When Barren Wombs Sing & the Voice of the Adversary is Silenced

Today’s selected reading begins the Old Testament book of First Samuel which not only describes Samuel the prophet, but also describes Saul the first king of Israel, and the life of David who would become the second king of Israel. More specifically, today’s passage is found in the first four chapters of this Old Testament book. When you come to this particular portion of Scripture you will find the beginning and opening of a book that would not only describe the birth and emergence of the prophet Samuel, but you will also find written within this book the narratives of two men who would dramatically alter and shape the course of the history of the Hebrew people. The Old Testament book of Judges was a book that described the period of time after the death of Joshua, and after the death of those elders which outlived him, and the generations which arose up after them. This Old Testament book of Judges would describe how after the death of the elders which outlived Joshua there would arise a generation that would not know the LORD, nor would not know the great works and wonders He did for and on behalf of His people in the land of Egypt, in the wilderness, and in the land wherein they now dwelt. Moreover, the book of Judges would describe that as a direct result of this the children of Israel and these future generations would do that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, and you turn their hearts and their back away and apart from the LORD their God. The Old Testament book of Judges is a book that describes the patterns and cycles of the people of God, and how they would do that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, and how the LORD would sell them into the hands of those enemies and adversaries which would oppress and afflict them. It would be during this period of time when the children of Israel would be afflicted and oppressed by their enemies and adversaries they would cry out before and unto the LORD that He might deliver them out from their oppression and affliction. The LORD would heed and hear their cries, and would raise up judges in the midst of the land who would help bring about a great deliverance from those who would both afflict and oppress them. It would be the judges whom the LORD would raise up who would indeed spearhead a revolt and rebellion against those nations and peoples which spoiled and plundered them, as they would rally together and gather around them the tribes of Israel to engage these oppressors in battle and conflict. Perhaps one of the most remarkable and astonishing realities concerning the narrative of this time period is that although the LORD would raise up a judge who would help deliver them out of their oppressors, it would not be the responsibility of the judge alone to bring about the deliverance. The tribes within the land of Israel would have to rally themselves together and around the judge whom the LORD would raise up, and they would have to fight against the adversaries and enemies that would afflict them.

What I so absolutely love about the book of Judges is the fact that in order for the children of Israel to experience deliverance out of the hands of those who would oppress them, they would have to agree to join and align themselves together with that judge whom the LORD would raise up in order that they might stand as one against the oppression and affliction that would be raised up against them. The book of Judges is an absolutely wonderful and tremendous picture of judges whom the LORD would raise up against those who would oppress and afflict the children of Israel, and how in order for the children of Israel to experience deliverance from those who would oppress and afflict them, they would need to fight. The LORD would raise up Moses in the land of Midian, and would bring him back to the land of Egypt to bring about the deliverance of the children of Israel, however, the people of Israel would need to make the decision to depart from the land of Egypt together with Moses. The LORD would raise up Joshua the son of Nun to lead the children of Israel into the land of Egypt and in conquest in the midst of the land, however, the people themselves would have to choose and decide to cross over the Jordan River, as well as to engage themselves in the conflict and battles that were present in the midst of the land. It’s important for us to recognize and understand this, for when we come to the Old Testament book of Judges we find the LORD raising up judges in the midst of the oppression and affliction of the people of God, and yet the people of Israel would need to choose for themselves whether or not they would join the fight. Even in the song which Deborah sang after the LORD had given a great victory over Jabin the king of Canaan would indicate that there were tribes which chose to refrain and abstain from joining the battle and joining the conflict against that king and those people which would oppress and afflict them. If there is one thing we must recognize and understand about the Old Testament book of Judges it’s that it is a book that not only describes the LORD raising up judges who would help bring about the deliverance of the people of God, but also how the people themselves would need to make the decision whether or not they would join the fight for their deliverance.

