Alistair Begg Devotional

Alistair Begg Devotional Anything but Ordinary

Anything but Ordinary

Anything but Ordinary

There was a certain man of Ramathaim-zophim of the hill country of Ephraim whose name was Elkanah the son of Jeroham, son of Elihu, son of Tohu, son of Zuph, an Ephrathite. 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.

Marked by social, political, and religious chaos, the biblical era described in the book of Judges was not dissimilar to our own times. The chaos was summarized and explained in this way: “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25). For people living in Israel at that point in history, around 1000 BC, it was almost as if the world were upside down. To many, it seemed that an earthly king was the only remedy for their problems.

In the midst of all this, we find the spotlight of Scripture alighting on the domestic circumstances of one man, Elkanah. His wife Hannah (presumably his first) was childless, while his second wife had many sons and daughters. Since God had promised that Abraham’s family, Israel, would grow to be countless and that it would be through a child born in Israel that He would bless the world, childlessness was more than a matter of personal sadness; it meant being unable to be a part of the way God was keeping His promises to His people. Small wonder, then, that Hannah was hopeless and helpless (1 Samuel 1:7-8). The simple statement that “Hannah had no children” describes a life of deep anguish. And yet through her, God would once again do what He had done throughout the history of His people: reach into the ordinary life of a family and, through His intervention, not only impact them but also direct the course of human history.

Hannah would surely have wondered, month by disappointing month and more and more with every passing year, “Why is this happening to me?” She could not have known that in the withholding, and then in the giving, of a child, God was doing something that would not only answer her own need but would begin to address Israel’s need. For her son, Samuel, would one day be the prophet who would anoint David, Old Testament Israel’s greatest king.

At times we may feel that we don’t fit in the grand scheme of things. Our situations, too, can appear hopeless and helpless. We, too, wonder, “Why is this happening to me?” But as with Hannah, the answer to our question may be in neither the “this” or the “me.” The ways of God are vast and beyond our ability to comprehend—and in many cases it will only be in glory that we will get past the surface of understanding how He works in our lives. For now, the story of Hannah reminds us that we can trust God to be at work, to keep His promises, and to reach into the ordinariness of life and intervene in ways that are beyond imagination.

Questions for Thought

How is God calling me to think differently?

How is God reordering my heart’s affections — what I love?

What is God calling me to do as I go about my day today?

Further Reading

Psalm 42

Book Two

Why Are You Cast Down, O My Soul?

To the choirmaster. A Maskil1 of the Sons of Korah.

1As a deer pants for flowing streams,

so pants my soul for you, O God.

2My soul thirsts for God,

for the living God.

When shall I come and appear before God?2

3My tears have been my food

day and night,

while they say to me all the day long,

“Where is your God?”

4These things I remember,

as I pour out my soul:

how I would go with the throng

and lead them in procession to the house of God

with glad shouts and songs of praise,

a multitude keeping festival.

5Why are you cast down, O my soul,

and why are you in turmoil within me?

Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,

my salvation3 6and my God.

My soul is cast down within me;

therefore I remember you

from the land of Jordan and of Hermon,

from Mount Mizar.

7Deep calls to deep

at the roar of your waterfalls;

all your breakers and your waves

have gone over me.

8By day the Lord commands his steadfast love,

and at night his song is with me,

a prayer to the God of my life.

9I say to God, my rock:

“Why have you forgotten me?

Why do I go mourning

because of the oppression of the enemy?”

10As with a deadly wound in my bones,

my adversaries taunt me,

while they say to me all the day long,

“Where is your God?”

11Why are you cast down, O my soul,

and why are you in turmoil within me?

Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,

my salvation and my God.

Psalm 43

Send Out Your Light and Your Truth

1Vindicate me, O God, and defend my cause

against an ungodly people,

from the deceitful and unjust man

deliver me!

2For you are the God in whom I take refuge;

why have you rejected me?

Why do I go about mourning

because of the oppression of the enemy?

3Send out your light and your truth;

let them lead me;

let them bring me to your holy hill

and to your dwelling!

4Then I will go to the altar of God,

to God my exceeding joy,

and I will praise you with the lyre,

O God, my God.

5Why are you cast down, O my soul,

and why are you in turmoil within me?

Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,

my salvation and my God.

Open in Bible
1 42:1 Probably a musical or liturgical term
2 42:2 Revocalization yields and see the face of God
3 42:5 Hebrew the salvation of my face; also verse 11 and 43:5

Devotional material is taken from the Truth For Life daily devotionals by Alistair Begg, published by The Good Book Company, Used by Truth For Life with permission. Copyright © 2021, 2022, The Good Book Company.

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