(I Samuel 1:5) “But to Hannah, he would give a double portion, for he loved Hannah, although the Lord had closed her womb.”
In the days of the Bible, being able to bear children was of great importance and especially giving your husband a son. The Lord had closed Hannah’s womb and in reading this, I could not get past this verse. I just love the way you can read through the Bible and every time, you will take something different away from the same passage you have read many times before. Well, that is what happened to me in this verse. I got stuck there, the Holy Spirit was telling me that there was more to this verse. So I read it again, including the passages before and after and a few questions came to mind.
First, the Lord had closed her womb, why? It did not say she had done anything. Had she, and it was just not mentioned here? Had she done something that she needed the discipline of her Heavenly Father to close her womb?
- To find the answer I needed to go deeper. The Word says Elkanah, her husband loved her and gave her a double portion. This doesn’t sound like something you would do for someone who had done anything wrong. So, we can surmise from this that she was kind-hearted, for he would not have loved her so much if she were not. She was not vengeful. Her rival, Elkanah’s other wife Peninnah, would provoke her. This means she would ridicule her and make fun of her for being barren. She probably emphasized the fact that she had borne Elkanah son’s and she had not. The Word does not say that Hannah argued back at Peninnah but only that she wept. This does not sound like someone vengeful but more of one who is soft-hearted. So, from all of this, we can assume she was kind-hearted, loving and humble.
- Yet, the Lord closed her womb. So, it must have been for another reason other than discipline, what was it? To discover the answer to this question I had to go deeper. Why do we go through trials? Many different reasons; one being consequences of our own free will and bad choices, or that of someone else. Another is God may want to draw something out of us and give us a revelation that we can only receive going through this particular trial. And there are seasons of them, there is a beginning and an end and God always promises that we are overcomers! (I John 4:4) “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”
To everything, there is a season, (Ecclesiastes 3:1) “There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens.” So, there must have been a purpose for Hannah to go through this painful trial, one that would draw something out of her and one that would bear much fruit, and in the process bring her great joy. There will be fruit harvested from your trial as well! It is promised! (Psalm 1:3) “That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither– whatever they do prospers.”
The fruit she would bear would bring much glory to God and we were all created for His glory. (Isaiah 43:6-7) “I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’ and to the south, ‘Do not hold them back!’ Bring My sons from afar, and My daughters from the ends of the earth—everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.”
We all have a purpose and each of us will bring much glory when we are fulfilling our purpose through Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 2:10) “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” It may be that God has called you to be a witness in your home and extended family members and the job arena. Your pastor cannot be everywhere, and you may not realize just how important that is, we see more people in our everyday life than a Pastor will see on a Sunday. It may be, He has called you to sing His praises professionally, or to be a Preacher, or evangelist. Whatever it is, every single calling of God is important and all fit together and He makes the seeds planted grow. (I Corinthians 3:7) “So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.”
The earth will pass away but where we spend eternity and who we take with us matters. Eternity–our next life is forever and as we love our children, we were made in the image of God, He loves all He has made as well and wants us all with Him. (I Timothy 2:3-4) “This is good and pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”
- But there had to be more, God had a purpose, what was it? I kept hearing, “go deeper.” So next I looked up the Hebrew meaning of the word, closed (shut up) and it means, “surrender, deliver, give over, pure, enclose, repair, confined, isolate.” Wow! So many different meanings, I would have to look deeper. So, I looked at the different meanings, surrender, deliver. What happens when you surrender your life to Christ? You are saved and born again! What next? Your lifestyle changes; you have a strong desire to know more about God. You go to Church, you read the Bible, you pray and talk to Him. You draw close to Him. What happened to Hannah? What did she do when she was overcome with despair at not being able to have children? She drew closer to God; she sought Him more deeply. What else happens as we draw closer to God? Your eyes are opened to our past ways and the ways of your “worldly” friends, or those who are not as committed, those of your friends who may not be saved. The things you once did, like maybe clubbing, does not interest you any longer. You separate yourself or isolate.
(II Corinthians 6:17) “Therefore, “Come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.” Sound familiar, one of the meanings to closed/shut up is to isolate, enclose. You isolate yourself from the temptations or bad influences you were once around daily. You have no desire for it any longer. Your desire now is to please God and to draw closer to Him. As you do, you begin to grow spiritually. The trials that you go through in the maturing process remove your character defects, ones that will harm or stunt your spiritual growth. (I Peter 1:6-7) “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer various trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith–of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire–may result in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” This is purifying your heart and soul which is also one of the meanings, “pure.”
(James 1:2-5) “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”
In Hannah’s barrenness, she sought the Lord more intensely and passionately. This might not have happened otherwise, if the Lord had not closed her womb. God knows the end from the beginning.
(Isaiah 46:10) “I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.”
(Revelation 22:13) “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.”
He knows exactly what is needed and when to heal, save, deliver and perfect our hearts and what will draw the passion out of us for His purpose and glory. (Jeremiah 18:6) “He said, “Can I not do with you, Israel, as this potter does?” declares the Lord. “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, Israel.”
He has been through our trials ahead of us. (Deuteronomy 9:3) “But be assured today that the Lord your God is the one who goes across ahead of you like a devouring fire. He will destroy them; he will subdue them before you. And you will drive them out and annihilate them quickly, as the Lord has promised you.” God knows our hearts and who will passionately pursue Him and serve Him wholeheartedly. The trial you are going through may be what God is using to draw something out of you, just like Hannah. She did not do anything wrong. If your heart does not condemn you, then it may be God is trying to teach you something or draw a passion out of you for His purpose.
(I John 3:20) “If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.”
Hannah did not become angry, resentful or bitter at being barren. Instead, she pursued God even harder. What a beautiful story God has given us in this one verse. If you seek Him, if you ask for wisdom and go deeper, He will give it to you! I would have missed this beautiful story if I had passed this verse by. This is not only about the great love God and Elkanah had for Hannah, but His great love for us as well. God knew her heart and knew she had the endurance to see it through and pursue Him on a deeper level.
Elkanah’s love for Hannah represents God’s love for us in that even before we reach our spiritual maturity or our purpose in Him, in His overwhelming love for us He still gives us a double portion! The double portion is first, the indwelling at conversion. (Galatians 4:6) “Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” The other portion is the baptism of the Holy Spirit. As we “surrender,” which is another one of our word definitions, and seek Him with our whole heart, and ask, our Lord baptizes us with His Holy Spirit. (Acts 1:8) “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” When you are baptized in the Holy Spirit, His Spirit comes on you, totally consumes you! How great is our God!
In answer to my questions, Hannah’s barrenness was not to discipline her, it was not to punish her. It was the love and devotion of God to bless her! Your trial will bring blessings as well. God saw her heart and humility and through her barrenness, she sought the Lord more intensely in order to bear a son. In her prayer to have a son, she promised her first-born son to God. When He answered that prayer, she kept her promise and a great priest, prophet and the last of the judges was born! Her joy was complete! (Psalm 126:5) “Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy.”
If Hannah had not been barren, this might not have happened, she would not have been so desperate and sought the Lord at a deeper level. Are you going through a difficult trial? Call on the Lord, go to Him and prayer and ask for wisdom and strength. He will help you through it. (Isaiah 40:31) “But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
This is a beautiful love story that speaks to all of us. The next time you are going through a difficult season, God may be trying to birth something wonderful in you!
Hannah went from barren to blossom in her pursuit of God to bear a son. She had a child that God used abundantly to help her people. What will you allow God to take you through in order to birth something wonderful in you and through you? Don’t give up, rely on His strength to see you through. You will reap a harvest!
(Galatians 6:9) “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”