Hannah: Oppressed in Spirit, Part 3

The Beauty of a Godly Woman  


Today’s devotional is an excerpt from What I’ve Learned From Amazing Women of the Bible. Click here to buy the book. 

 1 Samuel 2:1-3  

  

Then Hannah prayed and said,  

“My heart exults in the Lord;  

My horn is exalted in the Lord,  

My mouth speaks boldly against my enemies,  

Because I rejoice in Your salvation.  

There is no one holy like the Lord,  

Indeed, there is no one besides You,  

Nor is there any rock like our God….  

For the Lord is a God of knowledge,  

And with Him actions are weighed.” 

Don’t miss the opening three words of our passage today: Then Hannah prayed—and what a prayer it is!

Hannah doesn’t just wake up one morning and have within her soul the capacity to pray such a prayer. No doubt she has been seeking God and pouring her heart out to Him for many years.  

The depth of her prayers is one of the many reasons I believe she is an amazing woman from whom I can learn much. She is a woman of spiritual substance, and such substance doesn’t come easily or quickly. Her heart for God has developed over many years of both adversity and joy; and in all circumstances, Hannah prays.  

Samuel is born as a result of Hannah praying through one of those times of adversity. Because she is barren, she pleads from the bottom of her heart for God to give her a son. And she commits her son to lifetime ministry should God answer her prayers.   

God does answer her prayers, and Hannah celebrates Samuel’s birth by praising God with the amazing song of thanksgiving found in 1 Samuel 2:1-11. Once Samuel is weaned, Hannah and Elkanah take him to the temple and leave him with Eli, the priest, to be trained in ministry and leadership.   

Samuel stays with Eli in what we would describe as a boarding school, this one specifically for future priests, and his parents visit him periodically throughout the year. So, when Hannah asked God to give her a son and promised to dedicate that son to Him, she knew that keeping her promise would mean physical separation from her young son.  

Hannah’s commitment is costly, but God has used trials to prepare her and strengthen her. God also has a plan for Samuel. We see, for instance, the sovereignty of God in the formation of Samuel’s character, and he in turn becomes an agent of the formation of God’s chosen people, Israel.  

   

Hannah’s Prophecy   

Hannah’s prayer of thanksgiving, as she surrenders Samuel to the Lord in the temple, is exultant praise. At the same time it is an amazing song of deep theological truth that includes prophetic words about what God is going to do in Israel during Samuel’s time of leadership and beyond.  

  

Learning Alert   

Hannah may not be a prophet like Isaiah or Ezekiel, but God uses her to articulate profound truth. Her prayer is so profound, God chose to include it in the Bible. These 11 verses are well worth reading.

You don’t have to be powerful, charismatic, or have an elevated position to be used by God.

God uses the humble servants, male and female, who devote their hearts to prayer with praise and thanksgiving.  

   

Hannah Is My Hero!   

The theme of Hannah’s prayer is that God blesses the humble and weak and exalts them while crushing those who spurn Him and trust in their own power and wealth. Hannah is prophesying what will be the state of the small nation of Israel throughout history among the powerful and fierce nations that surround them. Even today, powerful nations and religions vow to destroy Israel, just like Goliath vowed to destroy the shepherd boy, David. But they are destined to fail.  

  

The Prayer of a Godly Woman

Here are a few lines from Hannah’s prayer. She may be a simple, Hebrew woman, but when she prays, she becomes a prophetic powerhouse. She prays:  

   

  • That the bows of the mighty are shattered, but the feeble gird on strength (1 Samuel 2:4)  
  • That God keeps the feet of His godly ones, but the wicked ones are silenced in darkness; for not by might shall a man prevail (verse 9)   
  • That “those who contend with the Lord will be shattered…and He will give strength to His king [David]… and will exalt the horn of His anointed “(verse 10)  
  • That the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s and He set the world on them “(verse 8)  

  

How, Then, Should We Live?   

We can learn much from Hannah, from both her example and her prophetic song. She is well-grounded in her understanding of God, His attributes, and how He deals with people. As we see in Hannah’s life, God blesses the humble and stands against the proud. This firm foundational truth helps Hannah rise above her rival’s criticism and mocking. 

