The Lord Provides

God provides.  However, this must be understood well.  On the one hand, the Lord does not give us whatever we ask for.  We have to ask in his name for those things that we want.  There is an assumption here that our desires and will are aligned with God.  Not every infertile mother will receive a son or daughter as Hannah did.  The issue is not one of whether I have enough faith.  The view of faith in some circles is like it is a means to control God.  If I generate enough faith, so the theory goes, God will heal me or give me the desires of my heart.

The Lord does provide, but he provides in accordance with his will.  His plan is not always easy to discern.  For my wife and myself, going through infertility like Hannah seemed like punishment.  I thought maybe my sin was the cause.  However, because one path was closed to us God has taken us on a remarkable path that has changed us and been gracious in ways that we did not imagine.

God had a plan for Israel.  God chose a remarkable birth to highlight his chosen avenue of deliverence.  God used a remarkable woman who was looking to him.  The two desires were aligned and so Hannah received her desire.

1 Samuel 1

1 There was a certain man from Ramathaim, a Zuphite[a] from the hill country of Ephraim, whose name was Elkanah son of Jeroham, the son of Elihu, the son of Tohu, the son of Zuph, an Ephraimite. 2He had two wives; one was called Hannah and the other Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah had none.

 3 Year after year this man went up from his town to worship and sacrifice to the LORD Almighty at Shiloh, where Hophni and Phinehas, the two sons of Eli, were priests of the LORD. 4 Whenever the day came for Elkanah to sacrifice, he would give portions of the meat to his wife Peninnah and to all her sons and daughters. 5 But to Hannah he gave a double portion because he loved her, and the LORD had closed her womb. 6 Because the LORD had closed Hannah’s womb, her rival kept provoking her in order to irritate her. 7 This went on year after year. Whenever Hannah went up to the house of the LORD, her rival provoked her till she wept and would not eat. 8Her husband Elkanah would say to her, “Hannah, why are you weeping? Why don’t you eat? Why are you downhearted? Don’t I mean more to you than ten sons?”

 9 Once when they had finished eating and drinking in Shiloh, Hannah stood up. Now Eli the priest was sitting on his chair by the doorpost of the LORD’s house. 10 In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the LORD, weeping bitterly. 11And she made a vow, saying, “LORD Almighty, if you will only look on your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the LORD for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head.”

 12 As she kept on praying to the LORD, Eli observed her mouth. 13 Hannah was praying in her heart, and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard. Eli thought she was drunk 14and said to her, “How long are you going to stay drunk? Put away your wine.”

 15 “Not so, my lord,” Hannah replied, “I am a woman who is deeply troubled. I have not been drinking wine or beer; I was pouring out my soul to the LORD. 16Do not take your servant for a wicked woman; I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief.”

 17Eli answered, “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him.”

 18She said, “May your servant find favor in your eyes.” Then she went her way and ate something, and her face was no longer downcast.

 19 Early the next morning they arose and worshiped before the LORD and then went back to their home at Ramah. Elkanah made love to his wife Hannah, and the LORD remembered her. 20 So in the course of time Hannah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel,[b]saying, “Because I asked the LORD for him.”

 21 When her husband Elkanah went up with all his family to offer the annual sacrifice to the LORD and to fulfill his vow, 22 Hannah did not go. She said to her husband, “After the boy is weaned, I will take him and present him before the LORD, and he will live there always.”[c]

 23 “Do what seems best to you,” her husband Elkanah told her. “Stay here until you have weaned him; only may the LORD make good his[d]word.” So the woman stayed at home and nursed her son until she had weaned him.

 24 After he was weaned, she took the boy with her, young as he was, along with a three-year-old bull,[e] an ephah[f] of flour and a skin of wine, and brought him to the house of the LORD at Shiloh. 25 When the bull had been sacrificed, they brought the boy to Eli, 26 and she said to him, “Pardon me, my lord. As surely as you live, I am the woman who stood here beside you praying to the LORD. 27 I prayed for this child, and the LORD has granted me what I asked of him. 28 So now I give him to the LORD. For his whole life he will be given over to the LORD.” And he worshiped the LORD there.

Questions

  1. What is the contrast between Elkanah’s wives?
  2. How does God work a plan for redemption on two different levels?
  3. How do you think infertility was viewed in the time of the passage?
  4. With what kind of attitude or expectancy should we come to God in times of need?
  5. How is this passage misapplied in a consumerist environment?

Going Deeper

My own experience with infertility was an opportunity for personal transformation.  There is a dying to self that occurs as we give up our own desires.  We then have to make sense of God’s goodness in a world where goodness is not the same as we had pictured.  However, when we see the work that God is doing through the pain we are left in awe.

How have you experienced transformation through painful surrender?

