"And her adversary also provoked her sore, for to make her fret, because the LORD had shut up her womb" (1 Samuel 1:6).
How do you explain the fact that a woman whose temper and ways are set to ruin children in a family ends up having many children to rear? And the one who is eminently fitted to bring up children is not able to have any? The woman who is of a selfish and cruel nature seems to be loaded down with benefits, while the God-fearing one doesn't receive many gifts at all.
In 1 Samuel 1, we are introduuced to two particular women - Penninah and Hannah. Both were wives to the man Elkanah. Peninnah was able to have children, while Hannah was barren.
Verse 6 informs us of a conflict that was going on in this home. Peninnah - referred to as Hannah's "adversary" - was guilty of "provoking" Hannah and "making her fret" "because the LORD had shut up her womb." Time afer time, Peninnah thundered against Hannah because of her barrenness. She was grievously provoking and exceedingly loud and clamorous - constantly seeking to irritate and vex her. She sought to make Hannah discontented with her lot - the fact that the Lord had denied her children. She constantly made her feel as one whom Heaven didn't favor.
How is it that a woman like Peninnah would seemingly be so blessed by God, while another like Hannah would seemingly be denied His blessings?
Does God really govern or does time and chance?
We cannot answer that question without understanding that God's aim in life is not so much to reward and fufill as it is to try and train. He knew that through this daily provocation - this daily annoyance - Hannah would draw closer and closer to Him. Using these circumstances, she would be molded and shaped into the God-fearing woman He intended for her to become.
And He also knew that eventually she would receive her "Samuel" who would become one of the greatest priests and prophets Israel had ever known.
Perhaps, at this time, you feel as though others less qualified or gifted are given assignments that you rightfully deserve. Perhaps others are blessed with riches that they foolishly and frivolously squander - that you know would be better handled if placed in your hands.
Then to make matters worse - you have a "Peninnah" in your life who is constantly provoking you and making you discontented about your lot in life.
Be encouraged by Hannah's testimony. In the end, she received far more than her "adversary." For a time, the Lord denied her children, but, in due time, He opened her womb and blessed her - not only with "Samuel" - but with a "full quiver" - five other children besides.
Allow your "daily provocation" and "annoyances" to drive you to the feet of Jesus. Let Him mold you and shape you after His image and likeness.
After all, that is what He is after!