Year 2 Day 163
Read - 1 Samuel 1:4-11
Message - Alan Burke
‘Sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me’. We’ve heard it, said it but it’s nonsense, for words can hurt us deeply. We were introduced the the certain man, Elkanah (1) who year after year went up to worship and sacrifice to the Lord, taking his children and his two wives. We had already been told Hannah had no children but now we learn the reason for that, “the Lord had closed her womb” (5). It was likely that Hannah was Elkanah’s sweetheart and took a second wife when she was unable to have children. Even so it is clear that he loved her, he gave the double portion the most favoured part to her but things were far from idillic for Hannah. She was tortured, not physically but emotionally by Elkanah’s other wife because the Lord had closed her womb. Hannah had words thrown at her and knew the reality of how harsh they could be, the constant the baiting, the winding, the slagging went on year after year whenever Hannah went up to the house of the Lord. It was so bad that she was left weeping and would not eat.
Then we are told after eating and drinking in Shiloh, Hannah stood up, while Eli was sitting, she wept her wee heart out and praying to the Lord. The heartbreak of Hannah in this is clear, she’s weeping in prayer, she makes a vow. As many women and men have done since her time, Hannah took her grief to the house of the Lord, “in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the Lord, and wept sore” (10). This is a prayer of desperation. She, who ached for a child even to the point of not eating, was willing to give up this child to the service of the Lord just for the privilege of bearing the child.
We may read this and find it surprising how Hannah who longs so much for a child would be to do this. But in her waiting, with all her praying, God was bringing her to the place where she was willing to give up the child as the “faithful priest” that God raises up (2:35). In one of Israel’s most desperate moments, it was the selflessness and righteousness of Hannah that saved the day. This wasn’t Hannah making a deal with God, she wasn’t trying to twist his arm so she would get what she wanted. Rather she was forfeiting the joys of parenting she longed for giving this child to God. The Lord was at work, I’m sure Hannah at the time did not see it but he was using what she faced for his glory. In her suffering, God was at work, as she was tormented, baited, tortured by Peninnah God was at work.
In what we face, we may never fully understand why we go through it, we may wonder to ourselves ‘Why me?’, but God is at work in all that we face, our suffering is never wasted. I want to take you to the New Testament, John 9:1-4, where we read "As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3 Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.”. The disciples assumed that the cause of this man’s blindness was his sin or his parents. But Jesus makes it clear it was for another reason, that the works of God might be displayed. When we suffer although we may not understand it, we ask ‘Why me?’, God is ultimately using it for his glory like this man.
Q 49 Which is the second commandment?
The second commandment is, Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: thou shalt not bow down thy self to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; and showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments. (Exod. 20:4–6)