Our natural focus would be to either focus on Hannah or Phinehas, I’m sure both have caused you strong feelings after reading the first paragraph. Before you spend too much time on either of these women though, let’s focus on the Lord. Notice that the Lord closed Hannah’s womb, “...but the LORD had closed her womb.” (1 Samuel 1:5) Many people will struggle with that statement but we need to remember what the Lord’s word tells us, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD.” (Isaiah 55:8)
Do we even stop and ask the Lord if our difficult situations are actually sent from Him? Not everything bad or difficult in our lives is happenstance. Much of it is caused by our own choices and circumstances, some of it is caused by the fact we live in a fallen world, but there still are situations that are from the Lord. Other situations that are not brought about by the Lord will be allowed in our life and we will see God’s mighty hand if we seek Him through it all. Before we make any move to resolve our plights, do we seek the Lord for understanding?
Hannah was a broken woman even though she had a husband who loved her very much. But even with his attention and love he was a constant reminder to her that she was the one who was barren. She endured her circumstances for many years but each year she became more oppressed and depressed.
I’m touched deeply that the Lord allowed Hannah’s story to be written so that you and I could experience the anguish she felt for many years and then the brokenness that would occur so that she could be set free. Hopefully we can learn from Hannah that she had a choice, she could either feel sorry for herself or turn it over to God, just as you and I have the same choice.
This was one of the annual festivals and appears to be the Feast of the Passover which is all about redemption. After the sacrifices were made there would be a feast but Hannah could not eat or drink. Remember why the sacrifices were made? They were to atone for all the sins committed the past year. The blood of the unblemished lamb would “redeem” them for another year.
For Hannah, this year was going to be much different. Previous years she would pour out her anguish and return home to repeat the past over and over again. But this year, “Then Hannah rose after eating and drinking in Shiloh. Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat by the doorpost of the temple of the LORD. She, greatly distressed, prayed to the LORD and wept bitterly.” (1 Samuel 1:9-10) “As for Hannah, she was speaking in her heart, only her lips were moving, but her voice was not heard. So Eli thought she was drunk.” (1 Samuel 1:13)
Hannah wasn’t causing a scene but she also did not contain her sorrow. She had been humiliated for many years and was finally broken into pieces. When we give our burdens to the Lord a weight is lifted from us. We become free in our souls and that often transcends to physical strengthening. As we read the text we find something very significant. The reason they were at the festival was to make a sacrifice to atone for their sins. Hannah was so deeply grieved that she was finally able to pour out EVERY hurt to the Lord, including the one that she had kept buried deep inside her, and the blood of the Lamb, the sacrificial offering, cleansed her of all unrighteousness! The atoning blood of the Lamb cleansed her and made her whole.
That is exactly why Jesus came to this earth! “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” (John 3:16-18)
When we keep “secrets” from God, we are greatly hurting ourselves. We are keeping ourselves in bondage. God already knows the sin. He knows all of our feelings, our actions. He understands the motivation and honesty behind every word and action we do. There is nothing hidden from God! But yet, we act as if we are the ones who need to fix the problem and not God. Oh the heartache and pain we cause ourselves….and God. Why do we cause God heartache and pain? Because He loves us so much (He created us for relationship) and we have purposely separated ourselves from Him and refused His love, His healing and His deliverance in our lives! “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” (Genesis 1:27)
For Hannah, this is the year that she gives it ALL to the Lord. What had she been holding back? Unforgiveness! Unforgiveness keeps us in bondage and destroys our soul. This time when Hannah addressed the hatred and unforgiveness in her heart toward Phinehas, something happened, her life was changed forever. She no longer felt that it was a competition. Actually she found God’s heart. “Delight yourself in the LORD; and He will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4) She found “the secret”, hold onto nothing but the love of God and He will guide you all the days of your life. Hannah wasn’t aware of it but God was now ready to move not only in her life but in the lives of His people. His plan was going to unfold. See, we all have a very important part in God’s plans, if we will allow Him to work through us. Hannah never could have imagined what the Lord would do with her “gift” to Him of giving Him her son.
Let’s listen to Hannah’s prayer and see what changed. She made a vow and said, “O LORD of hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your maidservant and remember me, and not forget Your maidservant, but will give Your maidservant a son, then I will give him to the LORD all the days of his life, and a razor shall never come on his head.” (1 Samuel 1:11) This time she didn’t want revenge on Phinehas, Phinehas wasn’t her problem (Phinehas was a problem but was not the root of Hannah’s problem). Hannah’s problem was her focus. Her focus previously had been on herself, her hurt, her appearance in others eyes, her value. But when she came to the end of herself and let it all go, her heart was set free and she delighted to please God!
