Welcome to A Scarlet Cord of Hope, the 2021 advent series of University Fellowship Church Women written and read by Jaime Sherman, who penned our Christmastime narratives from biblical, Jewish, and historical sources to tell how God wove hope from creation to the creche and who continues to point us to the final fulfillment of hope in the one-day-soon second coming of Jesus Christ. Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.
today’s suggested reading
I Samuel 1:1-2:10
As we leave Ruth, we turn the page to First Samuel, where we meet a Levite woman named Hannah. God had long closed her womb, and even though her husband Elkanah’s love for her was great, she felt alone and empty. Elkanah could neither fully understand the grief she bore, nor the torment she endured from sister wife Peninnah, for he was surrounded by a passel of boys to bear his name and girls to assist at home.
Peninnah always had a child at her breast, but she rarely felt the affection of their husband. She disguised her envy and grief behind careless, stinging words that cut deep into the soul of sister wife Hannah.
Hannah envied her rival, too, and grieved her losses, but her emotions came from a different place. She always had the love of her husband but never her own baby to swaddle. Try as she might, she could hide neither the puffy, red eyes of her weeping, nor the sunken cheeks of a lost appetite.
They were two women aching — one to be loved and the other to love.
Each year the entire rowdy clan would journey to the temple to worship God and to offer sacrifices, and the two women always expected a miserable journey as their rivalry intensified. Elkanah would give Hannah a double portion for the sacrifice and try to comfort his beloved and yet weeping wife as she marked the passing of yet another childless year. Peninnah with an infant at her breast and a toddler at her feet felt pushed aside and struck back with angry words.
On one particular pilgrimage Hannah ran from the family meal unable to control her sobs of hurt and grief and hopelessness. She “was deeply distressed and prayed to the LORD and wept bitterly” (I Samuel 1:10). In His amazing grace, God heard her raw cry before Him and opened her womb. Back home with Elkanah, Hannah conceived and in due time birthed a baby boy, whom she called Samuel, for she had “asked for him from the Lord” (I Samuel 1:20).
A few years later when Samuel no longer suckled at her breast, she returned to the temple with the words, “For this child I prayed, and the LORD has granted me my petition that I made to him. Therefore I have lent him to the LORD. As long as he lives, he is lent to the LORD” (I Samuel 1:27-28).
Lent to the LORD.
Hannah acknowledged that her son was a gift from God, and while she had been entrusted with guiding his life for a short season, God was the director of his story, one that would continue to point countless people to a future hope. God was the One who had determined how his story would begin and would pen the ending of his story and all the seasons in between. He was the One who was directing this boy to one day anoint the future king of Israel, David, a man after God’s own heart.
As Hannah left Samuel to serve in the temple, she praised God with words foreshadowing those of Mary, the mother of Jesus.
And Hannah prayed and said, “My heart exults in the Lord; my horn is exalted in the Lord. My mouth derides my enemies, because I rejoice in your salvation. “There is none holy like the Lord: for there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God. Talk no more so very proudly, let not arrogance come from your mouth; for the Lord is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed. The bows of the mighty are broken, but the feeble bind on strength. Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread, but those who were hungry have ceased to hunger. The barren has borne seven, but she who has many children is forlorn. The Lord kills and brings to life; he brings down to Sheol and raises up. The Lord makes poor and makes rich; he brings low and he exalts. He raises up the poor from the dust; he lifts the needy from the ash heap to make them sit with princes and inherit a seat of honor. For the pillars of the earth are the Lord's, and on them he has set the world. “He will guard the feet of his faithful ones, but the wicked shall be cut off in darkness, for not by might shall a man prevail. The adversaries of the Lord shall be broken to pieces; against them he will thunder in heaven. The Lord will judge the ends of the earth; he will give strength to his king and exalt the horn of his anointed.”
This beautiful prayer is one of praise and prophecy, for one day Samuel would anoint a king over Israel from whose family line would come the King of kings, Jesus Christ, the Hope of a hurting world. Following the example of Hannah, take time today to praise Him. You could speak out or journal your own prayer or pray Hannah’s from I Samuel 2 as your own. Today’s music selection was written based on her prayer.
Jaime Sherman is a writer and editor for ufcwomen.blog but most importantly a child of the King of kings, the wife of one amazing man for nearly 20 years, and mama of five girls and one boy. Learn more about her adventure in writing and enjoy some free resources on our main page for this series.