About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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14 Responses to The Lord Provides

  1. Rebecca Langer says:

    1. What is the contrast between Elkanah’s wives?
    His wife who was fruitful lorded it over Hannah, and she was not nice. Hannah loved the Lord very much, and cried out to Him for help.
    2. How does God work a plan for redemption on two different levels?
    Many times, God redeems our spirit, and only then does God redeem our physical lives. There might be problems in our lives that the Lord will resolve, but he uses those problems to highlight the problems that are in our hearts. He will fix these first.
    3. How do you think infertility was viewed in the time of the passage?
    It was viewed as bad luck or judgment from God. to bear children was an event of honor among women.
    4. With what kind of attitude or expectancy should we come to God in times of need?
    We should come with a humble spirit because our desires are not always God’s desires. We should know that if he has something else for us, then it will ultimately be much better.
    5. How is this passage misapplied in a consumerist environment?
    Many women might see this passage as a reason to “buy off” God with bribes or promises. “If we give to Him, he will give back.” Well, God is not a divine gumball machine. He will give us what is best for us, but only if it is in His will.

    There was a time when I gave up a relationship because it was getting in the way of my relationship with God. It was one of the best decisions of my life. It was also the hardest thing I ever have had to do in my life.

  2. Amy Kringle says:

    1. One of his wives had the blessing of children though she did not seem to worship God, and she rubbed this in Hannah’s face. Hannah prayed over and over for children and worshipped God but for a long time did not get what she had asked for.
    2. He worked both a redemptiive plan for Hannah in bearing children and also in eventually redeeming Israel through the life of Samuel.
    3. It meant that she was not esteemed as highly as other women; it gave the woman value to have children and honored them.
    4. With a realization he is able to do all things but that our desires may be different than his will. With great certainty that he can do it but an understanding that his answer may be “no” because his plan is better than ours.
    5. The passsage could be misapplied because Hannah asked, and she received exactly what she asked for. It could lead to believing that anything we ask for we will get- we only have to pray.

  3. 1. One wife was barren the other wasn’t and while Hannah was a faithful servant of the Lord the other rubbed Hannah’s barrenness in her face.
    2. God worked His redemptive power on the level of working things our for Hannah as she wanted, giving her a child, and also on the level of drawing her closer to Himself through her difficult time.
    3. Infertility was a disgrace, and a lowering in status.
    4. We should pray with the expectancy that God can do big things, but also trust that the Big things He has store may not be the ones we were planning for.
    5. The passage is misapplied in that people assume we automatically get what we ask for, but this is not the case, God is totally capable but not limited to the requests we offer up.

  4. Sokloon Dy (Lizzy) says:

    1. Peninnah had children, but Hannah had none. Also, Hannah was a God-fearing woman, while Peninnah was not.
    2. God opened Hannah’s womb eventually on one front and showed Peninnah His power and mercy and love on the other front.
    3. Infertility was viewed as a curse and a disgrace. Women in the OT often wept and cried out to the Lord if they were infertile.
    4. We should approach Him with humility and hope knowing that He is able to do all things. So, whether He answers your prayers or not, you can have the security of His sovereign will working in your life. It is hard to go down God’s will. But He never said that it would be easy. He only said that it would be worth it. Ultimately, we dont need to UNDERSTAND why things happen the way they do, but we just TRUST.
    5. We think that we can get God to do things for us by what we do for Him.

  5. Melisa Guiles says:

    1. The one is able to have children and the other was not. Elkanah’s other wife’s ability to have children caused her to be proud while Hannah humbled herself before the Lord.
    2. He worked His plan of redemption in Hannah’s life by allowing pain in her life that drew her closer to Him. He also worked His plan of redemption for Israel by raising up a leader in Samuel.
    3. If a woman was infertile, she was looked down upon by those around her. Women were meant to have children and to care for the household, so it was a disgrace not to be able to have children.
    4. We should come with a humble attitude and present our requests to Him knowing that He is able to answer them. However, we need to realize that sometimes our desires don’t match up with the greater plan that He has in store for us.
    5. Because Hannah prayed and got what she asked for, it is easy to interpret this passage as one that shows that we can ask for whatever we want and God will grant our request.

  6. spiritandtruth1128 says:

    1. What is the contrast between Elkanah’s wives? Hannah wasnt able to have children while Peninnah did have them. Also Hannah trusted God and asked Him when she was in need.
    2. How does God work a plan for redemption on two different levels? First, He allowed Hannah to have a child secondly Samuel was able to be the one to anoint Kings over Israel.
    3. How do you think infertility was viewed in the time of the passage? I think that infertility made a woman seem as if she couldn’t fulfill her purpose in life, so it was probably viewed as a negative situation and the women were most likely looked down upon.
    4. With what kind of attitude or expectancy should we come to God in times of need? We should be able to express to God our deepest desires but also know that sometimes what we want isn’t always what is best for us.
    5. How is this passage misapplied in a consumerist environment? People get the idea that they can get whatever they want from God, like materialistic things.

