Tuesday, May 23, 2017

EmmDev 2017-05-23 [Lessons from Samuel] Attentive


Early the next morning they arose and worshiped before the LORD and then went back to their home at Ramah. Elkanah lay with Hannah his wife, and the LORD remembered her. 20 So in the course of time Hannah conceived and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, saying, "Because I asked the LORD for him."
21 When the man Elkanah went up with all his family to offer the annual sacrifice to the LORD and to fulfill his vow, 22 Hannah did not go. She said to her husband, "After the boy is weaned, I will take him and present him before the LORD, and he will live there always."
23 "Do what seems best to you," Elkanah her husband told her. "Stay here until you have weaned him; only may the LORD make good His word."      (1Samuel1:19-23)
There are many words we might want to use to describe Elkanah, the husband of Hannah. We could call him a "loving" husband because of the affectionate gestures he makes towards her. We could call him "devoted" because of the annual pilgrimages of worship he took his family on. We could call him "humble" because he is willing to take a back seat in all that happens here. We could call him "genuine" because he does his best for Hannah (even though the double-offering he'd give her at sacrifice time was a bit like salt in the wounds, it also revealed his loving attempt to help.)

But I think the word that best describes Elkanah is "attentive". Elkanah is deeply attentive to Hannah's pain. He is also attentive to the pain caused to Hannah by Peninnah, his other wife. Furthermore, when Hannah goes to the temple without him and hears from the Lord through the high priest, Elkanah doesn't pout or sulk.

And then the miracle happens and the baby is born! It's a boy and one only has to think of how besotted Jacob was over Joseph, the first-born from his beloved wife, Rachael, to imagine how Elkanah felt over Samuel! The name "Samuel" sounds like the Hebrew for "God heard!"

You can imagine it would have been hard to let the boy Samuel go to the temple. But Hannah is quite clear about what the boy's future is to be. Significantly Elkanah's response is not typical of the strong patriarchal culture of the time - but Elkanah is not "hen-pecked" - he's listening to God - He's attentive to what God is doing:

  • He's seen Hannah's sincere relationship with God
  • He's appreciated that God did something at the tabernacle to "upcast" Hannah's face.
  • He's experienced the miracle of Hannah's pregnancy.
  • He's not too proud to let God speak to the woman in his life and not him.
  • There is just the smallest hint that God may have spoken to Elkanah too ... We see it in his phrase "may the Lord make good His Word" which may refer to Eli's word or what Hannah has heard, but it could also indicate that God has spoken to Elkanah too

This account of Hannah and Elkanah reminds one of another attentive husband... (More on this tomorrow...)

Elkanah is an attentive man. May we, like him, be attentive to what God is doing in others...

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