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Posts Tagged ‘Hannah’


1 Samuel 3: Familiar with the Lord

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Eli and Samuel

This is such a frequently heard story that we might be tempted to read it quickly and assume that we know what it means.  It may be valuable to spend more time with these words to let their full weight and measure sink into us and speak.  God calls us just as surely as he called the innocent boy Samuel.  God has work in mind for us, just as surely as he did for the earnest young man Samuel.  God loves us fully and always, just as he does the constant prophet Samuel.

Samuel is dedicated to the Lord by his mother Hannah – and we can read this story in the opening chapters.  So that we are not tempted to believe that Samuel has some sort of advantage over us by his living in the Temple, we will want to look closely at verse 7: At that time Samuel was not familiar with the Lord.

George Tinswell: Hannah bringing Samuel to Eli

When we seek God’s wisdom by reading scripture, searching for spiritual reflections that open the word to us, we too seek as the young Samuel sought.  One detail of this story which we may overlook is the corruption of Eli’s sons about which we can read in Chapter 2.  When we consider this carefully, we will no longer have excuses to offer for the reasons we are not always faithful to God.  Our defense of a complicated childhood, a difficult workplace, or a prickly family or neighbors will no longer hold water.  When we see Samuel grow to his potential despite the weeds among which he grew, we come to understand that there is no reason we cannot begin to grow in God . . . in order that we become familiar with the Lord.

When we turn to others to share the good news we have heard about God’s revealed word to us, we too prophesy as Samuel did.  Samuel grew up and the Lord was with him, not permitting any word of his to be without effect.  We may frown at this simple statement and wonder why some of our words fall on deaf ears and some of our actions are scoffed.  Rather than preoccupy ourselves with these anxieties, we might better want to place all of these worries at God’s feet and remember that only God can cure impossible people and mend impossible situations.  As we read the Story of Samuel as a grown man in later chapters we will see the struggles he encounters with the stiff necked people who clamor for a king.  Samuel will confess to God that he has been a poor messenger and God will reply: It is not you they reject, they are rejecting me as their king.  As they have treated me constantly from the day I brought them up from Egypt to this day, deserting me and worshiping strange gods, so do they treat you too. (1 Samuel 8:7-8)  We ought not be surprised when others reject the words we speak in God’s name, we are told.  These people reject God himself.  Like Samuel, all we need do is remain faithful to God and continue to walk in God’s way . . . knowing that we are learning to become familiar with the Lord.

Georges De la Tour: Awakening Eli

When we stand firm in God at the expense of our comfort, when we witness faithfully and run the risk of losing some of what we are in the world, we too will be familiar with Lord . . . just as Samuel grew to be.  The Lord continued to appear at Shiloh: he manifested himself to Samuel at Shiloh through his word, and Samuel spoke to all Israel.  We may wish to hear God’s voice more distinctly.  We may want God to touch us more obviously.  We may long for stark clarity from our God.  Yet let us consider these facts.  We are created in God’s image.  We are dearly loved.  We are accompanied by angels, saints and even God himself.  We are sustained, harbored, cajoled, wooed, healed, restored and saved by God.  We are even given the freedom to return this love . . . or to reject it.  We are given the opportunity to deeply, intensely and even passionately become so familiar with our God that we are able to wake in the night and respond to that quiet call of our name: Here I am!

When we begin to doubt, when we begin to frown at what we believe we do not have from God, let us consider what it is we do have.  And let us grow as Samuel grew, to become ever more familiar with the Lord.


A re-post from December 12, 2011.

Images from: http://my316notes.blogspot.com/2010/12/i-samuel-316.html and http://firstlutheranbp.wordpress.com/2009/01/17/u-pick-the-prayer/

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1 Samuel 2:18-21The Faithful Mother

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Written on January 16, 2008 and posted today as a Favorite . . .

Gerbrand van der Eeckhout: Hannah presenting her son Samuel to the priest Eli

So often when we hear the Old Testament readings from the story of Samuel we focus on the character of Samuel, the man who becomes the prophet who listens so well to Yahweh that he is able to select first Saul and then David as the first kings of the Israel nation.  Today’s Noontimes selection is focused on Hannah, the faithful mother.

