Each year Elkanah would travel to Shiloh to worship and sacrifice to [Yahweh Sabaoth] at the Tabernacle. The priests of the Lord at that time were the two sons of Eli—Hophni and Phinehas.
…Hannah was in deep anguish, crying bitterly as she prayed to the Lord. And she made this vow: “O [Yahweh Sabaoth], if you will look upon my sorrow and answer my prayer and give me a son, then I will give him back to you. He will be yours for his entire lifetime, and as a sign that he has been dedicated to the Lord, his hair will never be cut.1 Samuel 1:3
Yahweh Sabaoth: The Lord of Hosts (or the Lord of Heaven’s Armies)
Why here? This is the question I am asking myself tonight. Why is the Lord referred to as the Lord of Heaven’s Armies here, in this passage in which a soul-battered woman is pleading for relief?
When I think of the Lord of Hosts, I see God before a sea of warrior angels; row after row, battalion after battalion, not a shoulder drooping or a toe out of line. I see Him with no shadow of doubt on His face; He knows just where to employ them, and they follow Him without question. Power radiates from Him, and they shine with it.
So what is He doing here, in an ordinary-for-the-time household, involved in a run-of-the-mill domestic dispute?
Samuel’s mother, Hannah, was one of two wives of a gentle-hearted husband; he loved her deeply, but she could not give him children. His other wife was very fertile – and merciless. Not only did Hannah have the grief of a barren woman to bear, but also the jeering of a rival who would not let her forget it. Ugh. Every time I read her story, I am gutted for Hannah.
I don’t know why she refers to God in this military kind of way. It’s like an action movie hero fell into the plot of a chick-flick drama. Maybe it was just the fashion of the times to address God by this name; who knows? Who knows.
But maybe. Maybe it was because Hannah felt helpless and overpowered, beaten down every day, too small to make it stop; maybe she needed to remind herself someone strong was in her corner, Yahweh Sabaoth, the Lord of Hosts.
Whatever the case, He did – He came – when she called to Him, and not only answered her cry; as He is prone to do, He gave her immeasurably more. She asked for a child, and He gave her Samuel the Prophet, who would stand before kings and rebuke them and exhort them to seek the Lord, plus five more children besides.
I love His heart. I love it so much. That the Lord of Hosts – legions and legions of angels! – would spend His time and His power to mend the heart of one woman! One woman who wanted nothing more in life than to be a wife and a mother. Don’t I know He would do so much for mine? ❤