Bitter Tears

I have always loved the book of 1 Samuel; there is such beauty in Hannah’s story, and how her love for Samuel spills over into the man he would become.

~Elkanah and His Family~

1 There was a man named Elkanah who lived in Ramah in the region of Zuph in the hill country of Ephraim. He was the son of Jeroham, son of Elihu, son of Tohu, son of Zuph, of Ephraim. 2 Elkanah had two wives, Hannah and Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah did not. (Can I just say, the Old Testament was a wild ride…know what I mean?)

3 Each year Elkanah would travel to Shiloh to worship and sacrifice to the Lord of Heaven’s Armies at the Tabernacle. The priests of the Lord at that time were the two sons of Eli—Hophni and Phinehas. 4 On the days Elkanah presented his sacrifice, he would give portions of the meat to Peninnah and each of her children. 5 And though he loved Hannah, he would give her only one choice portion because the Lord had given her no children. ( For it to reference that He Loved Hannah, when it never says he loved Peninnah, I have to assume that this is why she would want to hurt Hannah intentionally…)  6 So Peninnah would taunt Hannah and make fun of her because the Lord had kept her from having children. 7 Year after year it was the same—Peninnah would taunt Hannah as they went to the Tabernacle. Each time, Hannah would be reduced to tears and would not even eat. (Can you imagine for 7 years you have longed for a child, and someone intentionally provokes you with the one thing you desire above all else.)

8 “Why are you crying, Hannah?” Elkanah would ask. “Why aren’t you eating? Why be downhearted just because you have no children? You have me—isn’t that better than having ten sons?” (The beauty of this is he is saying, “hey- see me! I am here, I love you, despite the fact that you have no children- which would have been a major deal in their culture! He was not ashamed of her, and still preferred her above the woman he had many children with.)

Hannah’s Prayer for a Son

9 Once after a sacrificial meal at Shiloh, Hannah got up and went to pray. Eli the priest was sitting at his customary place beside the entrance of the Tabernacle. 10 Hannah was in deep anguish, crying bitterly as she prayed to the Lord.  (I love this. I love that she was real before God. I know I sometimes think I can hide my real feelings from the Lord. Like that is even possible! He knows every thought I have.) 11 And she made this vow: “O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, if you will look upon my sorrow and answer my prayer and give me a son, then I will give him back to you. He will be yours for his entire lifetime, and as a sign that he has been dedicated to the Lord, his hair will never be cut.” (What desperation. To pray for a child that you will not even get to keep. I wonder if her husband knew what an incredible woman of faith he had married.)

12 As she was praying to the Lord, Eli watched her. 13 Seeing her lips moving but hearing no sound, he thought she had been drinking.14 “Must you come here drunk?” he demanded. “Throw away your wine!” (The world see’s us this way sometimes. They see our weakness and struggles with our emotions because of the reaction that comes from us not dealing with a heart issue. example: I hurt- I express Irritability at those around me. Then they wonder why they should becomes Christians, why follow Jesus, if there is no transformation in our reactions?)

15 “Oh no, sir!” she replied. “I haven’t been drinking wine or anything stronger. But I am very discouraged, and I was pouring out my heart to the Lord. 16 Don’t think I am a wicked woman! For I have been praying out of great anguish and sorrow.” (It’s so important that we are able to be real with those around us. It ties into not hiding behind the mask. I can’t think that she would have been approached kindly by Eli. I mean the standards back then would have required he react quit harshly to someone being in the Tabernacle drunk. She had to find great courage to combat his attack which she did, with honesty. To acknowledge her inability to have children to anyone was to admit a major flaw in who she was as a woman. She so desperately desired to seek the Lord even in bitter anger, crying heartily for a child to the point of an outpouring of drunkenness. There is beauty in that.)

17 “In that case,” Eli said, “go in peace! May the God of Israel grant the request you have asked of him.”

18 “Oh, thank you, sir!” she exclaimed. Then she went back and began to eat again, and she was no longer sad. (He is so good, that transformation is only moments away. She was desperate and now, she is full. Whole and ready to eat for the first dinner in probably 7 years of going to the Tabernacle. She was hungry and ready to eat. I am sure her husband said, “amen” that night. 🙂 )

He is a good God. If there is something He has for you, and you feel He is holding it back, cry your bitter tears on His shoulder, yell at Him, be real with Him, be real with others. Tell them I am struggling, I don’t understand why? Tell them to pray that God would give you peace when He doesn’t tell you why. Trust that He works good in those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. You are His and He is yours. Forever and Ever, Amen.




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