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Mothers of the Bible — Hannah

12 Feb

Once after a sacrificial meal at Shiloh, Hannah got up and went to pray. Eli the priest was sitting at his customary place beside the entrance of the Tabernacle. Hannah was in deep anguish, crying bitterly as she prayed to the Lord. And she made this vow: “O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, if you will look upon my sorrow and answer my prayer and give me a son, then I will give him back to you. He will be yours for his entire lifetime, and as a sign that he has been dedicated to the Lord, his hair will never be cut. ” As she was praying to the Lord, Eli watched her. Seeing her lips moving but hearing no sound, he thought she had been drinking. “Must you come here drunk?” he demanded. “Throw away your wine!” “Oh no, sir!” she replied. “I haven’t been drinking wine or anything stronger. But I am very discouraged, and I was pouring out my heart to the Lord. Don’t think I am a wicked woman! For I have been praying out of great anguish and sorrow.” “In that case,” Eli said, “go in peace! May the God of Israel grant the request you have asked of him.” “Oh, thank you, sir!” she exclaimed. Then she went back and began to eat again, and she was no longer sad. The entire family got up early the next morning and went to worship the Lord once more. Then they returned home to Ramah. When Elkanah slept with Hannah, the Lord remembered her plea, and in due time she gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, for she said, “I asked the Lord for him.” The next year Elkanah and his family went on their annual trip to offer a sacrifice to the Lord and to keep his vow. But Hannah did not go. She told her husband, “Wait until the boy is weaned. Then I will take him to the Tabernacle and leave him there with the Lord permanently. ” “Whatever you think is best,” Elkanah agreed. “Stay here for now, and may the Lord help you keep your promise. ” So she stayed home and nursed the boy until he was weaned. When the child was weaned, Hannah took him to the Tabernacle in Shiloh. They brought along a three-year-old bull for the sacrifice and a basket of flour and some wine. After sacrificing the bull, they brought the boy to Eli. “Sir, do you remember me?” Hannah asked. “I am the very woman who stood here several years ago praying to the Lord. I asked the Lord to give me this boy, and he has granted my request. Now I am giving him to the Lord, and he will belong to the Lord his whole life.” And they worshiped the Lord there. Then Hannah prayed: “My heart rejoices in the Lord! The Lord has made me strong. Now I have an answer for my enemies; I rejoice because you rescued me. No one is holy like the Lord! There is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God. “Stop acting so proud and haughty! Don’t speak with such arrogance! For the Lord is a God who knows what you have done; he will judge your actions. The bow of the mighty is now broken, and those who stumbled are now strong. Those who were well fed are now starving, and those who were starving are now full. The childless woman now has seven children, and the woman with many children wastes away. The Lord gives both death and life; he brings some down to the grave but raises others up. The Lord makes some poor and others rich; he brings some down and lifts others up. He lifts the poor from the dust and the needy from the garbage dump. He sets them among princes, placing them in seats of honor. For all the earth is the Lord’s, and he has set the world in order. “He will protect his faithful ones, but the wicked will disappear in darkness. No one will succeed by strength alone. Those who fight against the Lord will be shattered. He thunders against them from heaven; the Lord judges throughout the earth. He gives power to his king; he increases the strength of his anointed one.” Then Elkanah returned home to Ramah without Samuel. And the boy served the Lord by assisting Eli the priest.
1 Samuel 1:9-2:11

Dear God, Hannah is a fascinating woman. She really wanted a child, she got her child, she lived up to her end of the bargain with you, and then she prayed a prayer of vindication pretty much directed at Peninnah. We will learn later that you blessed her with more children, but I can’t imagine how much she must have lived Samuel.

Life is so different for women than men, and, frankly, I’m probably foolish to even try to put myself in Hannah’s place. She had endured a lot of hurt and sorrow. She was childless. I remember the stress my wife and I went through when it took us a few months to get pregnant the first time we started trying. I can’t imagine the strain of years and years. I also can’t even begin to understand the complication of having another woman in the home who is having children with your husband. I know it was the culture, but that’s just messed up, although it seems to be a repeated theme for those you use (Isaac, Joseph, Samuel, etc.).

I really like the picture that the author paints later in 1 Samuel 2:18-21:

But Samuel was ministering before the Lord–a boy wearing a linen ephod. Each year his mother made him a little robe and took it to him when she went up with her husband to offer the annual sacrifice. Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife, saying, “May the Lord give you children by this woman to take the place of the one she prayed for and gave to the Lord.” Then they would go home. And the Lord was gracious to Hannah; she conceived and gave birth to three sons and two daughters. Meanwhile, the boy SAmuel grew up in the presence of the Lord.

I love the image of Hannah working on Samuel’s robes. I don’t know how ornate they were allowed to be, but I’ll bet she made them as beautiful as possible. And I’ll bet Samuel loved getting a new one each year–at least until he was older and was probably embarrassed by it. I picture her running to him and hugging him. I picture his stoic father looking at him with pride. I picture her bringing the five new babies over the years. Maybe Samuel was a little jealous of the first one or two, but, like all older children, learned to deal with it and love his younger siblings.

Father, once again, Hannah wasn’t a perfect person and she wasn’t a perfect parent. It’s obvious she was still bitter towards Peninnah, and I’m sure Peninnah didn’t care much for her either. Their children. Probably didn’t get along much better than did Isaac and Ishmael. But that’s what you use. You use imperfect people, parents, and children to enter the world. You work through us all. As we saw with Samson, you sometimes work through us even when we have no relationship or regard for you. So I offer my life to you. It’s broken. It can be messy. It is most certainly flawed and even sometimes sinful. But it’s what I have to bring to your cross–to the altar. I give it to you and ask that you use it as you will.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on February 12, 2020 in 1 Samuel, Mothers of the Bible

 

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