Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Because I asked the Lord for Him...

Hannah's story is such a comfort to my soul. Let's start out with some background information.

Hannah's story can be found in Samuel 1:1-2:11.

Hannah was married to Elkanah. Elkanah also had another wife, Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah had none. Polygamy was a custom during this time to ensure the birth of a male heir. It was practiced even by godly men, though it was not the original divine intention. Even though Elkanah had two wives, his one true love was Hannah (But to Hannah he gave a double portion because he loved her, and the Lord had closed her womb. 1 Samuel 1:5). Peninnah was not a nice girl. She provoked and taunted Hannah. I can't imagine the emotions I would feel if someone were teasing me about my infertility. I probably wouldn't act very godly! I am sure Peninnah was acting out of jealousy because she knew she would never be loved by the man she was married to.

Three times a year Elkanah went to Shiloh to appear before the Lord for a feast that celebrated, with joy and feasting, God's blessing on the year's crops. Imagine how hard this had to be for Hannah. What crops can she be thankful for? The journey was only fifteen miles, but I will assume that every year it seemed longer and longer. This went on year after year. And every time Peninnah provoked Hannah until she wept and would not eat. And Elkanah would say, "Hannah, why are you weeping? Why don't you eat? Why are you downhearted? Don't I mean more to you than ten sons?" (1 Samuel 1:8).

On this particular trip Hannah stood up from the table and went to the temple. She went into the temple with bitterness in her soul. She cried out to God and made a vow saying, "O Lord Almighty, if you will only look upon your servant's misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head. " (1 Samuel 1:11). Hannah was so consumed by her prayer that the priest thought she was drunk and scolded her. She explained that she was a woman deeply troubled pouring her soul out to the Lord. Can't you just picture it? Hannah is consumed in prayer physically shaking with groans that words cannot express.

Once Hannah left the temple her face was no longer downcast. Why is this? God did not promise her a child. God provided Hannah with a big dose of peace that passes all understanding. The next morning they worshipped and returned home. AND....so in the course of time Hannah conceived and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, saying "Because I asked the Lord for him." (1 Samuel 1:20)

Now this is great and wonderful, but my first thought when reading is that she has to give him away...she made a vow to God. WOW, Mahala, don't all children belong to God? Hannah nursed Samuel until she weaned him. Once he was weaned she took him to the house of the Lord. Okay...can I just say that I would be one of those strange people in the park nursing a 15 year old!! But she did it...she gave him to the Lord for his whole life. Each year she made him a little robe and took it to him. Then God blessed her again and again...she conceived and gave birth to 3 sons and 2 daughters! And Samuel grew to be a prophet and Israel's last judge. AMAZING!

I leave you with Hannah's Prayer (1 Samuel 2:1-10):

My heart rejoices in the Lord;
in the Lord my horn is lifted high.
My mouth boasts over my enemies,
for I delight in your deliverance.
There is no one holy like the Lord;
there is no one besides you;
there is no Rock like our God.
Do not keep talking so proudly or let your moth speak such arrogance,
for the Lord is a God who knows and by him deeds are weighed.
The bows of the warriors are broken,
but those who stumbled are armed with strength.
Those who were full hire themselves out for food,
but those who were hungry hunger no more.
She who was barren has borne seven children,
but she who has had many sons pines away.
The Lord brings death and makes alive;
He brings down to the grave and raises up.
The Lord sends poverty and wealth; he humbles and he exalts.
He raises the poor from the dust
and lifts the needy from the ash heap;
he seats them with princes and has them inherit a throne of honor.
For the foundations of the earth are the Lord's;
upon them he has set the world.
He will guard the feet of his saints,
but the wicked will be silenced in darkness.
It is not by strength that one prevails;
those who oppose the Lord will be shattered.
He will thunder against them from heaven;
the Lord will judge the ends of the earth.
He will give strength to his king and exalt the horn of his anointed.

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