| || |The Berean Expositor Volume 53 - Page 165 of 215 Index | Zoom | |
solemn promises. One pledged the son she prayed for to the service of God all the days
of his life; the second undertook that he should be a Nazarite. A Nazarite was committed
to undertake three things: (1) Never to take intoxicating drink. (2) Never to cut his hair.
(3) To avoid all ceremonial defilement by corpses, even of the nearest of kin.
These restrictions and customs had an inner significance among the nation of Israel.
The abstinence from intoxicating drink typified that the Nazarite determined to avoid all
sensual indulgence which might cloud the mind, and so render him unfit for prayer or
work for the Lord. The untouched hair, unlike today, was an outward symbol that the
consecrated one had determined to give up the pleasures of the world, and to devote
himself wholly to the service of the Jehovah. The avoiding of contact with the dead was
a public avowal of all moral defilement and indicated that a Nazarite gave up everything
which could stain or soil the life dedicated to the covenant God of Israel.
Hannah had left the sacrificial Passover meal alone and sought the sanctuary of the
Tabernacle courtyard. It is very likely that she was the only one that had come to pray
there, for as we have said already, few in Israel were faithful to Jehovah at that time. The
high priest, Eli, was very old, and sat on his chair of state overlooking the whole of the
precincts. His eyesight was fading, and as he watched this young woman he became
convinced that she was intoxicated: that she had, as so many would do that day, taken
too much wine at the table and abused the celebration of the feast that commemorated
God's deliverance of the people from the bondage of Egypt.
So Hannah prayed, and mingled tears with her petition. It was indeed an earnest
prayer that really came from her heart. She was unconscious of anyone around her,
concentrated as she was in expressing the one great desire that filled her thoughts day
after day. This intensity of prayer is illustrated again in the N.T. by the example of
Epaphras, a fellow-prisoner with Paul at Rome, who apparently was greatly convinced
about the group of believers at Colosse. The apostle Paul writes in Col. 4: 12:
"Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always labouring
fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of
"Fervently" brings before us "an urgent, burning desire for": the exact opposite of
"being half-hearted" or "luke-warm". God must have looked with favour upon the
intensity of spirit of Epaphras as he prayed, especially as they were words that sought
blessing for others and not himself.
Prayer must be sincere and fervent. We must avoid repetitions and hurriedly gabbled
phrases. The Lord Jesus taught his disciples to avoid outward show and pretence and in
Matt. 6: 6, 7 said to them:
"When you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, Who is
unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when
you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because
of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before
you ask Him" (N.I.V.).