Friday, May 19, 2017

EmmDev 2017-05-19 [Lessons from Samuel] Whispers


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)
When Eli saw Hannah praying - he 'missed' when he assumed she was drunk, because, instead of praying out loud and/or asking the high priest to pray for her, she prayed silently, passionately and tearfully. But when he talks with her, her sincerity and devotion becomes clear and Eli scores a double 'hit' when he sees her clearly and when he hears God's whisper.

Hannah doesn't tell Eli what she has been praying about and from his prayer it is clear that he doesn't know what Hannah had been praying about or about the promise she had made the Lord. Maybe it is just as well...

  • He might have tried to dissuade her from making her vow to the Lord, after all, her vow meant that, down the line, he would have a 3 year old boy to take responsibility for.
  • He might have tried to correct her theology: "You can't bargain with God you know. You can't just say 'Lord, give me a baby and if you do then I'll make him a priest'."
  • He might have brought her husband in and made a big deal of praying for them both.

Instead Eli hears God's Spirit whispering to his soul: "Eli, I'm busy here - something significant is happening. You don't need to know the details, you can't control the process or the outcome, but you can bless and you can pray."

  • And so Eli blesses: "Go in Shalom!" (This hopeful word means wholeness, peace and restoration)
  • And Eli prays: "May the God of Israel (The mighty God of our history) grant what you have asked."

Sometimes we try too hard to control and know all the details. Both of these are actually God's department. He knows and He's in control. Eli is content to be used by God without fully knowing all the details - it is a great lesson in trust.

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