“And her adversary also provoked her sore, for to make her fret, because the LORD had shut up her womb” (1 Samuel 1:6)
The story in 1 Samuel, chapters 1 and 2 involves Elkanah and his two wives. Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children. It was a great honor in the Old Testament for married women to bear children. But 1 Samuel 1:5b says, “But the Lord had shut up her womb.” Contrary to this world’s philosophy, it is God that gives life, and not man. Hannah’s not having any children was a great grief to her. The question comes, “Why God, have you shut up Hannah’s womb? What has she done wrong?” So the title of this devotion, “The Reason When We Don’t Understand.”
Hannah’s adversary provoked her sore and this made her fret. It appears from verse 7b, “…so she provoked her…” that her adversary was Peninnah. Peninnah may have been mocking Hannah because she was able to bear children, and Hannah could not. This was an embarrassment to Hannah and caused her to weep and even fast from food. Verse 10 says that she also “was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the Lord, and wept sore.”
Hannah was heard by God and God remembered her and she conceived a man child who she named Samuel. Later, according to her to vow to God, if He would give her a man child, she would give him to the Lord, and there would be no razor come upon his head. God heard her and gave life in her womb; and she complied, and at the age of 12, she sent Samuel to Eli, the high priest, to minister before the Lord. After this, God opened up Hannah’s womb again and she bare three more sons and two daughters.
Samuel went on to be called and anointed as a great Prophet and Judge of Israel by God. He was the last Judge of Israel, which led up to Israel’s first king, Saul. The complete story is found in 1 Samuel 1:1-25:1. Samuel anointed Saul and David to be kings over Israel. He was a great man of God and was used mightily in Israel as God’s representative to Israel.
However, there are valuable lessons to be learned in God’s actions and in Hannah’s actions. Hannah is like us today, when our adversary causes us to fret, to doubt, to fear, to be timid, to be embarrassed, to be depressed and even brings us to bitterness of soul because we think that God has hidden His Face from us; that He has withholden His blessings (as we see it) from us, while it seems He is blessing others. As with Hannah, the situation lasted for years and her adversary provoked her year after year as they went up to worship God; so it is with many of God’s children today. We love God, try to serve God, and yet receive no relief from our situation. Our adversary is always before us, provoking us.
Please note what God was doing in Hannah’s life:
- It caused her to seek God in prayer with humility (v 10)
- It caused her to line up with God’s will (v 11)
- It caused her to separate from the dainties of this world (v 15)
- It gave God a stage to honor God and to bless Hannah (vv 17-20)
- It caused Hannah to give God great praise (2:1-10)
- It brought prophesy and blessings to God’s people Israel through Samuel.
Hannah could not see the end from the beginning. She could not see God’s reasons at first. When we are in a great valley; when our situation or circumstances are not as we think they should be, what effect does this have on us? When we are in the battle with our adversary so long that we have bitterness of soul, what is our response? Please read 1 Samuel 1:1-25:1and see the Will of God unfold in Hannah’s life and in Samuel’s life and in Israel’s history, and know the same is happening to us that love God.
God has many purposes in His Actions in our individual lives. Most of the time, if not all of the time, we can only see it from our perspective, from our viewpoint. The reason for this is that we are walking by sight, or in the flesh, and not walking in the Spirit of God by Faith.
We basically are looking out for self and not being still; not resting in God; forgetting that our life is first for God’s honor and to perform His Will, before our good. Our bitterness, our rebellion, our unrest, our doubts and fears are a direct result of not resting in God and not waiting upon His season of deliverance.
Our duty then in the valley is to be still; wait on God and know that He is teaching us His Ways; that He is conforming us to be fit vessels for His Kingdom’s service; and to know that tribulation worketh patience and when patience has her perfect work, we will be entire, perfected (mature), wanting nothing.
Thank God that He has a plan for our lives for His honor and for our good. Thank God that He works through us that which is well-pleasing in His sight (Hebrews 13:21). Thank God that He hears our prayers in the Valley. He is mindful of our suffering. But remember, He sees the end from the beginning. Thank God He has the power to perform that which He has planned.
When you are in the valley, please remember to read the story of Hannah.