“There once was a man who lived in Ramathaim. He was descended from the
old Zuph family in the Ephraim hills. His name was Elkanah. (He was
connected with the Zuphs from Ephraim through his father Jeroham, his
grandfather Elihu, and his great-grandfather Tohu.) He had two wives.
The first was Hannah; the second was Peninnah. Peninnah had children;
Hannah did not.
Every year this man went from his hometown up to Shiloh to worship and
offer a sacrifice to God-of-the-Angel-Armies. Eli and his two sons,
Hophni and Phinehas, served as the priests of God there. When Elkanah
sacrificed, he passed helpings from the sacrificial meal around to his
wife Peninnah and all her children, but he always gave an especially
generous helping to Hannah because he loved her so much, and because
God had not given her children. But her rival wife taunted her cruelly,
rubbing it in and never letting her forget that God had not given her
children. This went on year after year. Every time she went to the
sanctuary of God she could expect to be taunted. Hannah was reduced to
tears and had no appetite.
Her husband Elkanah said, ‘Oh, Hannah, why are you crying? Why aren’t
you eating? And why are you so upset? Am I not of more worth to you
than ten sons?’
So Hannah ate. Then she pulled herself together, slipped away quietly,
and entered the sanctuary. The priest Eli was on duty at the entrance
to God’s Temple in the customary seat. Crushed in soul, Hannah prayed
to God and cried and cried—inconsolably. Then she made a vow:
If you’ll take a good, hard look at my pain,
If you’ll quit neglecting me and go into action for me
By giving me a son,
I’ll give him completely, unreservedly to you
I’ll set him apart for a life of holy discipline
It so happened that as she continued in prayer before God, Eli was
watching her closely. Hannah was praying in her heart, silently. Her
lips moved, but no sound was heard. Eli jumped to the conclusion that
she was drunk. He approached her and said, ‘You’re drunk! How long do
you plan to keep this up? Sober up, woman!’
Hannah said, ‘Oh no, sir—please! I’m a woman hard used. I haven’t been
drinking. Not a drop of wine or beer. The only thing I’ve been pouring
out is my heart, pouring it out to God. Don’t for a minute think I’m a
bad woman. It’s because I’m so desperately unhappy and in such pain
that I’ve stayed here so long.’
Eli answered her, ‘Go in peace. And may the God of Israel give you what you have asked of him.’
‘Think well of me—and pray for me!’ she said, and went her way. Then she ate heartily, her face radiant.
Up before dawn, they worshiped God and returned home to Ramah. Elkanah
slept with Hannah his wife, and God began making the necessary
arrangements in response to what she had asked.
Before the year was out, Hannah had conceived and given birth to a son. She named him Samuel, explaining, ‘I asked God for him.’
When Elkanah next took his family on their annual trip to Shiloh to worship God, offering sacrifices and keeping his vow,
Hannah didn’t go. She told her husband, ‘After the child is weaned,
I’ll bring him myself and present him before God—and that’s where he’ll
stay, for good.’
Elkanah said to his wife, ‘Do what you think is best. Stay home until
you have weaned him. Yes! Let God complete what he has begun!’—I
This is another marriage chapter, but if you are a single person who
wants to be married someday, there are some great courtship gems within
it. I recently bought a book for a male friend of mine, “Understanding
the Power and Purpose of Men” (by Dr. Myles Monroe). It’s funny how God
works because upon purchasing it, all I could think of was how much he
could benefit from reading it. However, on Sabbath morning, God woke me
up a little before 6am to read a chapter entitled, “The Seven
Principles of Purpose”.
Within in it, Dr. Monroe shared something that really stood out to me.
Forgive me, but I have already mailed the book and so I’m going to have
to paraphrase his point. Basically, he was sharing that if a woman
desires to be in a covenant relationship with a man (because not all of
us do and that’s OK), oftentimes in her singleness she will not feel
completely fulfilled until she has been joined to her mate. Why?
Because being with him is a part of her purpose.
