Interpreting 1 Samuel 1 & 2 - Can a fertile understand it?

Deep sigh.  This Christmas I received a devotional book written by a highly respected Christian author.  Coincidentally the devotional book starts in 1 Samuel, which is where I am picking up my slow and steady read through of the Bible this calendar year.  Interestingly, someone I didn't expect mentioned reading a devotional written by this same author just yesterday.  So I finally made myself read from the devotional, even though I don't agree with the author's interpretation of the story of Hannah.

There is a part of me that wants to proclaim that no one who has never experienced the crisis of childlessness should be allowed to interpret this text or any other related to the life of a barren biblical matriarch.  But this wouldn't be fair, because logically it would mean that none of us would be allowed to interpret any section of Scripture for which we aren't personally familiar.

Yet, it is painful to read the author criticize Elkanah's response, without reading it in the context of a relationship of infertility.  It is difficult to hear the author judge that Hannah couldn't have understood what great sacrifice she would make in dedicating her son before she even held her son in her arms.  Oh, author, you don't realize she already grieves the loss of empty arms.  Better have a child dedicated to God than have no child at all.  Or at least this is how I would interpret it.

And so I wonder how many other interpretive readings of Scripture I absorb without recognizing the interpreter has missed the mark.  And I struggle with how I can continue to read what has been written in this devotional when I already disagree.  Blah! 


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