June 5. I Samuel 1:1-2:11
What a fascinating portion of scripture we read today! First of all, doesn’t your heart just go out to Hannah? She is repeatedly bruised by the words of others. She has a rival, her husband’s other wife, who mocks her childlessness. I can’t even imagine the pain that caused. There would be no rest in a home where you lived with another wife who taunted you. Then, her husband clearly doesn’t understand her pain. He thinks she should be happy that she has him! This shows, speaking charitably here, a gross lack of understanding for a woman’s yearning for a child. Then, as Hannah prays and pours out her anguish to the Lord, the priest thinks she is drunk. Poor Hannah is not catching a break, is she?
And yet, poor Hannah is doing the right thing regardless of her misfortunes with barrenness and bruising words. She is crying out to God. Note how she addresses God in the first prayer we read as she begs for a child: “O LORD of Heaven’s Armies” is how she begins. What a great way to start when you are asking for something that feels impossible. Just speaking that out loud would help one remember God’s incredible might and power. He commands all the angels of Heaven! I learn a lot about prayer just from this. First of all, no matter how wounded I am, the right place to go is to the Lord in prayer. And second, I need to remind myself of Who He is, so I pray with confidence and trust.
God answers the cries of Hannah’s heart and she is faithful to her promise to give back to God the son He gave to her. I wonder how long Hannah nursed Samuel? I bet it was a good long time before she weaned him, right? Because once he was weaned, off he went to live with Eli, the priest. Hannah would only see her beloved son occasionally. She was a woman of her word and I am sure it cost her.
Hannah’s second prayer is one filled with praise and wisdom. She honors God and she rightly names Him over and over as Rock, as Judge, as Holy, etcetera. I learn from this prayer that praising God and noticing His attributes as I pray brings honor to Him. Hannah is not just praying about herself and her situation. She is reaching high above her own individual circumstances and honoring God Himself. I need to do more of that.
My verses: I Samuel 2:6-8 (excerpts) “The LORD gives both life and death; he brings some down to the grave but raises others up. The LORD makes some poor and others rich … For all the earth is the LORD’s and he has set the world in order.”
My response: Hannah speaks a hard truth here, Lord. You do as You please in the ordering of our lives. And sometimes we just don’t understand an untimely death or a significant loss of job or home. Yet, You have a plan. You have “set the world in order” and even the hard, discordant notes in the symphony you’ve composed have a place and a purpose. Help me to trust when I don’t understand.