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God Brings Us Low In Order To Lift Us High

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January 2016
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1 And Hannah prayed and said, “My heart exults in the Lord; my horn is exalted in the Lord. My mouth derides my enemies, because I rejoice in your salvation. 2 “There is none holy like the Lord: for there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God. 3 Talk no more so very proudly, let not arrogance come from your mouth; for the Lord is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed. 4 The bows of the mighty are broken, but the feeble bind on strength. 5 Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread, but those who were hungry have ceased to hunger. The barren has borne seven, but she who has many children is forlorn. 6 The Lord kills and brings to life; he brings down to Sheol and raises up. 7 The Lord makes poor and makes rich; he brings low and he exalts. 8 He raises up the poor from the dust; he lifts the needy from the ash heap to make them sit with princes and inherit a seat of honor. For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s, and on them he has set the world. 9 “He will guard the feet of his faithful ones, but the wicked shall be cut off in darkness, for not by might shall a man prevail. 10 The adversaries of the Lord shall be broken to pieces; against them he will thunder in heaven. The Lord will judge the ends of the earth; he will give strength to his king and exalt the horn of his anointed.” 11 Then Elkanah went home to Ramah. And the boy was ministering to the Lord in the presence of Eli the priest.
(1 Samuel 2:1-11)

Yesterday we began to study a passage known as “Hannah’s prayer”. We saw how Hannah, who was once very low and sad [1 Samuel 1:6-7] was now filled with joy because she had changed her outlook and was now focused on God, not on what she did not have in life.

As a result, Hannah felt triumphant over her enemy, specifically over Peninnah, her husband’s other wife. Now that she is focused on who and what God is instead of who and what she was (barren), Hannah can do something that Jesus Himself would teach many centuries later [Matthew 5:43-48]. She is able to pray for her enemies.

While not specifically addressed to Peninniah, the words of Hannah’s prayer certainly suggest they are directed at the woman who ridiculed her. Hannah prays that Peninnah would talk no more so very proudly, nor let arrogance come from her mouth. I don’t think these are vindictive words from Hannah. I think Hannah was in a “good place” at this time – having come to understand that her value comes from the God who created her and wanted to be with her for all eternity. Hannah no longer allowed other human beings – especially those who were proud and arrogant – to determine her worth. As such she was able to pray for her enemy’s welfare.

In the end our actions are weighed by Him. This will certainly be true on Judgement Day. But it is also true during our time on this earth. While we are living here God will do what He can to correct our faulty attitudes and behaviors. Those who think they are mighty will be brokenThose who have much (full) will find themselves hired out for bread (they will have to work or even beg for necessities). Those who are barren will bear children but the one who has many children will become forlorn (miserable).

Pride goes before a fall [Proverbs 16:18]. God can and will change the fortunes of people on this earth who are arrogant.

God does this not to punish them but to get their attention. Their lives on this earth, like everyone else’s, are short. Someday they will die. Then they will face judgement for their thoughts, actions, and behaviors. Any sinful thoughts, actions, and behaviors will at this time have to be punished for all eternity. That punishment is eternal separation from God. We call that hell.

Of course, God does not want people to end up separated from Him for all eternity. That is why He will direct our lives towards Him. He brings down to Sheol (gives us problems) and He raises up (rescues us from problems). He makes poor and makes rich; He brings low and He exalts. God will do all these things in order to get our attention. He does all these things out of His immense love for us so that we are focused on Him, like Hannah was here, not on ourselves or our circumstances, as Hannah was previously.

Finally, it is also true that God brought Hannah low. He allowed her to be ridiculed by Peninnah for years. The result was that Hannah finally came around to understanding that her worth was based on her relationship with God, not by other people. As a result, Hannah was able to promise to give her as-yet-unborn-child to God [1 Samuel 1:11], to keep that promise [1 Samuel 1:27-28], and to do so with joy [1 Samuel 2:1].

Out of her suffering Hannah came to see god more clearly and to have a stronger relationship with Him. In today’s passage, Hannah prays that those who are proud and arrogant will come to the same place she is now at, by the same means if that is what it takes.

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.



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