Snapshots: Day 174
The Snapshot: “her rival kept provoking her in order to irritate her.” (1 Sam 1:6) Thorns in the flesh sometimes come in human forms. It seems the Lord allows them to provoke us into action, to change, to pray, to persevere, all that sort of stuff. We would much rather life wasn’t like that but the Lord takes these people as opportunities to work good in us. We like the Rom 8:28, “we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him,” but not so much when he uses nasty people to work that good into our lives. Rather like James and John (Lk 9:54) I’d like to call down fire on them, but the Lord just smiles and says, “Son, just accept the instrument in my hands I’m using to make you good.” Ooops. Yes Lord.
Further Consideration: We shouldn’t ever have ‘rivals’. Rivals speak of competition and comparison, of a superior and inferior member, and that only produces fertile ground for upset. Earlier in the Bible Jacob had spoilt Joseph and that caused resentment and jealousy in his brothers, and because the situation was allowed to fester on, it resulted in them selling him off to slave traders. Yes, the wonder of the story was that he became a national deliverer, but the fact was it all came about because of a whole bunch of wrong attitudes in that family.
In the New Testament we have the wonderful account of Jesus dying to redeem the world but it was the sin of the national leadership that brought it about, i.e. God used their wrong, their sin, to bring about the salvation of the world. (See Acts 2:23, 3:13-15). But merely because God took the wrong acts of mankind to bring our something wonderful, that doesn’t make the wrong any the less a wrong.
We may be focusing on how God used Peninnah to bring changes in Hannah that resulted in Samuel, but that doesn’t diminish the fact that Peninnah was in the wrong. Now that was a strange thing because you would have thought she had nothing to prove because she, after all, was the one bearing children and in the eyes of their culture, that made her the superior one. Yet their husband clearly sought to make up to Hannah for her lack of child and clearly loved her (see 1 Sam 1:5,8). Perhaps that special attention made Peninnah jealous, perhaps it was her resentment that causes her to purposely provoke Hannah with the express purpose of irritating her. One modern version says, “So Peninnah would taunt Hannah and make fun of her.” In other words she sought to demean her, make her feel inferior. How unkind! We can find all the excuses or reasons we can for Peninnah’s behaviour but it is still what it is – sin, wrong, bad. The Lord may have allowed it for good purposes but she is still wrong. Never say, “I was justified in what I said or did.” It was still wrong, own it and repent.