The Anvil and Quill
“And it came to pass, as she continued praying before the Lord, that Eli marked her mouth. Now Hannah, she spake in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard: therefore Eli thought she had been drunken. And Eli said unto her, How long wilt thou be drunken? put away thy wine from thee. And Hannah answered and said, No, my lord, I am a woman of a sorrowful spirit: I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but have poured out my soul before the Lord. Count not thine handmaid for a daughter of Belial: for out of the abundance of my complaint and grief have I spoken hitherto.” — 1 Samuel 1:12-16
To Eli, who was a casual, sideline observer, Hannah showed, or manifested all the signs of someone who was drunk with wine or strong drink. According to him she looked like a person who had consumed enough wine as to appear to be drunken with the spirits of strong drink. She seemed to be filled with enough strong drink to affect her appearance. From Eli’s vantage point, her behavior seemed to be abnormal for the house of God, but normal for the booze joint. She exhibited the presence of someone out of place, or out of line for the house of God.
There is another time in the Bible where we find Spirit-filled behavior that appeared to unbelievers to be the actions of people intoxicated with strong drink. In Acts 2, we find that it was suggested that the Apostles were drunk. To those observers it might have seemed to be the wrong or inappropriate time of the day for such nightly conduct. Peter addressed their concerns and gave clarification to the large multitude that the men of God only appeared to be drunk with wine. Their drunken state appearance, however, was because they were filled with the Holy Ghost.
“For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day. But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh:and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke: The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come: And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” — Acts 2:15-21
It is important to note that their intoxicating, Spirit-filled actions led to the salvation of three thousands souls. We certainly could throughly enjoy and be mightily encouraged by such gospel results in our day.
So, what is the missing ingredient from then till now? Is it not the Spirit-filled, prayerful time of the upper room? Might I be so bold, as to emphatically, and shamefully say Amen! to that statement.
“They grope in the dark without light, and he maketh them to stagger like a drunken man.” — Job 12:25
“They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wits ‘end.” — Psalms 107:27
“Stay yourselves, and wonder; cry ye out, and cry: they are drunken, but not with wine; they stagger, but not with strong drink. — Isaiah 29:9
“Therefore hear now this, thou afflicted, and drunken, but not with wine:” — Isaiah 51:21
It is possible to be drunken with afflictions, sorrows, and painstakingness. It is possible to appear drunken with wine and strong drink because you are filled with the Holy Ghost, crying out to God for relief of soul. He knows the heart of the grieved. He knows the Abba cry of His own child. He knows the tender brokenness of the agonizing soul!
“Mine heart within me is broken because of the prophets; all my bones shake; I am like a drunken man, and like a man whom wine hath overcome, because of the Lord, and because of the words of his holiness. For the land is full of adulterers; for because of swearing the land mourneth; the pleasant places of the wilderness are dried up, and their course is evil, and their force is not right. For both prophet and priest are profane; yea, in My house have I found their wickedness, saith the Lord.” — Jeremiah 23:9-11
Is the grief of the LORD shared by His prophets, priest, pastors, and people? So stricken with sorrow, filled with intoxicating anguish, overcome like a drunken man who was filled with wine because of the unspiritual and profane conditions of the LORD’s priest and prophets? It certainly was a great burden to the LORD of hosts because of the wickedness going on in His own house! Do we share His brokenness?
“He hath filled me with bitterness, he hath made me drunken with wormwood.” — Lamentations 3:15
Jeremiah was like many other prophets who had been broken and filled or drunken with bitterness because God’s people had turned their backs on Him. And in like manner, Hannah’s soul was vexed, her problem was grave, and her spirit suffered such excruciating anguish. She was obviously, extremely engulfed in her communicating with the LORD. Yet, she appeared intoxicated. She said nothing out loud, but her heart cried, moving in sync with her lips. Drunken with pain, she agonized in prayer! She was earthly disconnected and gravely lost in her desire, and estranged from the cares of this life. It was not food, water, sleep or sustainment of life she was concerned with, but she targeted her need with reckless and intoxicating abandon. “O LORD of host,” she did cry. With humble tears, it is a tune that is sweet to the Father’s ears, a song He would desire to play again and again, Abba Father, hear my cry!
She wanted a baby! She cried for a man child of her own! And, she proclaimed to Eli that there was very good reason for her seemingly strange behavior. It was not vile wickedness, but extreme brokenness that he was witnessing!
When is the last time you were seemingly drunken or intoxicated in prayer? When is the last time your prayer was so grave and serious that nothing else mattered? When is the last time you were so lost in prayer that if someone had walked in on you, as you talked to the Heavenly Father, they would have mistaken you as drunken or inebriated in a spirit of prayer? When was the last time, or might I ask whether there has ever been such a time, when you wearied God with your petition like Hannah did? Consider the admonition of the Lord Jesus concerning prayer:
“Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.” — Luke
Spirit-filled, fervent, intoxicating prayer is supplication that is of an urgent, unrelenting nature. It is the request that is willing to stay and grow tired until there is heavenly rest! Maybe, it is so rare, because we are far too causal with most of our prayers. Maybe the type of prayers that mean the most, that are held dearest to our heart, are few and far between. How many more favorable answers from heaven there would be, if we were spirit-filled with intoxicating fervency as we bring our petitions before the Father? Oh, if the cares of this world would increasingly grow strangely dim, maybe, just maybe, the cares of heaven would be brighter as we kneel in His holy presence.
“And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;” — Ephesians 5:18-20
“By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.” — Hebrews 13:15
We are warned not to drink the booze or strong drink from this life, but we are encouraged to be filled with the Spirit. We should be enthusiastic, elated, inebriated, and intoxicated with the Holy Spirit in our prayers, as we carry our praises and afflictions before a holy and righteous God. Let the Father see us appear drunken with earnest prayer as Eli witnessed Hannah. The difference will be that our Father will know beforehand that it is not the prayer of a wicked drunkard, but a broken saint, in need of a heavenly delivery, from a burdensome affliction, and vexing of a soul.
We can say as Hannah did, wearied from the weight of her desire, broken down in prayer before our Abba Father, pausing, but for a moment to tell Eli,
“…No, my lord, I am a woman of a sorrowful spirit: I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but have poured out my soul before the Lord.” — 1 Samuel 1:15
How long had it been since Eli had prayed with such fervency and brokenness? It must have been far too long. We can easily assume this, since he obviously did not recognize the difference between vexing prayer, and a woman drunken with booze. Furthermore, we can draw the conclusion that it had been much too long since he had drunkenly prayed in brokenness and bitterness of soul, since Shiloh had become abhorred by God and man. It had been overrun with the sins of his own sons, on his watch. It makes one wonder how much different Shiloh could have been, if he would have been, what he should have been in the prayer closet. Didn’t he have good reason to pray so earnestly?
And maybe, just maybe, our churches and homes have become what they should not be, because we have not collectively been what we should be, before the Lord. How often do we pour out our souls before the Lord? Is it a stretch to say that if our prayer life was more intoxicatingly, Spirit-filled as Hannah’s was, that we too might see the results that she saw? We might even see the revival we say that we seek. It would seem that if the type, or manner of prayer Hannah prayed, was more common and normal in our churches, the results she enjoyed would not be as abnormal as they are today. Let us fall daily upon our faces before our loving Father, drunk with the Spirit, and offer intoxicating fervent prayers.