Summary: The provocation of Hannah by her rival Peninnah was designed by God, to press her towards her victory
If not for Peninnah 1 Sam 1: 1-10
First Samuel opens with the story of Elkanah and his family. The Bible says he was from the hill country of Ephraim, he was son of Jeroham and perhaps more importantly, that he had two wives. One was Peninnah, the other was Hannah. Instructively, these names are significant regarding how the situation of this family would turn out. The name Peninnah was derived from pearl, that beautiful of stones, her name means beauty, while Hannah’s means favour. As you are reading this today, I am here to assure you, as long as you are on the path of righteousness, even though there are people who have more beautiful background than you, even though your rivals are better dressed and are beautiful to behold physically, because you have the favour of God, you will fulfil your destiny in Jesus name.
Peninnah had children, sons and daughters, while Hannah was desperate for one. So, what do you do when things are going well for your adversaries, what do you do when you seem to be taking one step forward and three steps backwards? Here was Hannah, desperate for one child while Hannah had at least four children, without having to pray year after year before she conceived each of them. You need to tell yourself and people around you: there is a reason for my delay, but my delay is not denial.
In this message, we will be examining a few lessons we can learn from the story of this family.
Lesson Number 1:
You can have emotion; but don’t let your emotion have you
There is nothing wrong in being emotional, but there is everything wrong in your emotion consuming you. Elkanah and his family were devout servants of the Lord, worshippers of God, people who fear God and reverence him. They attended the annual feasts required by the Law of Moses as prescribed in the book of Exodus, and every year they would go to Shiloh, situated between Bethel and Shechem. I don’t know how far their home was to Shiloh but it must have been some distance, yet, they did not let the distance dampen their zeal in seeking the face of God. At Shiloh, the notorious sons of Eli were priests, but they did not let that deter them from worshipping there every year. Many of us need to learn some lesson from the zeal and the determination of this family to go for worship, especially Hannah, who seemed not to be getting anything in return. I am urging you to keep on keeping on with God, and the great rewarder who rewarded Hannah will reward you in Jesus name.
At Shiloh, they would offer sacrifice unto the Lord. Typically at such sacrifice, the blood of the bull would be poured at the base of alter, its breast and right shoulder reserved for the priest, while as Levites, the rest of the meat would be for the consumption of the Elkanah household. The Bible says Elkanah would give a worthy or double portion of the meat to Hannah, but for Hannah, this wasn’t even near what she was seeking from God. She knew that the kingdom of God is not just a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17) She also knew that while it is good to be loved by her husband, the love of man has severe limitations, as Isaiah 40:6-8 points out: All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field. The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of the LORD blows on them. Surely the people are grass. The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever.
Hannah knew that nothing compares with the love of God, while some trust in chariots and horses; she put her trust firmly in the name of the Lord. Remember what the Bible says about trusting the Lord in Psalms 125:1? Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever. Brethren, sometimes, not even your husband can feel your pain. Hannah was jealous, confused, frustrated. Even though she was a woman of God, a pious person, she still had emotions, and as long as she channelled those emotions towards seeking God, she didn’t miss her destiny. Even though you are human, where you channel your emotions will determine how far you go. Hannah did not participate in all the wining and dining, all the dancing and romping, she would stand up and go praying, in other words, she separated herself. A time of separation is the time of consecration, a time of communing and communicating with God.