I challenge you to follow Hannah’s example and consider often the awesome attributes of God. A strong view of God will enhance how you live….and how you pray!

  

Lord, may we reject the ways of this world and its invitation to glory in a position of power and wealth. May we forsake the pursuit of earthly gain, the praise of others, and the desire to be someone special in the world’s eyes. Instead, may we humble ourselves before You and surrender all to You. Amen! 


Hannah: Oppressed in Spirit, Part 2

She’s the Real Deal 


Today’s devotional is an excerpt from What I’ve Learned From Amazing Women of the Bible. Click here to buy the book. 

1 Samuel 1:24-28    

Now when [Hannah] had weaned [Samuel], she took him up with her, with a three-year-old bull and one ephah of flour, and a jug of wine and brought him to the house of the Lord in Shiloh, although the child was young. Then they slaughtered the bull and brought the boy to Eli. She said, “O my lord! As your soul lives, my lord, I am the woman who stood here beside you, praying to the Lord. For this boy, I prayed, and the Lord has given me my petition, which I asked of Him. So I have also dedicated him to the Lord; as long as he lives, he is dedicated to the Lord.” And he worshiped the Lord there.

At the end of chapter 1, after Samuel has been weaned, Hannah takes Samuel back to the priest, Eli, and dedicates him to the Lord for a lifetime of service.  

 

Second Thoughts

As she walks toward the temple, I wonder if Hannah is tempted to pull back on her previous commitment. Does she have second thoughts about completely dedicating Samuel to the Lord’s service as a priest? Maybe he could serve God closer to home. And, to keep her promise, does Hannah really have to give Samuel over for full-time service for his entire life? Sometimes when we make promises out of desperation, we later regret it and sometimes look for ways to compromise or justify a change of plans. Not so with Hannah. Hannah is absolutely faithful to her word.  

  

This visit to the temple is quite different from Hannah’s previous trip. Consider the contrasts in Hannah’s prayers. In 1 Samuel 1:10, Hannah made a desperate plea to God: 

 

She, greatly distressed, prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly. 

 

Contrast this prayer with Hannah’s prayer in 1 Samuel 2:1:  

 

Then Hannah prayed and said,  

“My heart exults in the Lord;  

My horn is exalted in the Lord,  

My mouth speaks boldly against my enemies,  

Because I rejoice in Your salvation.”  

  

We can learn a lot regarding prayer from this amazing woman. Hannah’s situation changed, and her prayers changed accordingly. But she was authentic in both. 

 There’s much talk in Christian circles today about being authentic.

There’s value to authenticity, but I sense it gets twisted at times. Sometimes Christians use their stance on authenticity as a license or justification for their sin, their weaknesses, their fleshly propensities. They might say, “I’m just being myself.” Let’s be careful with that attitude.  

  

Learning Alert 

I don’t want this false view of authenticity to alter what I see in Hannah as authenticity before God in prayer. When I sink low with feelings of fear and pain, I try to take them before God. In our weakness, let’s do our best to be authentic before God. That’s what Hannah did when she was both sad and happy.  

Over my many years on this earth, I have found that authenticity seems to come more easily to women than to men. Do you find that to be true? This might be an interesting discussion to have with a few trusted confidants.  

Since I’ve long been a corporate executive, my wife and I have attended many social functions over the years. Sometimes in these settings, we split up and have separate conversations with various small groups. After the party, when my wife and I are talking, she will say, for instance, “Why didn’t you tell me that Joe and Kim are having a baby?”  

Why? Because Joe, one of my coworkers, never told me his wife was pregnant. So I tell my wife, “I didn’t know.”  

The look on her face is priceless. “You work with Joe every day, and you didn’t know? What kind of friend are you?”  

I smile, and she smiles and shakes her head.   

My wife can find out more about my work associates in one hour at a social function than I will find out in six months at the office. She has a way of caring and asking questions that, with the demands of work, I just don’t get around to every day. She has a way of making a person feel it’s safe to be authentic. I don’t always have that gift.  

