TODAY’S READING: 1 SAMUEL 1-3
“But Hannah answered, ‘No, my lord, I am a woman of troubled spirit. I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have been pouring out my soul before the Lord. Do not regard your servant as a worthless woman, for all along I have been speaking out of my great anxiety and vexation.” – 1 Samuel 1:15-16
Hannah was barren. She had no children. But, she was married to a man who had another wife who bore him many children. Even though Hannah’s husband, Elkanah, gave her a double portion of his sacrifice, Hannah remained barren.
Every year Elkanah, Hannah, and the other wife, Peninnah went up to the Shiloh to worship and to sacrifice. Year after year, Elkanah gave Hannah a double portion. But, Hannah remained barren year after year.
And, Peninnah would provoked Hannah year after year. Peninnah would irritate Hannah because she had children but Hannah did not.
One year, Hannah did not take the double portion from Elkanah. Instead, she did not eat and she wept. Elkanah asked Hannah why she wept and would not eat Was her heart sad? Was Elkanah not more to her than ten sons could be?
After everyone else had eaten and drunk from the offering in Shiloh, Hannah rose. She was distressed and prayed bitterly to the Lord. She vowed that if God would see her affliction and remember her then she would give the son she was asking for to the Lord all the days of his life.
So, Hannah prayed before the Lord. She was speaking in heart, moving with her lips without her voice being heard. Eli, the priest, thought she was drunk. He ask Hannah how long she would remain drunk and instructed her to put her drink.
Hannah answers the she was trouble in spirit and not drunk. Rather, she was pouring out her soul before the Lord. Hannah asked Eli not to see her as a worthless woman but as a woman who was speaking out of her great anxiety and vexation.
So, Eli told her to go in peace and that God would grant her prayer. Hannah responded, “Let you servant find favor in your eyes.” It would be easy to assume that she wanted to find favor in the eyes of Eli. But, it’s quite possible that Hannah asked to find favor in God’s eyes. For, later we find out that Eli’s eyes were dim, implying he was not close to God.
Therefore, Hannah went her away and ate. She was no longer sad. Hannah was trusting in the favor of the Lord that her prayer would be answered.
So, Elkanah, Hannah, and Peninnah got up early in the morning, worshiped, and went back to Ramah. Elkanah knew Hannah his wife and in due time Hannah conceived and bore a son. Hannah called him Samuel. After year and years of provoking, vexation, irritation due to her barrenness, Hannah’s prayer had been answered.
What a tremendous story of perseverance in prayer!
What are we to learn from this story?
We need to pour out our soul before the Lord so he can pour the Spirit of his son, Jesus, into our empty vessels.
Let’s read the story by the Spirit to see how this works.
“There was a certain man of Ramathaim-zophim of the hill country of Ephraim who name was Elkanah the son Jeroham, son of Elihu, son of Tohu, son of Zuph, an Ephrahthite. He had two wives. The name of one was Hannah, and the name of the other, Peninnah. And Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children.”
The meaning of everyone of these names helps to set up the spiritual understanding of this story. Let’s take them in order of their mention. Then, we will put them together.
Ramathaim-zophim means “the heights of the watchmen” or “the deceits of the honeycomb.”
Ephraim means fruitfulness.
Elkanah means “God has possessed,” “God has redeemed,” “God has created” (but is perhaps unlikely), or “God has taken possession.”
Jeroham means “he is pitied” or “he will obtain mercy”
Elihu means “he is my God” or “God the Lord”
Tohu means wilderness, wasteland, emptiness, nothing.
Zuph means honeycomb, honey, or sweet.
Ephrhath means fruitfulness or worthlessness. Worthlessness is a secondary meaning of Ephrhath, but there is a strong connotation.
Hannah means graciousness or gratuitous gift.
Peninnah coral or pearl.
The lineage of Elkanah starts with honey in the honeycomb. If we take Zuph to mean, then the lineage of Elkanah starts with something tasteless. In Matthew 5:13, Jesus says, “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored?” A tasteless thing is worthless, not good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled.
