underrated cool chicks of the bible #1
We open our Bibles (maybe) and sit in church (probably) and along with all of the faith, hope, and love that it all holds cover to cover, there is another thing that is common: men.
There are a lot of dudes in the Bible, if you haven't noticed. (I like guys, I married one.) And while it's still cool to hear about throwing rocks and dens of lions and maritime excursions -- there are so many women in scripture that are overlooked or underrated.
Some people could write off the Bible as sexist for it's male "bias" -- but for the historical context that it is written in, we should find it amazing that there are as many women as there are in the pages of scripture. For example, Phoebe was a women who Paul trusted to deliver the letter to the Romans, and in that time, that was unheard of. The fact that this was documented is evidence for scripture and it's validity. Women were not commonly ordained in this way at the time.
But none of this invalidates the feeling some of us gals may have when listening to a sermon on Gideon or Daniel or even Paul -- sure, there are things I could get from this and apply, but I'm having trouble completely relating to a story about a man. This feeling is a valid feeling -- you may not have thought about it before.
So here we are, part 1, of the coolest underrated women of the Bible, because God has given us amazing stories of women with strength, pain, and emotions just as we do. We can allow these women to be our mentors. We can look to their example -- where they got it right, where they didn't, where they hurt in the same places we hurt, and in the times they were strong in the same way we need to be.
1 Samuel 1:1-2:10
(I know it's a lot of scripture, it's worth the read)
1 There was a man from Ramathaim-zophim in the hill country of Ephraim. His name was Elkanah son of Jeroham, son of Elihu, son of Tohu, son of Zuph, an Ephraimite. 2 He had two wives, the first named Hannah and the second Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah was childless. 3 This man would go up from his town every year to worship and to sacrifice to the Lord of Armies at Shiloh, where Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, were the Lord’s priests.
4 Whenever Elkanah offered a sacrifice, he always gave portions of the meat to his wife Peninnah and to each of her sons and daughters. 5 But he gave a double portion to Hannah, for he loved her even though the Lord had kept her from conceiving. 6 Her rival would taunt her severely just to provoke her, because the Lord had kept Hannah from conceiving. 7 Year after year, when she went up to the Lord’s house, her rival taunted her in this way. Hannah would weep and would not eat. 8 “Hannah, why are you crying?” her husband Elkanah would ask. “Why won’t you eat? Why are you troubled? Am I not better to you than ten sons?”
9 On one occasion, Hannah got up after they ate and drank at Shiloh. The priest Eli was sitting on a chair by the doorpost of the Lord’s temple. 10 Deeply hurt, Hannah prayed to the Lord and wept with many tears. 11 Making a vow, she pleaded, “Lord of Armies, if you will take notice of your servant’s affliction, remember and not forget me, and give your servant a son, I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and his hair will never be cut.”
12 While she continued praying in the Lord’s presence, Eli watched her mouth. 13 Hannah was praying silently, and though her lips were moving, her voice could not be heard. Eli thought she was drunk 14 and said to her, “How long are you going to be drunk? Get rid of your wine!”
15 “No, my lord,” Hannah replied. “I am a woman with a broken heart. I haven’t had any wine or beer; I’ve been pouring out my heart before the Lord. 16 Don’t think of me as a wicked woman; I’ve been praying from the depth of my anguish and resentment.”
17 Eli responded, “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant the request you’ve made of him.”
18 “May your servant find favor with you,” she replied. Then Hannah went on her way; she ate and no longer looked despondent.
19 The next morning Elkanah and Hannah got up early to worship before the Lord. Afterward, they returned home to Ramah. Then Elkanah was intimate with his wife Hannah, and the Lord remembered her. 20 After some time, Hannah conceived and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, because she said, “I requested him from the Lord.”
21 When Elkanah and all his household went up to make the annual sacrifice and his vow offering to the Lord, 22 Hannah did not go and explained to her husband, “After the child is weaned, I’ll take him to appear in the Lord’s presence and to stay there permanently.”
23 Her husband Elkanah replied, “Do what you think is best, and stay here until you’ve weaned him. May the Lord confirm your word.” So Hannah stayed there and nursed her son until she weaned him. 24 When she had weaned him, she took him with her to Shiloh, as well as a three-year-old bull, half a bushel of flour, and a clay jar of wine. Though the boy was still young, she took him to the Lord’s house at Shiloh. 25 Then they slaughtered the bull and brought the boy to Eli.