Immediately, that took me back to one of the verses in scripture that I
have used over and over in this series: “He who finds a wife finds a
good thing, and obtains favor from the Lord.”—Proverbs 18:22 (NKJV)
And then I got an epiphany and called one of my girlfriends to share it
with her: So often when we quote this scripture, we focus on the
“finding a wife part” and forget the “obtains favor from the Lord”
part…and we shouldn’t.
Just the day before, another friend of mine confirmed a concept within
me that I had been wrestling with all week: “You know I think a lot of
men are not able to ‘find’ their wives because they are lost, not us.
And, what they are looking for has nothing to do with finding their
wife—it has to do with finding their purpose.”
You are such a wise one (Noelle). She’s right. A man must have purpose
and provision before his wife, his companion, his helpmate arrives (as
we learned in the story of Adam and Eve). If he doesn’t, as a covenant
partner, what “purpose” are we as women really serving?
This is where the last part of Proverbs 18:22 comes in. One of the main
reasons why the Enemy is so busy when it comes to keeping a man and his
wife from “finding one another” is because he knows that once a man
discovers his reason for existence (his purpose) and then he links up
with the one who will grant him favor from God (his wife), together,
they will bust hell wide open! This is why scriptures like Deuteronomy
32:30 are so important to us and such a threat to the Enemy’s kingdom:
“How could one chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight,
unless their Rock had sold them, and the Lord had surrendered them?”
This is also why I believe that a man’s ego and how we treat it is so
important. When it comes to a man moving miraculously within his
purpose (the object toward which one strives or for which something
exists), the Bible does not say that his friends will give him favor
from God. It doesn’t say that his Mama will give him favor from God (so
all of you Mama’s boys, you know what you need to do, right?). It
doesn’t say that his boss will give him favor from God. No, it says HIS
Now that’s not to say that by being in communication with godly people
favor cannot be transferred on to you. As a matter of fact, the best
way to protect yourself is to be in association with those who love the
Lord and do not fall into carnality (Proverbs 24:20-22). But, when a
man marries his wife and through consummation of that union they become
one flesh (Genesis 2:24), immediately, a direct channel flows through
them both. Suddenly, she becomes a part of his blood line (because a
broken hymen is a physical symbol of God’s covenant) and he receives
favor (advantage; benefit) from God in a way that he never has before.
This is just one of the billions of reasons why sex before marriage
grieves God and why he mandates that we not commit fornication
(Ephesians 5:3). Ladies, if you want to know why a lot of men are “off
in the head”, it’s because so many of us are sleeping around with them.
You wanna know why so many rappers are talking about the “b-word and
brew” more than peace and prosperity? Because many of them are sleeping
with women who are not their wives, which blocks them from God’s favor.
You wanna know why a lot of men in Corporate America are arrogant and
ruthless? Because many of them are sleeping with women who are not
their wives, which blocks them from God’s favor.
You wanna know why so many men seem to be liars and manipulative when
it comes to getting what they want (both tangible and intangible)? It’s
because many of them are sleeping with women who are not their wives
and it blocks them from God’s favor.
Remember, the Bible says that if you sow to the flesh, you will reap to
it as well (Galatians 6:8). For the guys who have been toughing this
out, hear me when I say that in choosing to have sex outside of God’s
will, you really are making life more complicated than it has to be.
God’s Word says that you should prosper as your soul prospers (3 John
1:2). If you’re having challenges in any area of your life, the first
thing that I would recommend you do is get your illicit sexual life in
check. What you do in your own power is severely limited, but what you
can do through God is always abounding and limitless. And the key to
opening up those doors is obedience (Proverbs 1:1-3).
Another thing that I loved about Dr. Monroe’s book is that he said it’s
sad that both the world and the Church tend to forget that man did not
create sex; GOD DID. Two of the gifts that he implemented into creation
were sex (Genesis 3:25) and the Sabbath (Genesis 2:2-3), and people
have been doing both “their way” ever since.
Exodus 20:8-11 tells us to “Remember the Sabbath day”. How interesting
that it is the only commandment that begins with “remember” rather than
“thou” which leads me to believe that God knew people would forget
which day it is (Friday sunset to Saturday sunset) and how to keep it.
Mark 2:27 states that the Sabbath was made for man and not man for the
Sabbath, which also leads me to believe that God knew that at some
point, his creation (man) was going to forget that within this gift,
God has our peace, our rest, our rejuvenation in mind.
