Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Promises Kept

This is the story of Hannah, Elkanah, and Samuel from the first chapter of 1 Samuel. I like to take Bible stories and imagine them from another point of view. This is Hannah's story.

“Oh Lord, do you not hear my prayer?” For what seemed like the millionth time I cried out in desperation to God. I had been praying for a child. Every year Elkanah and I went to the temple to offer a sacrifice at the appointed time. Every year I promised God if He would give me a child I would give him back to His service.

The ache inside me was intense. Elkanah was a good man and provided for me. He was generous. I suspect he gave me double portions for the sacrifice because of my empty womb. But his other wife, Peninnah was vicious. She taunted me to no end. Who was she to think she’s better than me simply because she had given Elkanah children?

Frustrated, I sank to my knees and again poured my heart out to the Lord. “Hannah,” growled the priest. “Why are you drunk in the temple? Have you no shame?”

Eli must have wandered in during my prayer to the Lord and witnessed my distress. I explained to him that I was not drunk with wine but sorrow. “I have prayed for many years for a child and the Lord has not heard me.”

Kneeling beside me, Eli promised, “The Lord has heard and will remember.”

I tucked that promise into my heart and headed back to Ramah with Elkanah. Life went back to normal but months later the tell-tale signs began. I held my tongue and waited to make sure.

Then it was official. Finally, finally, finally I was with child. The Lord had heard and answered my prayer. My beautiful, Samuel was born a short time after.

When the time came for us to go and sacrifice at the temple I declined. “Elkanah, I want to wean the child before taking him to the temple.” And Elkanah understood. I knew when I took Samuel to the temple I would be leaving him there. He would learn and grow under the tutelage of Eli.

In time, the day came for me to release Samuel back to God. Elkanah, Samuel and I traveled to the temple. There before the Lord I praised Him for His faithfulness. I was overjoyed in His love. He had given me the son I asked for and I gladly kept my promise.

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