These are the things that strike me about her story:  she withstands abuse from her husband’s other wife, Peninnah, because she is childless, she is thought drunk by the priest Eli for her ardent conversation with God, she is faithful to her pledge to Yahweh, she is well-loved by her husband, Elkanah, and she is rewarded greatly for her fidelity.  We might know people like Hannah, we might wish to be like Hannah.

It is so difficult to stand in our tiny spot on the globe and find our place in God’s plan.  It is so overwhelming to sit in silence for the voice of God to speak in our ears and in our hearts.  It is so tiring to hope for something we know we deserve.  It is so taxing to be immensely misunderstood.

It is so sweet to arrive in the place where we finally feel that we have understood God’s message to us, to know that patience, and waiting, and witnessing will bring us to God’s heart.  It is so filling to read in another’s demeanor that we have done God’s work in a particular place with a particular person.  It is so gratifying to find that we have unwittingly done what we are meant to do.

God is good.  God is faithful.  God is hopeful.  And he wants to reward us.  He will never abandon us.  He will always hope that we reach our true potential.

How was Hannah to know through the tormented years of her barrenness that she would give birth to three more sons and two daughters?  How was she to know as she cried in the temple that she would find favor through her pain?  How did she find the strength to wait and hope and watch?  She relied on God . . . and found favor in God . . . was rewarded by her God.

May we all hope as Hannah hoped.  May we persevere.  May we, like Hannah, live in active patience as we listen, watch and wait.


A re-post from January 24, 2012. 

Image from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hannah_(Bible)

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Sirach 46In Praise of Ancestors

Friday, January 27, 2017familyroots

 A Favorite from January 25, 2010.

In this Noontime we find ourselves in the chapters of the Book of Sirach in which the writer spends time praising the Hebrew ancestors for their openness to God’s message and for their fidelity in following God.  In this particular chapter, we relive the Hebrew transition from nomadic tribe to settled people.  Joshua and Caleb, two leaders who have always been loyal to Yahweh and who have followed Moses from the beginning of their journey out of Egypt, now lead the people into the place of promise – the territory God secured for his people.   The Judges are the leaders who continued to shepherd the Twelve Tribes until the time of the Davidic Kingdom.  Samuel is the last of these and we may read more about this federation at the following site if we are looking for more information.  http://www.jcpa.org/dje/articles/judges.htm

Notes will tell us that Joshua’s name means: The Lord is savior and this is apt since it is through Joshua’s wisdom and leadership that the Hebrew people are able to conquer enemies and receive their inheritance.  The Book of Joshua will give us the details of this story.  Caleb, whose name means wholehearted faith and devotion, is also appropriately named.  Here is a site with a synopsis of the interesting story these men share.  If you like espionage and are intrigued by the seamy parts of life, read about how these two friends who were able to secure a legacy for a people through some very unusual means.  http://www.bible-knowledge.com/Joshua-and-Caleb.html

Samuel’s story is well known and the books named for him will remind us of the story read out to us on Sundays during particular times of the liturgical year.  We will remember that his mother Hannah prayed for children and was rewarded for her fidelity with the birth of this child and others.  We will remember how as a boy he ran to Eli in the temple, thinking that the priest was calling him in the night when all the while it was the voice of God he was hearing.  Eli tells him to respond to this voice by replying:  Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.  Samuel serves God as a prophet, and he becomes the final judge of Israel who ushers in the kingdom by first anointing Saul and later David – all at God’s bidding.

What do these stories mean to us and for us?  They tell us about our spiritual roots.  They remind us of how and why we are created.  They are our link to a past which brings us to this present.  They are an opportunity to re-investigate who we are and what we mean.

These stories also bring another opportunity.  They are the chance to think about our own immediate ancestors – who they were and what they mean to our own lives.  Our forbears may have had a great influence on our spiritual life – either because of their dedication and fidelity to God, or perhaps because of their lack of any spiritual direction.  In either case, our predecessors are the flesh from whom we come, they have given to us the habits and gestures we have inherited.  Theirs may well be the message that we continue.  As we reflect on our roots, we will want to think about whom we praise . . . and why.

Let us take a few moments sometime during this hectic day to reflect on the stories we have heard about the people in our family tree.  What message does the story of their lives leave for us?  And what part of their story do we wish to pass on as part of the great Story of the World?  What or who will our own lives praise?