As much as the Old Testament book of Judges is about the people of Israel doing that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, and as much as it is about the LORD raising up judges who would help bring about the deliverance of the people of God, it is also a book about the restoration of the peace and rest which the people of Israel enjoyed during the days of Joshua. It would be during the days of Joshua the LORD would give the people of Israel rest from their enemies round about, and rest from the enemies within the land itself. When Joshua died, and even when the elders who outlived him remained among the people they enjoyed tremendous rest and peace on all sides and within the land itself. During the days of the Judges, however, the children of Israel would forfeit and compromise that peace as a direct result of their disobedience and rebellion against the LORD their God. The Old Testament book of Judges is a book that describes the restoration of peace and rest within the land, as well as deliverance from oppression and affliction as a direct result of their disobedience. It’s incredibly intriguing to think about and consider the fact that what we find in this book is a powerful picture of the LORD raising up judges who would rally one or more of the tribes of Israel around them in order that they might stand against those who had been allowed to oppress and afflict them. The book of Judges describes a time when the people of Israel were given the ability to rise up in the midst of the affliction and oppression that overtook them and effectively engage their enemies and adversaries, thus driving them back and driving them out. Those enemies and adversaries who were permitted to enter into the land and essentially spoil and plunder them would need to be confronted in order that their reign of terror, their reign of oppression, their reign of affliction would be brought to an end. What we must recognize and realize is that the LORD Himself wouldn’t drive back and drive out those who afflicted them, and those who were oppressing them. The LORD would not unleash His signs and wonders against those who would oppress and afflict the people of Israel as He did in the land of Egypt, but would instead raise up one from among them who would blow the trumpet and sound an alarm of war and battle against those who would oppress and afflict them. There would be no plagues of hail, nor plagues of darkness that would emerge against the enemies and adversaries which afflicted and oppressed the children of Israel, and the deliverance they would experience would be a direct result of their choosing to stand together with that judge that was raised up among them in their midst to effectively drive them back, and drive them out of the land.

During the days after the death of Joshua, as well as the days after the deaths of the elders which outlived Joshua we find the LORD raising up individual judges during periods of tremendous iniquity, transgression, rebellion and wickedness, and those judges calling for the tribes of Israel to unite themselves together against the enemies and adversaries that would afflict and oppress the people of God. The time period of the judges was a period of time when the people would almost be stuck in a pattern of affliction and oppression and rest and peace, as the LORD would deliver them into the hands of their enemies and adversaries that would afflict and oppress them, thus removing and compromising the peace and rest that was experienced during the days of Joshua. The entire period of the judges would be a period of time when the people of Israel would compromise and forfeit the peace and rest the LORD had given their fathers who had entered into, conquered and subdued the land, and would do so through their disobedience and rebellion against the command of the LORD. What’s more, is they would do so through and as a result of their going after strange and foreign gods which the LORD commanded and instructed them not to. The Old Testament book of Judges is a tremendous and powerful book that describes a period of time between the rest and peace which Joshua and the children of Israel would fight for upon entering into the land. Joshua and the children of Israel would engage the enemies and adversaries in the midst of the land and would conquer and subdue kings and peoples which were mightier and more than they were, and in the final years of Joshua’s life the children of Israel would experience and enjoy peace and rest on all sides from the nations and peoples around them, and would enjoy peace and rest within and in the midst of the land. It’s important for us to recognize and understand this, for while the final days of Joshua would be characterized by peace and rest in the midst of and round about the land—that peace would be compromised and jeopardized by the children of Israel during the days and times of the judges of Israel. There would be a period of time during the days of Joshua when the people of Israel would rebel against the LORD and through their idolatry and immorality would put themselves in a place where they would transgress the command of the LORD. This would put them in a place where not only would the peace and rest which Joshua and their fathers had fought for be jeopardized and compromised, but they would also find themselves in a place where their enemies and adversaries would be given the upper hand upon and against them. The children of Israel would find themselves living in days and times when not only would the rest and peace be removed, but the enemies and adversaries round about them would be permitted to oppress and afflict them.

Even the book of Ruth describes a period of time during the judges when a famine would strike the land, and when Naomi, Elimelech and their two sons would depart from the land of Israel in order that they might enter into the land of Moab to escape the famine and find some source of solace, sustenance, provision and comfort. This Old Testament book describes how this family of four would live and dwell in the land of Moab for ten years, and during those ten years Naomi’s two sons would both marry Moabite women which were natives of the land. Also during those ten years, however, we find that Elimelech the husband of Naomi would die, and her two sons would die as well. It would come to pass in the course of time that Naomi would hear a report that there was bread once more in Bethlehem, and that the LORD had faithfully entreated His people once more. Naomi would return to the land of Israel and to the town of Bethlehem and would be accompanied by Ruth who would leave her native land, her mother’s house, and everything she knew and loved. Ruth would make the decision to remain with Naomi—despite the fact that her sister in law Orpah would choose to turn back from them and return to the land of Moab. Ruth would choose to walk with Naomi through her suffering, her anguish, her sorrow, hurt and pain, and would make the decision that wherever Naomi would go she would go, and Naomi’s God would be her God. This is truly remarkable, for during the time of the judges we find the LORD beginning something that would have ramifications that wouldn’t come to fruition until we come to the book of First Samuel. In fact, if you read the final words of the fourth chapter of the book of Ruth you will find it written how there was a son that was born unto Ruth and Boaz whom they would name Obed. If you begin reading with and from the thirteenth verse of the fourth chapter of the Old Testament book of Ruth you will find the following words which were written concerning Boaz taking Ruth unto himself as his wife, and how the LORD would look upon Ruth and give her a son whom they would name Obed. Consider if you will the following words which were written in the fourth and final chapter of the book of Ruth beginning with the thirteenth verse:

“So Boaz took Ruth, and she was his wife: and when he went in unto her, the LORD gave her conception, and she bare a son. And the women said unto Naomi, Blessed be the LORD, which hath not left thee this day without a kinsman, that his name may be famous in Israel. And he shall be unto thee a restorer of thy life, and a nourisher of thine old age: for thy daughter in law, which loveth thee, which is better to thee than Sven sons, hath born him. And Naomi took the child, and laid it in her bosom, and became nurse unto it. And the women her neighbours gave it a name, saying, There is a son born to Naomi; and they called his name Obed: he is the father of Jesse, the father of David. Now these are the generations of Pharez: Pharez began Hezron, and Hezron begat Ram, and Ram began Amminadab, and Amminadab begat Nahshon, and Nahshon begat Salmon, and Salmon begat Boaz, and Boaz begat Obed, and Obed begat Jesse, and Jesse begat David” (Ruth 4:13-22).

What I find to be so incredibly intriguing about the Old Testament book of Ruth is how it is not only a comparison and contrast between four distinct individuals, but it also sets up that which we read and find in the Old Testament book of First Samuel. In all reality, I would dare say that we cannot truly understand that which is found in the Old Testament book of First Samuel without first understanding the book of Ruth, for Ruth would be a woman from Moab who would leave everything she knew and everything that was comfortable and familiar with her in order to cleave to Naomi and enter into her land and worship and serve her God. As a direct result of this kindness the LORD would bestow upon her a kindness through Boaz who would not only take her unto himself as his wife, but unto them would be born a son who would be the grandfather of David king of Israel. I would dare say that you cannot truly understand the significance of the narrative of First Samuel—even the narrative of David the king of Israel—without understanding and recognizing the significance of the narrative of Ruth. There is a part of me that can’t help but wonder if David wasn’t able to to leave his father and mother in the land of Moab because his father was in all reality a descendant of a Moabite woman. It’s interesting to think about and consider the fact that when Jesse would enter into the land of Moab, he would do so a few generations removed from when Ruth his grandmother would leave that land in order to find a new life in the land of Israel with a new people and with a God she up to that time did not know. The Old Testament book of First Samuel direct hinges upon that which is found and that which is written within the Old Testament book of Ruth, for without Ruth you would not have the narrative that is found in the book of First Samuel. It would be Ruth’s decision to leave and depart from Moab that would not only connect her to the bloodline of Abraham himself, but would also help continue that bloodline and connect that bloodline to David the king of Israel. What’s more, is that it would also directly link and connect her to the very bloodline that would be connected to Jesus the Christ. We know and understand that Jesus would indeed be called the son of David, and David would be the great grandson of Ruth the Moabitess woman who would leave everything she knew and everything she loved in order that she might make a brand new life in the midst of the land of Israel. Consider if you will the opening words of the first chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ as written and recorded by the the apostle Matthew:

“The book of the generaIon of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Abraham begat Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Judas and his brethren; and Judas begat Phares and Zara of Thamar; and Phares began Esrom; and Esrom began Abram; and Abram begat Aminadab; and Aminadab begat Naasson; and Naasson began Salmon; and Salmon begat Booz of Rachab; and Booz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jess; And Jesse begat David the king; and David the king begat Solomon of her that had been the wife of Urias” (Matthew 1:1-6).

When you study the life and narrative of this woman called Ruth you will find that her story and journey began in the land of Moab, and began with her marrying a Hebrew man who had begun to dwell in the land after departing from the land during a time of famine. During the period of ten years this Hebrew family dwelt in the midst of the land of Moab, this woman Ruth would marry this particular Hebrew—although ultimately he would die in the land of Moab leaving her behind with Naomi her mother in law and Orpah her sister in law. If there is one thing so inspires and amazes me about the narrative and story of Ruth, it’s that her decision to depart from everything she had known and everything she had loved and been familiar would end up having ramifications that would reach far beyond what she could even think or imagine. There is not a doubt in my mind that when Ruth departed from the land of Moab she had any idea that she would encounter a man by the name of Boaz in the land of Israel, would end up receiving and experiencing such kindness from the LORD, and would even end up married again and bringing forth a son. What’s more, is that I would even dare say that there was absolutely no thought inside her mind that she would bring forth a son, nor that the son she would bring forth would give birth to Jess who would be the father of David the man after God’s own heart, and the man who would rule and reign as king over the nation of Israel. There was absolutely no idea or inclination within the heart and mind of Ruth that when she left the land of Moab she would be a part of the bloodline of Abraham that was present in the midst of the earth, nor that she would help bring about the bloodline of kings that would rule and reign in the land. How absolutely wonderful and sounding it is to think about and consider the fact that Ruth’s decision to depart from the land of Moab would put her on a collision course with the blood line of the Hebrews nor on a collision course with the blood line of kings. It would be Obed who would beget Jesse, and it would be Jesse that would beget David who would be king over the nation and kingdom of Israel. What’s more, is that the bloodline that was continued and created by Ruth and Boaz would not only be a bloodline of the Hebrews, but it would also be the bloodline of the kings of Israel, and later the southern kingdom of Judah. Who would have thought that the decision this Moabite woman made to depart from her homeland of Moab would result in her entering into the land of promise, inheritance and blessing, and her being joined together to Boaz, which would be the beginning stages of the bloodline of kings. How absolutely incredible it is that when Ruth made the decision to walk together in union and fellowship Naomi, and when Ruth made the decision to walk together with Naomi in the place of sorrow and anguish they she would make her way—not only into the bloodline of the kings of Israel, but also the bloodline of the King of kings.

