Grace From the Start: Day 18 {Dec 12th}

I was going to start this post out by saying that this was a rough time in the Israelite history but so much of it is.  The circumstances that the people of God find them in are not continual rainbows and gumdrops.  We see them banned from a garden, living in an ark, trying to survive during a famine, living in slavery, wandering in the wilderness, and now doing whatever they please. 

Hannah is another one of these people.  She is in such a place of desperation.  Hannah goes to the temple and cries our to God.  The prophet Eli sees her and is convinced she is drunk.  She is not drunk.  She is  desperate woman crying out to God.   Hannah finds herself in a lineage of desperate women unable to do what only God can and does. 

She is in the lineage of Sarah  who, as an old woman, conceives Issac.  Rachel is barren until the Lord opens her womb.   Tamar is abandoned.   Ruth is a widow.  The mother of Moses found herself in a time in history when her child had a death sentence upon his head before he was even born.  Had it been up to humanity to bring about these people it would not have happened.  Here is Hannah’s story:

There was a certain man of Ramathaim-zophim of the hill country of Ephraim whose name was Elkanah the son of Jeroham, son of Elihu, son of Tohu, son of Zuph, an Ephrathite. He had two wives. The name of the one was Hannah, and the name of the other, Peninnah.  And Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children.

Now this man used to go up year by year from his city to worship and to sacrifice to the Lord of hosts at Shiloh, where the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were priests of the Lord. On the day when Elkanah sacrificed, he would give portions to Peninnah his wife and to all her sons and daughters. But to Hannah he gave a double portion, because he loved her, though the Lord had closed her womb.[a] And her rival used to provoke her grievously to irritate her, because the Lord had closed her womb. So it went on year by year. As often as she went up to the house of the Lord, she used to provoke her.Therefore Hannah wept and would not eat. And Elkanah, her husband, said to her, “Hannah, why do you weep? And why do you not eat? And why is your heart sad? Am I not more to you than ten sons?”

After they had eaten and drunk in Shiloh, Hannah rose. Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat beside the doorpost of the temple of the Lord. 10 She was deeply distressed and prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly. 11 And she vowed a vow and said, “O Lord of hosts, if you will indeed look on the affliction of your servant and remember me and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a son, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and no razor shall touch his head.”

12 As she continued praying before the Lord, Eli observed her mouth.13 Hannah was speaking in her heart; only her lips moved, and her voice was not heard.Therefore Eli took her to be a drunken woman. 14 And Eli said to her, “How long will you go on being drunk? Put your wine away from you.” 15 But Hannah answered, “No,my lord, I am a woman troubled in spirit. I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have been pouring out my soul before the Lord. 16 Do not regard your servant as a worthless woman, for all along I have been speaking out of my great anxiety and vexation.” 17 Then Eli answered, “Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant your petition that you have made to him.” 18 And she said, “Let your servant find favor in your eyes.” Then the woman went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad.

19 They rose early in the morning and worshiped before the Lord; then they went back to their house at Ramah. And Elkanah knew Hannah his wife, and the Lord remembered her. 20 And in due time Hannah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Samuel, for she said, “I have asked for him from the Lord.”[b]  {1 Samuel 1:1-20}

{1 Samuel 1:1-20}

Over and Over God provides for his people.  He works through them, FOR THEM.  Hannah could not produce a child on her own.  Just as Mary would not have been able to produce Jesus on her own. 

Just like Sarah, Rachel, Tamar, or Moses mother we are unable to produce the good things in life.  No matter how hard we try we can’t produce the good things either. 

Jesus created all things. We can not create a way for ourselves. These men and women before us in the history of redemption could not create the way.  Jesus is The Way.  He created a way for himself to come down to us.  We do not create a way to get up to Him.  As the writer or our verse for the week tells us

“For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out…Wretched man that I AM!  Who will deliver me from this body of death?  Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

{Romans 7:15-19}

After Hannah gives this child back to God this is her prayer:

“My heart exults in the Lord;
    my horn is exalted in the Lord.
My mouth derides my enemies,
    because I rejoice in your salvation.

“There is none holy like the Lord:
    for there is none besides you;
    there is no rock like our God.
Talk no more so very proudly,
    let not arrogance come from your mouth;
for the Lord is a God of knowledge,
    and by him actions are weighed.
The bows of the mighty are broken,
    but the feeble bind on strength.
Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread,
    but those who were hungry have ceased to hunger.
The barren has borne seven,
    but she who has many children is forlorn.
The Lord kills and brings to life;
    he brings down to Sheol and raises up.
The Lord makes poor and makes rich;
    he brings low and he exalts.
He raises up the poor from the dust;
    he lifts the needy from the ash heap
to make them sit with princes
    and inherit a seat of honor.
For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s,
    and on them he has set the world.

“He will guard the feet of his faithful ones,
    but the wicked shall be cut off in darkness,
    for not by might shall a man prevail.
10 The adversaries of the Lord shall be broken to pieces;
    against them he will thunder in heaven.
The Lord will judge the ends of the earth;
    he will give strength to his king
    and exalt the horn of his anointed.”

Hannah attributes all to God.  Her life story is not to tell us all about how she pulled herself up by her boot straps her life story is to point to the faithfulness of God.  She is not a motivational speaker who gives us a 3 point plan.  She tell us over and over again in her song that we are not able to pull ourselves up by our boot straps.  Hannah points us to the same person the writer of Romans does.  

“Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

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