I know you thought I would never leave the book of Ruth. I always love to have an ending to a reading that is redemptive and most of the readings in Judges were not, so I decided to nest on Ruth for a while since Naomi and I had some commonalities even though separated by 2,000 years.
I enter the book of I Samuel, who is the last Judge during the rule by judges, and this read will last for a month or so as I write of some events in the book. I am so thrilled that God uses flawed, finite, and sometimes pitiful people to tell His story of His love and His redemption for you and me.
The first character I encounter is Hannah. She is barren and probably the first wife of Elkanah. The ancient custom of the Levirate Marriage: in order to secure the family lineage, this law also included the interpretation if the first wife is barren, the man can take on a second wife. I just betcha this is a man's stretch of legal jargon, because throughout Genesis when a second woman is included in a marriage, there is guaranteed chaos. I wonder what the length in time of barreness involved before the second wife moved in and unpacked her bags?
OF COURSE, there are hard feelings between Hannah and the second wife, Peninnah. I guess that is a shock to dear Elkanah? Both women go to Shiloh with Elkanah to worship and to give sacrifices yearly. While there in worship, Hannah is praying, requesting of the Lord to give her a son, and Eli, the priest is watching her. His immediate judgment is that she is drunk and Eli chides her for her perceived drunkeness. She quickly confesses that she "has not had wine or a strong drink" but that she is oppressed in her spirit. I love her honest transparency..."I have poured out my soul before the Lord." I Samuel 1:15 Scripture records that Hannah "went her way and ate, and her face was no long sad."
I sense Hannah's honest transparency. The Psalms are replete with David's gut level praise of God and sometimes his gut level woes. Some transparency that might injure another person probably should not be spoken or written. In this passage, we hear Hannah's pain of her barreness, and not to mention the provacation of Peninnah to irritate her. Amazing, she pours out her soul to God, and she is no longer sad.
There are times that you and I are called upon to look intently into our hearts and our minds and identify the causes of remorse, disappointments, or judgments...to pour our our souls to God. Warning, it is not always the ole culprit, the evil one, who may be causing the oppression, disappointment, or remorse. It could be wrong judgements which I have made against another, or maybe expectations that I have tried to press against another and they have failed to meet them. These two suggestions are among myriad. Just name your own. As I honestly pour out my soul to the Lord, I might find that the souce of my pain could just be selfish little ole me who is irritating and provoking myself and probably others! Oh me, it sounds like confession and repentance time. 2 Corinthians 7:10, "For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorow of the world produces death." Thank You, Father God, that we can pour out our souls to You and receive forgiveness, understanding, and healing. #IHAVETHREESONS