26 “Please, my lord,” she said, “as surely as you live, my lord, I am the woman who stood here beside you praying to the Lord. 27 I prayed for this boy, and since the Lord gave me what I asked him for, 28 I now give the boy to the Lord. For as long as he lives, he is given to the Lord.” Then he worshiped the Lord there.
My heart rejoices in the Lord;
my horn is lifted up by the Lord.
My mouth boasts over my enemies,
because I rejoice in your salvation.
2 There is no one holy like the Lord.
There is no one besides you!
And there is no rock like our God.
3 Do not boast so proudly,
or let arrogant words come out of your mouth,
for the Lord is a God of knowledge,
and actions are weighed by him.
4 The bows of the warriors are broken,
but the feeble are clothed with strength.
5 Those who are full hire themselves out for food,
but those who are starving hunger no more.
The woman who is childless gives birth to seven,
but the woman with many sons pines away.
6 The Lord brings death and gives life;
he sends some down to Sheol, and he raises others up.
7 The Lord brings poverty and gives wealth;
he humbles and he exalts.
8 He raises the poor from the dust
and lifts the needy from the trash heap.
He seats them with noblemen
and gives them a throne of honor.
For the foundations of the earth are the Lord’s;
he has set the world on them.
9 He guards the steps of his faithful ones,
but the wicked perish in darkness,
for a person does not prevail by his own strength.
10 Those who oppose the Lord will be shattered;
he will thunder in the heavens against them.
The Lord will judge the ends of the earth.
He will give power to his king;
he will lift up the horn of his anointed.
Some things I found while reading through this passage:
1. Hannah could not have children. And this passage makes it clear that God is the Creator of life.
"Her rival would taunt her severely just to provoke her, because the Lord had kept Hannah from conceiving." v. 6
This passage gives such a strong insight to the source of life and the power behind the creation of it. Hannah did not conceive until God made it so, and it was not for anything Hannah was doing wrong that she was not getting pregnant. It was solely the sovereign rule of God that was in charge of her womb and whether life would form, and nothing else.
I began to read 1 Samuel as just a part of my Bible reading and found this story. Before this, I had no idea that Hannah was Samuel's mom. THE Samuel. The 1 and 2 Samuel, Samuel. TWO books of the Bible in his namesake, Samuel. So I read the story from Hannah's point of view, having no idea what was to come -- having no idea the grand plans that God had for her and her son.
2. Hannah's cry was not a sign of weakness
Based on her prayers through chapter 1 and her written-out prayer in chapter 2, Hannah was a strong woman with a great faith. Her pain was not for lack of strength.
Just because we are hurting, does not mean we are weak, and Hannah is an example.
It is okay to hurt and feel pain. It is not a sign of weakness.
3. Hannah's pain was real, deep, and relevant to today
Gosh, reading through this passage -- it surprised me how the descriptions of her emotions affected me deeply.
"7 Year after year, when she went up to the Lord’s house, her rival taunted her in this way. Hannah would weep and would not eat. 8 'Hannah, why are you crying?' her husband Elkanah would ask. 'Why won’t you eat? Why are you troubled? Am I not better to you than ten sons?'"
"10 Deeply hurt, Hannah prayed to the Lord and wept with many tears."
"I’ve been praying from the depth of my anguish and resentment." v. 16
Praying from the depth of her anguish and resentment. What a powerful emotion. Women, can we all get there? Can we cry so hard that our appetite goes away?
Hannah's pain in the way that it is described is similar to how so many women hurt in this situation today. It is amazing how these emotions have not shifted through time and how powerful the ache of a woman's heart can be.
What I also found interesting is that it says that she prayed while she was deeply hurt as well as prayed from her anguish and resentment. Never does it say that she prayed for the pain to go away. When we are in pain, it becomes our priority to get rid of it. At the core of us, we live to avoid pain.
What if this was our aim? What if our aim was not to pray for our pain to go away, but for God to accomplish His work? What if our desires were more than self-preservation?
What if every time we are hurting, we praised God instead? The praise does not have anything to do with the pain. Praising through pain changes our focus from self-satisfaction to eternity.
Read the passage again.
Find the hurt that you have and pray from it.
Hannah shows us that while we may have pain now, God is fully sovereign over our future.
Hannah shows us that a prayer through tears is a powerful prayer.
Hannah shows us that no matter our current circumstance, we can always turn to Someone greater than ourselves.