Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Hannah and Penninah

i was reading samuel this morning and about how every year Peninah provoked Hannah.
every year
every year
every year
and then finally hannah just breaks and tells God the bitterness of her heart and makes the vow to God.

After all that endurance! We  can see how exhausted the poor woman was. So Eli sees her and blesses her
and after he says go in peace, she actually does! She actually goes in peace. From that moment "her countenance was no more  sad." There is no external proof that her prayers were answered. And what she has is not "simple faith" as some pseudo-intellectual religious types would describe it. It was faith plain and simple. Hannah knew a prayer had been said for her by a priest, and so she believed her prayer had been accepted and ranted by God. Is it as simple as that? Apparently. Yet, we are all priests...and when we pray for each other we don't make that decision that we have been heard and the prayer has been granted (although John in his first epistle tells us that if we ask anything according to God's will, it's done.)

Hannah doesn't have this history of "God's will is to make you suffer." And she had managed to put away all the comments her neighbors might have said (Like about Leah or Hagar or whoever.) She knew God had not forsaken her, had not left her as an orphan.

Peace is two things:
1) an inner feeling which is also a response to the feeling in one's life that nothing is missing or broken
(the true meaning of shalom)

and 2) reconciliation or truce

What is necesaary for that peace?
to grow in the feeling that God is with you. To  be reconciled to what is missing or broken in one's life. To give up what is broken and to cut one's losses but to gain spiritual peace in the long run. 

Who knows if God would've given her the child if she had not made the vow to give her only son to Him?  Who knows if God had appointed her from the beginning to have Samuel? I doubt He had. It's probable that God saw her faith and decided to make her son holy. But who knows? She wanted a son because she was being provoked. Being provoked as a grief, as a cause to push and plead to God, as a reason for prayer to be answered. So wonderful: "God, my co-wife is provoking me! Please give me a child so this vindictive spite will stop."

A short digression: What's interesting here in this battle of the wombs is the husband's reaction: It's a kind and philosophical comfort. He cares for Hannah and sees how terrible the situation is but he is not the one personally suffering rebukes. It is amazing how one spouse can "endure" another's sufferings...and one wonders how he would have reacted if he had been the one suffering. I'm thinking he's sweet but not what I would call fervent. Because, after all, he has children. He's not like Zechariah who was a childless man and who was fervently praying for a son even in his old age.

Anyway, Hannah put up with this aggravation and provocation from Penninah for ages and finally she just broke. 

It always speaks to me that after Eli prayed for her, "Hannah's countenance was no more sad."

It's hard to figure out the circumstances in this marriage because you don't know who Elkanah married first
and if the first wife was hated as leah was but those two wife marriages never were good. And one can tell the community was probably not too kind to Hannah, a woman without children. 

Hannah's song is so full of the hurt she must have received from the "successful women" in the community: all sorts of talk about her being cursed, probably. But even so the reader ends up on being Hannah's side even though her husband may have loved her more than the other. But even if Hannah was the first wife and he married the second in order to have children --like with Hagar-- and didn't really love the second wife one can't help feeling sorry about the situation.

And then there's little Samuel who really is so so so cute with his little ephod. Of course i love all the prophets. They were a flaky quirky lot. But there is something so noble and sweet about Samuel

So Hannah let go of her son and gave him up. (Unlike many a woman or mother-in-law) and got five kids from God as a replacement for him. And she didn't even know she would get the replacements. She was quite willing to sacrifice. 

And when she brings samuel to Eli her words are so funny. It's so full of excitement as if she couldn't quite believe she -- Little old Hannah-- had gotten a miracle

26And she said, Oh my lord, as thy soul liveth, my lord, I am the woman that stood by thee here, praying unto the LORD. 27For this child I prayed; and the LORD hath given me my petition which I asked of him: 

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