  

Am I Authentic Before God?

So, yes, I may make excuses about focusing on work and not being transparent and authentic in my corporate life. But when it comes to God, I need to be authentic! I shouldn’t treat God like one of the guys. I should and I must bear my heart and soul before Him. I don’t need to hang my dirty laundry out so everyone else sees it, but I should before God. He knows it all anyway. Being authentic draws us toward Him!   

We can learn much from Hannah.  

  

Help us, Lord, to be authentic before You. Not as justification for our weaknesses and sin but as surrender to You with honest pleadings for Your help. Lord, hear us, revive us, restore us, and answer us according to Your perfect will. And in times of joy may we—like Hannah— loudly and boldly exalt You! May we praise You always. Amen!  


Hannah: Oppressed in Spirit, Part 1

Pain and Triumph 


Today’s devotional is an excerpt from What I’ve Learned From Amazing Women of the Bible. Click here to buy the book. 

1 Samuel 1: 1-15 

Now there was a certain man … and his name was Elkanah … He had two wives; the name of one was Hannah and the name of the other Peninnah; and Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children….  

When the day came that Elkanah sacrificed, he would give portions to Peninnah, his wife, and to all her sons and her daughters; but to Hannah he would give a double portion, for he loved Hannah, but the Lord had closed her womb….  

Greatly distressed, [Hannah] prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly. She made a vow and said, “O Lord of Hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your maidservant and remember me, and not forget Your maidservant, but will give Your maidservant a son, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life”…  

Now it came about, as she continued praying before the Lord, that Eli [the priest] was watching her mouth. As for Hannah, she was speaking in her heart, only her lips were moving… Then Eli said to her, “How long will you make yourself drunk? Put away your wine from you.” But Hannah replied, “No, my lord, I am a woman oppressed in spirit; I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have poured out my soul before the Lord.”  1 Samuel 1:1-2, 4-5, 10-15  

  

A Monumental Story of Promise and Fulfillment    

Before God’s Word takes us through the lives of Saul and David, the opening chapter of 1 Samuel introduces us to a most amazing woman. Her name is Hannah, and she is a faithful servant of God who keeps her promises.  

  

I really love the story of Hannah. When it comes to character, integrity, grit, and passion, Hannah blows away the other important people we meet in 1 Samuel. She is simply awesome!  

  

The key characters involved in the story of Hannah are: 

   

  • Hannah, the mother of Samuel   
  • Elkanah, Hannah’s beloved husband and father of Samuel   
  • Peninnah, Elkanah’s second wife   
  • Eli, the priest   
  • Samuel, the son of Hannah and future priest  

  

Chapter 1 provides the backstory of Samuel’s birth. His mother, Hannah, is greatly loved by her husband Elkanah. You would love her too. She is a treasure. But God closes her womb, so Elkanah marries a woman named Peninnah. Seems like a boneheaded decision to me, yet in an agrarian society, men need children if the family is to thrive and sometimes just survive. Nevertheless, taking a second wife is a faithless and stupid decision.  

  

The second wife is not nice, and she becomes bitter, insecure, and jealous of Hannah whom Elkanah so clearly loves. The fact that Elkanah has only married Peninnah for her body—to bear children—doesn’t endear him to Peninnah. She has many children, pleasing her husband but not increasing his love for her. Peninnah sees that Elkanah is utterly head over heels for Hannah. He loves Hannah greatly.   

  

So Wife #2 ridicules Hannah for being barren. Not exactly the Cleaver household. (That’s a reference to the TV series Leave It to Beaver. Check it out on Netflix if you’re too young to know this show!) Her inability to have children is terribly painful to Hannah, but the text states that the Lord had closed her womb (1 Samuel 1:5).  Clearly, God had a plan.     

  

Learning Alert    

As is often the case today, God’s plan for His children includes certain pain and distress that He uses to teach and grow us. The intended outcome is a stronger yet humbler followers of God.    

