The Heart of A Woman Bible study, based off of the promises found in Isaiah 54, is for every woman who has a place of barrenness, emptiness, lack of faith, or fear keeping her from experiencing fruitfulness in her life. If this is you, won’t you join us as we journey to a deeper more abundant life of faith together? The Heart of a Woman is all about finding the heart of the Father towards the daughters He lovingly calls His own.
©dawnboyer 2014 Journeys In Grace www.journeysingrace.com
Originally published on Soli Deo Gloria Sisterhood www.solideogloriasisterhood.com.
Welcome to Week 4 of the SDG Summer Bible Study: The Heart of a Woman. This week we are going to study one of the women in scripture whose life symbolizes all the issues we have been discussing so far. Through each section of our study of Isaiah 54 we will stop and look at a woman, or women, in scripture that reveal a part of God’s character and intention to both meet our needs and be glorified in our lives. Do you realize that, woman of God? I told you that you were here for a purpose during Week 2 and that you are being rescued from the bondage of fear and lack in life. As a woman we need to remember that God, who knows our heart intimately, longs to fill it as well. He doesn’t forget those whom He loves, and though we don’t always understand His ways, (Isaiah 55:8-9) we can trust that they are always good.
Sola Scritpura– Scripture interprets Scripture
There is something beautiful about the name of this community, Soli Deo Gloria, which in Latin translates for the Glory of God alone. I want to share another Latin phrase, sola scriptura, translated basically, scripture alone. Here this phrase points out a very important concept that we need to be reminded of when we study scripture, that it interprets itself. What I mean is that throughout our Bible the Word of God reveals the meanings, intentions, and declarations of God’s heart through the integrity of the written Word. This allows us to study many portions of scripture and see the parallelism inside. I love how this term, sola scriptura, reveals just another facet of the trustworthy God we serve. We can take him, literally, at His Word.
Full faith in barren situations yields faith-filled abundant harvest.
This week we are going to look at an example in Scripture of God’s faithfulness in the life of a woman who found favor in the eyes of God as she sought Him in the middle of her barren situation.
Hannah was a woman who was full of faith, but we will also see she was fully provoked and fully aware that she was stepping beyond herself when she came to God. She was faithful to the God she served, but she was bold. She was a woman of prayer. I love that!
Look with me in the book of 1 Samuel 1 at the story of this prayer warrior.
There was a certain man of Ramathaim-zophim, of the hill country of Ephraim, named Elkanah son of Jeroham, the son of Elihu, the son of Tohu, the son of Zuph, an Ephraimaite. He had two wives, one named Hannah and the other named Peninnah, Penninah had children, but Hannah had none. 1 Samuel 1:1-2
To start out with,we are looking at the story of two women, Hannah and Peninnah. This alone always intrigued me because as we move on in the story we see the character of both women, and the way that the husband, who it says in the next 2 verses, ‘loved Hannah’, so he gave her a double portion. Right away we can see that this is a tenuous situation. Isn’t the Bible full of stories like this regarding women? Like the stories of Sara and Hagar or Leah and Rachel, Hannah and Peninnah are two women whose stories are shared in the Bible to teach us about the faithfulness of God to both hear and respond to the prayer of a woman’s heart.
If there is one thing you take away from this Bible study, dear friend, I hope that it is this: God HEARS your prayer and He meets you right where you are. Don’t ever doubt the intention of God’s heart towards yours because it is always good.
Historically, Hannah lived just at the end of the Era of the Judges in the Bible, and her life,specifically, her prayer, ushered in the Era of the Kings. Names are important, as we will see in this lesson, especially in the Bible. Hannah’s name means, “Woman of Grace”, and she amply lives up to that title. It is important for us to realize that when we name things in our lives, whether it is places of barrenness or fruitfulness, we are actively fulfilling a role that God has ordained for us. Look at Genesis 2:19-20, you can see that God gave Adam the express privilege to name the animals. All throughout scripture we can see that the essence of a name implied destiny. In the book of Matthew 12:36 we are reminded of the importance of our words, because it says clearly that we will give an account for every idle (inoperative or non-working) word that we speak. In fact, let’s look at 2 scriptures that illustrate this point.
