to live in such a way that if someone actually took the time to piece together the digital bits I leave behind, that trail would glorify Jesus.

PRAYER: Dear God, help me to live each moment with the consciousness that You see. And help me to gain the wisdom to weigh my actions with the scales that You use. Amen.

MORE: Hannah's prayer
You would imagine that at such a wrenching time for a mother,  Hannah's thoughts could have been of self-pity or wishing she could go back on her promise. But no. Her prayer is anything but selfish. It is a grand peon of praise to God and considered one of the twelve great prayers of the Old Testament. Walter Brueggemann says of her prayer:

"She sings of a surprise in gratitude. She sings that her family will continue. She sings that her people will have a future. She sings that through this little boy named 'asked' there will soon be newness for the poor and needy and hungry and feeble. She sings in the way singing is possible only among those who have felt the powerful invasiveness of YHWH's newness where no newness was possible. She sings of the God who 'brings life' She sings to the God who raises up. This is the God who lifts the needy. Hannah is the voice of all those who still have ashes in their hair and in their throats, who find themselves on the way to royal banquets and safe places" - Walter Brueggemann, Great Prayers of the Old Testament,  p. 32.

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