1 There was a man from Ramathaim-zophim in the hill country of Ephraim. His name was Elkanah son of Jeroham, son of Elihu, son of Tohu, son of Zuph, an Ephraimite. 2 He had two wives, the first named Hannah and the second Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah was childless. 3 This man would go up from his town every year to worship and to sacrifice to the Lord of Armies at Shiloh, where Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, were the Lord’s priests. 4 Whenever Elkanah offered a sacrifice, he always gave portions of the meat to his wife Peninnah and to each of her sons and daughters. 5 But he gave a double portion to Hannah, for he loved her even though the Lord had kept her from conceiving. 6 Her rival would taunt her severely just to provoke her, because the Lord had kept Hannah from conceiving. 7 Year after year, when she went up to the Lord’s house, her rival taunted her in this way. Hannah would weep and would not eat. 8 “Hannah, why are you crying?” her husband Elkanah would ask. “Why won’t you eat? Why are you troubled? Am I not better to you than ten sons?”
During time of Judges, everyone did what seemed right to themselves, here we see how bad an idea polygamy is. In almost every case of polygamy in the Bible, it is either, outright condemned or through narrative shown why you shouldn’t practice it. Here, as well as in other places, we are shown the rivalry that results from two women competing for the same man’s heart.
9 On one occasion, Hannah got up after they ate and drank at Shiloh. The priest Eli was sitting on a chair by the doorpost of the Lord’s temple. 10 Deeply hurt, Hannah prayed to the Lord and wept with many tears. 11 Making a vow, she pleaded, “Lord of Armies, if you will take notice of your servant’s affliction, remember and not forget me, and give your servant a son, I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and his hair will never be cut.” 12 While she continued praying in the Lord’s presence, Eli watched her mouth. 13 Hannah was praying silently, and though her lips were moving, her voice could not be heard. Eli thought she was drunk 14 and said to her, “How long are you going to be drunk? Get rid of your wine!” 15 “No, my lord,” Hannah replied. “I am a woman with a broken heart. I haven’t had any wine or beer; I’ve been pouring out my heart before the Lord. 16 Don’t think of me as a wicked woman; I’ve been praying from the depth of my anguish and resentment.”
There are many women who have faced the pain of not being able to have children. Hannah said she was a woman with a broken heart, praying from the depth of her anguish and resentment.
Verse 6 said that the Lord had kept Hannah from conceiving. Hannah loved and followed God, but God chose to withhold something from her that would cause her to suffer and hurt in order to accomplish his greater purpose for all people. She couldn’t see it at the time, and neither can we. We are Americans in the 21st Century. We never look at suffering as a good thing. And most of the time that is true. But not all suffering is without a greater purpose. God said when we suffer for his sake, it is a privilege and a blessing. Jesus said
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs.
2 Consider it a great joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you experience various trials, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 And let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.
and Paul said this:
29 For it has been granted to you on Christ’s behalf not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him,
Maybe your situation is something completely different, but regardless of the reason, the pain is still very real, and maybe you are feeling resentment towards God as well.
Now Hannah was not being disciplined by God because of her own sin that He was trying to get her to repent of, nor was satan attacking her and keeping her from having children in order to tear their family apart. God chose Hannah to incorporate into His grand story of redemption. Let’s keep reading.
17 Eli responded, “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant the request you’ve made of him.” 18 “May your servant find favor with you,” she replied. Then Hannah went on her way; she ate and no longer looked despondent.
20 After some time, Hannah conceived and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, because she said, “I requested him from the Lord.”
24 When she had weaned him, she took him with her to Shiloh, as well as a three-year-old bull, half a bushel of flour, and a clay jar of wine. Though the boy was still young, she took him to the Lord’s house at Shiloh. 25 Then they slaughtered the bull and brought the boy to Eli. 26 “Please, my lord,” she said, “as surely as you live, my lord, I am the woman who stood here beside you praying to the Lord. 27 I prayed for this boy, and since the Lord gave me what I asked him for, 28 I now give the boy to the Lord. For as long as he lives, he is given to the Lord.” Then he worshiped the Lord there.
11 Elkanah went home to Ramah, but the boy served the Lord in the presence of the priest Eli.
You say, wait a minute, so God kept Hannah from having children so that she would give away her only son to Him? This still doesn’t make any sense. How could this be a good thing. The one thing she has wanted for so long, she still can’t have because she had to give him away.
Well, for starters, she didn’t have to give him away. It was her choice to give him to God’s service in the temple, God didn’t tell her to do that, she chose to. It kind of reminds you of what God Himself did with His own son doesn’t it?
