Monday, May 23, 2011

1 Samuel 1:1-20

1 There was a certain man from Ramathaim, a Zuphite from the hill country of Ephraim, whose name was Elkanah son of Jeroham, the son of Elihu, the son of Tohu, the son of Zuph, an Ephraimite. 2 He had two wives; one was called Hannah and the other Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah had none.

3 Year after year this man went up from his town to worship and sacrifice to the LORD Almighty at Shiloh, where Hophni and Phinehas, the two sons of Eli, were priests of the LORD. 4 Whenever the day came for Elkanah to sacrifice, he would give portions of the meat to his wife Peninnah and to all her sons and daughters. 5 But to Hannah he gave a double portion because he loved her, and the LORD had closed her womb. 6 Because the LORD had closed Hannah’s womb, her rival kept provoking her in order to irritate her. 7 This went on year after year. Whenever Hannah went up to the house of the LORD, her rival provoked her till she wept and would not eat. 8 Her husband Elkanah would say to her, “Hannah, why are you weeping? Why don’t you eat? Why are you downhearted? Don’t I mean more to you than ten sons?”

9 Once when they had finished eating and drinking in Shiloh, Hannah stood up. Now Eli the priest was sitting on his chair by the doorpost of the LORD’s house. 10 In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the LORD, weeping bitterly. 11 And she made a vow, saying, “LORD Almighty, if you will only look on 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.”

12 As she kept on praying to the LORD, Eli observed her mouth. 13 Hannah was praying in her heart, and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard. Eli thought she was drunk 14 and said to her, “How long are you going to stay drunk? Put away your wine.”

15 “Not so, my lord,” Hannah replied, “I am a woman who is deeply troubled. I have not been drinking wine or beer; I was pouring out my soul to the LORD. 16 Do not take your servant for a wicked woman; I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief.”

17 Eli answered, “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him.”

18 She said, “May your servant find favor in your eyes.” Then she went her way and ate something, and her face was no longer downcast.

19 Early the next morning they arose and worshiped before the LORD and then went back to their home at Ramah. Elkanah made love to his wife Hannah, and the LORD remembered her. 20 So in the course of time Hannah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, saying, “Because I asked the LORD for him.”

Questions to consider:

  • "But to Hannah he gave a double portion because he loved her." Do you think that Elkanah didn't love his other wife?
  • How would you feel if you were in Hannah's position, before God granted her a child?
  • How do you feel about Elkanah's response to Hannah's sadness?
  • Do you think it made sense that Eli thought Hannah was drunk when she was praying?
  • What do you make of the phrase "and the Lord remembered [Hannah]"?
Possibilities for prayer:

As we go through this sermon series on courage, we want to look at stories of courage throughout the Bible. Hannah's story strikes me as an example of courage. She was bold enough to go to the temple and to cry out in anguish to God about her desire to have a child. She was so passionately crying out to God that the priest thought she was drunk! Hannah was not content to be childless, even though her husband loved her very much--despite her inability to have a child. And God responded to her cries, to her passion, to her bold prayer and promise in the temple.

I don't think this story tells us that we can always get what we want as long as we ask ardently enough, but it is a story about the way that God hears our prayers and responds, so we should boldly bring them before our God! Today, try just that: bring your heart's desire before God in courage, and in faith, and see what happens.