Giving our burdens to the Lord is the equivalent of putting on the armor of God! “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.” (Ephesians 6:10-11) The devil’s scheme here wasn’t to make Hannah infertile, God had closed her womb. So Satan did the next best thing he could find, have Phinehas shoot darts at her day and night and mock her and put her down as if she didn’t have any worth. Notice that in the text even when they were at Shiloh attending the feast and worshipping God, she still was taunting Hannah and acting mean and spiteful and superior. PRIDE! Pride can consume a person and bring them to total destruction.
We have two choices, we can either retaliate or we can turn to the Lord. I can imagine that Hannah had been praying for many years that Phinehas would change. Each year that she didn’t and she would have more children, Phinehas would drive the nail in deeper and Hannah’s depression would grow deeper.
Hannah finally reached the bottom, she couldn’t sink any lower. She couldn’t eat or drink, she had no joy even in God’s house. There wasn’t anything that anyone could say to make her feel better. There was something different this time, however, when she knelt before the Lord. The picture in my mind is that she literally dropped down on the altar, no longer able to stand. She was so broken that appearances didn’t matter. She didn’t care who saw her, she couldn’t hold it together any longer. But this time her focus was not on the other person. This time she poured out her heart to the Lord because of her great love for Him.
When the Eli the priest accused Hannah of being drunk her response can only be described as one who has been touched by the hand of God. “Do not consider your maidservant as a worthless woman, for I have spoken until now out of my great concern and provocation.” (1 Samuel 1:16) Hannah was admitting her sin about focusing on being treated unjustly! As she did so, God released her from the burden of unforgiveness.
Hannah wanted children, but for another reason than a lot of women. She wanted a son to give to the Lord! But God could not grant her this desire until she had been refined and purified. Hannah now wanted to be a vessel for God’s use! Whatever He would give her, she would return to Him that He would be glorified.
The amazing part of this whole story is that God had already chosen Hannah to bear a son who would become God’s representative on this earth. He would be a priest, a judge and a prophet who was given great tasks of the Lord to carry out. There was no leadership in Israel during this time. Eli, the priest was old and hadn’t heard from the Lord for many years. His two sons were a problem and dishonored God and eventually died because of their disobedience. God’s timing is always perfect!. For if Hannah had become pregnant years before she would not have had the heart to be God’s vessel and to offer up her first born to Him. God now opened her womb and she bore a son. This son’s name? Samuel!
Take a few minutes and allow the Holy Spirit to speak into your spirit and reveal the many truths that we need to hear. We think we know what is best and what God’s will is. However, Scripture challenges us to realize the folly of that thinking. Unless we are broken and dependent upon the Lord for all our needs we will not choose the path that God would have us walk. Hannah never considered her plight to be a good path that would bring God’s glory. But God’s ways are not our ways!
Can you imagine Hannah’s joy when she learned she was pregnant? When Samuel was born she did not attend the annual festivals until she had completely weaned Samuel and she would leave him in the priest’s care. Can you imagine what she might have been feeling those years knowing that the day was fast approaching when she would actually give him to the Lord and could no longer be involved in his daily life? I imagine that her heart was much like the heart of Mary, the mother of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. She would have treasured those days in her heart. When we are in alignment with God’s will it doesn’t mean we won’t experience heartache and pain but God will give us His strength to carry through with a sweet joy that cannot be explained.
God wasn’t finished with Hannah though. Because of her new heart and peace with God’s desires, He blessed her with other children, three sons and two daughters. Can you imagine her joy? “...Weeping may last for the night, but a shout of joy comes in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5) Hannah had to change to reach her destiny. And, my dear friend, so do you and I. God has great plans for every true believer but we must be refined in the refiner’s fire in order to step into that destiny. Are you willing to join me today in this journey?
Thank Abba Father for reminding me of Your words spoken through the Apostle Paul, "It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.: (Galatians 5:1) Oh what joy is found free from the miry clay that we were delivered from! "You will make known to me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; in Your right hand there are pleasures forever." (Psalm 16:11) "Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord;" (Acts 3:19) You are great and greatly to be praised! My life is in Your hands. I bow my knee and thank You for Your love, Your compassion, Your mercy and grace. There is no one like You and no one loves me more than You! I love You with all my heart! This I pray in the blessed name above all names, the name of Jesus Christ! Amen and Amen!