Bearin' v. Barren
1 Samuel 1:1-7 (1) Now there was a certain man of Ramathaimzophim, of mount Ephraim, and his name was Elkanah, the son of Jeroham, the son of Elihu, the son of Tohu, the son of Zuph, an Ephrathite: (2) And he had two wives; the name of the one was Hannah, and the name of the other Peninnah: and Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children. (3) And this man went up out of his city yearly to worship and to sacrifice unto the LORD of hosts in Shiloh. And the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, the priests of the LORD, were there. (4) And when the time was that Elkanah offered, he gave to Peninnah his wife, and to all her sons and her daughters, portions: (5) But unto Hannah he gave a worthy portion; for he loved Hannah: but the LORD had shut up her womb. (6) And her adversary also provoked her sore, for to make her fret, because the LORD had shut up her womb. (7) And as he did so year by year, when she went up to the house of the LORD, so she provoked her; therefore she wept, and did not eat. In our day and age when pregnancy and childbearing are too often looked upon as burdens, it may seem strange that Hannah was upset that she was barren. But the godly consider that "...children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth" (PSA 127:3-4). "Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them..." (PSA 127:5), and blessed is the woman who quivers with delight at the prospect of them. Peninnah's uncharitable insolence towards Hannah was a reproach of God Himself, for "...the LORD had shut up (Hannah's) womb" (v.6). Hannah's barrenness was not owing to any deficiency on Elkanah's part (for Peninnah had children by him), nor any fault of her own. The fruitful or the barren womb are by the providence of God Who "...openeth and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth." When God opens the barren womb and blesses the seed of the man to successfully unite with the egg of a woman so as to form new life, there is great cause for glorifying God Who "...maketh the barren woman to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children" (PSA 113:9). And (to seize a phrase), "...What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder" (MAT 19:6).