“Now there was a certain man of Ramathaimzophim, of mount Ephraim, and his name was Elkanah, the son of Jeroham, the son of Elihu, the son of Tohu, the son of Zuph, an Ephrathite:
And he had two wives; the name of one was Hannah, and the name of the other was Peninnah; And Peninnah had children but Hannah had no children.
And this man went up out of his city yearly to worship and to sacrifice unto the Lord of hosts in Shiloh. And the two sons of Eli, Hopni and Phinehas, the priests of the Lord were there.
And when the time was that Elkanah offered, he gave to Peninnah his wife, and to all sons and daughters, portions; But unto Hannah he gave a worthy portion (double portion); for he loved Hannah: but the Lord had shut her womb.
And her adversary provoked her sore, for to make her fret (constantly harassed her just to make her miserable), because the Lord had shut up her womb.
And as he did so year by year, when she went up to the house of the Lord, so she provoked her; therefore she wept, and did not eat. Then said Elkanah her husband to her, Hannah, why weepest (thou(Why are you crying?), and why eatest thou not? and why is thy heart grieved? am not I better to thee than ten sons?
So Hannah rose up after they had eaten in Shiloh, and after they had drunk. Now Eli the priest sat upon a seat by a post of the temple of the Lord. And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the Lord, and wept sore (wept greatly in anguish).
And she vowed a vow, and said, O Lord of hosts, if thou will indeed look upon the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child (baby boy), then I will give him unto the Lord all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come upon his head (a Nazarite vow).
And it came to pass, as she continued praying before the Lord, that Eli marked her mouth (watched her mouth carefully).
Now Hannah, she spake in her heart: only her lips moved but her voice was not heard; therefore Eli thought she had been drunken.
And Eli said unto her, How long wilt thou be drunken? put away thy wine from thee.
And Hannah answered and said, No, my lord, I am a woman of a sorrowful spirit: I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but have poured out my soul before the Lord.
Count not thine handmaid for a daughter of Belial (wicked woman of pagan deity); for out of the abundance of my complaint and grief have I spoken hitherto (so far).”1 Samuel 1:1-16
We’ll pick it back up from there in a little bit. You know, I wonder sometimes, Should I rename this Blog, something like, “Fun with Old English”, just kidding, I do fear sometimes that it gets tiresome trying to read all of my translation notes that are woven in with the scriptures, but we do need the clarification and I have shared this before so if you already knew this, just look over me, but I ADORE Old English, before I was saved it was really hard for me to grasp very much of it, people who were trying to encourage me would share a verse with me and suggest I read it, then I’d read a passage and I’d be like, What on earth language is this?! But once I was saved it was like God just flipped a switch in my brain and now it’s like reading a newspaper and I am so thankful to him for that.
And I have actually written a post past using this story, but it was on my heart for today, so if you are not familiar with this one, please stay with me, even though it starts out with a lineage breakdown of Elkanah, it is really more about his two wives and how God in his mercy had turned the sorrow of Hannah, sorrow that was constantly mocked by Peninnah, into a beautiful blessing in the face of her enemy.
BUT for the record, God NEVER meant for men to have multiple wives, that is a completely man-made concept.
One guy did it and everyone else soon followed suit, as humans have a tendency to do, if everyone else is doing it, it must be okay…. whether it really is or not, right?
So as Hannah shared her husband with his Peninnah, who was mother to multiple children, Hannah herself was barren and even though her husband favored her over Peninnah, she still desperately longed for a child, Peninnah knowing this used it as a constant torment over Hannah. and at this time as the went to worship Peninnah had yet again lorded her fertility over Hannah, so much so that Hannah was in such sorrow that she did not even eat, she could also have possibly been fasting, but often sorrow is so debilitating, that it even steals your appetite, ever been there? Most have, so distraught, can’t eat, can’t sleep, can do nothing except cry.
Her husband encourages her and then she prays, to make known all her heart and soul before God and as she is crying and pouring out her heart she is doing it silently and Eli, the priest is watching her, and this is so true as people often look at us and read things into our behavior that are just right, things that are so off base, I can’t help but to think especially in ministry, because with this story Eli was the priest but yet completed wrong about Hannah.
So as she is crying and pouring out her soul, and doing so silently, praying so quietly that he could only see her lips moving, he automatically assumes that she is drunk and berates her, asking her when is she going to stop drinking! Eli had been missing a lot when you get into the study of it, his sons that are mentioned with him were running amok and committing some seriously wicked things, his refusal to remove them from the temple, led to his own removal as priest.
And we learn from that that even though some one may be in ministry, they are not infallible, this is why so many suffer from “church hurt”, when they have been absolutely misjudged by those who do not have the right to judge in the first place.
Hannah was quick to let him know that she was not drunk, she was in sorrow, grief, despair.
She was being real, she was not there out of her duty to come worship, to be with her husband, to do as she was required, she was there to bear her heart, relinquish all her pain and to ask the Lord to give her a child, a child that she would then in turn give right back to him, for his service.
“Then Eli answered and said, Go in peace: and the God of Israel grant thee thy petition that thou hast asked of him.
And she said, Let thine handmaid find grace in thy sight. So the woman her way, and did eat, and her countenance was no more sad.
And they rose up in the morning early, and worshipped the Lord, and returned, and came to their house to Ramah; and Elkanah knew Hannah his wife; and the Lord remembered her (she conceived).
Wherefore it came to pass, when time was come after Hannah had conceived, that she bare a son, and called his name Samuel, saying, Because I have asked him of the Lord. .” 1 Samuel 1:17-20
Hannah did not go back until she had weaned Samuel, as she had vowed him to the Lord’s service, we’ll pick it back up there.
“And they slew a bullock and she brought the child to Eli.
And she said, As my soul liveth, my lord, I am the woman that stood by thee here, praying unto the Lord. For this child I prayed, and the Lord hath given me my petition that I asked of him.
Therefore also have I lent him to the Lord; as long as he liveth he shall be lent to the Lord, And he worshipped the Lord there.
And Hannah prayed, and said, My heart rejoiceth in the Lord, mine horn (strength) is exalted in the Lord: my mouth is enlarged over (smiles at) mine enemies; because I rejoice in thy salvation.
There is none holy as the Lord; for there is none beside thee; neither is there any rock like our God.” 1 Samuel 18: 25-28, 1 Samuel 19:1,2
For as much as she had been tormented by Peninnah, Hannah really did have the “last laugh” God blessed her not only with Samuel but five more children after him and that child she had prayed so earnestly for, Samuel, well he replaced Eli and went on to be a great servant to the Lord, including anointing David as King, two books of the Bible now bear his name.
In the grand scheme of things, neither of these ladies could have possibly known in their lifetime that thousands of years there would be discussions of their behaviors, we are left knowing the cruel mistreatment of Hannah by Peninnah, but given the victorious story of Hannah as hope, so reflective of the magnificent plan of God that we can not even begin to understand.
The take away from all of this is simply this, do not give up no matter where you are in your journey or how far off course you feel taht you may be, God’s plan is always perfect and sometimes those paths and roads that led us there can feel like we have taken a wrong turn somewhere along the way when in fact you could be exactly where you need to be to fulfil the plan for your life.
Think of this, what if Hannah had not barren, what if she had many children, what if she had never asked for Samuel, what if she had never prayed, what if she had never vowed him to the Lord?
What if this a perfect account of the perfect timing of the Lord, timing to fulfill his will to send a little boy who would become Samuel the Prophet to this earth, through a mother who had through her own pain and sorrow opened her heart and surrender to him to allow for that perfect will.
Φλογιζω NBJ 2021/ Rev. Nina Brown Johnson