Matthew 12:36-37 – But I tell you on the day of judgment men will have to give an account for every idle word they speak. For by your words you will be justified and acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned and sentenced.
Proverbs 18:21 – Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and they who indulge in it shall eat the fruit of it.
I encourage you to do a quick study on the use of our words using your concordance and your Bible. Our words are significant and how we use them is equally as important.
Hannah lived in a time when barrenness brought much shame, pain and reproach for a woman. During her culture, it was a common belief that the inability to bear a child was a direct judgment of God for something that woman did, such as a sin for which she was being punished. Her inability to be fruitful brought dishonor to her husband, as well as to herself, and ruined her standing in society.
I want you to look at 1 Samuel 1:5-6 to see a little gem which the Lord left for us in this story. In the verse 5 of it we see that Elkanah loved his wife. He didn’t seem to be a man who was ashamed or disappointed with Hannah, on the contrary this verse says he gave her a double portion of the sacrifice and encouraged her of his deep love for her( vs 8). In verse 6, though, it tells us that though Hannah’s husband was loving and gracious, his overcompensation embarrassed her and reminded her of her lack which also prompted more ridicule, we will see, from the Peninnah.
But to Hannah he gave a double portion, for he loved Hannah, but the Lord had given her no children. [This embarrassed and grieved Hannah] and her rival provoked her greatly to vex her, because the Lord had left her childless. – 1 Samuel 1:6
The source of Hannah’s pain and ridicule came from multiple places: the hand of a rival, the one who loved her, society, and even herself. Yet, in her pain and persecution, Hannah prayed.
Pain is often a catalyst for prayer.
Even though she was in immense pain and the burden upon her heart was strong, Hannah sought God. Her prayer formed out of the deepest need of her heart. It was from this prayer that she made a vow.
The word, vow, used here, comes from the Hebrew word, nader ( primitive root: nadar), meaning to promise something to God, or to give something to God.
Ironically, this is where there is a twist in the story and I hope you will see it for what it is. The Bible says that Hannah prayed silently. In this culture prayers were spoken aloud. The absence of noise confused the priest, Eli, and he assumed Hannah was drunk. Even in the course of bearing her burdens to the Lord, the representative of God rebuked Hannah.
Friends how many times do we do this to ourselves and each other, when even God who has every right to rebuke our iniquity accepts us in love, grace and mercy?
Hannah’s barrenness was purposeful. It drove her to God.
Out of desperation, she came to the place of prayer and made a vow. A vow in her heart, the very place she held God, and she believed in His provision, knowing that He remembered. God answered her, immediately, because when she left her place of prayer, she went away with a changed countenance. Often in scripture we will see this word, remembered, used to illustrate a healing or deliverance in the life of those who are faithfully waiting on God’s promises to be revealed. Reading about Rachel in Genesis 30 reveals the same context of God’s ability to remember closely linked with his ability to save and deliver.
Hannah understood the depth of her promise to God, and she was willing to make that sacrifice. Let me show you something here, the word for pour out in this scripture comes from the Hebrew word, sapak, meaning to expend or spill forward. Hannah wasn’t just bowing before God so that she could experience the beauty of being a mother; she had a purpose towards something greater. Hannah came into that place of prayer looking for more than just a physical change in her body, she went looking for God. She poured out her heart to the Lord, speaking in a prayer language that the priest could not hear or understand, but God did. Hannah made her vow, willingly, choosing to sacrifice in order to gain God in the process.
Hannah had an encounter with God that left her changed dramatically. She was no longer sorrow-filled and depressed. She was happy and content because she had settled in her heart that God heard her prayer and was faithful to answer it.
When we are faithful others will bless us as well.
