Harsh Judgment Meekly Answered
1 Samuel 1:13-18
Now Hannah, she spoke in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard: therefore Eli thought she had been drunken.…

We hear much of the mothers of eminent men, and it is easy to see whence Samuel derived his elevation of mind, his religious temperament, and the natural aptitude to be a seer and prophet of God. It was from his mother - the sensitive, poetical, devout, unselfish Hannah. Her prayer at the house of the Lord in Shiloh shows her in a noble light. She asked for no vengeance on her adversary Peninnah, who had so often taunted her, but only for a son whom she might devote as a pure Nazarite to Jehovah's service. Her thought recurred to the last great judge of Israel - the Nazarite Samson. The work which he might have performed had been very imperfectly done; and Hannah's devout and patriotic wish Was to give birth to one who might repair the failure of Samson, as well as remedy the evil wrought by the sons of Eli, and work a great deliverance for Israel.

I. PIOUS EMOTION HARSHLY CENSURED. If Hannah's prayer had been mocked by the profane, it had not surprised her; but this was her trial, that the venerable priest, whose duty it was to recognise and encourage religious aspiration, cruelly misconstrued her agitation, and charged her with wickedness. Eli was weak towards men, stern to a woman. He could not restrain his own sons, but he could speak sharply and severely to Hannah. The only palliation of his readiness to impute evil to her lies in the fact that, through his weakness, there had come to be a great license of manners at the time, and women of Israel misconducted themselves at the very seat of worship. Eli took Hannah for one of these, and her holy ardour for the agitation of one unduly excited by wine. Religious emotion, especially in persons of a sensitive and pensive nature, may resemble the effect of "wine wherein is excess" in the eyes of a careless or unsympathetic observer. And this applies to the joyful as well as to the sorrowful in spirit. On the day of Pentecost, when the power of the Spirit descended on the disciples of our Lord, and joy in the Holy Ghost expressed itself in their looks and words, some of the bystanders began to mock and say, "These men are full of new wine." That religious fervour should be unappreciated by worldly minds need cause no wonder. That tears and prayers poured forth before the unseen God should be despised as drivelling superstition, or the flush of spiritual gladness derided as irrational frenzy, by persons of a cold, unbelieving temper, is what may be expected. But it is hard to bear misconstruction from men like Eli, who ought to understand that the spirit of man or woman sometimes faints, sometimes leaps for joy before the Lord.

II. THE EQUANIMITY OF A GOOD CONSCIENCE. When one is quite conscious of Innocence he can meet accusations with calmness, and repel them without passion or bitterness. If Hannah had been unguarded in eating or drinking at the feast after the sacrifice in Shiloh, she would probably have given a sharp answer to Eli, and exonerated herself from his charge with some heat of temper. But her conscience was quite clear in the matter. From her vow to make the son for whose birth she prayed a Nazarite, we infer that she was strongly sensible of the evils which indulgence in wine, and consequent licentious excess, had brought on the nation. So her answer to the priest, while firm, was calm, and even meek: "No, my Lord, I am a woman of a sorrowful spirit."

III. THE TRUE RESOURCE OF THE SORROWFUL. "I have poured out my soul before the Lord." Hannah abhorred the kind of evil of which Eli accused her. "Count not thine handmaid for a daughter of Belial." Alas, how many, because they are in low spirits, or vexed with their lot, seek exhilaration in wine or strong drink! It is a gross and dangerous consolation, fit for children of Belial, not for children of God. "Is any afflicted? Let him pray." Is any anxious? Let him by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, make his request known to God. To be excited with wine is to have the imagination and passions fired through the flesh and the senses. For a time care or grief may be forgotten, and the mind may seem to become gay and brilliant; but as the appetite grows, and the fallacious pleasure beguiles, there ensues degradation and sorrow upon sorrow; the mind is clouded and enfeebled, and the heart made selfish and gross. How different from the excitement of the praying heart that is " filled with the Spirit!" This takes hold of the best and highest part of our nature, and from this acts on the whole man - subdues sensual passion, scatters delusion, and while it may for a time agitate the frame, as Hannah's was agitated, never disturbs or unhinges the regulative principles of reason and conscience within.

IV. THE COMFORT AFTER PRAYER. Whatever the worth of Eli's personal character, his office gave weight to his words; and when he invoked from the God of Israel an answer to Hannah's petition, she received his words with reverence, and went homo with a glad assurance in her heart. Have not we a great High Priest who misunderstands no one, requires no corrective explanation, discourages no suppliant; and is it not he who has said, "What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them"? Look to Jesus, and where is your burden? It is gone. Where are your tears? They are wiped away. Where is your desired thing, your Samuel? It is at hand. Go your way when you have poured out your prayer, for he has heard you, and "let your countenance be no more sad." - F.

Parallel Verses
KJV: Now Hannah, she spake in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard: therefore Eli thought she had been drunken.

WEB: Now Hannah spoke in her heart. Only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard. Therefore Eli thought she had been drunken.

Hannah as a Worshipper
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