Psalm 34:8 says, “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!” But, if we have not tasted the Lord, then we are tasteless. If we are tasteless, then this produces a wilderness within us.
Speaking of Israel in the wilderness, Psalm 106:14 says, “But they had a wanton craving in the wilderness, and put God to the test in the desert.” Led by tastelessness into the wilderness, we have a wanton craving, literally a craving for the grave. In this craving, we put God to the test. However, Isaiah 40:3 says, “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.” While there is a wilderness, God is the Lord.
God is the Lord fathers a son who will obtain mercy. Isaiah 30:18 says, “Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him.” God promised his mercy to Israel when he was exalted.
Jesus, God who exalted himself on the cross, shows mercy to you. Jesus is the fulfillment of the Father’s promise of mercy. Luke 1:68-69, 72 says, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David…to show the mercy promised to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant.”
Through the one who obtains mercy God takes possession of and redeems. This is Elkanah. But, by the Spirit we can see that Elkanah’s lineage prophetically speaks of Jesus.
Elkanah was of a place that could mean both “the heights of the watchmen” or “the deceits of the honeycomb.” Jesus is our refuge, a strong tower. Proverbs 18:10 says, “The name of the Lord is a strong tower, the righteous man runs into it and is safe.”
But, how can this same place be “the deceits of the honeycomb?”
Proverbs 24:13 says, “My son, eat honey, for it is good, and the drippings of the honeycomb are sweet to your taste.”
Psalm 119:103 says, “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth.”
How is sweet to our taste, but the words of Jesus are even sweeter. Honey comes from, drips from, the honey comb. But, if the honeycomb has no honey in it, then what we thought would be sweet is tasteless. So, Jesus’ words are sweeter than honey and give life because they are from God. But, if the word of Jesus, the voice of God, is not heard, then we are left with only the physical, natural, flesh and blood man Jesus. We are left with the honeycomb, which is deceitful because what we thought would be sweet, the man Jesus, is actually tasteless without the honey, the voice of God.
Ramathaim-zophim is in the land of fruitfulness. We can be so close to the heights of the watchmen, Jesus, the strong tower, yet at the same time be in the deceits of the honeycomb, the man Jesus with the voice that carries the true word God nowhere to be found.
Elkanah was an Ephrahthite. He was a man of fruitfulness or worthlessness, depending on the perspective.
Elkanah had two wives. One was graciousness, a gratuitous gift. But, Hannah was barren. She had no children. In other words, she produced no fruit. The other was a pearl, a precious thing produced through the affliction of a grain of sand in the flesh. Peninnah was very fruitful.
A DOUBLE PORTION FOR HANNAH
Every year that Elkanah would go to Shiloh to worship and sacrifice he would give portions to Peninnah, but he would give a double portion to Hannah because he loved her even though she was barren, or fruitless. Remember that as the product of his lineage, Elkanah represents that work that God is doing through Christ to reconcile. Therefore, the sacrifice that Elkanah and Peninnah are eating from is a picture of Jesus.
The phrase double portion is found five times in Bible – four in the Old Testament and one in the New Testament. The New Testament mention is related to Babylon, but the four Old Testament mentions are related to the unloved one getting a double portion of the inheritance or blessing.
However, the mention is 1 Samuel 1:5 is very interesting because the Hebrew word for double is appayim, which comes from two Hebrew root word meaning to be angry with and anger, face, nose, or (dual) nostrils.” The word translated double doesn’t actually mean double at all.
What is going on here?
The Hebrew word for nose or nostrils is associated with anger. So, I believe in this passage there is a bit of double meaning going on here. Hannah was perceiving that she was getting an angry portion from God’s nostrils because she was barren. But, because Elkanah loved her, we know that was not the case. In reality, Hannah was getting a “double” portion in the sense that she was getting what was breathed out from God’s two nostrils. If we see the sacrifice that we got a double portion of as Jesus, then we see that she was getting the Holy Spirit as he is what is breathed out by God into us (Genesis 2:7 and John 20:22).
