by Kemet Ellis
Can you remember a time where you were tormented by another person, so much, you dreaded being around them? Just imagine if it was our culture for men to have more than one wife, and the wife’s value was based upon her ability to have children, especially male children.
This was the case for Hannah in I Samuel, Chapter 1. Elkanah had two wives, Hannah and Peninnah. Peninnah gave Elkanah sons and daughters, but Hannah wasn’t able to have children because God had closed her womb.
Peninnah gloated over the fact she had given Elkanah children, and Hannah could not. She tormented Hannah so much, when they went on their yearly retreats for Elkanah to worship and sacrifice to the Lord (I Samuel 1:3), she wouldn’t eat. She only cried.
The Bible says in I Samuel 1:5, Elkanah loved Hannah very much. When he gave a portion of the offerings to his family, he gave Hannah a double portion. There was nothing Elkanah could do to ease Hannah’s pain. Verse 10 says Hannah was in “bitterness of soul and prayed to the Lord and wept in anguish.” This bitterness of soul was the same as grief or mourning.
I have been through such things in my life personally. I too grieved in such a way. No one could ease my suffering except the Lord. When I wasn’t praying and crying in anguish, I was talking to someone about the emotions stirring inside of me. In my distress, I complained and shared my “bitterness of soul” with those I could trust.
When I read Hannah’s story, a few things stood out, which I had not noticed before. Verse 11 says after praying and crying to the Lord, she made a vow to the Lord. If He would look upon her affliction, remember her, and give her a son, she promised to give her son to the Lord all the days of his life with no razor to ever touch his head. In verse 13, Eli, the priest, saw Hannah’s lips moving but no sound came out. He thought she was drunk, but she was praying in her heart.
Hannah’s responded by saying, “No my lord, I am a woman of sorrowful spirit. I have drunk neither wine nor intoxicating drink, but have poured out my soul before the Lord. Do not consider your maidservant a wicked woman, for out of the abundance of my complaint and grief I have spoken.”
Do you see what I see? Hannah “poured out her soul”, her bitterness, to the Lord. For years she had been tormented by Peninnah. She kept her complaints to herself until finally, she had to “pour it out” to the Lord. After sharing this with Eli, Eli told her to go in peace and God would grant her what she had asked for. As she went, verse 18 says her face was no longer sad.
The next morning, the family worshiped and headed home. Elkanah slept with Hannah and “the Lord remembered her.”
If you know the rest of the story, Hannah, conceived and gave birth to Samuel, who served the Lord as Hannah vowed he would. God gave Hannah exactly what she had asked for and more. She later had three more sons and two daughters.
Do you see it? Hannah was tormented by an adversary in an area which caused her much grief. She carried this “bitterness of soul” around with her and kept it to herself. Before Abba could fill Hannah with His promise, she had to first pour our her stuff, her bitterness. Once she had done so, Abba could fill her with His provision, His hope for her, His desire for her, His heart for her.
What stuff in your heart is blocking Abba from filling you up with His desires for you? What do you need to pour out, so He can pour in? Just like Hannah, Abba can restore what’s been taken or stolen. If you will pour it out to Him, and believe, and worship Abba, the giver of all things.
Psalms 62:8 “Trust in Him at all times. Pour out your heart to Him, for God is our refuge.”