“The Woman in Your Presence”
May 14, 2017 03:24AM
By Bonnie Lyn Smith
1 Samuel 1:24-28, ESV
And when she had weaned him, she took him up with her, along with a three-year-old bull, an ephah of flour, and a skin of wine, and she brought him to the house of the Lord at Shiloh. And the child was young. Then they slaughtered the bull, and they brought the child to Eli. And she said, “Oh, my lord! As you live, my lord, I am the woman who was standing here in your presence, praying to the Lord. For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition that I made to him. Therefore I have lent him to the Lord. As long as he lives, he is lent to the Lord.”
And he worshiped the Lord there.
These words in 1 Samuel are the voice of Hannah. She had been barren many years and came to Eli the priest to pray for a child. When the Lord grants her request, she dedicates her son Samuel to a life of ministering to the Lord alongside Eli. She offers Him to God the moment he is weaned.
What I love about this account in the Bible is God’s purposes through what appears to be an empty womb. This is a theme throughout the Bible, for sure, as our minds may think of Sarah, the infertile wife of Abraham, whom, in her old age, produces the Isaac—and from him the nation of Israel is born.
The reason Hannah’s history fascinates me is how faithful she is to her promise to God. We don’t have to be mothers to understand this. Our sacrifice to God can be anything.
Maybe it’s a dream we have or a goal. A relationship we want.
Are we willing to say to God: “I am the woman who is standing here in your presence”?
What does Hannah mean by that?
Hannah had approached God through Eli. She had confidence in coming to her Father in heaven with her need for a miracle.
Do you need a miracle, peace of heart, a resolution today?
Did you know you can come before God and say:
“I am the woman who is standing here in your presence”?
And you know what else? You can be expectant. That means you can be confident He will answer you. I can’t say how long you will be standing there, but is there a better presence to be in? Hannah knew firsthand that prayers are answered.
Do you know what I love about women in the Bible? Jesus’s heart toward them.
Check out this New Testament passage about Mary Magdalene after the crucifixion. First, the angels ask her why she is weeping. She states that she cannot find Jesus in His tomb. She does an about-face, and there stands the risen Jesus. He asks her the same question:
“Why are you weeping?”
John 20:11-18, ESV
But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher).
Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her [emphases mine].
Jesus takes it a step further and asks Mary:
“Whom are you seeking?”
This takes me back to Hannah. She had to approach God through Eli the priest. Jesus had not come as the Son of God yet. Her sense of God’s presence was via a priest. She declared firmly her posture before Eli and before God: in your presence.
Mary Magdalene, on the other hand, was in the presence of the ultimate priest, the one who went to the cross so that we could approach God directly through the Son. Jesus appears to her first, and His first questions are regarding the cause of her tears and whom she seeks.
Her answer? “My Lord.” Even though she did not recognize Jesus immediately, she was weeping for having lost him physically—what she mistook as His presence.
But the Presence was right there with her, heaven invading earth, walking in the garden. And Mary, by calling Him “Rabboni,” like Hannah, essentially says:
“I am the woman who is standing here in your presence.”
She acknowledges her risen Lord. She comes to grips with whose Presence she stands within.
He then gives her a job to do…to tell the disciples that Jesus has risen and will ascend to not just His Father, but to theirs. To not just His God, but theirs as well. He extends the relationship, on this risen end of the cross, to Mary, to the disciples, to the world.
What about us? Do we accept this Presence? Do we stand in it through prayer, Bible reading, the eucharist (Holy Communion), fellowship with the Body of Christ (community)?
Hannah took what she received in the Presence and dedicated it (Samuel) to the ministry of the Lord. In so doing, Samuel crowned the first King of Israel.
Likewise, Mary took what she learned in the Presence, and was the first to deliver the gospel message.
God’s presence empowered them to move forward with His plans and purposes.
So, Ladies (and Gentlemen), where do you need to step into His presence? And will you take what He gives you each day in that place and carry it to a broken world?
The first beautiful step is to call out to Him in a posture of readiness and listening, saying:
“I am the woman/man who is standing here in Your presence.”
Or, as we learned from Eli last week: "Speak, Lord. Your servant hears."
Author Bonnie Lyn Smith writes about parenting, marriage, mental health advocacy, special education, faith in the valleys of life, the healing cloak of Jesus, drawing healthy boundaries, relational healing, renewing our minds, walking with a Holy God, and much ado about grace. Join the conversation at Espressos of Faith.
Her book, Not Just on Sundays: Seeking God’s Purpose in Each New Day, offers anecdotes on all of these subjects and Scripture for each situation as well as Book Discussion Questions for deeper exploration.