VI. THE CENTRAL THOUGHT
The central thought of 1 and 2 Samuel is that the fulfillment of God’s economy needs man’s cooperation, as illustrated by the history of Samuel’s mother Hannah, Samuel, and David, in the positive sense, and by the history of Eli and Saul, in the negative sense. Such a cooperation is related to the personal enjoyment of the good land, which typifies the all-inclusive and all-extensive Christ. Hence, 1 and 2 Samuel are a continuation of Joshua, Judges, and Ruth, giving us the details concerning the enjoyment of the God-given good land. The good land enjoyed by the cooperators with God became the kingdom of God, in which they reigned as kings. This is a type of the New Testament believers’ enjoyment of Christ, which issues in their reign in the eternal life (Rom. 5:21).
We need to be impressed with the fact that the fulfillment of God’s economy requires our cooperation. To cooperate with God means to be bound together with God. We may use a three-legged race as an illustration. The runners in such a race must run in pairs, with each partner having one leg bound to one of his partner’s legs. In order for the partners to run, they must cooperate with each other and not move independently. This is a picture of the proper Christian life. To be a Christian is to be bound together with Christ and to have one living with Him by one life.
The birth of Samuel involved Hannah’s cooperation with God. The old priesthood had become stale and waning, and God wanted to have another beginning. For Samuel’s birth, God initiated things behind the scenes. On the one hand, He shut up Hannah’s womb; on the other hand, He prepared a provoker (1 Sam. 1:5-7). This forced Hannah to pray that the Lord would give her a male child. In her prayer she made a vow and said, "O Jehovah of hosts, if You will indeed look upon the affliction of Your maidservant and remember me and not forget Your maidservant, but give to Your maidservant a male child, then I will give him to Jehovah for all the days of his life, and no razor will come upon his head" (v. 11). This prayer was initiated not by Hannah but by God. God chose Hannah because she was willing to cooperate with Him. God answered her prayer and opened her womb, and Hannah conceived and bore a son (v. 20). Then according to her vow, she offered her son to God, placing him in the custody of Eli. From this we see that Hannah, Samuel’s mother, was one who cooperated very much with God. Her case shows us the kind of persons God expects to have today.
Recently, as I was considering this matter, I recalled the experience of Hudson Taylor, the founder of the China Inland Mission, which was a very spiritual mission and was much used by God. In his biography, written by his daughter-in-law, Mrs. Howard Taylor, we are told that one day Hudson Taylor said to the Lord in prayer that he was willing to give his life and everything for the people of China. This vow was honored by God and resulted in the forming of the China Inland Mission.
Although I do not compare myself with Hudson Taylor, I can testify that my experience was very similar. In the last of my teen-age years, while I was endeavoring to get my education, God caught me, and I was saved. Immediately afterward, while I was walking on the street, I looked up to the heavens and told the Lord that I wanted only Him and that I wanted to serve Him and travel from place to place bringing the Bible and preaching Christ. Although I did not realize it at the time, I was actually making a vow to the Lord. That vow has been honored by Him.
Today many continents and countries are open to the Lord’s recovery. There is the need for some to make a vow like Hannah. I hope that many of the young people will make such a vow. You need to say, "Lord, I am Yours. I just lend myself to You." God will take your heart and accomplish something to fulfill what you vow to Him.
(Life-Study of 1 & 2 Samuel, Chapter 1, by Witness Lee)