I am completely and utterly convinced that when you read the book of First Samuel you must recognize and understand that the events which are written and contained within it were indeed and were in fact set in motion by the events which took place during the days of the judges of Israel, as well as the narrative of Ruth, Naomi and Boaz. We dare not and must not read the book of First Samuel without first recognizing and understanding that the days in Israel during this time would not only set the stage for a prophet to rise up among them in their midst, but also the emergence of kings that would begin to rule and reign over them. What’s more, is that Ruth’s decision to leave Moab and cleave to her Hebrew mother in law would set in motion the bloodline and lineage that would not only produce and bring forth the kings that would sit upon the throne of David, but would also bring forth the bloodline that would be directly connected the Jesus Christ who is the King of kings. Ruth’s decision to leave her native country of Moab and cleave to her mother in law would set in motion the bloodline of that king who would be responsible for restoring the type of peace and rest that was experienced during the days of Joshua. It would be during the days of Joshua that the LORD would grant the people of Israel rest and peace from their enemies round about them, as well as within the land, and it would be David king of Israel and a man after God’s own heart who would restore that peace through years of conflict, violence, and bloodshed. If there is one thing that is worth noting, it’s that more of than not the restoration of peace and rest within our lives does not come with a tremendous sense of conflict, struggle and battle on our parts. More often than not we assume that peace and rest can and will somehow miraculously appear within our lies, and while it is true that Jesus the Christ through the person of the Holy Spirit can indeed give us rest and peace within our hearts and lives—there are times when the peace and rest we are seeking for cannot and will not come without and apart from our willingness to engage in conflict, in battle, and in struggle against those things which have sought to oppress and afflict us. In order for us to understand the narrative that is found in the Old Testament book of First Samuel it is absolutely necessary that we first understand that which is found in the Old Testament book of Judges for it sets the stage for a forfeited peace and rest that would need to be restored, as well as the book of Ruth, for it sets the stage for the bloodline that would not only produce and bring forth David king of Israel, but it would also result in the throne of David being established in the city of Jerusalem, as well as the Temple of the living God being established in the holy city.

IT ALL BEGINS WITH A BARREN WOMB! IT BEGINS IN A PLACE OF BARRENNESS! As you think about and consider the words which are written and recorded within the Old Testament book of First Samuel you will quickly discover that it begins with another couple that lived and dwelt in the land during the days and time of the judges. What marks this particular book as so incredibly intriguing is the fact that it begins with and in an unusual place—namely, a place of barrenness. If you read the words which are found at the opening and beginning of this Old Testament book you will find the prophet Samuel describing how there was a certain man of Ramathaim-zophim, of mount Ephraim, whose name was Elkanah. This man Elkanah had two wives—the name of the one wife was Hannah, while the name of the other wife was Peninnah. What we find and what we discover when reading the narrative of this family within the land of Israel is that concerning Peninnah, she had children and was able to conceive sons and daughters unto Elkanah. When, however, we speak about and consider Hannah the other wife of Elkanah we find that she was barren and could have no children. It’s actually quite remarkable and astonishing to think about and consider the fact that when you begin the narrative—not only the narrative of Samuel the prophet and the beginning of the restoration of the prophetic word in the land of Israel, but also the narrative of two kings which would reign over the nation and kingdom of Israel—you will find that it begins in an unusual place. The narrative and account of Samuel the prophet and judge of Israel is actually quite unique when you think about and consider it, for not only does it begin with a barren womb, but it also begins with what I would perhaps describe as barren hearts and barren souls. Upon continuing to read this Old Testament book you will find that not only does this narrative begin and open up with barrenness as Hannah was unable to conceive and bring forth children, but it also begins with barrenness within and barrenness of the nation. In fact, I would dare say that the barren womb of Hannah was a prophetic symbol of the nation, for just as Hannah’s womb was barren and she was unable to conceive and bring forth children, so also was the nation of Israel barren in and of itself. At the risk of getting ahead of myself, I would invite you to turn and direct your attention to the words which are found in the opening verses of the third chapter of this Old Testament book, for it is within this chapter we quickly encounter—not the barrenness of a single woman, but the barrenness of a nation. Consider if you will the words which are found in the third chapter of this Old Testament book beginning with and from the first and opening verse of the chapter:

