1 Samuel 1:2 – 8
2And he [Elkanah] had two wives; the name of the one was Hannah, and the name of the other Peninnah: and Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children.
3 And this man went up out of his city yearly to worship and to sacrifice unto the Lord of hosts in Shiloh. And the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, the priests of the Lord, were there yearly:
4 And when the time was that Elkanah offered, he gave to Peninnah his wife, and to all her sons and her daughters, portions:
5 But unto Hannah he gave a worthy portion; for he loved Hannah: but the Lord had shut up her womb.
6 And her adversary also provoked her sore, for to make her fret, because the Lord had shut up her womb.
7 And as he did so year by year, when she went up to the house of the Lord, so she provoked her; therefore she wept, and did not eat.
8 Then said Elkanah her husband to her, Hannah, why weepest thou? and why eatest thou not? and why is thy heart grieved? am not I better to thee than ten sons?
A Yearning for More
I was reading this passage this morning (March 2, 2018), and the highlighted words of Elkanah jumped off the page at me as if God Himself were making a sort of plea with me. In what I believe to be with the best of intentions, since we started Turning Point in October of 2011, I have sought the Lord for growth for our small church. We’ve had pockets of success, and I would not classify our church has having been barren. We’ve seen people in our altars filled with the Holy Ghost. We’ve baptized a couple of dozen in our short life span, but there is a yearning within me as a leader, as a pastor, as a servant of God to produce more.
I’ve made great strides in this area of my life in terms of trusting God for growth, as we plant and water, He always brings the increase. But, there’s a divine discontentment within me for more. I will say, I believe there needs to be a balance in these sort of prayers. On one hand we need to be reaching for that next soul, but with the other we ought to be gratefully, and faithfully feeding, nurturing, and loving those God has already blessed us with.
Hannah’s Prayer and Elkanah’ Plea
When I read passages like Hannah’s desperate pleas for a child, specifically a son, I have been quick to dismiss another plea of sorts made, almost in passing here in verse 8, “Then said Elkanah her husband to her, Hannah, why weepest thou? and why eatest thou not? and why is thy heart grieved? am not I better to thee than ten sons?”
Here I got a glimpse into the nature of our Heavenly Father in the face of our desperate prayer for “more sons” in the Gospel. While I’ve prayed and sought God for more growth for our church, I’m ashamed to say, I’ve had pockets of envy. There has been no real provocation on the part other pastors of successful churches, but the “enemy” of my soul, as well as the loud self-sabotaging voices of my own, scream in the face of the Father to “remember me…”
My pleas are for more workers for the Kingdom; more soul-winners, more bible teachers, more preachers, leaders, worshipers, true laborers for the work God has called us to start. But, this passage by Elkanah stopped me in my tracks this morning, “Am I not better to thee than ten sons?”
It’s About Relationship
Tears started to flow, as I had the spirit again come over me as if I had insinuated my God, and all He has done for me and our small church, is not enough. Hannah was given a “worthy portion” or a “double portion” and Elkanah’s unwavering affection and devotion. While this didn’t answer the yearning in Hannah for a son, it does beg the question, has my relationship with God been more a function of producing a result, a.k.a. a son or new convert, new laborer for the work of our church? When much like Elkanah, God is asking the question, “Am I not better than all of this?” Our prayer life isn’t required to be result-driven, as much as it is to be relationship-driven. When the relationship happens, the results will take care of themselves.
May my prayer never insinuate, or outright accuse my God of not being enough. He’s more than enough. He always supplies what’s needed. And, He’s always on time! He’s better to me than even ten sons! – RDM