 

Some say that God only brings about good things, and Satan and/or natural circumstances cause pain and distress. This study of Amazing Women clearly shows, however, that God as the Architect of all that happens, and He uses both pain and joy to accomplish His purposes and develop His servants’ character.   

  

Some people don’t like that last sentence, and they’ve told me so. However, there is a purpose in pain. Physical pain, mental anguish, and broken hearts are difficult trials to endure. They sometimes tempt us toward bitterness. But God promises to carry us through such trials, and He emboldens our faith to trust rather than faint. He is able! If you’re hurting, I hope you believe that.   

  

Hannah Is a Shining Star   

Hannah is hurting, and we can learn from how she handles it. Specifically, Hannah turns to God in prayer and petition. She goes into the temple, weeping, and pours her heart out before the Lord as she asks Him for a son. In her prayers, she commits to dedicating her son to the Lord. The priest, Eli—seeing only her lips…moving, but her voice was not heard (verse 13)— thinks Hannah is drunk. Assuring Eli she isn’t drunk, she tells him of her plight and her petition to God. Eli blesses her and prays for her.  

  

Shortly thereafter, Hannah becomes pregnant with Samuel, whose name means “heard by God.” Samuel was born according to God’s sovereign plan, and He strengthened Hannah’s faith through her pain.  

 

Keeping Promises

Hannah now prepares to give her son fully back to God. She made that promise, and Hannah keeps her promise.  

  

Would Hannah’s devotion to the Lord and faithfulness to her promise have happened if she had easily conceived early in her marriage? Maybe, but maybe not. When she was barren, God seemed far from her, but the opposite was actually true. God was near, and He was working out His plan. He was forging Hannah’s character and preparing her for a blessing of great magnitude.  

 

There is purpose in pain.   

  

Learning Alert  

If only we would believe that God is at work in our lives when it seems He has abandoned us…. 

 

The truth is, Jesus said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5 ESV). Hannah can teach us about trust and faith in a sovereign God who is wise, loving, all-powerful, and close to us even when He seems far away.   

  

We can also learn much from Hannah and her passionate prayers. Yes, God may allow us to go through pain, but that doesn’t mean we take it lying down. Hannah goes to God and prays for His physical blessings upon her—and she doesn’t let go. God cares about our spiritual state, yes, but He cares about every other aspect of our lives as well. Let’s learn from Hannah’s passionate and unrelenting prayers to God asking Him to make things good and right in her life.   

  

Using Hannah as an example, Lord, teach us about faith and trust in You! Help us see that You aren’t far away even when it feels like it. Grow our faith to go beyond our feelings and help us rest in the promises of Your Word. Remind us of the mighty deeds You have performed in the past. Remind us that our current difficulties are not difficult to You. You are able, and You will bring Your perfect plan to pass! All praise be to You, our mighty God and King! Amen!   


A Godly Woman

Ryker in Vienna!

Things I have learned from Amazing Women

Hannah

Lesson 3

The beauty of a godly woman

Then Hannah prayed and said, ‘My heart exults in the Lord; My horn is exalted in the Lord, my mouth speaks boldly against my enemies, because I rejoice in Your salvation. There is no one holy like the Lord, indeed, there is no one besides You, nor is there any rock like our God. For the Lord is a God of knowledge, and with Him actions are weighed.” I Samuel 2:1-3

Don’t miss the opening three words of our passage today. Then Hannah prayed...and what a prayer it is. Hannah didn’t just wake up one morning and have within her soul the capacity to pray such a prayer. No doubt, she has been seeking the truth of God and pouring her heart out to God for many years. This is one of the many reasons I believe she is an amazing woman from whom I can learn much. She is a woman of spiritual substance. This doesn’t come easy and suddenly. Her heart for God has been developed over many years of both adversity and joy and in all situations, Hannah prays. Read more


The Real Deal

Things I have learned from Amazing Women 

Hannah, Lesson 2 

Hannah is the real deal 

Now when she had weaned him, she took him up with her, with a three-year-old bull and one ephah of flour and a jug of wine and brought him to the house of the Lord in Shiloh, although the child was young. Then they slaughtered the bull and brought the boy to Eli.  

