In 1 Samuel chapter one and two, we read the story of the birth of Samuel and the conflict of two adversaries. Hannah grieved for a child and Penninah took advantage of it to put her down, all because she felt not as loved.
Q. Why was Hannah barren?
- Firstly, it was a test for Hannah to see which way she would turn
- Secondly, and more importantly, it was to get a Samuel for the kingdom of God.
- Thirdly, it was to prove that God is above every circumstance and every impossibility.
If Hannah had not been barren she would have had children and been a mother like every other mother. She most likely would not have had a Samuel. But because she was barren it was such a grief to her spirit that she was willing to negotiate with God for Him to have the child. Thus God orchestrated the birth of a special prophet via the pain of a barren mother.
Was God being selfish and unkind? No, He was thinking of Hannah and He was thinking of His kingdom of love and He was warring against Satan’s kingdom of hate. Hannah’s pain led her into a deeper relationship with God. Most people complain about their pain and turn against God proving they don’t stick to the vows of the marriage relationship with Christ.
Did Hannah lose by turning to God? No. Even though she gave up Samuel she was given five extra children (2:21).
God had a higher plan. Samuel was a key figure in the plan of God for Israel and for the future King Jesus via David.
Selfishness can’t see what it’s got; it can only see what it hasn’t got.
Q. Why did Elkanah love Hannah more than Peninnah? Everyone makes judgments according to their outward circumstances. Everyone wants a better position than they have. Everyone envies someone who is more loved. So, even though Peninnah had several children and Hannah had none, Penninah hated Hannah because she was more favoured. Obviously Elkanah isn’t really going to warm towards someone who has a heart of envy. You can pretend to do nice things and be as helpful as you like but if you have envy in your heart ultimately people will never be able to warm towards you and this will just fuel more of your envy.
A selfish spirit will feel more for Peninnah because she wasn’t loved as much, but won’t be able to see what God saw in Hannah.
Nothing’s being said; it’s all being vibed
In fact, Elkanah didn’t even know it was happening until he saw Hannah weeping and not eating. Hannah would have expected Elkanah to understand and fix her problem. If your husband doesn’t understand, who do you turn to? Most people turn to themselves and wallow in the injustice and unfairness, but thankfully Hannah turned to the Lord.
Faith lives in hassles
Everyone wants “no hassles”, but without hassles, faith is irrelevant. God uses the hassles of life to keep you in His fold and to test whether you truly trust Him by staying in His fold despite the stress of the problem against you.
You will be subjected to misjudgement if you turn to the Lord
Thankfully Hannah didn’t turn to the church, she turned to the Lord. The false Laodecian church doesn’t have the spirit of God. It practices the rituals of churchiosity and acts like it has a relationship with God but in its heart it lives for its own position. Like Eli, the false church will misjudge your heart.
The relationship between the two wives was warfare
Hannah described Peninnah’s attitude towards her as an adversary (v.6). So many people, especially women, live in this false vacuum of pretence with others, acting nice towards each other but in their heart-of-hearts being adversaries because they feel one of them is more loved and valued. They got married to Jesus for the benefits of security, family and welfare but all the time wishing they were more valued and favoured than someone else.
Hannah describes Peninnah’s attitude towards her as arrogant (2:3-5) with put-down oppressive intimidation. The pain in her heart was intense. How grateful she was when God intervened and freed her.
If you stand up for Christ, don’t be surprised if your family turns against you. In fact, if they don’t you’re probably not standing up at all. In Matthew 10:36 God said that family opposition is a test of your genuineness and the test of where you will turn for strength. Joseph, Jesus, Abel, David and many others faced family opposition designed to get them to deviate from and ultimately to not achieve God’s plan.
What was Peninnah’s true role?
Hidden beneath the surface of niceness was the real agenda of Satan; to use Peninnah to distress Hannah to such an extent that Hannah would be driven to bitterness, totally be absorbed by her own pain and turn her back on God and thus never fulfil her true purpose of bearing a child for God’s higher purpose.
You can suffer physical pain as a consequence of others’ envy against you
Medicine knows that right shoulder pain can be a sign of gallbladder inflammation which can be the side-effect of holding bitterness. What it doesn’t know is that you can suffer these symptoms as the innocent victim of others’ bitterness against you. Hannah suffered the pain of Peninnah’s bitterness (v.10) without, I suspect from the text, being bitter herself.
How come the wicked prosper?
David asked this same question in Psalm 73. Like anyone who truly serves the Lord first, the prospering of the wicked is difficult to fathom. Recently, I was fishing on a wharf and my spirit was aware that another fisherman in the same vicinity was arrogant. His manner and conversation confirmed it, yet he was the one pulling in the fish when I wasn’t. I could feel the temptation to be envious and the temptation to question God’s justice. I know God used this experience to train me to trust Him instead of murmuring about the unfairness.
The only option for the righteous is to turn to the Lord and trust His judgment and trust His training programme. When it all comes down to it, the wicked go to hell, so any annoyance at their prospering is only envy which must be sacrificed by faith. The reality is, the wicked prosper to stir the righteous and this forces the righteous to give up their envy of position and grow in spiritual strength.
You can’t fight spirits from a platform of position
If your household is disjointed it’s because the husband is not the spiritual head. If the father enforces his authority from a platform of positional envy the spirit behind his wife and children will dictate their wills over his. If you want the authority of God over the spirits of people it can only occur from a relationship of faith in God’s position from a platform of your own personal position of zero. To attain this position you will need Peninnah’s in your life to teach you to give up your desire of self-value, wanting to look good in the eyes of others, wanting the favour of others and living in the fear of what others think.
The 1st question you should ask yourself when faced with a Peninnah experience is …. God, what are you trying to teach me about me?
God measures by spirit not by deeds
Why did God choose Hannah and not Peninnah? Why did God love Jacob and hate Esau? Why did Jesus forgive the adulteress but hates adultery? Why did Jesus eat with prostitutes? Does He like prostitution? No! It’s recorded that Jesus only forgave one adulteress; He didn’t forgive everyone who practices adultery, and I’m sure He would have been selective about which prostitutes He ate with. He’s drawn to their spirit and doesn’t judge them by their deeds. A genuine Christian senses and judges by spirit, not by appearance, but this 7th sense is only available to those who’ve sacrificed their desire for value and favour in the eyes of other human beings.
What’s your purpose for being on this planet?
Most of us don’t know; we just exist and try our best to live with the world’s pleasures and avoid hassles. As mentioned in Romans 9, most people are designed by God to be used by Satan as a means of diverting people away from God and His ultimate plan for them and His kingdom. But God uses this apparent contradiction to test and strengthen His genuine remnant. God has an agenda for His entire remnant. You’ll find it if you wait for it; you’ll find it if you give up your desire to be liked by others and WAIT on Him for His timing and His plan.
My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into diverse temptations, knowing that the trying of your faith works patience, but let patience have its perfect work that you may be perfect and entire wanting nothing for yourself. James 1:1-4
May God soften the hearts of His remnant via the pain of faith for His eternal glory.
Pastor Chris Johns