Hi, this is Bernie Dake. Welcome to the Salvation Army's Words of Life. Welcome to the Salvation Army's Words of Life.
Welcome back to Words of Life. I'm Cheryl Gillum and I'm with my co-host Bernie Dake. It's good to see you, Cheryl. The one and only. We are so glad you're here with us today, Bernie. Good to be back in the studio again.
Agreed. Well, listen, this week in our series with Helen Starrett, she is studying the story of Hannah. Hannah's story is a powerful example of mothers entrusting their children to God. And if you've missed any of these episodes, this series began in June, so visit SalvationArmySoundcast.org to subscribe and get caught up.
Welcome. For the casting call for this Broadway musical, it's short. We will need Elkanah, the husband, Hannah, the barren wife, Penina, wife number two who bore Elkanah children, and Eli, the priest.
Let's see how these characters would have won accolades in our Broadway production, Don't Cry for Me, Penina. We find this account in 1 Samuel 1. A bit of background is important for us as we begin this study. This was a critical period of Israel's history. During the times of the judges, people did everything as they saw fit. The pattern of idolatry, repentance, and backsliding was repeated time and time again.
The people did whatever they pleased. They needed a spiritual leader who could set the course of the nation on a right path, according to God's word, to take back the spiritual darkness and backsliding in Israel. Samuel would be the person to do this, and Hannah, his mother, was instrumental in bringing him into the world and helping to prepare him for such a time as this. Hannah was a woman of courage, as well as a woman of faith and prayer. Her story of prayer, faith, and dedication should be an inspiration for each of us listening today.
Let's meet the family. Elkanah lived in Rhema. He was from the priestly tribe of Levi. He had two wives, Hannah, who was barren, and Penina, who had given Elkanah sons and daughters. He was a godly man, and each year took his whole family to Shiloh from his home to worship and offer sacrifices to the Lord. Now some may think his family was normal, except for the fact he had two wives.
Can you imagine two women in the kitchen running a house? As might be expected, there was tension in the family, and what might have been a sense of calm at home erupted when the family made the trip to Shiloh. To add to the tension, we learned that Elkanah loved Hannah best.
When they had a meal together, Hannah received the best portion of meat. This was his way to show his affection in a practical way. Without realizing it, Elkanah and his behavior only magnified the rivalry and jealousy between the two wives. Penina didn't like this. She provoked and insulted Hannah to irritate her because she was jealous of Hannah for receiving her husband's love. Jealousy is one of those behaviors that Christians don't call out as much as other sins. However, it's behavior that God does not like. Jealousy is hostility toward a revival or someone we believe to have an advantage over us.
Jealousy causes us to forget what we already have. In spite of Penina's taunting Hannah, we do not find anywhere in this account of scripture that Hannah said anything to Penina to retaliate. She kept her mind focused on God. This behavior went on year after year, and on this particular visit, we see that Hannah had had enough. She wept and she did not eat.
Because of the rivalry, Hannah could not enjoy this display of Elkanah's love and favor. My mother would have said, bless his heart. Elkanah said, why do you weep? Why is your heart grieved?
Am I not better than 10 sons? He's so sensitive. He loved Hannah, but perhaps did not realize she had needs he could not fulfill. After the meal, we find Hannah on her way to the house of the Lord. Hannah suffered a lot without realizing that God had a plan for Hannah in all of this. I wonder if this suffering led Hannah to seek God more sincerely and grow in her faith. I'm certain even when the family she lived with, at times, she felt alone.
I think there are times in all our lives where we feel alone and wonder what God's plan is for us. Hannah didn't abandon her faith in God despite her life problem. She went to the Lord, and her prayer was very real, sincere, and intense. Hannah poured her soul to God in prayer.
Obviously, Hannah had a deep and abiding love for God. The value of persistent and passionate prayer is one of the central lessons we take from Hannah's life. There are five things we can learn from her prayer. She prayed openly. She prayed sincerely. She prayed continuously. She prayed fervently.
She prayed believingly. Do we pour out our hearts to God? Desire is the very soul of prayer, and Hannah found peace and comfort in prayer. Are we missing the desires of our hearts because we don't ask for them in prayer? Could it be family, financial needs, healing, broken relationships, work, and deliverance from temptation?
The list is endless. God delights in hearing from us. He's waiting for us. In her prayer, Hannah made a vow to God. She promised that she would give her son back to God for all the days of his life. She's not bargaining with God. She made a promise. We can say she trusted in God and loved God so much to the point she would offer her son to him. As Hannah prayed, Eli the priest was watching, but he didn't understand her. He saw her lips moving, but her voice was not heard. Some people pray loudly when praying and others in quiet reverence, and God hears both.
This is a comfort for us. God's always there, even when we're unable to find words to petition. Effective prayer can be silent and in our hearts. Eli misunderstood Hannah's time in prayer. That he suspected her of being drunk was not surprising, considering that religion was at a very low ebb and shiloh at that time. Eli seemed to lack spiritual discernment. He was insensitive, and his rebuke was uncalled for.
He was condescending, a reminder how we need to listen and respond when people come to us, even if we are not priests. Hannah did not accept Eli's accusation. She didn't treat her with disrespect. Rather, there was grace and humility in her response. At this point, she poured out her heart to Eli, explaining her desire for a child. She had the wisdom to let Eli know her heart. This shows her spiritual maturity. Eli blessed her and prayed God would grant her prayer. She went and ate something, and her face was no longer downcast.
It's a clear contrast between before and after. It can be the same for us when we come to the Lord in prayer. The family arose early the next morning and worshiped. Hannah worshiped the Lord in faith, while the promise had not yet been fulfilled. The family was very happy with the Lord's fulfilled.
Such an example of faith! In the process of time, a child was born. His name is Samuel, meaning name of God. Hannah didn't travel with the family for yearly visits to the house of the Lord until Samuel was weaned.
In that culture, a child was not weaned until he was two, and sometimes three years old. It's reasonable to assume that Hannah was not in a hurry to wean Samuel. Hannah was a woman of her word. She prayed. She promised that when her prayer was answered, she would redeem her promise. As much as she loved her only child, Hannah did not hesitate to keep her promise. This shows the godliness of Elkanah and Hannah. When they brought Samuel to the temple, she reminded Eli of her previous visit and her promise to God. She left Samuel under his care to serve the Lord.
He stayed forever. He was the last of the judges, also the priest who anointed David as king. There is a song of praise. Interesting that her song is recorded after she gives her son back to God. Hannah's song teaches us several things about God. Hannah never forgot the source of her blessings, and she's quick to share her praises. She expressed depth, fervency, and joy of a happy woman giving God all the glory. There is no one holy like the Lord.
There is no rock like our God. The Lord is a God who knows and is in control. Hannah's prayer was all about God. It was a prayer of thanksgiving and gratitude for God's greatness. Though it may be difficult to see and understand what God is doing and why God is taking so long to answer our prayers, we can be confident that He hears and answers, and the answers will be far from ordinary and have extraordinary purposes. May God show you the extraordinary in the ordinary.
Blessings today. The Salvation Army's mission, Doing the Most Good, means helping people with material and spiritual needs. You become a part of this mission every time you give to the Salvation Army. Visit salvationarmyusa.org to offer your support, and we'd love to hear from you. Call 1-800-229-9965 or email us at radio at uss.salvationarmy.org.
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