A woman named Hannah, the wife of Elkanah, an Ephrathite, had no children. Elkanah had two wives; the other wife’s name was Peninnah, and she had children. It was a great honor to have children in Israel at this time in history. Not to have any children was a dishonor. However, Elkanah loved Hannah, and when they went to the yearly worship, Elkanah gave Hannah a “worthy portion” or a double portion, “for he loved Hannah: but the LORD had shut up her womb” (1 Samuel 1:5).
The Bible records in 1 Samuel 1:6-7 that Peninnah was Hannah’s adversary and provoked her sore because she had borne no children:
“And her adversary also provoked her sore, for to make her fret, because the LORD had shut up her womb. (7) And as he did so year by year, when she went up to the house of the LORD, so she provoked her; therefore she wept, and did not eat.”
This caused a great burden on Hannah, so much so (verse 7), “she wept, and did not eat.” Elkanah questioned Hannah (verse 8 ) as to the reason her heart was so grieved.
It was embarrassing to Hannah that she was barren. She evidently was a good wife to Elkanah and loved God with all her heart, but she felt as if she was afflicted because God had not blessed her womb with child (verses 15-16).
Hannah went up to the yearly worship and sacrifice at the House of the Lord in bitterness. She made a vow to God (verse 11) that if God would bless her with a man child, she would give him to the Lord all of his days. The Lord heard Hannah’s prayer and God revealed this to Eli, the High Priest. Eli told Hannah to go in peace, that God had granted her petition (verse 17). Hannah ended her fast, rose up, ate, and went home. She conceived a child and bore a son named Samuel. Samuel became the last Judge of Israel, a great prophet of God; and was used to anoint Saul and then later David as kings of Israel. Samuel was a great man of God.
Verses 6-16 reveal the agony of soul, the burden that Hannah had borne because she had no children. Psalms 127:3 says, “Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.” But the Bible said of Hannah that “…the LORD had shut up her womb” (1 Samuel 1:5b).
Why would God do that to Hannah? Why did it please God to allow Hannah to suffer such grieving of her heart because of no children? Why did God allow Elkanah’s other wife, Peninnah, to be such an adversary to Hannah to provoke her; to make her fret, to weep, and even to fast; and to be so sorrowful of spirit, that Eli the High Priest thought Hannah was drunk when he saw her lips move, but there was no noise as Hannah was praying (verses 12-13)? Is it because God gets pleasure in seeing His children suffer? Is God a mean God? No, a thousand times, no!
The Bible reveals that God is a God of purpose (Proverbs 19:21). His ways and His thoughts are not our ways and thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9). Paul said in Romans 11:33b, “…his ways [are] past finding out!” But as Paul teaches in Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” We know that His thoughts toward us are of peace and not of evil, to give us an expected end (Jeremiah 29:11-13).
However, God uses tests, trials, and tribulations (Romans 5:3-5, James 1:2-4) to bring us to submission to His will and to cause us to determine to obey His will and prove to ourselves and to others that we are children of God; and through it all we are conformed to His image in a greater way. Some call it the School of Moses, or the School of the Desert. Some call it a visit to the Potter’s House, while others call it the Valley of Baca (or tears).
Thank God for the schools of conforming us to His image and making us fit for His service. Trials do not bring destruction, but patience, experience, hope, perfection, and make us entire wanting nothing. Christ endured suffering to set an example for us. Not that He needed conforming, for He was God in the flesh without sin; but He was our example.
“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. (3) For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.” (Hebrews 12:2-3)
The fact is all of God’s children are in a race, and we need some tuning up and toning up for the race. (See Hebrews 12:1; 1 Corinthians 9:24-27; Philippians 3:7-14.) And God uses tests, trials, tribulations, and even chastisement to bring about the peaceable fruits of righteousness in our lives (Hebrews 12:11). But it is all by Design and Purpose to bring us to the expected end of Glorification.
Are you in a situation where you have served God and are serving Him even to this present moment, and yet your adversary is tormenting you, mocking you to the point that you are praying, weeping, fasting with a sorrowful spirit? Does it look like God is not on your side? Does it look like you are not being blessed?
The real truth is that the valley comes before the mountain top. You are being blessed, and you don’t even realize it, while you are in training (boot) camp. The truth is however, you are being reshaped, taught the ways of God. You are being focused on the mission you are going to be sent on by God. You are being readied in God’s school to be the submissive, obedient, and enduring child of God that it is going to take to carry out His Kingdom’s work.
But the excuses keep coming: But, I am running out of time. My nationality is wrong. I can’t speak plainly. I don’t have any or much formal education. I can’t identity with these people, they mock me; etc.
The problem friend is your eye is upon self, your own strength, and the surrounding circumstances. Take your eye off self and focus on Christ. Submit to Him; obey Him and walk in the Power of the Spirit of Christ claiming His Promises; keeping yourself unspotted from this wicked world; and Pray and walk by faith.
Do this and you are ready to have a Samuel in your life.
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