Sunday, March 30, 2008

Provoked to My Promise!

This is dedicated to some very special people I love dearly who have been on the radar of some modern day Peninnahs…

There is a book out called “Sandpaper People.” You know the type, they are rough and merciless, they will wear you down. We all have them in our lives.

A woman in the Bible by the name of Hannah had one person in particular who was like sand paper to her.

1 Samuel 1:4-8
1:4 Whenever the day came for Elkanah to sacrifice, he used to give meat portions to his wife Peninnah and to all her sons and daughters. 1:5 But he would give a double 1 portion to Hannah, because he especially loved her. 2 Now the Lord had not enabled her to have children. 3 1:6 Her rival wife used to upset her and make her worry, 4 for the Lord had not enabled her to have children. 1:7 Peninnah 5 would behave this way year after year. Whenever Hannah 6 went up to the Lord’s house, Peninnah 7 would upset her so that she would weep and refuse to eat. 1:8 Finally her husband Elkanah said to her, “Hannah, why do you weep and not eat? Why are you so sad? 8 Am I not better to you than ten 9 sons?”

I’m not going to focus on what Hannah did not have because God delivered. She remained steadfast in seeking Him and He gave her the desire of her heart and she fulfilled her end of the bargain.

What I want to meditate on is the driving force behind her determination. It wasn’t that she wanted what everyone else had, it wasn’t just to have a baby, and it wasn’t that felt sorry for herself. I believe the driving force behind her determination was Peninnah. Hannah was provoked to her promise by Peninnah.

Several of my close family and friends have been the object of some “Peninnahs.” If you are constantly being “rubbed wrong” or provoked by a “Peninnah”… be encouraged! Don’t allow her (or him) to steal your joy or your promise! Instead, allow their banter to become a fertilizing element to your impossible situation! Peninnahs are almost always individuals who are miserable and cannot stand to see someone else refuse to settle for less than God’s best for their life! Ever hear the saying “Misery loves company” ?

Though Hannah was unable to produce a child she still had something that Peninnah did not have and something she clearly wanted… she had favor. In verse 5 of 1 Samuel 1, it states that Hannah received a “double portion” from her husband Elkanah because he especially loved her.

This obvious favor set Peninnah off, so much that she retaliated against Hannah. She tormented her to the point that Hannah could not even enjoy the favor she received. (verse 7)

Can you imagine having a dream in your heart and having someone taunt you day after day, “It’s never going to happen!” “You are a failure!” You aren’t good enough!” “You aren’t holy enough!” “You just think you are so perfect!” Any of these voices sound familiar?

As Hannah endured the critical sound coming at her from Peninnah, she did the only thing she knew to do, she ran to God. Hannah was desperate for God to hear her. She poured herself out completely at the altar. As she sought God Eli approached her and scolded her for being “drunk”. Hannah convinced him otherwise. Eli realized that Hannah was serious, because among Hannah’s desperation for God to intervene, she also makes a vow. She promises God that if He will grant her a son, she will give that son back to Him. (verse 11) Eli then assured Hannah that God would grant petition and bless her (verse 17). From that moment on, Hannah was able to enter into the worship celebration her face now radiating with joy rather than sorrow.

We can learn something here. Just like there are the negative Peninnahs in life, there are also people clamoring to be in your corner! Like Hannah, try to surround yourself with Eli’s, those who will recognize your passion and focus on helping you see it accomplished!

As we read further, eventually Hannah conceived and bears the promised child and named him Samuel. ( verse 20). God honored her heart’s desire. She held her promise in her arms and prepared her promise for the vow she made God. What vow have you attached to your promise? Are you prepared to follow it through?

Hannah made up her mind that she would follow through and when she did she made a beautiful declaration known as “Hannah’s Psalm…” (1 Samuel 2:1-10)

1 Then Hannah prayed and said, “My heart exults in the LORD; My horn is exalted in the LORD, My mouth speaks boldly against my enemies, Because I rejoice in Thy salvation.
2 “There is no one holy like the LORD, Indeed, there is no one besides Thee, Nor is there any rock like our God. 3 “Boast no more so very proudly, Do not let arrogance come out of your mouth; For the LORD is a God of knowledge, And with Him actions are weighed. 4 “The bows of the mighty are shattered, But the feeble gird on strength. 5 “Those who were full hire themselves out for bread, But those who were hungry cease to hunger. Even the barren gives birth to seven, But she who has many children languishes. 6 “The LORD kills and makes alive; He brings down to Sheol and raises up. 7 “The LORD makes poor and rich; He brings low, He also exalts. 8 “He raises the poor from the dust, He lifts the needy from the ash heap To make them sit with nobles, And inherit a seat of honor; For the pillars of the earth are the LORD'S, And He set the world on them. 9 “He keeps the feet of His godly ones, But the wicked ones are silenced in darkness; For not by might shall a man prevail. 10 “Those who contend with the LORD will be shattered; Against them He will thunder in the heavens, The LORD will judge the ends of the earth; And He will give strength to His king, And will exalt the horn of His anointed.”

No longer did Hannah hide behind where she had some. She chose to publically declare what God had done for her. What a powerful way to give back to those provoking forces!

Sandpaper people, difficult people, the Peninniahs in life will always make attempts to break your spirit. By recognizing that these individuals do not have the final say and ultimate authority concerning God’s will for your life you will triumph victoriously! Allow their every negative word, comment and action to act as a catapult sending you soaring toward your destiny and not away from it. See their attempts as a provoking force that will not keep you from believing or dreaming, but instead send you running for the presence of God!


Kerry said...

Pastor Tara, you are right, "misery does love company!" I've also find that when people are being negative, along with being miserable they are also jealous. Jealousy can cause people to do some really crazy stuff. When faced with jealous people, I do what my grandmother advised, "kill them with kindness." Start praying for them and you won't stay mad at them and they will grow tire of your kindness. In addition, we know that prayer changes things and people.

Deanna Shrodes said...

So true, T...

I love you. You're great at finding these kind of truths and expounding on them.

Well you know where I've been the last few months and this was "right on the money" for me. Thank you.

I'm definitely provoked, but not just to anything- to my PROMISE.

Debbie Pryor said...

I enjoyed reading this post. Thank you for the encouraging words.