  7. Kristin Goffinet says:

    1) One of his wives could bear lots of children and the other one was barren.
    2) On one level, God is working his plan of redemption through answering Hannah’s prayer, and through preparing Samuel for his future ministry.
    3) It was very looked down upon. A woman who could not bear children was considered useless.
    4) We should come with an attitude of humility, expecting God to answer, even if He doesn’t answer in the way we desire.
    5) We often think that whatever we pray for, God will get us.

  8. Grace Yoo says:

    1. The difference between the wives was that one of them had children and one did not.

    2. The Lord has answered Hannah’s prayer and also Samuel became king.

    3. Infertility seemed like it was frowned upon. I am sure it was good to have children because they would be able to continue the family line.

    4. We should have a humble attitude as we come to God and we should always be happy with however God answers our prayers.

    5. i think a lot of the times, people ask for many things that are not in His name. Such as materialistic things and things that do not matter in life.

  9. HeeJin,Choi says:

    1.What is the contrast between Elkanah’s wives?
    – Penninah was fertile hannah was infertile but when it comes to love of husband, the love was bigger toward Hannah.
    2.How does God work a plan for redemption on two different levels?
    -First, God sees her heart in the time of need and He redeems her with what is good and righteous.
    3.How do you think infertility was viewed in the time of the passage?
    – I think it could be considered as a curse or punishment from God, since the ancesters of faith like abraham got the promise of abundance of offsprings from God.
    4.With what kind of attitude or expectancy should we come to God in times of need?
    – with a prayerful mind that all circumstances and consequences would come out in the way God can be pleased with.
    5.How is this passage misapplied in a consumerist environment?
    -People could be misapplied by praying God for whatever it is the best for me and whatever I need. If he does not let the prayers be answered, making a pledge will work.

  10. [ED2203-01] HyeJin Lee says:

    1.What is the contrast between Elkanah’s wives?
    – Hannah had no children, but Peninnah had children.

    2.How does God work a plan for redemption on two different levels?
    – First, God listened to the prayer of Hannah and allowed her to have a child. Secondly, God prepared Samuel for his future ministry by providing Samuel a chance to grow up under Eli.

    3.How do you think infertility was viewed in the time of the passage?
    – It was possible to be irritated by people if a women is infertile.

    4.With what kind of attitude or expectancy should we come to God in times of need?
    – Just like Hannah, we should be humble in front of God, and seek for His mercy.

    5.How is this passage misapplied in a consumerist environment?
    – People misapply this passage by thinking that God would give us whatever we ask Him earnestly.

  11. 1. Hannah didn’t have any children, but she had the love of her husband.
    2. God answered Hannah’s prayer when she asked for a child, and then He made Samuel the king.
    3. It was borderline intolerable. A woman was not seen as a real woman if she couldn’t have children.
    4. We should always seek to be like Hannah– we need to know that God is good, expect great things from Him (because He is merciful… NOT because we deserve it) and continuously pray for His will.
    5. Like I said in #4, we should NEVER expect answered prayer because we deserve what we are asking for… because we do NOT deserve any of it. God is good, and He is good to His children… even if we are sinners.

  12. Moon [ED 2203;Mon 6:00pm class] says:

    1.What is the contrast between Elkanah’s wives? Hannah was loved by her husband but did have kids, Peninnah was not loved as much as Hannah by her husband but she had kids.
    2.How does God work a plan for redemption on two different levels? honestly i don’t know what the Two different levels indicate in the question
    3.How do you think infertility was viewed in the time of the passage?
    infertility was viewed in the time of the passage as a misery and shame, as Peninnah irritated Hannah about this and Hannah was provoked by that
    4.With what kind of attitude or expectancy should we come to God in times of need? God provides everything we need. If the desire of need is in His plan, He will provide the need. Even though sometimes it is not provided,still we need to pray to God, because God listen to the prayer of the need and will provide encouragement comfort and challenges about our discontent and desiring heart
    5.How is this passage misapplied in a consumerist environment?
    misapplied as emphasizing pray hard until we obtain what we want from God.

  13. Sandra Tindle says:

    1. The contrast between Elkanah’s wives was that one bore many children while the other was unable to have children. One followed God and was blesses more than the other.
    2. God works a plan for redemption on two different levels by both giving Hannah a heart and desire for His will and by blessing her with a son.
    3. Infertility was probably viewed as a punishment from God in the time of the passage.
    4. We should come to God in times of need with an attitude of service and submission to His will, but we should expect Him to answer our prayers according to His will.
    5. This passage is misapplied in a consumerist passage when people think that it means that God will give us anything that we ask for, as long as we make a good deal with Him.

  14. Kendalle says:

    1. What is the contrast between Elkanah’s wives?

    2. How does God work a plan for redemption on two different levels?
    3. How do you think infertility was viewed in the time of the passage?
    4. With what kind of attitude or expectancy should we come to God in times of need?
    5. How is this passage misapplied in a consumerist environment?

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