Sex is no different. Just as with the Fourth Commandment, sex was made
for man, not man for sex. Yet, because we choose to not respect the
boundaries that God set into place, this gift has become a curse that’s
ruining our lives to the point where we will sleep around with whomever
whenever without considering the fact that we are destroying our
temples and those around us. Sadly, so few people are being blessed
sexually or when it comes to God’s ordained day of rest because we are
letting the masses dictate to us what we should be doing. Please
remember that the gate to hell is wide (Matthew 7:13) and so the fact
that “this is how everyone else is doing it” is, more times than not, a
poor indication that you are on the right track.
Whew! This finally brings me to Elkanah, Hannah and the first lesson that God revealed to me within their story.
As I previously stated, a man’s ego (self-esteem) is so important and
when it is built up in the proper context, it can totally change his
life and how he relates to those around him. One thing that I love
about Elkanah was that his love for Hannah was unconditional, and often
required him putting his ego on the back-burner.
For years Hannah was barren and yet, whenever they traveled to Shiloh
to worship the Lord, Elkanah always set a special meat offering aside
for her (verse 5) as an outward representation that she was a very
important person in his life. I know I am speaking to someone when I
say this: If you are barren, and you desire children, first know that
we serve a miraculous God who can do all things; so, when you are
living for him, through his power, so can you (Philippians 4:13). But,
no matter what his plan is for your life when it comes to biological
motherhood, a man who loves you—-the man who God has anointed and
appointed to be your companion for life—-will have the heart of
Not only did he not mistreat Hannah for not having children, but he
gave her special treatment in the midst of her barrenness. Because they
were one, he saw her pain and shared in it and wanted to do all that he
could to alleviate it. It wasn’t about what she didn’t have; it was
about who she was: the woman that he loved and was committed to. A baby
would just be a surplus to the blessing that he already received in
having Hannah as his wife.
Which is why it hurt him so when she would refuse his offerings. Once
again ladies, if you are single, use this time to differentiate the
power that your husband will have to achieve things in your life vs.
the power of God. So many men’s spirits are broken—no
shattered—-because their helpmate is not being of much help at all.
She is so consumed with having her needs met (needs that only God can
grant) that her’s husband purpose (and his need for her favor) is
falling by the waste side.
To Elkanah, sure a child with the woman he loved would have been great.
But just being loved by the woman he loved was what he was really
after; hence his response to Hannah’s rejection:
“Oh, Hannah, why are you crying? Why aren’t you eating? And why are you
so upset? Am I not of more worth to you than ten sons?”—-I Samuel 1:8
Ladies, God is a god—-no, God is *the* God of order (I Corinthians
14:40). If he had wanted us to put our children or our desire for
children above our mates, they would’ve come before our husbands. One
of the greatest and most overlooked dysfunctions in the home today are
the people who believe that once children are brought onto the scene,
they should come before the marital union. I don’t know where we’ve
gotten that theory from, but it’s not a part of God’s order.
Hannah was so obsessed with her grief in not having a child that in
time, not only was she suffering, but so was her husband because he was
beginning to feel that he was not enough. This is the breeding ground
for the Enemy. The Bible says in Ephesians 5:24 that wives are to be to
their own husbands in everything. This doesn’t mean that we are to
abandon our desires or feelings, but it does mean that God knows what
he is doing. When we choose (because submission is always a choice) to
submit our lives to our God-appointed husband, we can trust that he
will find ways to meet our needs. How do we know? Because he, too, has
a leader, Christ (Ephesians 5:25) and the Word says that we can trust
that God will supply all of our needs (Philippians 4:19). In marriage,
whenever we have the wandering spirit of Eve and try to do things our
own way without our covering, the Enemy does his best to try and
destroy us and our relationship.
God and Elkanah were merciful. Elkanah, even in the midst of his pain,
remained with Hannah and when she went to the temple to pray to God and
make a covenant with him concerning her need, Eli assured her that her
request would be granted.