“And the child Samuel ministered unto the LORD before Eli. And the word of the LORD was precious in those days; there was no open vision. And it came to pass at that time, when Eli was laid down in his place, and his eyes began to wax dim, that he could not see; and ere the lamp of God went out in the Temple of the LORD, where the ark of God was, and Samuel was laid down to sleep; that the LORD called Samuel: and he answered, Here am I” (1 Samuel 3:1-4).

The more I read and the more I consider the words which are written and recorded within this Old Testament book, the more I can’t help but think about and consider the fact that while it begins with and from a place of barrenness in the physical sense—that barrenness was as prophetic symbol and sign that not only pointed to, but also revealed the tremendous barrenness that was found to be present within the nation of Israel. In the Old Testament book of Judges you will find that the days of the judges were days when the children of Israel did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, and there were two specific instances and two specific times when the word of the LORD would be manifested in the midst of the nation. If you begin reading with and from the second chapter of this Old Testament book you will find that an angel of the LORD appeared in Israel and brought forth the word which the LORD would speak unto the people, for the people of Israel had greatly sinned and transgressed against the word and command of the LORD—not only because they failed to utterly drive out and dispossess the nations and peoples which were present in the midst of the land, but also because they failed to utterly destroy and tear down the altars, images, and symbols of idolatrous worship. There would be a period of time where there wouldn’t be any type of manifestation of the word of the LORD until the days and time of Jephthah when the children of Israel would cry out unto the LORD because of the oppression of their enemies and adversaries, and the LORD would speak unto them a tremendous word of rebuke concerning their rebellion and disobedience before Him. What’s more, is that if you continue reading in this Old Testament book you will find that in the days immediately following the narrative and account of Jephthah an angel of the LORD would appear unto the wife of one from the tribe of Dan concerning the birth of one who would be raised up in the midst of the nation and land of Israel—one who would begin the process of delivering them out out of the hand of the Philistines. I invite you to consider the words which are found in each of these passages found within the book of Judges, for it reveals less than a handful of times during the period of the judges when the word of the LORD was manifested among the people of Israel—and that, only two of them were directed at the nation and people of Israel as a whole, while the third was directed toward a woman from the tribe of Dan who would experience an angelic visitation in the midst of the land. Consider if you will the following narratives which are found in this Old Testament book concerning those specific times when the word of the LORD would be manifested in the midst of the nation of Israel:

“And an angel of the LORD came up from Gilgal to Bochim, and said, I made you to go up out of Egypt, and have brought you unto the land which I sware unto your fathers; and I said, I will never break my covenant with you. And ye shall make no league with the inhabitants of this land; ye shall throw down their altars: but ye have not obeyed my voice: why have ye done this? Wherefore I also said, I will not drive them out from before you; but they shall be as thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare unto you. And it came to pass, when the angel of the LORD spake these words unto all the children of Israel, that the people lifted up their voice, and wept. And they called the name of that place Bochim: and they sacrificed there unto the LORD” (Judges 2:1-5).

“And the children of Israel cried unto the LORD, saying, We have sinned against thee, both because we have forsaken our God, and also served Baalim. And the LORD said unto the children of Israel, Did I not deliver you from the Egyptians, and from the Amorites, and from the children of Ammon, and from the Philistines? The Zidonians also, and the Amalekites, and the Maonites, did oppress you; and ye cried to me, and I delivered you out of their hand. Yet ye have forsaken. Me, and served other gods: wherefore I will deliver you no more. Go and cry unto the gods which ye have chosen; let them deliver you in the time of your tribulation. And the children of Israel said unto the LORD, We have sinned: do thou unto us whatsoever seemeth good unto thee; deliver us only, we pray thee, this day. And they put away the strange gods from among them, and served the LORD: and his soul was grieved for the misery of Israel” (Judges 10:10-16).

