4 Whenever the day came for Elkanah to sacrifice, he would give portions of the meat to his wife Peninnah and to all her sons and daughters. 5 But to Hannah he gave a double portion because he loved her, and the Lord had closed her womb.
(1 Samuel 1:4-5)
Today’s passage reveals a truth that is difficult to understand and accept. Nevertheless, we don’t get to pick and choose which parts of God’s word are true. All of it is true. So the onus is on us to come to an understanding of difficult passages. We do this through in-depth study with the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
God wants us to know the truth [1 Timothy 2:4]. That is why He gave us the Bible. God is very open and honest with us about who He is and about who we are. If we are likewise open-minded enough to accept what God tells us we can live lives that are more fulfilling and less frustrating.
Yesterday we saw that despite the lack of devotion and obedience to God among his fellow countrymen, Elkanah remained devoted and obedient to God in that he made the annual trips to Shiloh to offer sacrifices God as commanded [Exodus 34:23; Deuteronomy 16:16]. After the sacrifices were made they were eaten by the offerer and his family [Deuteronomy 12:17-18]. This is the Old Testament equivalent of our modern-day Lord’s Supper.
Each time Elkanah went to Shiloh for the annual sacrifice he would give portions of the meat from the sacrificed animal to his wife Peninnah and to all her sons and daughters. But to Hannah he gave a double portion because he loved her and the Lord has closed her womb.
Elkanah had two wives, something that went against God’s commands. He likely married Hannah first but she was unable to have children. So, not willing to live with that situation and being impatient for it to change, he took a second wife, Peninnah, who bore many children. But notice something very important. Hannah was unable to have children not simply because of some biological anomaly. She was barren because God made her so.
While many of the problems we face in life are of our own making, it is also true that some of our conditions and difficulties are given to us by God. This is a difficult concept, but it makes sense.
God does not give us a life of ease because that would result in us becoming immature and selfish. God loves us too much to do that to us. God wants to mature us. Therefore if one is an adopted child of God, he/she can expect to have problems as it is only through difficulty that we grow and become better people. But this can only happen if we understand the source of our problems and handle them the right way.
Back in ancient Israel people often thought that a person’s physical problems were a punishment for some sin they or their parents had committed [John 9:2]. Today people still believe similarly, attributing problems to “karma”.
But the Bible teaches us differently. God gives us problems so that we might bring them to Him to discover the solution He has in mind. We have problems so that the power of God can be displayed in our lives [John 9:3]. This is exactly what we will see Hannah do as we continue our study.
God is behind the circumstances in our life, both the good and the bad. He does not give us adversity to torment us or to create bitterness or resentment, although that is often how we react. God gives us problems in order to grow us and mature us to be like Him [Romans 8:29; Ephesians 4:24].
No matter what happens in our life, we need to recognize that God is sovereign. We need to be willing to accept not only the good God offers but also the adversity [Job 2:10].
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