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John 16: Glory, Part VII – Trouble

Jan Victors: Hannah Giving her son Samuel to the priest Eli

Jan Victors: Hannah Giving her son Samuel to the priest Eli

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Today’s lesson on Glory: When we experience God’s glory, barrenness is made fertile, mourning becomes joy, and lack becomes surfeit. We must not avoid the deserts in our lives.

In his last evening with his disciples, Jesus leaves with a warning of persecution and he tells them of how the world will hate him and all that he stands for.  Discipleship will be difficult, he says, but there is also good news: a new Comforter will come to them and he himself will rejoin them in a way they have not been able to imagine.  He will return from the dead.  And he will reveal even more to them than he already has.  All of this is too much for them to take in.  It is too much for us to take in. Yet these words lay out the premise that we experience God’s glory through the trouble in our lives.

You will weep and mourn but the world will rejoice; you will have pain but your pain will turn into joy. 

All of this brings us to a basic truth: the difficulties we experience are more than they seem . . . they are opportunities for joy and an insurmountable interior peace. A mini-reflection from MAGNIFICAT reads: What we formerly perceived as barrenness in our life has become filled with a Presence – the Presence for which we were made.  This is in reference to an important story in 1 Samuel 1, the story of Hannah, the barren wife who pleads with God out of her sorrow.  Her request is granted and she not only bears her first son who becomes the great prophet Samuel, she bears even more.  We are told that Hannah weeps from the bitterness of her soul (1 Samuel 1:10).  Peninnah, her husband’s; second wife who is not barren, taunts Hannah about her apparent curse; Hannah persists in her praying.  The priest Eli believes her to be drunk (1 Samuel 1:13); yet Hannah continues in her prayer.  Then Eli tells her that the Lord will hear her petition and Hannah’s face is no longer downcast (1 Samuel 1:18).  She returns home and her grief becomes joy when she conceives and bears this son who is to be an integral part of human history.  It is then that she understands how her barrenness has turned into joy – through the work of God’s plan – and she rejoices that she has been able to participate fully in this mystery.  She sings a hymn of praise (1 Samuel 2): My heart rejoices in the Lord . . . there is no one like the Lord . . . there is no rock like our God . . . the Lord brings death and he makes alive . . . he brings down to the grave and he raises up.  It is not by strength that one prevails; those who oppose the Lord will be shattered . . . He will guard the feet of his saints.

Jesus reminds us of this again today.  He says: I have much more to tell you but you cannot bear it now . . . I have told you so that you might have peace in me.   In the world you have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world.

When we find ourselves in a barren portion of our lives, we might come back to these stories and these words to remind ourselves that when misery overtakes us and the pain is greater than we can bear, this may well be an indication that we have entered into the very mystery we have sought. This may be evidence that we are fully engaging in our own transformation.  It may be the opening to a new Presence, a new beatitude which we otherwise cannot experience . . . if we have not found ourselves in trouble with the world.

Adapted from a reflection written on January 11, 2010.

Cameron, Peter John, Rev., ed. “Mini-Reflection.” MAGNIFICAT. 11 January 2010. Print.

Click on the image above for a post from Ecumenical Women at the United Nations

Compare various Bible versions of this story and consider when or how our mourning might lead to our joy.

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Saturday, January 31, 2015

Gerard Seghers: The Patient Job

Gerard Seghers: The Patient Job

Daniel 12:6

How Long?

How long shall it be to the end of these appalling things?

Exodus 10:3: Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said to him, “Thus says the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, ‘How long will you refuse to humble yourself before me? Let my people go, that they may serve me’.”

Exodus 10:7: Pharaoh’s servants said to him, “How long will this man be a snare to us? Let the men go, that they may serve the Lord their God. Do you not realize that Egypt is destroyed?”

Exodus 16:28: Then the Lord said to Moses, “How long do you refuse to keep my commandments and my instructions?”

Numbers 14:11: The Lord said to Moses, “How long will this people spurn me? And how long will they not believe in me, despite all the signs which I have performed in their midst?”

