June 5th: 1 Samuel, 1-2:11, Proverbs 5:1-6:19
A number of clues in our 1 Samuel reading signify something special in Israel’s history is about to take place. First, we encounter Hannah, a barren woman who longs for a child, hearkening back to Sarah before giving birth to Isaac. Secondly, we see that Hannah is a favored wife like Rachel was with Jacob, likewise unable to have the child see longs to see. Lastly, God grants Hannah’s prayer and gives her a child that she in turn dedicates to God’s service. All of these cues prepare us for the importance of Samuel, Hannah’s son. Samuel will prove very important in the next phase of Israel’s history, the time of the Kings. In the meantime, I encourage you to slowly read Hannah’s prayer a few times and consider the humiliation she faced as a barren wife in the house of a man with another fertile wife. Place yourself in her shoes, even for a moment, and consider the monthly reminder, that presumably occurred for years, that something bodily is particularly preventing Hannah from being a mom. A vast majority of adult women throughout history have desired motherhood, so barrenness has always been painful for couples. In iron Age Israel, especially in a polygamous situation, barrenness certainly came with unique sorrows hard to grasp in our individualistic culture. As Hannah prays recognizing God’s protection and vindication of the weak, one feels the depths of her former pain as well as the heights of her gladness in God’s kindness.