Tag Archives: Eli the priest

Pouring Out

Prayer is often overcomplicated. There are so many books, sermons, and seminars telling people how to pray. Over the years I have heard numerous people say that they “don’t know how to pray” or that they think they are “praying wrong.” Some people are closed off when they approach God, despite the truth that God knows what is on each one of our hearts before we even approach Him. Some people stick to a form list or follow the same structure taught to them many moons ago so it is a routine. This is not what we read about when we look at Hannah’s approach.

In 1 Samuel 1, we read of Hannah praying to the Lord for a son. She was “deeply distressed.” She “wept bitterly” (v. 10). She was open. She was vulnerable. She laid it all out before the Lord. She did not follow a particular structure. She did not try to “do it right.” She wasn’t afraid of people seeing her deep in prayer. It was her and God. She truly was coming before the Lord. I can only imagine how she appeared. Eli the priest thought she was drunk.

When she responded to Eli, she said, “I have been pouring out my soul before the LORD” (v. 15). Today consider when you last poured out your soul before the Lord? Do you approach Him with what is truly on your heart or what you think you are supposed to say? Do you approach Him in a way that fits in a box, follows a list, or do you freely fall before Him and speak from your heart? Do you hold back or do you lay it all before Him? He cares what’s on your heart. He wants you to pour out your soul. No holding back. Give it all to Him.

“But Hannah answered, ‘No, my lord, I am a woman troubled in spirit. I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have been pouring out my soul before the LORD.’” – 1 Samuel 1:15 [ESV]

Making God Act

In 1 Samuel 4, the people were just defeated in battle. They retreated back to camp and could not understand why the Lord allowed their defeat. Since they did not get the result they desired, the elders of Israel suggested that the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord be carried into battle with the Israelites. The thought was with the Presence of God being with the Ark of the Covenant, they could not lose the battle. He would HAVE to save them then.

The elders of Israel would have done better to consider why the battle was lost instead of attempting to figure out a way to win. Why did the Lord let them lose? There had to be a reason. But instead of looking for a reason, instead of asking the Lord for guidance, the Israelites decided it would work best to use the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord to help them win the battle. They took something holy and attempted to control God. The Ark held the Ten Commandments, Aaron’s rod, and a jar of manna. The Ark was used to communicate with God. They used it as a lucky rabbit’s foot rather than treating it as holy. Their actions surely make it clear that their previous loss was likely justified. They wanted to win, no matter what. Their eyes were off of God.

The Ark of the Covenant would end up getting captured and causing some chaos to other people. Eli the priest, his sons, and his daughter-in-law all would die as well—each death connected to this unwise decision. Oh, and the battle was lost—the Israelites were taught a lesson first hand: you cannot control God.

“After the battle was over, the troops retreated to their camp, and the elders of Israel asked, ‘Why did the LORD allow us to be defeated by the Philistines?’  Then they said, ‘Let’s bring the Ark of the Covenant of the LORD from Shiloh. If we carry it into battle with us, it will save us from our enemies.’” – 1 Samuel 4:3 [NLT]

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