Bitterness of Soul

“And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed to the Lord and wept in anguish” 1 Samuel 1:10

There was a consequence of Elkanah having two wives that made for an unhappy family. Peninnah had many children and Hannah had none. Elkanah loved Hannah more than Peninnah and that provoked jealousy in Peninnah without consoling Hannah.

Peninnah’s jealousy was expressed in provoking Hannah “to make her miserable” over Hannah’s barrenness but what she meant for evil the Lord turned for good. This provocation continued for several years “at the time of going up to the house of the Lord” and its severity was so great that Hannah wept greatly at those times and could not eat. Her husband, Elkanah, could not console her sorrow over her childless state.

In the house of the Lord, “in bitterness of soul” and weeping in anguish, she prayed to the Lord.

Hannah’s anguish was so great that Eli, the priest, thought she was intoxicated but when she told him that she was not drunk but of “sorrowful spirit” he immediately understood. Apparently without knowing the substance of Hannah’s prayer, he told her that her request was granted. Hannah’s response is worthy of consideration.

In her heart the Lord confirmed what Eli had said and immediately the sorrow left her. No longer did she weep and she began eating. This is faith in action. Before the family left they worshipped the Lord but Hannah had a much richer experience of worship than any other that day.

These days the Gospel of Jesus Christ is so often presented as a cure all so that everything goes smoothly and well. Jesus, Paul and the other apostles give testimony that this is a false idea of what it is to be a follower of Jesus Christ. Jesus said His followers would have tribulation in this world and the lives of the apostles give evidence of that truth.

It was evil in the world that provoked Hannah to such distress of soul that she came before the Lord with a humble, broken and contrite heart. Surely there is no lacking of evil in the world today and this should provoke true followers of Jesus Christ to “bitterness of soul” and weeping in anguish over the barrenness of much of the true church.

Somehow we have barricaded ourselves from the deep sorrow of the lost state of our world. Let us come before the Lord and prayerfully ask Him to restore to us a broken and contrite heart. Is not this what Jesus spoke of when He said, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” (Matthew 5:4)?

One thought on “Bitterness of Soul

  1. Well written David.
    The idea that following Jesus allows God to help us when we are under the pump from others is very encouraging.

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