Though Eli misjudged Hannah’s plea, he still blessed her. He told her to wait and leave in peace knowing God would grant the answer. This is something that is often hard to do; especially with all the voices we hear in our lives encouraging, advising, or even condemning us every day. We need to remember that sometimes we just have to wait but that God is always faithful. ( 1 Thes. 5:23-24)
Hannah’s faithful waiting produced a strength of faith which then produced fruit. Hannah bore a son, we all know as Samuel, who was a judge, a prophet, and interestingly, the one God used to anoint Israel’s first King, Saul. (Remember how I said Hannah’s prayer connected the Era of Judges and Kings?) Samuel’s name means, asked of God. Hannah never forgot her vow; she honored it just by naming her son Samuel. Not only did she honor God as she named her son, but she was honored by her husband with favor, as we continue to read in 1st Samuel .
When she was ready, she came back to that place of prayer and gave the child of promise back to the One who met her in her need. How hard it must have been to release her answer back to God, but I am convinced she knew something I am not sure I know completely yet. She was so content with having God that she was not willing to lose that precious gift over the time with her beautiful child.
And then she was blessed, with more children. Hannah’s barrenness was a result of God’s divine interaction, which we saw in verse 6. Yet, out of love and mercy, God drew her near to him. Even in her broken state He met her and filled her beyond what her immediate need ever could have.
Hannah teaches us great faith because she believed that God heard her prayer.
For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted my petition made to Him. – 1 Samuel 1:27
Her song in 1 Samuel 2:1-10 reverses the barren state she was in. What I love about the 2 prayers revealed here is that they were both BOLD prayers. One was given in complete intimate awareness that the only one who could meet her need was the God who she was faithful to trust and reveal her heart to. It was quiet and personal between Hannah and God.
The other prayer, we see, is a visible declaration that she made openly before others who, perhaps were quick to judge, condemn, and ridicule her during her barrenness. She used the avenue of praise filled prayer to continue to honor God with her vow. Remember the tent building in Isaiah 54:2-3 is also a visible declaration of our expectation from God to meet us in our barren places and fill us up.
Friends, praise and prayer open the flood gates that keep weariness at bay and prepare us to press on in faith.
Like Hannah , I want to encourage you to pour out your heart, so He can fill it up. Pour out all the bitterness, hurt, shame, disappointment and frustration. Intercede in faith in order to receive the hope and contentment that only comes in fellowship with the Father.
Matthew Henry writes, “ Hannah prayed considering the mercy of God. Her whisper testifies of God’s knowledge of heart cries”
When we are barren and we are provoked it is easy to defend ourselves and get bitter. Like Hannah, we need to be willing to trust God is our defender and the hearer of our petitions. Hannah rejoiced in the Lord, looking beyond the gift to the giver. Remember, too, that like Hannah’s silent plea which was only heard by the God of her heart, He hears every spoken and unspoken plea of your heart. Those breath prayers are loaded, ladies. He hears ever one of our requests, no matter how loudly we utter them. Trust Him to meet your need in abundance.
Prayer is the heart’s ease to a gracious soul. It will smooth the countenance. None will long remain miserable who use aright the privilege of going to the mercy-seat of a reconciled God in Christ Jesus. ~ Matthew Henry.
This week as you take time to read Hannah’s story in the book of 1 Samuel, I want to challenge you to begin looking at your prayer life differently. As you have been filling out your notes and putting them into your prayer box, and hopefully tearing them up each week, thanking the Lord for answering your prayers, consider what areas you may be holding back from God.
Following Hannah’s example, come boldly to the throne of grace, knowing you will receive mercy.(Heb. 4:16) Ask boldly and begin trusting that not only does He hear your prayers but longs to fill you with more of Him. Speak to him clearly, in your heart, and pour out your words in faith. Then go forward from that time and be encouraged that your needs are met in the abundance of His provision. Just knowing that his provision is the abundance with which our needs are met should excite us!
Please know that I am praying for you. I pray your week will be filled with anointed heartfelt times of worship and intimate sweet fellowship with the God who wants to meet you in that sacred place and fill you with more of Him. Don’t forget to download the worksheet for this week, below.
Author, writer and speaker, Dawn is passionate about many things: God, Family, Prayer, Food, and the Word. You can find her writing about those hard questions, reasoning and rejoicing in God’s grace and mercy for those who are walking this journey to grace on her website, Journeys In Grace.(www.journeysingrace.com)
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