“At such a time as this” (Esther 4:14), would be just as appropriate to use for the start of the book of 1 Samuel, as God’s hand was about to move in Israel’s history. The people were again doing “what was right in their own eyes,” being disobedient to God spiritually and morally. They needed a spiritual leader to get them on track, and to speak to them on God’s behalf.
The chapter opens with the story of Elkanah, a Levite from Ephraim, who came yearly to the temple at Shiloh to sacrifice to the Lord. He was accompanied by his two wives, Hannah, who was barren, and Peninnah who had borne him several children. It was customary, though not sanctioned by God, for a man to take a second wife if his first wife was barren. We read that Elkanah loved Hannah and always gave her a double portion for the offering, and couldn’t understand her emotional state: he was a little insensitive to the depth of her suffering. Barrenness was considered to be a curse from God. Peninnah, who was jealous of Hannah, delighted in provoking her to hurt her. This taunting continued year after year and caused Hannah great bitterness of soul. ‘Bitter soul,’ in Hebrew is “marat nephesh.”- “marat,” means bitter and “nephesh” is translated as soul, or “the core of your very being.” In her state of depression she turns to the Lord in prayer and “wept sore”: uncontrollably. Eli the priest thought she was drunk. She asked God to ‘take this affliction away from her,’ that He would give her a son who she would loan back to God to serve in the temple.
Hannah was a godly woman and fulfilled her promise when Samuel was born. Once he was weaned she brought him to the temple where he grew “in stature and in favour both with the Lord and men.” (the same statement made of the boy Jesus in Luke 2:52) and served and became the prophet whom God used to anoint the first two kings of Israel. It was God who closed Hannah’s womb until ‘such a time as this.’ There are several women in the Bible who were barren, some into their old age; we can think of Sarai who gave birth to Isaac and Elizabeth who gave birth to John the Baptist.
Are you waiting for an answer to prayer? Do you think God has forgotten you? Does your prayer fit in with God’s purposes?
Thank you, Lord, for hearing my prayer, I praise You that Your will and timing is always perfect.