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)
Hannah had been barren for many years. In her culture she would have been looked down upon as having children was considered a blessing from God. She was certainly looked down upon by Peninnah, her husband’s other wife who ridiculed Hannah repeatedly for not having children [1 Samuel 1:6-7]. Hannah was in a very low place.
But as we’ve learned, Hannah did eventually have a child, Samuel, who she gave back to God for him to serve in the tabernacle [1 Samuel 1:11, 27-28]. At the time the tabernacle was under the control of the aged and ineffective Eli and his corrupt sons, Hophni and Phinehas [1 Samuel 2:12-17]. God had plans to restore the government of the tabernacle. But He first needed someone who was dedicated to Him that He could work through. Samuel, although he was just a toddler, was that someone.
One might wonder why God didn’t use one of Peninnah’s children. The answer is simple. Peninnah was crude and arrogant. She was mean to one of God’s children. And when someone is against God’s children they are against God. Likely her sons were just like her. Therefore they were unusable.
God works through people. He could easily have waved a magic wand over Hophni and Phinehas, changing their behavior. But God does not do that. He lets us be who we’re going to be. Then He looks for those who He can use to accomplish His goals.
God does not use the proud or the arrogant. He does not use those who think they are wonderful. What’s more, He cannot use them because such people are unusable. They want what they want, not what God wants. And they want the credit for it. They aren’t willing to give God the glory.
Hannah, as opposed to Peninnah, was humble. She was poor in spirit and needy. These are the kinds of people God raises up and lifts up [Matthew 5:3]. He will turn their lives around – making them sit with princes and giving them a seat of honor.
God works through the weak, not the strong. He does not seek out our strengths to use them. He seeks out our weaknesses and uses them. It is not by might that a man shall prevail [Zechariah 4:6]. When we realize our inabilities and how weak we really are, then God has us right where He wants us. For it is then, and only then, that He can use us to bless others.
It takes us a while to realize this though. We often wonder why God doesn’t just solve our problems when we ask like some genie in a bottle. I think it took Hannah many years to understand this too. She was barren for years and suffered Peninnah’s torments for years. She probably wondered why God let her suffer – why He didn’t just let her get pregnant.
But throughout her ordeal, Hannah remained faithful. As a result, God guarded her and kept her until she learned that God needed a man like her child more than she did. This was the great lesson that God wanted Hannah to understand. Hannah wanted God to bless her. God was willing to do that, but first He wanted Hannah to learn that He wanted to bless others through His blessing on her.
If God had simply allowed Hannah to get pregnant when she first prayed for a child, she would not have given that child back to God to serve in the tabernacle and the corrupt religious leadership of Israel would have continued. But God wanted to correct that situation. To do that He needed a man to serve Him who was dedicated to Him. And for that, He first needed a mother who was dedicated to Him and who would raise her son to be likewise. Hannah was that mother.
Hannah was not famous. She was not powerful. She had a small circle of influence. Yet because of her humility and dedication to God, all of Israel – not to mention those of us living today who are God’s children – have been blessed because of her unselfish actions.
Too often we wonder why our problems continue even though we’ve prayed about them for so long. The answer very well might be that we are simply looking to God to solve our problems when in actuality He wants to not only solve our problems, but solve a bigger problem in the process. We need to learn that God blesses us not simply to bless us. God blesses us so that we can be a blessing to others.
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