“Now there was a certain man from Ramathaim-zophim from the hill country of Ephraim, and his name was Elkanah…He had two wives: the name of one was Hannah and the name of the other Peninnah; and Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children.
Now this man would go up from his city yearly to worship and to sacrifice to the LORD of hosts in Shiloh…When the day came that Elkanah sacrificed, he would give portions to Peninnah his wife and to all her sons and her daughters; but to Hannah he would give a double portion, for he loved Hannah, but the LORD had closed her womb. Her rival, however, would provoke her bitterly to irritate her, because the LORD had closed her womb. It happened year after year, as often as she went up to the house of the LORD, she would provoke her; so she wept and would not eat. Then Elkanah her husband said to her, “Hannah, why do you weep and why do you not eat and why is your heart sad? Am I not better to you than ten sons?”
Then Hannah rose after eating and drinking in Shiloh. Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat by the doorpost of the temple of the LORD. She, greatly distressed, prayed to the LORD and wept bitterly. She made a vow and said, “O LORD of hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your maidservant and remember me, and not forget Your maidservant, but will give Your maidservant a son, then I will give him to the LORD all the days of his life, and a razor shall never come on his head.” (1 Samuel 1.1-11)
In this day and culture, the woman found her identity and dignity in the bearing of Children. A main part of her role was to give children to her husband, the greatest of which was a son. The fruitfulness of a woman’s womb was the culture’s language of success. The pattern of thinking of this culture and time required the women to produce for the man- especially, a son.
Elkanah’s wife Peninnah had a fruitful womb. She was “productive” in the relationship. Her life testified to the world that she was a successful wife. Her dignity and identity were awarded the relief and praise of having borne children. The pressure of the system of thinking in this culture was off her shoulders. Her identity was established because she had productivity. Her fruitfulness spoke for her and stood at her side as a prideful witness that she had proven herself in the language of culture and time.
Hannah, on the other hand, had the pressure of the culture and time endlessly pressing on her shoulders. Her identity and dignity were in question in the eyes of her peers. She was barren. She had no fruit. She had nothing to show for herself and the provocative testimony of Peninnah was an internally vexing, degrading and humiliating thing fueled by the weighty cultural demand upon the her shoulders. This was such an emotional pressure and humiliation to her that she was sick to her stomach and could not eat. She would cry deeply and sorrow would pour out of her face. She was distraught and oppressed by Peninnah, who was very fruitful. But Peninnah’s power over her was not Peninnah herself, but rather the power was the pattern of thinking in the culture of man. It was the world’s view of what success looked like. So ultimately, Hannah is oppressed by a voice that is behind Peninnah’s provoking words. It is the voice of human demand of the culture of man and the system of the world. It is the voice of a success that is based on what was is perceived to be fruitful, successful and productive. Are you depressed and frustrated in your ministry because you are judging your ministry’s success by numbers of salvations, healings or any other perceivable quantity or lack thereof?
When Hannah comes to her husband, he says the greatest portrayal of the heart and person of Jesus Christ that there could ever be, “Am I not more to you than 10 sons?” Ten is a great number because it represents completion. And as earlier stated, sons are the greatest fruit a woman can have. Elkanah says to his oppressed wife, Jesus says to you, “Am I not more to you than all the fruit in the world?” Are you not fulfilled in me? Am I not enough? Am I not all sufficient? Am I not I AM? Do you need something more than me to be happy, satisfied or delighted?
Hannah approached by such a shocking love from her husband; a love that is outside of the system of thinking of man; a love that finds value in her without a demand for fruitfulness as the culture may see it; a love that wants her to be only satisfied with him. He is after a love that needs nothing more than each other.
She found her appetite again and she communes with her husband at the table. And though she returns to tears again for fruitfulness in the next verse, her cry is different this time. It is for a son, the best fruit, now for a totally different reason. Her first cry was from the painful weight of the system of man that wrapped her identity and dignity up in her productivity and her fruitfulness, while her second was to have fruit to be able to give to God. She wanted good fruit to be able to offer at the feet of God Himself. No longer bound by the thinking of her own face and the testimony of her life being in accordance with the system of the culture and time, speaking man’s language of success, she is free to find all her joy in her husband. No longer worried that he will leave her because she is unable to produce, she now cries to God for the right reason. She now lifts up her tears in purity. She now weeps bitterly out of selflessness. She wants fruit to give to God.
But one may say, “the scripture earlier stated that ‘God had closed her womb. So her fruitlessness was because of God.’ And to this I say, “Exactly. Sometimes God prevents us from seeing the fruit that we want to see so that he can look dead into our eyes and say, ‘Am I not more to you than ten sons?’”
Preacher who is looking for more signs and wonders; Pastor who wants a building; Evangelist who desires to see more numbers; Teacher who wants more committed students: In your frustration, listen to the heart of your Bridegroom, “Am I not enough for you? Am I not more to you than a building. Am I not more to you than miracles? Am I not more to you than souls being saved? Am I not more to you than fruit?”
This issue must be settled first if we are to ever cry out with a pure cry. If we are ever to find purity enough to simply desire to lay fruit at His feet. This issue of being satisfied with God alone will open up the heart to a real burden that is focused upon offering to Jesus a wonderful gift. Hannah says, “I will give him to you all the days of his life.” This fruit is not for my name, no one will even see me with him. This fruit is not to remove my disgrace and shame or for me to find dignity or identity…it is all for you and only you. We will be forever set free from the oppressive production demand when we settle in our hearts that Jesus alone in my life and daily experience is enough to satisfy everything that I could ever desire. He is enough!
Brothers and sisters, we have got to return to first love. Love that is solely set upon Him alone and satisfied with Him alone, so that fruit can be exactly what it is supposed to be, an offering to God for Him to keep. May we never fall into the trap of finding our identity and dignity in how much we have done and can do for the Lord, or how much God has used us. Because the real issue is this: If He Himself is not enough, not only will your fruit be tainted because it was not brought out of the purity of satisfaction with God alone – He Himself being your identity- but you will never birth a Samuel into the world. Penninah’s kids were just regular kids that you never hear any thing about. But Samuel was a loyal prophet and burning priest with God unlike any other. There is no other prophet/priest like Samuel, but Jesus Himself. And in Hebrews the writer says, “…Samuel and the prophets…”, indicating Samuel stood out in all the records of time.
Such fruit is born only after the question is settled and we can say with all our hearts, “You yourself are more to me than all the fruit and success in the world. If I have everything and I don’t have you, I have nothing. But If I have You and nothing else in the world, I have everything.” Say this with me, “JESUS, YOU ARE MORE THAN ENOUGH FOR ME, AND MY DESIRE FOR FRUIT IS ONLY TO HAVE AN OFFERING TO LAY AT YOUR FEET.”
Eric Gilmour is an Associate Editor for Voice of Revolution, overseeing Revival & Evangelism. Visit his website at agonypress.podbean.com
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