“And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the LORD; and the LORD delivered them into the hand of the Philistines forty years. And there was a certain man of Zorah, of the family of the Danites, whose name was Manoah; and his wife was barren, and bare not. And the angel of the LORD appeared unto the woman, and said unto her, Behold now, thou art barren, and bearest not: but thou shalt conceive, and bear a son. Now therefore beware, I pray thee, and drink not wine nor strong drink, and eat not any unclean thing: for, lo, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and nor razor shall come on his head: for the child shall be a Nazareth unto God from the womb: and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines. Then the woman came and told her husband, saying, A man of God came unto me, and his countenance was like the countenance of an angel of God, very terrible: but I asked him not whence he was, neither told he me his name: but he said unto me, Behold, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and now drink no wine nor strong drink, neither eat any unclean thing: for the child shall be a Nazareth to God from the womb to the day of his death” (Judges 13:1-7).

Each of these passages found within the Old Testament book of Judges points to and reveals certain and specific times when the word of the LORD would be manifested before and unto the people of Israel during the days and times of the judges. The word of the LORD would be manifested for the very first time during those first generations of the people of Israel who dwelt in and occupied the land, for not only had they not driven out and dispossessed the inhabitants of the land, but so also did they not utterly destroy their altars, their images, and put away and destroy their strange gods from among them. The word of the LORD would appear and would be manifested a second time during the days of Jephthah when the children of Israel were sore vexed and were sore oppressed and impoverished because of their enemies and adversaries, and as a direct result of this oppression they would cry out unto the LORD their God who would declare unto them of His mighty deliverances in the past, yet how they scorned His deliverance, His grace and His mercy through their continued rebellion and disobedience. Of course we know and understand from Scripture that the LORD would later be grieved because of their plight, their oppression and their affliction, and would raise up Jephthah from among them who would deliver them out of the hands of their enemies and adversaries—namely, out of the hand of the Ammonites. The word of the LORD would be manifested a third time unto the wife of Manoah, for she too was barren and unable to conceive children. An angel of the LORD would appear unto her and not only declare that she would conceive and bring forth a a son, but the angel would also go on to reveal unto her what manner of child and man this child was to be, for he was to be a Nazarite—holy, separated and consecrated before and unto the living God. Moreover, the angel of the LORD would instruct this woman to drink no strong drink, nor eat any unclean thing, for her holiness and her separation was just as critical and important as that of the child. It’s interesting and worth noting these three specific times when the word of the LORD would be manifested in the midst of the children of Israel, for when we come to the days of Ruth and Naomi we find absolutely no mention of the word of the LORD, nor do we find and read of any manifestation of the word of the LORD being manifested in the midst of the land of Israel. Of course we know that there was a period of ten years when Naomi, her husband Elimelech, and their two sons would live and dwell in the land of Moab before both Elimilelech and their two sons would die leaving Naomi and her two daughters in law as widows in the land of Moab. We know and understand that the narrative would find Naomi and Ruth making the journey from the land of Moab unto the land of Israel after it was reported that that the LORD had faithfully entreated His people, and that there was once more bread in Bethlehem. Within each of the four chapters which are found in the book of Ruth we find absolutely no mention of the word of the LORD appearing, nor the word of the LORD being manifested in the midst of the land of Israel.

By the time we come to the book of First Samuel we find that it begins and opens—not with the barrenness of a nation, but with the barrenness of a single womb. The book of First Samuel could very easily have begun by describing the barrenness of the nation of Israel, as it would be during the days of Eli the priest of God who ministered at the house of the LORD in Shiloh that the word of the LORD was precious during those days, and there was no open vision. What’s more, is that Eli was old and advanced in years, and his eyes began to wax dim that he could not see, and as a direct result of this, the lamp of God went out in the Temple of the LORD where the ark of God was—the lamp which the LORD instructed through His servant Moses should never go out. IF there are two things we must recognize and understand concerning the pattern and design of the Tabernacle which was given unto Moses the servant of the LORD atop the mountain of God in the midst of the wilderness, it’s that not only was the lamp of God which was found in the Holy Place never to go out, but neither was the fire which burned upon the altar every to go out. Both the lamp of God and the altar of God were to continue to burn in the midst and among the people of Israel and in the midst of the holy sanctuary of the living God. What we find in the third chapter of the Old Testament book of First Samuel is not only the fact that the word of the LORD was precious or rare during those days, but so also was there no open vision. In all reality, we must recognize and understand that while the book of First Samuel begins and opens up with a physical womb which was barren and unable to conceive, there was also another barrenness—a different barrenness that was found to be present in the midst of the nation of Israel, for there was a barrenness surrounding the word of the LORD, and concerning visions of the LORD. There is not a doubt in my mind that the barren womb of Hannah was a prophetic picture of the barrenness that had gripped, seized and laid hold of the nation, and the provocation of Peninnah was a prophetic picture and symbol of the provocation, the oppression and the affliction of the Philistines, for during these days the Philistines would continue to oppress and afflict the nation and people of Israel. In fact, when you come to the fourth chapter of this book you will find and encounter the tremendous reality that the Philistines were still in the picture, and that they would continue to oppress and afflict the people of Israel. This is quite interesting when you think about and consider the words which are written and recorded within the thirteenth chapter of the Old Testament book of the Judges, for when the angel of the LORD appeared unto the wife of Manoah, you will find him declaring unto her that this child which would be born unto her would begin to deliver the children of Israel out of the hand of the Philistines, and out of the hand of those who would oppress and afflict them.