This is where the final lesson for today comes in. Whether single or
married, in relation to desiring children or other blessings of God, we
all experience moments of barrenness. However, because this is a study
(primarily) for singles, I will address us specifically: In I Samuel
1:3 it says that every year Elkanah took his family to Shiloh. This can
only lead me to believe that Hannah’s barrenness lasted for quite some
time. However, it wasn’t until the documentation of her promise to God
in verse 11 that her life began to change. I know that as it relates to
some of my own innermost desires, there is one scripture that God
continues to bring to my mind:
“You are jealous and covet [what others have] and your desires go
unfulfilled; [so] you become murderers. [To hate is to murder as far as
your hearts are concerned.] You burn with envy and anger and are not
able to obtain [the gratification, the contentment, and the happiness
that you seek], so you fight and war. You do not have, because you do
[Or] you do ask [God for them] and yet fail to receive, because you ask
with wrong purpose and evil, selfish motives. Your intention is [when
you get what you desire] to spend it in sensual pleasures.”—James
If you desire to be married, the first thing you need to do is check
your motive. Do you want to get married just so you can have sex? Do
you want to get married just because you are sick of your “married
friends” having the spirit of Elkanah’s other wife, Peninnah? Do you
want to get married so someone can pay your bills? Do you want to get
married just so you can have children?
Be careful, my sistahs. God says in Psalm 84:11 that he will withhold
no good thing from those who walk uprightly, and indeed marriage is a
good thing. But, he is not going to bless you with something that, in
your lust-driven mentality, will only curse you and all that you touch.
Hannah’s womb began to open up when she purposed in her mind that what
God gives her, she would dedicate back to him.
Ladies, if you want to be married, the first thing you need to do is
purpose in your mind that, upon receiving such a blessing, that you
will dedicate it—-all of it—to the purpose of furthering God’s
kingdom. God is not interested in you being married just so that you
can sit around with a five-carat diamond on your hand bragging about
your “husband does this or that”. He wants to know that you will use
your marriage as a form of ministry—-both in and out of the home.
It’s amazing what happens when you make that kind of commitment.
Suddenly the world aligns with you and you receive confirmations that
you are on the right track to getting your heart’s desire. People begin
to prophecy about the arrival of your mate. The time that once seemed
to drag speeds up. And, just as with Hannah in verse 18, your
confidence changes which is always good because without faith, nothing
is possible (Hebrews 11:1&6).
Funny how the thing that once took years in Hannah’s life suddenly only
took one night. The Bible says in verse 19 that the next day Elkanah
and Hannah had sex and the Lord remembered her (once again a reminder
that God not only created sex but is a cheerleader on the sidelines of
such a worthy and miraculous act)—and she became pregnant. Beautiful.
Well, actually there is one lesson to learn in all of this. After
Samuel was born, there was a time when the family made their annual
trip to Shiloh and Hannah decided to not go with Elkanah. Her husband
didn’t trip. He told her that she should do what she thought was best
and then blessed her by saying, “Let God complete what has begun.”
Ladies, when you are a godly wife, being submissive doesn’t deafen your
voice. As a matter of fact, when a man knows that you are of virtue, he
looks to you for insight and perspective. Elkanah didn’t rise up and
play the “I’m the man of his house and you will do what I say” card
because Hannah had proven herself to be a trustworthy vessel of the
Lord. He didn’t look at her decision as carnal rebellion but divine
This is why we all need a godly husband because they are able to
discern beyond our actions into the motive of our hearts. A “worldly
man” would’ve just said, “Woman, you’re trippin’. You better get
dressed and ready to go” because to him, leadership is just another
word for “domination”. But a man who loves the Lord knows that he can
be at peace in what his wife imparts into his life because she loves
him, he loves the Lord and the desire of both is to remain in his will.
Homework for today: Stop whining about what you don’t have. Instead,
review James 4:2-3 and ask God to reveal to you the motives for why you
are wanting what you desire. Remember, God does not give us any good
thing until we are “good” (in the sense of healthy enough to receive
it). And he doesn’t grant us anything based in love (other than his
grace and mercy) when we are full of lust.
Dedicate what you want to God from a pure place of integrity and see just how fast things get to moving.
©Shellie R. Warren/2006