The one thing God wants more than anything, to spend forever with His perfect Son, He gave up in order to save others, to save us. Let’s keep reading:
12 Eli’s sons were wicked men; they did not respect the Lord 13 or the priests’ share of the sacrifices from the people. When anyone offered a sacrifice, the priest’s servant would come with a three-pronged meat fork while the meat was boiling 14 and plunge it into the container, kettle, cauldron, or cooking pot. The priest would claim for himself whatever the meat fork brought up. This is the way they treated all the Israelites who came there to Shiloh. 15 Even before the fat was burned, the priest’s servant would come and say to the one who was sacrificing, “Give the priest some meat to roast, because he won’t accept boiled meat from you—only raw.” 16 If that person said to him, “The fat must be burned first; then you can take whatever you want for yourself,” the servant would reply, “No, I insist that you hand it over right now. If you don’t, I’ll take it by force!” 17 So the servants’ sin was very severe in the presence of the Lord, because the men treated the Lord’s offering with contempt. 18 Samuel served in the Lord’s presence—this mere boy was dressed in the linen ephod. 19 Each year his mother made him a little robe and took it to him when she went with her husband to offer the annual sacrifice. 20 Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife: “May the Lord give you children by this woman in place of the one she has given to the Lord.” Then they would go home. 21 The Lord paid attention to Hannah’s need, and she conceived and gave birth to three sons and two daughters. Meanwhile, the boy Samuel grew up in the presence of the Lord. 22 Now Eli was very old. He heard about everything his sons were doing to all Israel and how they were sleeping with the women who served at the entrance to the tent of meeting. 23 He said to them, “Why are you doing these things? I have heard about your evil actions from all these people. 24 No, my sons, the news I hear the Lord’s people spreading is not good. 25 If one person sins against another, God can intercede for him, but if a person sins against the Lord, who can intercede for him?” But they would not listen to their father, since the Lord intended to kill them. 26 By contrast, the boy Samuel grew in stature and in favor with the Lord and with people. 27 A man of God came to Eli and said to him, “This is what the Lord says: ‘Didn’t I reveal myself to your forefather’s family when they were in Egypt and belonged to Pharaoh’s palace? 28 Out of all the tribes of Israel, I chose your house to be my priests, to offer sacrifices on my altar, to burn incense, and to wear an ephod in my presence. I also gave your forefather’s family all the Israelite fire offerings. 29 Why, then, do all of you despise my sacrifices and offerings that I require at the place of worship? You have honored your sons more than me, by making yourselves fat with the best part of all of the offerings of my people Israel.’
You see, in the first two chapters Hannah is contrasted with Eli. Eli accused Hannah of being sinful, but it was Hannah who ended up honoring God more than her son. Eli honored his sons more that he honored God.
We must choose to honor God more than family because He deserves it. Those we love are gifts from God, we should thank Him for them, not prioritize them over Him.
The grand narrative, creation, fall, redemption, restoration.
This is God’s story of redemption, and Samuel played a huge role, and Hannah kept in contact with him, had more sons and daughters, and was so proud of him. Hannah was a woman of God and when it was all said and done, and she was standing in the presence of God for the first time and was able to look back at the part she played in God’s redemption story, I guarantee you, she didn’t regret any of it, not only did she not regret it, she considered it a joy and a privilege to play such an important part in God’s salvation story. Now I don’t know what part of God’s story your suffering may play, or whether your suffering is due to your own sin, which is a form of discipline, or whether it is due to the fall, because we live on a broken planet, but I can promise you this. If you will determine to live wholeheartedly to God, give Him all you have and all you are, He has promised to make all the good things and the bad things work together for our good, for those of us who love God.
28 We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, so that he would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; and those he called, he also justified; and those he justified, he also glorified.
We must live our lives like Hannah, completely devoted to God’s glory, and loving Him more than we love the people He gave us to be with on this earth for this short period of time. We must love the giver, more than the gifts He’s given us. You see what Hannah knew, that many mother’s don’t realize is that your children don’t actually belong to you. They belong to God, and they are on loan to you. He has given them to you for a short time, and one day He is going to call them back to himself and they will have to give an account to Him, just like you and I will have to do. Our day is quickly approaching. God said:
27 And just as it is appointed for people to die once—and after this, judgment—
We all will die, and after we die, we all will stand before the God who made us, and gave us life, and loved us, and died for us, and we will be judged by Him, and everyone will be found wanting, everyone will be found guilty. But the author of Hebrews didn’t stop there. Later, we put in verse numbers and split this sentence up, but when God inspired it’s writing, He didn’t stop at the judgment, He went on to say:
28 so also Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.
Christ, bore our sins, and took our punishment, so that we could be saved, and so we wait. We wait for His return. We wait for Him to make all things right. We wait for Him to stop all the evil, and pain, and suffering, and tragedy, and heartache, and resentment, and bitterness, and worry, and anxiety. We wait for Him to wipe the tears from our eyes, and tell us that we are loved by Him and that He will protect us and shield us from all evil, from now own. We wait as a bride waiting for her groom. But we won’t be waiting long, so while we wait, we follow. We follow Him, everywhere he is leading us, to do what He is already doing.
8 For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift—9 not from works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time for us to do.
God has prepared good works for each and every one of us to be doing until He returns.
16 Your eyes saw me when I was formless; all my days were written in your book and planned before a single one of them began.
Every single day of your life is written in God’s book and planned. Planned by who? Not by you, you weren’t even created yet. If you could write your own plans for the rest of you life, or have anyone else write them, who better than God? Now I believe in God’s complete sovereignty, but I also believe in man’s free will, which God allows us to do, what He doesn’t want us to do, He allows us to reject Him, even though He doesn’t want us to reject Him, and I’m begging and pleading with you to be reconciled to Him. Don’t reject Him another day. Submit to Him and love Him, and give your life completely over to Him, since He is the one who is giving you life anyways. Trust Him and ask Him to forgive you of sinning against Him. And see what He has in store for the remainder of your days here on earth. He can write a story like none other, and I’m looking forward to reading every page, day by day, and seeing the adventure He has written for me.