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Bible Study Guide for Sunday, November 14, 2021

November 10, 2021
  • 1 Samuel 1:4-20

  • 1 Samuel 2:1-10

  • Hebrews 10:11-25

  • Mark 13:1-8

The story of the prophet Samuel opens with a sad insight into the status of women in ancient times. Hannah is one of the wives of Elkanah, and while neither is labeled as first or second, higher or lower ranking, Hannah clearly has it rough. She has borne no children, in a time when the lack of children was a direct reflection on a woman’s moral quality and worth as a human being, rather than a function of biology or luck (much less choice). She receives, at best, pity from her husband, and at worst, stinging harassment from the other wife. She has a hard row to hoe.

In this situation, her song of rejoicing (in place of the psalm today) struck me as interesting. It reads quite similarly to the Blessed Virgin Mary’s Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55) but with a definite twang of smugness. Her “mouth derides [her] enemies” and she taunts them to “talk no more so very proudly.” Not only is Hannah joyful at the birth of her long-awaited child, she has something to show off to Peninnah. One can imagine a little relief after months or years of bullying.

The letter to the Hebrews provides a contrast to this human drama. The lectionary has a bit of coincidence: we read that we should “consider how to provoke one another to good deeds” (emphasis mine). Hannah and Peninnah’s provocations back and forth are, not surprisingly, not the model of human relationship God calls us to. We are called to something more difficult: patience, encouragement, and constant forgiving of one another.

I think it’s worth admitting that this can be even more difficult in situations where we are really struggling. Illness, poverty, underemployment or overwork, infertility … it can be terribly hard to extend that patience when we may running out of patience ourselves. I can think of many times where I have failed this directive myself. I don’t have a pat solution to this problem – all I can say is that I’m thankful for the grace of the Holy Spirit. We are given grace to forgive others for their pettiness or cruelty, and we also receive grace when our own sins in the same vein are forgiven. Thanks be to God!

-Lindy Noecker

  • Has there been a time in your life when you were in Hannah’s position, feeling not only loss and insecurity but hurt from those around you? Did you find anything good in the situation?

  • The book of 1 Samuel does not say whether Hannah ever forgave or reconciled with Peninnah. Have you forgiven someone in your past who has hurt or bullied you? What makes that most difficult?


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