Shiloh is known as the religious capital of Israel during the times of the Judges. Remarkably, it spans 4,000 years of continuous settlement starting from the 18th century BC. Shiloh was an assembly place for the people of Israel and a center of worship. Its sacred area (tabernacle-Mishkan) in Shiloh housed the Ark of Covenant, Table of Showbread, Altar of Incense and Golden Lamp Stand.
Shiloh is sacred to the three religions: Jewish, Christian and Muslim. Pilgrims have come to visit the ruins for the past 3,060 years. On the south side of Tel Shiloh are ruins of mosques and churches and a modern synagogue. In 732 BC, this is the exact spot Hannah prayed for a son in I Samuel 1. I love this story. In fact, it became even more real to me today.
The story of Hannah, the mother of Samuel is found in I Samuel 1:3-6. Hannah was a woman who, like Sarai was barren. She felt cursed, but to make matters even worse, her husband, Elkanah’s other wife made fun of her barrenness, provoking and abusing her. This went on for years. Hannah’s circumstances were unbearable. Though her husband loved her, Hannah’s heart’s desire was to bear a child. Hannah was a woman of deep faith, who regularly went to the temple to worship, even during the time when her rival cruelly taunted her, causing Hannah to cry uncontrollably to the point she could not even eat. Hannah’s husband’s love broke through some of the harshness of the situation, and after Hannah pulled herself together, she went to the steps of the temple to pray.
Hannah’s prayers of anguish are expressed in I Samuel 1:10 “In bitterness of soul, Hannah wept much and prayed to the Lord.” Hannah wept much, yet was praying in her heart, crying with raw intensity, emotion and vulnerablility, her lips didn’t move. The priest thought she was drunk. She prayed honest prayers. This is a huge lesson to us. Not because we want to get ahold of the answer, but because we want to get ahold of God.
Hannah petitioned God. Hannah experienced the God who hears. In Samuel 1:20, God revealed His answer, “Before the year was out, Hannah had conceived and given birth to a son. She named him Samuel, explaining, “I asked God for him.” Hannah’s example to us is clear. We must be passionate in prayer as we persevere over a situation.
This morning I was especially bugged and equally burdened by the loose ends in my life. I submitted each and every person connected with the unraveling situations I thought God should tie up. One by one, I laid each one down at his feet, at first it was hard to let go, but by the end of my list of names, I couldn’t wait to release them. It seemed like such a messy heap, like tangled shoe string laces of castaway partner-less tennis shoes. I sat on my hands, and shut my mouth, resisting the urge to help God out. I was embarrassed about how twisted and scrambled things had gotten, yet it was a relief to see the tousled mess at His feet and not mine. How would this snarled saga end? It was now God’s problem. Immediately, I felt a renewed sense of hope. This ‘hands-off’ and ‘advice-less’ stance was a welcome place of abundant space for me. I was now freed to experience the gifts God gave me in exchange.
“Be anxious for nothing but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Phil. 4:6.7
Don’t miss tomorrow: Jacob’s Well in Shekem and Sebasti!