With the history we have considered in the previous chapter revealing the blind drunk state of our church, it is natural for many to assume that there is no blessing in looking to the leaders of the Adventist Church. Yet I believe that there are lessons for us in the story of Hannah that apply to our current situation.
In the first chapter of Samuel we have the case of Hannah who was struggling under the weight of being childless and beyond this she had to face the scornful words of another wife who could boast of producing children while she apparently could not.
1Sa 1:1,2 Now there was a certain man of Ramathaimzophim, of mount Ephraim, and his name was Elkanah, the son of Jeroham, the son of Elihu, the son of Tohu, the son of Zuph, an Ephrathite: And he had two wives; the name of the one was Hannah, and the name of the other Peninnah: and Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children.
1Sa 1:4-7 And when the time was that Elkanah offered, he gave to Peninnah his wife, and to all her sons and her daughters, portions: (5) But unto Hannah he gave a worthy portion; for he loved Hannah: but the LORD had shut up her womb. (6) And her adversary also provoked her sore, for to make her fret, because the LORD had shut up her womb. (7) And as he did so year by year, when she went up to the house of the LORD, so she provoked her; therefore she wept, and did not eat.
Hannah’s husband Elkanah did not seem to understand his priestly role to pray for his wife as Isaac did for Rebekah:
Gen 25:21 And Isaac intreated the LORD for his wife, because she was barren: and the LORD was intreated of him, and Rebekah his wife conceived.
Instead he unwittingly bruised her further by trying to comfort her with the words “Am I not better to you than ten sons?”
Hannah did not respond to her husband like Rachel did to Jacob when she was in a similar situation.
Gen 30:1 And when Rachel saw that she bare Jacob no children, Rachel envied her sister; and said unto Jacob, Give me children, or else I die.
The trial that Hannah endured with having to compete with another woman and having no child made life for her almost unbearable, but rather than vent her frustrations, she took them to the Lord.
1 Sam 1:10 And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the LORD, and wept sore.
If this was not enough, when she was in the temple praying she was charged by the High Priest with being a drunkard.
1 Sam 1:12-13 And it came to pass, as she continued praying before the LORD, that Eli marked her mouth. (13) Now Hannah, she spake in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard: therefore Eli thought she had been drunken.
Let us consider this point of the story very carefully. Hannah’s lot was made very hard because of her circumstances, she was scorned by a rival wife and not understood by her husband. Add to this the fact that Eli was not a faithful priest.
Eli was priest and judge in Israel. He held the highest and most responsible positions among the people of God. As a man divinely chosen for the sacred duties of the priesthood, and set over the land as the highest judicial authority, he was looked up to as an example, and he wielded a great influence over the tribes of Israel. But although he had been appointed to govern the people, he did not rule his own household. Eli was an indulgent father. Loving peace and ease, he did not exercise his authority to correct the evil habits and passions of his children. Rather than contend with them or punish them, he would submit to their will and give them their own way. PP 575
We also know that just before Eli died that he was overweight. This indicates that Eli was also a man given to appetite. As he could not control his own passions, he could not control the passions of his sons.
We know from the time that Samuel began to minister in the temple that:
1Sa 2:12 Now the sons of Eli were sons of Belial; they knew not the LORD.
We also know that:
1Sa 2:22 Now Eli was very old, and heard all that his sons did unto all Israel; and how they lay with the women that assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.
Let us keep this in mind as Eli approaches Hannah charging her with being drunk in the temple.
What would be our response to that charge?
- Knowing that Eli was lax and did not correct his sons
- Seeing that this man himself was a slave to appetite
- Possibly knowing that Eli’s sons were doing very evil things in the temple including marring the sacrifices offered and sleeping with women in the temple
If we knew these things and were full of pain from the years of taunting from a rival wife, would it not be natural to tell the priest a few home truths? Would it not be reasonable to tell the priest in no uncertain terms that he should deal with the log in his own eye before trying to take the speck out of someone else’s eye?
Yet how does Hannah respond?
1Sa 1:15 And Hannah answered and said, No, my lord, I am a woman of a sorrowful spirit: I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but have poured out my soul before the LORD.
She sorrowfully responds “No my lord”
At the critical moment Hannah maintains the divine pattern and responds in the spirit of Christ and recognised God’s appointed agent.
How do you think heaven responded to that moment in time? Did you think our Father in heaven smiled? Do you think He might have shed a tear for joy? This woman who had all the reasons in the world to gush forth her pain upon this fat, lax and half blind priest!
Notice the Words of blessing that come from the throne of heaven through this unfit priest.
1Sa 1:17 Then Eli answered and said, Go in peace: and the God of Israel grant thee thy petition that thou hast asked of him.
It was through the blessing of Eli that God gave Hannah peace and it was an act of submission to a corrupt priesthood that brought forth the prophet Samuel.
More than this: Hannah was willing to give her son into the care of this priest that had in a previous encounter had accused her of being drunk.
Would you hand your first born son over to such a man who had spoken to you like that?
What faith! What courage! What an amazing woman!
Are there lessons for us today? Are we facing corrupt church leadership some of whom are meddling with the offerings of the lord and investing them in dubious places? Are we dealing with men who are lax in restraining younger youth pastors from being all kinds of abominations into our church? How do we speak of such ministers when they accuse us of being drunk with wine as we cry in bitterness of soul because of our love for the begotten Son, pleading that this Son could be acknowledged in His church?
Is there a lesson for us? Can blessings come to us through a corrupt channel? Is there a key for us in our situation?
Is it possible that through the very leaders that are doing these things would come the blessing to produce a prophet that himself was given the job of pronouncing judgement of the very man whom God used to bless his mother with a child?
For him who hath ears to hear, let him hear.