She said, ‘O my lord! As your soul lives, my lord, I am the woman who stood here beside you, praying to the Lord. For this boy I prayed, and the Lord has given me my petition which I asked of Him. So, I have also dedicated him the Lord; as long as he lives, he is dedicated to the Lord.’ And he worshiped the Lord there. I Samuel 1:24-28  

At the end of chapter 1, once Samuel had been weaned, Hannah took Samuel back to the priest, Eli, and dedicated him to the Lord for a life time of service. I wonder if she was tempted to pull back on her previous commitment to completely dedicate Samuel to the Lord’s service. Maybe he could serve God while Hannah kept him close to her. Did she really have to give him over for a life of complete sacrifice to full-time service to God as a priest? Hannah was faithful to her word. Read more


Amazing Women

I hope to publish a book later this year. The next few days I'm going to post the first three lessons in the book. This is a draft and it hasn't been edited yet for printing. The title I'm considering is:

Things I have learned from

AMAZING WOMEN

in the Bible

----------------------------------------------------

Hannah

Lesson 1

Pain and Triumph

Now there was a certain man...and his name was Elkanah...He had two wives; the name of one was Hannah and the name of the other Penninnah; and Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children.

...When the day came that Elkanah sacrificed, he would give portions to Peninnah his wife and to all her sons and her daughters; but to Hannah he would give a double portion, for he loved Hannah, but the Lord had closed her womb. 

...She (Hannah), greatly distressed, prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly. She made a vow and said, ‘O Lord of Hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your maidservant and remember me, and not forget Your maidservant, but will give Your maidservant a son, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life’... Read more


Abigail, part 2

Abigail To the Rescue! Part 2

I Samuel 25, continued 

Here’s the scene - a rich sheep herder named Nabel disrespected David and David and his men are on their way to wipe out this man, his family and all his servants. Filled with anger and vengeance, David is heading straight into some good ole’ fashion sinful disobedience.  

Even though David is wrong, Nabel brought this upon himself.  Nabal is simply a selfish, foolish and ignorant man. However, there is one rational and thoughtful person in this story. Thank God for Abigail, Nabal's wife. She is the superstar of this story; intelligent, resourceful, honorable, persuasive and "beautiful in appearance." Pretty much the total package. How did a smuck like Nabal land such a beautiful and intelligent woman. Read more


Abigail, part 1

Personal note: The next couple of months are very busy for me. I'm not going to be able to post fresh content five days a week. I may occasionally post encore posts from a year or two ago. So today, following the theme of faithful and honorable women in the Bible, this post and the next will be about Abigail. This section of I Samuel tells of the adventures of David when he was being chased by King Saul. David and his faithful men were living in hiding.

Abigail to the Rescue, Part 1 

I Samuel 25, Part 1 

This is truly an amazing chapter. We meet an evil bonehead of a man; a most beautiful and intelligent woman; and David digresses from his noble actions in the last chapter when he spared Saul's life into childlike behavior. Once again, women rule, men drool.   

Two hot-headed men

There was a wealthy man named Nabal who's 3000 sheep and 1000 goats wandered in the wilderness in the area where David and his men camped out. Some of Nabal's men tended to the sheep but apparently not enough to keep all the livestock safe. David and his men took it upon themselves to aid the men, guard the sheep against predators and thieves, all while trusting that the owner would grant them kindness and provisions.Read more


It's Getting Dark in Here!

This is my favorite picture taken from my 5 different trips to Africa!

Revelation 13

It's Dark in Here

This is a dark chapter. The following post is my words dealing with my struggles with this section of scripture. Please read it all. I do reach a conclusion.

Recall that chronologically, we are between the sixth and seventh trumpet. The seals, trumpets and horns are written by John from God's perspective, i.e., what God is doing during the tribulation. Chapters 12, 13 are written from Satan's perspective, but only in the sense of what Satan is doing during the tribulation. Thus, it is a dark chapter. I feel like I could live without these chapters in my life but I trust that God put them here for a reason and, as such, I should study them.Read more