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Archive for September 2nd, 2020

“He will guard the feet of his faithful ones, but the wicked shall be cut off in darkness, for not by might shall a man prevail. 1 Samuel 2: 9, from The Song of Hannah

Hannah was the favored wife of Elkanah, the Ephraimite, and the devout mother of the prophet Samuel. He was born to her after years of bitter barrenness (1 Sam 1:6–8) and fervent prayers for a son (1:9–18).After she weaned her son, Hannah expressed her gratitude by returning him for service in the House of the Lord at Shiloh (1:24–28). Her prayer (psalm) of thanksgiving (2:1–10) begins with the words, “My heart exults in Lord; my strength is exalted in the Lord.” This song foreshadows the Magnificat, the Song of Mary centuries later (Lk 1:46–55). The name Hannah derives from the Hebrew word for “grace.” She is remembered and honored for joyfully having kept the vow she made before her son’s birth and offering him for lifelong service to God. (From The Treasury of Daily Prayer, Concordia Publishing House)

In Hannah’s brief bio above points out  her “bitter barrenness”.  “Bitter barrenness” surely described Hannah’s soulful plight and ours as well.  When Elizabeth was greeted by her kinswoman Mary, she exclaimed blessed is the “fruit of your womb”. The Visitation is sheer joy.  Mary was filled with the  Lord, body and soul. We want wombs to be no longer fruitful.  We want barrenness, bitter barrenness as a way to ‘solve our problems’, but it has not. Zero population growth in Europe will result in the demise of those once Christian populations, and it will also  be part of the reason of the demise of life and joy.  Pro-life is more than no abortion.  Pro-life means children.  Our solutions to problems both actual and perceived become even greater problems for we rebel against God’s command to be fruitful and multiply.  Note the  Lord does not say, “reproduce the species” but “be fruitful” and the first phrase is clinical, the second lyrical.

In Hannah’s bitter barrenness, she prayed to the point that the priest Eli thought she was drunk because she was so overcome. The Lord answered her prayer and she conceived and named her son Samuel, literally God hears.  There was good news in the bedroom of Hannah and Elkanah and in the bedroom of Joseph and Mary.  We must take the Lord at His Word of promise to be fruitful because, parenthood is the highest vocation in creation which is blessed by the Lord with His Word in the 4th Commandment: Honor your father and your mother.  No children also means no honoring of parents.  We live in a shameful age.  Christians must be as Hannah and be Samuel, trusting in the Lord: He hears.

The Lord also heard more that Hannah may had not have heard:   Eli’s sons, Hophni and Phineas were scamming worshipers of their offerings (1 Samuel 2:  12-17) and committing adultery with the women serving at the temple in Shiloh (1 Samuel 2: 22-25).  Hophni and Phinease were priests as their father.We are told Hophni and Phineas were “worthless men”(1 Samuel 2: 12) and Eli knew about it but did little.  Sounds like headline ripped from our news about churches in our day.   There was a greater bitter barreness in the land:  “And the word of the Lord was rare in those days; there was no frequent vision.”  (1 Samuel 3: 1)We are also told this about Hophni and Phineas:   “They did not know the Lord”(1 Samuel 2: 12).

The lack of the Word of God is the possibility of eternal barrenness, that is, hell. Priests who do not know the Lord nor follow in His ways sound like the bitter barrenness of churches advising abortion, non-fecund same sex false marriages, wombs never knowing life as ‘planned parenthood’,  divorce and remarriage, winking at adultery and masturbation, always thinking about money, preaching a false prosperity ‘gospel’ of your best life now.

What went on in Israel happened over years as well in this land.  We decry the terror abroad but not the terror in our barren pews and hearts which has been increased by the healthy Christians devolving into sloth for “live-streaming” services.  Those services may be “live” but not alive to each other in Christ. .  Yet the Lord raised up Samuel:  God hears.  He has heard and calls out to repent:  Christ died to take away your sins and fill you ever with Himself as you are freed, fill our emptiness.  Again, Samuel’s name literally means from the Hebrew “God hears” and Hannah’s name means “Grace”.  The Lord in His grace hears the hollow echoes of our emptiness.  Samuel anointed the first kings of Israel, David and Solomon and from the seed of David came the King anointed with the Holy Spirit: the Christ that He will be all in all.

God the Father Almighty, maker of all things, You looked on the affliction of Your barren servant Hannah and did not forget her but answered her prayers with the gift of a son. So hear our supplications and petitions and fill our emptiness, granting us trust in Your provision, so that we, like Hannah, might render unto You all thankfulness and praise, and delight in the miraculous birth of Your Son, Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

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