I’ve been reading the book of Samuel again over this past week. I’m particularly interested in the role of the two women, Hannah and Peninnah in the story. There you go thinking – “this is a male magazine and you be writing about two women and their drama.” But there is a deep meaning to this story that goes beyond sexual orientation of the characters. This is a story about breakthrough and deliverance. It’s a story of new life and purpose, a story about intercession, prayer, obedience, and the privilege of being used as a small piece of God’s grander plan.
In the book of Samuel, Elkanah, Samuel’s father, has two wives, Peninnah and Hannah. Peninnah has children and Hannah has none. Despite her not bearing him any children, Elkanah loves Hannah more than he loves Peninnah and it is no secret to either of them. Unable to bear children, Hannah lives in a state of perpetual unhappiness. Jealous that Hannah is favoured by Elkanah, Peninnah takes every opportunity to torment Hannah—to the point where she weeps and is unable to eat.
Everyone has a breaking point. And if you haven’t yet found yours yet, you will. And perhaps you too, will need a Peninnah to take you there. When Peninnah ushered Hannah to her breaking point Hannah decided to do something different. She stood up, and began to act in a way that would bring about change.
Hannah, as she is pouring her heart out to God, is witnessed by the prophet Eli. So distraught was she that Eli suspected she was drunk and rebuked her. We need to feel things deeply when we pray. We need to weep sometimes—for ourselves and on the behalf of others. Such sincerity touches God’s heart, reveals to him the weight of our burden, the depth of our desire. Eli misunderstood.
“How long are you going to stay drunk?” he says to her. “Put away your wine.” Hannah, respectfully and quietly, responds, “Not so, my lord,” Hannah replied, “I am a woman who is deeply troubled. I have not been drinking wine or beer; I was pouring out my soul to the LORD. Do not take your servant for a wicked woman; I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief.” Sometimes we feel misunderstood, that we’re being wrongly accused. We would do well to follow Hannah’s example.
This is interesting—having spent time in prayer and unburdening herself to the Lord, receiving peace and blessing from Eli, Hannah is able to eat something and her countenance is much improved. Hannah came to the end of herself and realizes that only God could answer her heart’s desire. She makes a vow that if God granted her a son then she would give that son back to the Lord. While she was crying and travailing for a son, God was looking for a woman worthy to birth a prophet who would open the door to a line of great men who would come after.
Hannah had a son, and she named him Samuel. Like Mary, mother of Jesus, Hannah by the virtue of her words and actions shows us that we are to be quick to praise and glorify God for all that he does and is doing in our lives.
Are you willing to get desperate enough to pour out everything before the Lord? Do you need a breakthrough in your situation or simply deliverance? Are you willing to lay it all at the Master’s feet and say “I surrender all”? Who knows what he can do with your life? He does – because He, “the Lord is a God who knows”.
Desperation to Destiny.