Joshua asks the men of Israel how long they will delay in moving into the Promised Land. (Joshua 18:3)

The priest Eli asks the barren Hannah how long she continue with her drunken babbling (1 Samuel 1:14) and the Lord asks Samuel how long he will grieve over the loss of Saul as king of Israel (1 Samuel 16:1).

In 1 Kings 18:21 Elijah asks the people how long their will vacillate between the Living God Yahweh and the false gods of the Baals.

Job’s companion, Bildad, asks Job how long he will refuse to acknowledge his sin – which he, in fact, did not commit (Job 8:2). He asks how long Job will put off speaking truth (Job 18:2). To this, Job replies: How long will you torment me and crush me with lies? (Job 19:1)

In these Old Testament verses we read the words we ourselves use when we are overwhelmed. We hear the human and divine plea for understanding; and we feel the urgent desire for resolution in all that seems precarious and unjust. Let us gather our moments of plight and petition, and bring them to the one who holds the answer to our prayers of supplication.

Tomorrow . . . a response.

For an insightful reflection on the Book of Job, click on the image above or visit: http://soulation.org/breakfastreading/2011/03/a-different-look-at-the-man-from-uz.html

For more reflections on the words of this prophet, enter the words Daniel or Apocalypse into the blog search bar and explore.

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Monday, May 13, 2013

Gerbrand Van den EEckhout:Hannah presenting her son Samuel to the Priest Eli

Gerbrand Van den EEckhout: Hannah presenting her son Samuel to the Priest Eli

1 Samuel 1

Steadfastness in Hope: Miracles

Today we read the story of a woman who is well-loved . . . and well taunted, a woman who will not give up her hope for something new.  Previously in our Noontime journey we have examined the piety, constancy and fidelity of Hannah.  Today, as we continue to explore the quality of steadfastness, we look for surprises, joy and hope that mark Hannah’s journey, and we allow ourselves to be open to surprise, joy and hope even as we remain steadfast.  Several verses leap off the page to give us new meaning from familiar old words.

Verse 6:  Her rival, to upset her, turned it into a constant reproach to her that the Lord had left her barren.  Knowing that a woman’s worth in ancient times was measured by her virginity as a maiden and her fertility as a woman, Peninnah, the second wife of Elkanah, is perhaps jealous of the double portions of love Hannah receives despite her barrenness.  Perhaps Peninnah is younger and more beautiful . . . and thinks herself deserving of something better.  We know many people who are Peninnahs to us and to others.  During this Eastertide, let us pray that the joy of life in Christ softens their hearts of stone.

Verse 15: I am an unhappy woman . . . I was only pouring out my troubles to the Lord.  Hannah takes her burden to the proper place . . . to her creator who knows both her gifts and her plight better than any human.  We are all Hannah at one time or another in our homeward journey.  Sometimes we try to carry our burdens on our own; sometimes we share our woes with friends and counselors as we should.  We must also remember to take our problems daily to the one who has the best solutions. During this Eastertide, let us pray that our confidence in Christ softens our hearts of stone.

Verse 18:  She went to her quarters, ate and drank with her husband, and no longer appeared downcast.  Hannah is first rebuked by the priest Eli who thinks that she is drunk as she prays.  Once he understands her misery, he blesses her and urges her to in peace, relying on the God of Israel to hear her request.  She exhibits immediate confidence and joy. We find consolation when we take our troubles to God.  May we encourage one another to bring their burdens to the Lord who heals and frees all from sadness.  During this Eastertide, let us pray that the hope of life in Christ opens our hearts of stone.

Verse 19: The Lord remembered her.  The Lord is mindful of his faithful handmaid for many years.  Hannah not only bears a son, Samuel, whom she dedicates to God; she also receives the gift of three more sons and two daughters.  This family is an ample witness to Hannah, to Peninnah, and to us that a steadfast, confident, joyful heart receives miracles beyond imagining.  During this Eastertide, let us pray that our life in Christ opens all hearts to the miracles God has in mind for us this day.

When we persist in our steadfastness we ultimately experience hope.  When we rest in our steadfastness we ultimately experience joy.  When we persevere in our steadfastness we ultimately experience surprise.  In this Eastertide, let us welcome God’s presence in our lives and remain steadfast.  Let us be open to the surprises, joy and miracles that await us.

Amen.

Adapted from the December 7, 2008 Noontime.

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