As I sit here this morning, I can’t help but think about and consider the absolutely tremendous and astonishing reality that when we come to the Old Testament book of First Samuel—not only do we find the barrenness of a physical womb, but we also find the barrenness of the nation of Israel. Moreover, when and as we come to the book of First Samuel you will find the provocation of Hannah as her adversary Peninnah would sore provoke her, but you will also find the provocation of the Philistines who would still and continue to provoke the children of Israel. What’s so incredibly interesting is that when you think about and consider the provocation of Hannah by Peninnah you will find that it was her sore provocation that would produce such an anguish of heart and soul within Hannah that when she went up to the house of the LORD at Shiloh to offer sacrifices with Elkanah and Peninnah, she would cry out before and unto the LORD as she poured her heart out before the LORD. What you will find in the first and opening chapter of the Old Testament book of First Samuel is a tremendous and powerful picture of one who was unable to conceive and bring forth a son, as well as that one who would be sore provoked by her adversary. It would be the provocation of her adversary that would thrust her into the place of desperation before the LORD her God as she would cry out unto the LORD from the depths of her heart that He would hear her cry and would entreat her request. Oh, I can’t help but see a wonderful and powerful picture that exists between the barrenness of the physical womb of Hannah, as well as the barrenness of the nation of Israel, as the word of the LORD was precious during those days, and there was no open vision from the LORD. What’s more, is that I can’t help but think about and consider the fact that the provocation of Hannah by Peninnah would be so severe that it would drive Hannah into the place of desperation as she would pray a desperate prayer before the LORD, and would even vow a vow before the LORD. There is a part of me that can’t help but wonder if the prayer and words which Hannah prayed were more so out of the place of barrenness within her life, or because of the provocation of her enemy and adversary who would sore provoke her to anguish, sorrow and grief. It’s actually quite interesting to think about the provocation of Hannah by Peninnah, for just as the provocation of Hannah’s adversary would drive her to the place of desperation before and in the presence of the LORD, and to the place where she would cry out unto the LORD, but it would be the provocation of the enemies and adversaries during the days of the judges that would drive the people of Israel into a place of desperation that they would cry out before and unto the LORD for deliverance from their enemies and adversaries.

It’s important for us to recognize and understand the narrative of Hannah, for her life was a powerful prophetic symbol of the nation and children of Israel which was no only barren before and in the sight of the living God, but which was also sore provoked by their adversary and enemy who would continue to oppress and afflict them. Continuing to read and consider the words which are found within this Old Testament book I can’t help but think about and consider that not only would the barren womb of Hannah produce and bring forth a child, but so also would the provocation at the hand of her enemy and adversary would be brought to an end after she not only conceived and brought forth Samuel, but would also bring forth sons and daughters during those days. The narrative that we find in the Old Testament book of First Samuel is quite remarkable and astounding, for not only does it prove and reveal once more than barren wombs can indeed and can in fact conceive according to the word of the LORD, and even as a direct result of one’s cry before Him in His presence, but it also reveals that the days of provocation, the days of affliction and the days of oppression can indeed be brought to an end. It would be within the Old Testament book of First Samuel that we would not only read of the word of the LORD once more appearing and being manifested in the midst of the nation of Israel, but within this book we would also begin to see the manifestation of the oppression, the affliction, and the provocation of the enemy and adversary of the people of Israel—namely, the Philistines—being brought to an end, and once and for all being silenced. In fact, if you turn and direct your attention to the seventeenth chapter of this Old Testament book you will find and discover that the provocation of Goliath in the valley of Elah would be brought to an end when David emerged on to the scene, agreed to go out and engage the giant on the battlefield, and would not only fell him to the ground with a single stone from his scrip, but would strike off his head using Goliath’s own sword. There is not a doubt in my mind that the words which we find in the opening chapters of the Old Testament book of First Samuel are a powerful prophetic symbol that would not only point to the barrenness of the nation being overturned and them once more bringing forth that which they were created and intended on bringing forth, but also a powerful prophetic picture of the oppression, the affliction and the provocation of their enemy and adversary the Philistines being brought to a close. The children of Israel would continue to engage the Philistines during the days of Eli the high priest, during the days of Samuel the high priest, during the days of Saul king of Israel, and also during the days of David king of Israel before they would eventually conquer and subdue the Philistines and experience rest and peace on that border of their land.

