|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 14 and said to her, "How long will you keep on getting drunk? Get rid of 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. 16 Do not take your servant for a wicked woman; I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief."
17 Eli answered, "Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him." (1Samuel1:12-17)
In our passage today, he is both hit and miss.
Hannah is praying - and she prays in a revolutionary way for her times. She prays silently, her lips moving as her heart cries out to God and her tears fall silently to the ground. She's at the place of worship, without her husband and without an offering (that had been done earlier) and without consulting the priest.
All of this leads Eli the priest to a miss. He assumes Hannah is one of the feast attenders who has had more to drink than eat and is now filled with "dronkverdriet" (the drunken boo hoo hoo's). He misunderstands her, prejudges her and treats her harshly.
But the moment Hannah responds he realises his mistake. Hannah's integrity, earnestness and great heartache is clear to Eli. Eli has the sensitivity and insight to realise this straight away. So after his initial miss, he scores a hit.
The other hit that he scores is that he accurately portrays the grace and power of God. Having sensed that Hannah has had a clear encounter with God, and, having been prompted by the Spirit (he doesn't even ask Hannah what she was praying about), he promises Hannah that God will grant her need.
In many ways we hit and miss too. It's easy to misunderstand.
But, if we will just listen, God can use us to minister life and blessing to others.
May we hit more than we miss today.