The book of 1 Samuel opens with the story of Hannah. Unable to have children, Hannah was suffering. In her “deep anguish,” she vowed to the Lord that if He gave her a son she would give him back to the Lord “for all the days of his life” (1 Sam. 1:9–11).
Vows were common in ancient Israel. They often involved dedicating something to the Lord, whether a person, an animal, or real estate. Vows were also entirely voluntary. Nowhere in Scripture does God command the making of vows. However, if a person did vow, it was vital to fulfill it (Eccl. 5:5–6; Mal.1:13–14). Leviticus 27 outlines ways in which vows could be fulfilled.
A person dedicated to the Lord could serve at the tabernacle or be redeemed through paying a price (vv. 1–7). The price was set by the age and gender. This was not an assessment of someone’s intrinsic worth. The Bible is clear that all, male and female, are created in the image of God (Gen. 1:26–27). Rather, it was an assessment of a person’s value as a worker. Provision was made for the poor so they could make this kind of vow and could afford to fulfill it (v. 8).
Rules also outlined different situations that could arise in the dedication of property or animals (vv. 9–28). The basic principle at work was that a person needed to be faithful to give what they vowed. Scripture recognizes the human tendency, after the excitement of the moment when a vow was made, to go back on it once the request is answered or the moment of crisis passes. Fulfilling a vow was a joyous occasion (Ps. 61:8; 65:1). It was a time when people could recount God’s faithfulness and celebrate in His presence (Ps. 66:13–15).
>> Have you ever promised God something in a moment of desperate need? Did you fulfill your vow? Today’s reading is a reminder to take our vows seriously. When God does answer prayer, it is appropriate to celebrate through testifying about it to others.
You have compassion on all You have made. “All your works praise you, Lord; your faithful people extol you. Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations” (Ps. 145:10, 13).