"...the Lord remembered her plea..." 1 Samuel 1:19e
You may remember the blog from two weeks ago: Hannah prayed for a child, vowing to give him back to the Lord for a lifetime of service in The Tabernacle. The priest, Eli, thought her stressful behavior was drunkenness and demanded she throw away her wine, only for Hannah to explain her sincere anguish and heart-cry to God for a child. (1:12-16) Eli sought to provide Hannah encouragement with these words: "May the God of Israel grant the request you have asked of Him." (v.17b) Those words revived her spirit and she was no longer sad. (v.18)
What dynamics could have added to Hannah's anguish? Polygamy is a marriage system which fosters many dysfunctional ideas in the mind's of the children from such relationships, as well as between the wives within the marriage. Elkanah's marriages provides an excellent case-study of such damaging practices:
- Elkanah showed favoritism toward Hannah by giving her a choice portion of the sacrificial meal, which may have futher agitated Peninnah's treatment of Hannah. (v.5)
- Elkanah did not intervene to protect Hannah from Peninnah's ridiculing taunts of Hannah's inability to concieve. (v.6)
- Elkanah allowed the situation to continue for years, to the point that Hannah became completely exasperated at the situation. (v.7)
- Elkanah did not seek to understand Hannah's despondence, even turning the issue to being all about himself and not Hannah. (v.8)
Though polygamy was part of the culture of their day, it did not make it right. From the very beginning God established the home as the union of one man and one woman (read Genesis 2:18-24). God's design describes the woman in this way: "I will make a helper who is just right for him." She was to complete and complement the man. She would help the man understand how God sees him by her redeeming love for him. She would be JUST RIGHT for him: she would be uniquely suited for his emotional, psychological, mental, spiritual, and sexual makeup.
After studying this passage again, I am brought to a higher appreciation for my wife, Sandra. I also have been brought to a deeper love for her because of the unique way God designed her to understand, unconditionally love, and cohabit with me... we have shared thirty-six years of marriage on the twenty-third of this month.
Though the marriage situation was not in keeping with God's design, Hannah loved her husband and in the due time she became pregnant. This time is described as follows:
"The entire family got up early the next morning and went to worship the Lord once more. Then they returned home to Ramah. When Elkanah slept with Hannah, the Lord remembered her plea, and in due time she gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, for she said, 'I asked the Lord for him.'"
God was faithful to hear Hannah's prayer... even within a corrupt marriage system. He will hear our prayers, too... even though we are corrupt and morally bankrupt. He looks to the heart, and tests one's sincerity and transparency. He will remember your plea... your prayers do not fall on deaf ears. Trust God to work through His time, His economy, His wisdom, and His kindness.