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Posts Tagged ‘failure’

Hannah’s Misfortune

January 18th, 2011

1 Samuel 1:1-7

  • This is a story of pain and agony – Hannah is barren, which is a traumatic thing anyway, but in the culture of her day it carried social stigma and shame. It was seen as a sign of disfavour and failure to not be able to have children.
  • Furthermore, living under the same roof as Hannah is her husband Elkanah’s other wife, Peninnah, who continuously mocks and taunts her and adds to her sense of inferiority.
  • We look at the 2 people closest to Hannah and how they responded to her suffering:

1. Elkanah

  • Although he wasn’t very sympathetic with his words, he did do something well: he dealt compassionately with Hannah.
  • He gave her a double portion ‘because he loved her, though the Lord had closed her womb’. He offered kindness and affirmation despite knowing that God has closed her womb.
  • He recognises that God has the power to open Hannah’s womb but hasn’t – he recognises God’s sovereignty over the situation, that nothing happens without God’s allowing it. He doesn’t try and excuse God.
  • The example of Job – people blamed his suffering on something wrong he had done, like modern-day karma. Whereas it was nothing to do with that.
  • The example of the blind man that Jesus healed in the gospels – the disciples queried whether it was his sin or his parents’ sin that made him blind; Jesus said neither, but so that the glory of God might be shown.
  • Our response should not be spectacle about why certain suffering happened, but compassion and love for that person and trust in God and His wisdom.
  • We often have no idea why God’s doing what He’s doing in our life and in the lives of others – but we do know that God works all things together for our good (Romans 8:28). He has a plan and a purpose.
  • Elkanah believed God was good even before the greatest act of God’s goodness and love took place – His Son coming to earth to be misunderstood and rejected and to suffer for us.
  • Psalm 73:16-17 – we need to keep the big picture in mind – eternity.

2. Peninnah

  • The same phrase is used about God closing Hannah’s womb in relation to how Peninnah responded. The same 2 people can have the same theology and understanding, but one can be compassionate and the other can be cruel.
  • We look at Peninnah and question how someone can be so cruel – but we should be careful because we are only a few steps away from acting the same.
  • She is probably jealous of Hannah – Elkanah gives Hannah a double portion and shows special love for her. Peninnah therefore cannot enjoy her own life and is robbed of joy.
  • Jealously is incredibly harmful and destructive – it is so easy for us to be jealous of people are are seen as more special than us, e.g. Joseph and his brothers (Gen. 37:4).
  • Peninnah probably is satisfied with her lot of children – she wants what Hannah has that she doesn’t have, so she taunts Hannah about she has and Hannah doesn’t.
  • We secretly love it when the people we envy fall.
  • Envy rots your bones – Prov. 14:30.
  • Envy thrives on pride because we want to feel more special than others and for people to acknowledge it – in other words, we want to be worshipped.
  • We can only deal with pride through the gospel and understanding it. We see that we are desperately wicked and needy and deserve nothing, and that Jesus had to die a horrific death because of the evil of our sin and pride.
  • We can be freed to be truly happy for others and to offer kindness to others because God shows us such mercy.
  • Get to know Jesus and you’ll find you become more like Him.

Hannah’s Husband

January 12th, 2011

1 Samuel 1:1-8

  • The nature of the human heart is that we love stories and want to be apart of them.
  • God is the great Storyteller and He involves people – we get to play a part.
  • The Bible is about the Great Story – and it is true!
  • God created the world to be a place of His shalom – wholeness, things being as they should be. But we rejected God and replaced Him with ourselves, and consequently shalom has been broken.
  • But God’s plan is to restore His shalom – He will not quit until it is complete.
  • In the book of Samuel, God is establishing the idea of a righteous King; King David stands out the most, but even he is not the true King. He points to the King who will come and rule over the whole world forever.
  • This story begins in a dysfunctional domestic situation – we see Hannah, and her situation is a sad one. She is barren – which in that day brought not only grief but also shame on her – and she is in a bigamous marriage, where the other wife Penninah constantly provokes her.
  • Hannah’s husband, Elkanah, has not done a good job and has made brought pain into her life by marrying another woman, departing from God’s design for marriage.
  • Bigamy is not promoted in the Bible – it is merely describing the situation. Not everything in the Bible is prescriptive – the Bible is full of people’s sin, errors and wrongdoing, so we can learn from their mistakes.
  • Throughout the ages we have fled from God’s plan for marriage – from polygamy to co-habitation in our present day. People just go along with the way everyone else in society does it. And women are usually always the ones who suffer because of it.
  • Another of Elkanah’s errors is the way he responded to Hannah’s grief – he effectively tells her just to stop crying being sad, because he can’t cope. He fails to really listen or to sympathise or to enter into her grief with her. He just wants it to be solved and to go away.
  • It is demanding to enter into somebody’s else’s pain, especially when we have our own issues going on.
  • Often husbands will take their wife’s sadness to mean they’ve failed and that they’re not respected – but husbands are called to love their wife above themselves. How can they do this? Ephesians 5:25-35 – Jesus, the perfect Husband, is the role model – He sacrificially gave Himself for His Bride, the Church. He knows more than anyone what it is like to lack respect from His Bride.
  • We need to receive God’s love in order to love other people. God gives us the emotional resources we need to love others – even the unlovely.
  • 2 Corinthians 1:3-7 – God comforts us so that we can comfort others with the same comfort He gives to us.