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Her Rival

1 Samuel 1:6 (ESV) -- And her rival used to provoke her grievously to irritate her, because the LORD had closed her womb.

The narrative of rivals battling out is common. We see this theme in sports, movies, and business. A rivalry births from two individuals or groups looking to achieve the same task. For a team, it is to win the championship. For a movie it may be one character trying to triumph over another one. In business, it is who can be first place in the market. 

Our passage today introduces us to a rivalry. We read in the opening verses of 1 Samuel about two women who are married to a man. Hannah was the name of one of the women. She had no children with her husband. The other wife did have children. We read in 1 Samuel 1:6, “And her rival used to provoke her grievously to irritate her, because the LORD had closed her womb.”

This passage is fascinating on many levels. We see the LORD had closed Hannah’s womb. The reason she couldn’t have children is because the LORD had prevented her. You may ask why the LORD would prevent such a thing. My theory is that the result of her closed womb led her to pray fervently. She promised God that He could have her first born. She did get pregnant, and she did give her first child to service to the LORD. His name was Samuel. He became a great prophet in Israel. The closing of the womb brought about this series of events.

But notice another important thing. Scripture calls the other wife Hannah’s “rival.” This wasn’t some big happy family. The wives were rivals and competitors to each other. They wanted to be first. They wanted the most children, and the greatest portion of inheritance. 

Why were they rivals? Because they were not operating out of God’s original design. Notice this polygamy situation is not condemned in this passage. In fact, we see polygamous marriage all over the Old Testament. However, this passage is not prescribing polygamy as an option for Christians. It is describing polygamy as what was happening in Israel. There is a big difference. In fact, I would argue that it is because they were outside of God’s prescribed mandates for marriage that rivalry existed. It wasn’t supposed to be this way. 

Going outside of God’s commands brings strife for all of us.
Pinpoint areas in your life where you need to confess sin and repent.

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He is slow to anger and quick to forgive, but we must conform to His pattern and standard of teaching. If we don’t, it brings contentiousness and pain.

Reflection & Journal:
- Why did rivalry exist between Hannah and the other wife?
- What are the ways that going outside of God’s plan for marriage can lead to strife?
- Are there areas in your life that you need to confess sin and repent?

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