Gardeners are always on the look out for weeds—yes, perhaps obsessive tendencies take over when it comes to unwanted sprouts springing up in lawns, gravel paths, and garden beds! Yet as gardeners, we know weeds will compromise the garden’s beauty and productivity, and these are our charge to fiercely guard. Therefore, diligence in weeding becomes a way of life. Hannah must have been a gardener! For her beautiful outpouring of praise and confidence in God came with a call to similar diligence in weeding out proud, bragging words.
Hannah prayed: “The Lord has filled my heart with joy; I feel very strong in the Lord. I can laugh at my enemies; I am glad because you have helped me! “There is no one holy like the Lord. There is no God but you; there is no Rock like our God. “Don’t continue bragging, don’t speak proud words. The Lord is a God who knows everything, and he judges what people do. 1 Samuel 2:1-3 NCV
I confess: Despite the bliss-filled energy of Hannah’s praise, her “don’ts” makes me bristle; I don’t like to be told what to do, or worse, to be reprimanded or forced to stifling behavior. Hmph! Yet digging deeper, we can see that Hannah’s prayers began heart-heavy, and her boldness was hard-won from the holy ground of humility. Bitter anguish, despondent weeping, deep-felt troubles, pressed to the point of soul-pouring—all describe her life for years, longing to bear a child (1 Samuel 1:8, 10, 15). Before her priest and husband, she cried:
“…my prayer has been prompted by my deep sorrow and misery.”1 Samuel 1:16 NABRE
In God’s great resounding, Hannah patterned our Savior, the One who entered our most profound pains, shown in Gethsemane’s harrowing prayers:
He began to be deeply distressed and horrified. Then He said to them, “My soul is swallowed up in sorrow—to the point of death. Mark 14:33-34 HCSB
Amazingly, she was a foretelling example of our Savior in more than one way. Not only did she struggle in sadness and distress aching for her future family, but she had a rival, a tormentor, who taunted her in her humble situation.
Because the Lord had closed Hannah’s womb, her rival kept provoking her in order to irritate her. This went on year after year. Whenever Hannah went up to the house of the Lord, her rival provoked her till she wept and would not eat. 1 Samuel 1:6-7 NIV
God’s Word does not record any response by Hannah to her enemy. Like our Savior, she did not speak to the provoker; she did not counter with prideful pronouncements or retaliating brags.
He was oppressed and tormented, but didn’t open his mouth. Like a lamb being brought to slaughter, like a ewe silent before her shearers, he didn’t open his mouth. Isaiah 53:7 CEB
He did not retaliate when he was insulted, nor threaten revenge when he suffered. He left his case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly. 1 Peter 2:23 NLT
When Hannah advised against “proud words,” she was not reprimanding in smugness; she did not look down her nose with legalistic lecturing. Instead, her life implores us: Get to humility, look up from there! She testified to the glorious goodness of God, rejoicing in His benevolent blessings which she lived first hand, declaring with intimate knowing to let no big-headed words or attitudes block the way of the wonder and gracious answers forthcoming to the prayers we pour out to God.
The fruit of humility is the fear of the Lord, riches and glory and life. Proverbs 22:4 DRA
We tear down arguments and every proud obstacle that is raised against the knowledge of God, taking every thought captive in order to obey the Messiah. 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 ISV
Let us approach therefore with boldness to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy, and find grace for seasonable help. Hebrews 4:16 DARBY
Prayer: Merciful God, lead me to the mystifying, lowly position of reverence, respect, and rejoicing for who you are and what you do. Let it sink in my soul that my proud words are obsolete now that you are my Savior; I don’t need clever retorts but humble, genuine awe of you—be my gardener and help me cultivate this, Lord! As Thomas Bridgeman advised, let my humility grow modestly; You will flourish and produce far more in me than I could ever conjure by self-important words or clever retorts (Proverbs 22:4). Following Hannah, “prevent the growth” of anything that in me that goes against you, O God (2 Corinthians 10:4-5) and watch over my mouth for “noxious weeds” (Isaiah 53:7).
You who have respect for the Lord, praise him! All you people of Jacob, honor him! All you people of Israel, worship him! He has not forgotten the one who is hurting. He has not turned away from his suffering. He has not turned his face away from him. He has listened to his cry for help. Psalm 22:23-24 NIrV
Grounded in God is a devotions series lingering in the facets of humility from Isaiah 53. Our Savior’s greatest gift to us came through His humiliation detailed in this earthy passage. Humiliation … humility… humus… hmmm… perhaps the garden is a unique host to God’s purposes in humility, already grounded in humus-filled soil. Let these one-a-week, Scripture compositions draw you to God’s Words for simple consideration, cultivating a special intimacy with the Lord through the Lenten season
Portions of this devotion are taken from, “Clearing Out Proud Talk,” part of the Garden Tools section on Humility in God’s Word for Gardeners Bible, beginning on pages a-38 & a-39
Have a little fun with weeding in the Devotions Blog on “How to Handle Weeds”
Photo Credits: ©Shelley S. Cramm
CEB notes Scripture quotations taken from the Common English Bible © 2011 Common English Bible, Nashville, Tennessee. All Rights Reserved. The CEB translation was funded by the Church Resources Development Corp, which allows for cooperation among denominational publishers in the development and distribution of Bibles, curriculum, and worship materials.
DARBY The Darby Bible was first published in 1890 by John Nelson Darby, an Anglo-Irish Bible teacher associated with the early years of the Plymouth Brethren. This Bible is in the public domain in the United States, accessed at www.biblegateway.com
DRA denotes the Douay–Rheims Bible is a translation of the Bible from the Latin Vulgate into English made by members of the Catholic seminary English College, Douai, France. It was first published in America in 1790 by Mathew Carey of Philadelphia. Several American editions followed in the 19th and early 20th centuries; prominent among them the Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition Version. This edition of the text has been converted from the 1899 edition of the John Murphy Company, Baltimore, Maryland, and is in the Public Domain.
HCSB denotes Scripture quotations taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.
ISV denotes Scripture quotations from The Holy Bible: International Standard Version. Release 2.0, Build 2015.02.09. Copyright © 1995-2014 by ISV Foundation. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED INTERNATIONALLY. Used by permission of Davidson Press, LLC.
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NIrV denotes Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Reader’s Version®, NIrV®, Copyright © 1995, 1996, 1998, 2014 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIrV” and “New International Reader’s Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.®
NIV denotes Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.®
NLT denotes Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.