…  Eli answered, “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him.” … So in the course of time Hannah conceived and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, saying, “Because I asked the LORD for him.” – 1 Samuel 1:6 -17 and 20 (NIV)

*   *   *

As a novelist, I acknowledge a “fictional reality” that examines events around me and asks: would this situation “work” in a novel? Would people believe it? Sometimes, it would; others wouldn’t. Similarly, there is a biblical reality that may refract its own take on “reality” – perhaps even differing from the reality we call history.

Just how, for example, how much does Eli know? Or is he merely wishing her the best?

*   *   *

The story leaves me wondering about her motives in relegating her young son to the temple. Is this done to keep the child out of the claws of Hannah’s rival or the ravages of his half-siblings? Does it restore her full relationship with her husband? Is she able to argue that by consecrating the child to the LORD she has trumped her rival’s production? And what reactions and rights does Elkanah have in all of this, a decision that is apparently made without his permission.

All of this is a prelude to the brief Golden Age of Israel, as the story emerges.

*   *   *

But blessed be the Lord, he hath caused many Witnesses to rise up amongst us, who have given Testimony to the Truth as it is in Jesus, and have taught others, both in our own Country, and in Nations abroad, to take heed to that sure Word of Prophecy, nigh in the Heart, and in the Mouth, which if the true Grace of God, that is sufficient for us, not only, as some say, to leave Men without Excuse, and so to aggravate their Condemnation, but as ’tis received and obeyed, it will lead out of Sin into Holiness, and in the End crown with Salvation. (Elizabeth Bathurst, 1655?-1685)

 

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