I have to admit that I absolutely love the words which are written and recorded within this Old Testament book of First Samuel, for not only does it bring us face to face with the reality that the barrenness of a physical womb can conceive and bring forth, but it also brings us face to face with the fact that the barrenness of a nation can indeed and can in fact conceive and bring forth that which has long been absent. Just as the physical womb of Hannah was barren, so also was the womb of the people of Israel barren as there was no open vision, and as the word of the LORD was precious and rare during those days. What’s more, is that during those days we find Hannah being sore provoked by her adversary who was able to conceive and bring forth children, yet Hannah was barren and unable to bring forth children of her own. There is not a doubt in my mind that what we read and what we find within this Old Testament book—specifically in the opening chapters of the book—is a powerful prophetic picture into that which would begin to manifest itself in the midst of the land. Just as the word of the LORD would begin to once more be manifested in the midst of the people of God, so also would the provocation, the oppression and affliction of their enemy and adversary, the Philistines begin to be overturned and overthrown. It would be through the life of Samuel we begin to see the word of the LORD once more being manifested in the midst of the nation of Israel, for while Samuel would be the first prophet to emerge in the nation of Israel during those days, he would be followed by two other prophets who would prophesy during those days—namely, the prophet Nathan and the prophet Gad. The book of First Samuel not only brings us face to face with the prophetic word of the LORD beginning to be manifested within the land once more as the LORD would speak unto his people and unto that one who would sit upon the throne, but so also would it bring us face to face with the beginning of the oppression and affliction of the enemy and adversary of Israel beginning to be conquered and subdued. The children of Israel would continue fighting with and fighting against the Philistines during the days of Eli the high priest, and in fact—as you read the fourth chapter you will find that not only were the children of Israel defeated and subdued before them twice, but so also was the ark of the Covenant captured by the Philistines and brought into the temple of their god Dagon. What I so absolutely love about this Old Testament book is not only the absolutely wonderful and astounding reality that the word of the LORD and the manifestation of His voice would begin to be heard once more in the midst of His people, but so also would the LORD begin to rule and govern among them in their midst—first through the prophet Samuel, and next through His servant David after the reign of Saul king of Israel would come to an end. In fact, it’s worth noting that the entire reason Saul’s reign would be brought to an end, and the entire reason the kingdom would be rent out of the hand and house of Saul was because of his response and his treatment of the word of the LORD which would come to him through the prophet Samuel.

WHEN BARRENNESS CONCEIVES AND BRINGS FORTH & WHEN PROVOCATION IS BROUGHT TO AN END! WHEN BARRENNESS CONCEIVES & THE VOICE OF THE ADVERSARY IS SILENCED! As I prepare to bring this writing to a close I can’t help but think about and consider that this book is not only a book that points to and reveals the awesome and tremendous fact that barrenness can indeed conceive and bring forth in the midst of the earth, but so also can the voice of the adversary which sore provokes the people of God be silenced. There is not a doubt in my mind that what we read and what we find within this Old Testament book is a truly wonderful and remarkable picture of how the provocation, the oppression and the affliction of the enemy and adversary can be overturned, turned back, and once and for all brought to an end. Of course it won’t be until the book of Second Samuel that we see and discover the enemy and adversary of the children of Israel once and for all being conquered and subdued, but the point nonetheless remains. What we find in the opening chapters of this Old Testament book point to and reveal the tremendous reality that barren wombs can indeed conceive and bring forth sons and daughters, and the voice(s) of our enemy/enemies, and our adversary/adversaries can indeed be silenced. In fact, it would be later in this Old Testament book we would encounter the voice of Goliath the Philistine giant from Gath being silenced, as not only would David fell him to the ground using a single stone from his shepherds bag, but he would also strike off his head using his own sword against him. The book of First Samuel is such an incredibly powerful book, for it reveals the beginning of the word of the LORD being manifested in the midst of the people of Israel, as well as the beginning of the conquering and subduing of the enemy and adversary which had sore provoked, oppressed and afflicted the people of Israel for years. Oh we dare not miss and lose sight of this important reality, for both the barrenness of Hannah, as well as the provocation of her enemy were powerful prophetic symbols and pictures into that which the living God would do in the midst of the children of Israel. Not only would the LORD seek to restore and raise up the prophetic word of the LORD once more in the midst of the land, but the LORD would also seek to continue and complete the deliverance of the children of Israel out of the hands of the Philistines. Oh that we would truly recognize and truly understand that which is found within these chapters, and that we would truly encounter the living God who not only causes barren wombs to conceive, but the God who also causes the voice of the adversary to be silenced.

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