I prayed for this child, and the LORD has granted me what I asked of Him. So now I give Him to the LORD, for his whole life he will be given over to the LORD.
Having a Public Shameful Circumstance and Others Laugh and Taunt You. Elkanah lived in the hill country of Ephraim with his two wives; Peninnah who had children, and Hannah who had none. Peninnah wasted no time in provoking Hannah about her woes, for at that time, everyone know it was a curse of the Lord to close a womb for the Lord had said, "Be fruitful and multiply" (Genesis 1:28, 16:10, 22:17, 26:3-4; Jeremiah 30:19). Elkanah faithfully went to the temple in Shiloh for the annual sacrificial offerings, year after year, to make his offering in the years when Eli's two sons, Hophni and Phinehas were priests. He would make sacrifices for his wife and children, but for Hannah he would make a double portion because he loved her and the Lord had closed her womb. Her rival provoked her, year after year, until she wept bitterly and couldn't eat on their last journey to the temple of God; Elkanah attempted to console her, by asking if his love for her could mean more than 10 sons (1 Samuel 1:1-8) but it was of little value for she was crushed in spirit.
Church People Look Down on You and Assume the Worst of You. Now when Hannah went before the Lord in the temple, she wept bitterly and prayed in her heart, causing her lips to moved without uttering a sound and Eli the High Priest saw it. He supposed her drunk and asked her, "How long are you going to stay drunk? Put away your wine." Now she felt the pressure of the man of God, the church, putting her to shame, as well, while she was already in deepest despair, and charging her with something that was not true. She quickly replied that she was not a wicked woman but that she was deeply troubled and she was pouring out her soul to the Lord. Eli having compassion on her, responded, "Go in peace and may the God of Israel grant what you've asked of Him." She asked that he would find favor in his eyes for her, and she went away and ate (1 Samuel 1:9-18). The pain of scorn can take your breath away leaving you with little to no hope.
Give Your Problems to the Lord. Hannah was a faithful woman to the Lord but her circumstance, that was outside of her control, made her a lowly woman in other's eyes and she felt their contempt and rejection. Public scorn was her position in life, and no amount of love from her dearest ones could undo the shame and pain. I can relate to this story, I've felt the sting of scathing accusations for things I didn't do or things outside of my control. But I also know the shame of wrong-doing, as others looked upon it. I've walked away feeling embarrassed and hoping they wouldn't laugh or ridicule me; but I knew all too well, that my enemies were like panting dogs waiting for such a morsel to devour me, and with their cold and bitter hearts would take my humiliation and spread it far and wide. I, unlike Hannah, dealt with it myself for many years, instead of taking it to the Lord, which inevitably ended in more shame.
The Log in My Own Eye. I fear that what is worse then these charges against Peninnah and my accusers, is that I myself have been the accuser of the brethren. I have charged falsehoods to another and I have laughed at someone's shame. Oh wretched me; forgive me Lord for the error of my ways. I certainly need a savior to forgive me of my sins, and I need the refining fire of the Lord to cleanse me of such filth. I should not look upon the shame of those who laugh at others; for I am guilty of the same sin. The Lord tells us to not attempt to take the speak out of our brothers eyes, until we have removed the log from our own (Matthew 7:3-5). The Lord instructs us to examine ourselves to ensure that we are truly in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5); (2 Peter 1:10-11). As a general rule, when I see the shame of another, I quickly turn that scornful eye back upon myself to examine if I've done such a crime. Those of you without sin, cast the first stone (John 8:7). And all too often, I find that I have done the same thing, and I am in need of repentance.
The Gospel of Peace. When the bible states that man went astray and sought his own heart's desire, it basically means that man sought his own lusts and self-satisfying interests, not caring for the needs or best wishes of another, for this can be clearly seen when the Lord lists our violations of His perfect law (Romans 1:28-32; Mark 7:2-23); which is the law of love, really. The Lord gave Moses 10 basic moral laws under the Old Covenant (Exodus 20:1-21), but Christ condensed them into two in His New Covenant: that man should love God first and love their neighbor second (Matthew 22:37-40). Both Covenants of God have the same essence: to love God above everything else and to love each other. In loving God, we must love one another, for God's law demands it (John 13:35, 15:4); He seeks that we should forgive one another's sins and never speak of them, while always helping and encouraging one another. Early in the bible we see this behavior being rewarded with Noah's two sons, Shem and Japheth, when they didn't look upon their fathers nakedness and drunkenness but rather covered his sins, while their brother Ham looked and told his two brothers. The bible refers to Ham as wicked for doing such a thing and he and his descendants were cursed forever, for it. (Genesis 9:18-29).