What is so fascinating, and I believe confirms my double meaning hypothesis, is that year after year Hannah would weep and not eat the double portion of the sacrifice.
What does this show us?
God loves us and wants to us a double portion of his Holy Spirit to speak to us, but some of us refuse to partake of what God is offering. God asks those that refuse the double portion, “Why do you not eat? And why is your heart sad? Am I not more than ten sons to you?”
HANNAH PRAYED AND VOWED
Hannah’s barrenness is a picture of our fruitlessness, which is a result of not partaking of the double portion of the Holy Spirit that God is trying to give us. God wants to speak to us through his Spirit, but we won’t partake of the Spirit.
However, after years of barrenness, Hannah gave in to God and made a vow. She said that if God gave looked on her barrenness and gave her a son then she would give that son to Lord his whole life. I can imagine Hannah praying for years for a son but never receiving the son she wanted because it was all about her own desires, passions, and benefits.
What does this picture for us?
We may cry out to hear from God, to receive his Spirit. But, perhaps we are like Hannah, desiring the Spirit for our own benefit. James 4:2-3 says, “You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.”
But, in order to receive the Spirit, to truly hear from the Lord, we need to make a vow like Hannah. “Lord, I have not heard you. I am without your Spirit speaking to me. But, if you fill me with your Spirit and make me a son, that I will give you myself to the service of you the rest of my life.”
By the Spirit, I see Hannah asking for a son and vowing to give him to the Lord as a picture of us asking to be made sons of God so that our lives can be devoted to the Lord.
HANNAH POURS OUT HER SOUL
Hannah continued to pray and poured out her soul. It was only after she poured out her soul that in due time she bore the son she vowed to give to the Lord the rest of his days. His name was Samuel, which means name of God (a godly name), heard of God. The son she birthed had the name of God.
In order for us receive the double portion of Christ’s offering, the Holy Spirit, we need to pour out our soul. We need to empty ourselves of our natural reasoning, our carnal minds, our fleshly instincts. We have to empty ourselves of all earthly desire. This is taking on the mind of Christ.
Philippians 2:5-7 says, “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.”
Christ had to empty himself of his deity to become like us. Of course, it works in reverse for us. We have to empty ourselves of all that is of the flesh, every carnal instinct, in order to become a son of God, to be filled with the Spirit, to hear God’s voice, to see and touch the supernatural.
God cannot do this for us. We must pour out our souls so that he can pour into us his Holy Spirit. For, it is the Spirit that God pours out.
Peter says the prophecy of Joel was fulfilled in Acts 2:17-19, which says, “And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; even on my male servants and my female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy. And I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below.”
We have to hope, expectantly waiting not wishing, for this. Romans 5:5 says, “And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
Titus 3:4-6 says, “But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, hesaved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior.
If you want God to speak to and through you, if you want God to show you visions and dreams, if you want God to show spiritual signs and wonders, then you must completely pour out your soul, your natural man, your fleshly man. You must give up your natural reasoning and understanding. You must give up all your earthly philosophies and ways of seeing things.
This is why Paul says in Colossians 2:8-9, “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit [remember the honeycomb from above], according to human tradition, according to elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority.”
But, in order that you may “be filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:19), “be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18), “be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding” (Colossians 1:9), and “be filled with all joy” (2 Timothy 1:4), you must pour yourself out first. Everything of your natural, fleshly, carnal man must go.
When we do this will bear the son we have always wanted, just like Hannah. And, our name will be Samuel, the name of God.
Romans 8:13-16 says, “For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.”
A FINAL WORD – DO NOT BE FULL OF THE NATURAL
Remember above what we saw about honey. We have to taste the honey, the words of Christ, and see that they are good. But, if we are full of the natural and the flesh, we will loathe the spiritual and the supernatural. We won’t hear from God.
Proverbs 27:7 – “One who is full loathes honey, but to one who is hungry everything bitter is sweet.”