A Caution to Believers to Become Mature and Wise. The church would do well to not judge the lost, for that's the command of the Lord (1 Corinthians 5:12), but instead lead them to repentance with preaching the gospel of love and forgiveness; the grace of God. There is much being said of this, "Don't judge me," it's often used out of context, but there remains a kernel of truth to it. The bible is clear that the lost are captives of the enemy (2 Timothy 2:26; Romans 7:23), they are broken and held in chains to their own depravity. These ones are to be lead from their enslavement, away from the bondage of sin and death, to life with love, not judgment. (John 8:31-32). Yes, we can show them the error of their ways, only if we then immediately show them the grace of God. This is only possible through showing the love and patience of Christ, not by listing the sins they have committed against the law of God in a damning way, for the law doesn't lead a man to repentance; it accuses him of his sins, which leads them committing more sins (Acts 17:11; Romans 7:7-9).
Our Brothers and Sisters in the Faith. When it comes to our brothers and sisters in the faith, the bible has a different message and it should not be confused with the lost. Paul exhorts, over and over, in his epistles for believers to have discerning hearts, knowing good from evil, for this is the mark of a mature christian. We are to evaluate those who are in the faith to help them stay upon the path, and he offers corrective measures to set them straight. We are also to be on the lookout for the wolves that crept in unaware so they may be cast out of the church for they spread false poisonous doctrines to lead man astray, back into captivity. (1 John 4:1); (1 Timothy 4:1); (1 Kings 3:9); (1 Thessalonians 5:21); (Colossians 2:8); (Hebrews 5:14); (John 7:24); (1 Samuel 16:7). What this all means is we are to be tenderhearted towards the lost, for they are broken; but we are to have a watchful eye upon those of the faith, to help those who are straying and to stop those who are leading others away from the gospel. We are to correct and exhort our brothers in Christ to lead them back to the Lord, and always with love.
The wise shall understand the difference.
The Glory of God is Loving One Another While They are Yet Sinners. We are commanded to go and preach the gospel, which is known as the 'gospel of peace' for it shares the love of God, which is peace with man for He has forgiven the sinner by taking their punishment upon Himself as the man, Christ Jesus. Yes, the sinner is condemned from the law, but they must hear and know that God has taken their punishment and removed their sins and now there is no condemnation in Christ Jesus for all who believe. (Romans 8:1). We are instructed to walk in peace in the midst of this broken and fallen world. (Matthew 5:9; Romans 14:19; James 3:18; John 14:27).
Controlling the Tongue is to Control the Whole Body. James, the brother of our Lord, teaches us that whoever does not stumble in what they say is a perfect man, able to keep the entire body blameless (James 1:1-3). It's no small thing to gossip or shame a brother or sister, even if they'd done wrong. We all know how it feels to have this done, so we with the wisdom of God, should make every effort to not do this. Instead we should cover it and not look upon it, and then the world will know that God is with us. This by no means is a suggestion to condone sin, but rather to comfort those who are afflicted. It's a call to walk in peace and love one another, not merely to just charge the lost with the guilt of their shame. The woman at the well, how did our Lord treat her shame? Do the same, my brothers and sisters. Do the same.
Speak Only What is Noble and Find God's Peace. To maintain peace within our hearts is to live righteously, which is the command of the Lord, and it's how the world will know you belong to Christ. You won't be the one hurting others; you'll be the one helping the hurting and broken. A beautiful summary commandment is found in Philippians on how we ought to think and speak, and it would be wise for us to obey. Here it is, while incorporating other gospel truths: do not be anxious about anything, but rather come to the throne of grace with boldness, and pray and pour out your heart to God, as Hannah did, with thankfulness of heart for what He has done and will do, even with the faith of a mustard seed. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy — think only of these; and then the God of peace will be with you, and the peace of God, in Christ Jesus, will guard your heart and minds. (Joshua 1:9; Hebrews 4:16; Philippians 4:6-9; Matthew 7:7, 17:20; Luke 11:9). By showing God's love and forgiveness to others, you will shine with the glory of God.
Dear heavenly Father, hear our prayers. Listen to the cries of our hearts as we pour them out before You on Your most holy throne, which is full of grace and mercy. Shine Your light of health and healing upon our brokenness and shame, and answer our prayers as You did for Hannah. Heal our hurts from living in this broken world; and heal the hurts we've done to others. Help us to neither step to the left, nor to the right, but to stay steadfast upon Your most holy and righteous path of peace, which leads us to Your kingdom. Give us strength and power to do Your will. Amen.
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