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Eating and drinking in worship to the Lord

Posted by on Feb 7, 2012 in scripture, worship | 7 comments

Eating and drinking in worship to the Lord

As I mentioned last week, we started studying 1-2 Samuel together with the church last Sunday. (See my post “Studying the Books of 1-2 Samuel Together with the Church.”) As I was reading and studying 1 Samuel 1 in preparation for gathering with the church Sunday, I noticed something interesting.

When you think of Old Testament worship and sacrifice, what do you think of? Do you think about bringing an animal to the altar at the tabernacle or temple and presenting it to the priests to be offered as a sacrifice? Do you think about bringing wine or grain for the priest to offer? Yes, these are all valid images of sacrifice and worship in the Old Testament.

Do you think of eating a meal together with your family? No? Well, surprisingly, that is one of the main images of worship that we find in 1 Samuel 1. In fact, eating or drinking as an act of worship are found several times in the context of this chapter:

On the day when Elkanah sacrificed, he would give portions to Peninnah his wife and to all her sons and daughters. But to Hannah he gave a double portion, because he loved her, though the Lord had closed her womb. And her rival used to provoke her grievously to irritate her, because the Lord had closed her womb. So it went on year by year. As often as she went up to the house of the Lord, she used to provoke her. Therefore Hannah wept and would not eat. (1 Samuel 1:4-7 ESV)

After they had eaten and drunk in Shiloh, Hannah rose. (1 Samuel 1:9a ESV)

As she continued praying before the Lord, Eli observed her mouth. Hannah was speaking in her heart; only her lips moved, and her voice was not heard. Therefore Eli took her to be a drunken woman. And Eli said to her, “How long will you go on being drunk? Put your wine away from you.” But Hannah answered, “No, my lord, I am a woman troubled in spirit. I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have been pouring out my soul before the LORD.” (1 Samuel 1:12-15 ESV)

And she said, “Let your servant find favor in your eyes.” Then the woman went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad. (1 Samuel 1:18 ESV)

A good friend was leading our discussion Sunday, so I did not bring up this point much – I did mention it in passing. I did not want to change our course, because we were learning so much from one another – especially from a woman who told us she was barren. What a new perspective I have on Hannah now!

Anyway, I don’t know why it surprises me to see Elkanah and his family eating and drinking in worship to the Lord. This is exactly what the Law prescribed. Here are a few examples:

You shall tithe all the yield of your seed that comes from the field year by year. And before the Lord your God, in the place that he will choose, to make his name dwell there, you shall eat the tithe of your grain, of your wine, and of your oil, and the firstborn of your herd and flock, that you may learn to fear the Lord your God always. And if the way is too long for you, so that you are not able to carry the tithe, when the Lord your God blesses you, because the place is too far from you, which the Lord your God chooses, to set his name there, then you shall turn it into money and bind up the money in your hand and go to the place that the LORD your God chooses and spend the money for whatever you desire—oxen or sheep or wine or strong drink, whatever your appetite craves. And you shall eat there before the LORD your God and rejoice, you and your household. (Deuteronomy 14:22-26 ESV)

You shall build an altar to the LORD your God of uncut stones. And you shall offer burnt offerings on it to the Lord your God, and you shall sacrifice peace offerings and shall eat there, and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God. (Deuteronomy 27:6-7 ESV)

I love that God wanted his people to associate eating and rejoicing together with worshiping him! This isn’t something that started in the New Testament. Of course, the meal was different, because now Jesus was with them as they ate together.

So, let’s continue to share our meals with one another, rejoicing together and worshiping the Lord!


7 Comments

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  1. 2-7-2012

    Excellent. Our view of “worship” is far too small and confined, controlled even, such that we see only a tiny fraction of our lives as true worship.

  2. 2-7-2012

    And though we aren’t under the law this tradition continued with the early church almost as a requirement for worship

    I believe this pleases the Lord well and we as believers should continue in this as well

    A lot more can be learned and aquired in the body through the shared meal as well as the Lords table which I believe should also be observed as a full meal as opposed to a religious ritual

  3. 2-7-2012

    Arthur,

    That’s true… especially when we start looking at all of the things that are considered worship in Scripture.

    Mike,

    Share meals are amazing… for so many reasons, like you said.

    -Alan

  4. 2-7-2012

    It’s just an observation, but meals break down barriers. You eat and are comfortable, you may even start by talking about the meal – but you start talking, conversing, relating. And it goes from there…

  5. 2-7-2012

    I shared this on Facebook and my son Josh made this comment:

    Follow my trail of thought for a second… I’m intrigued by the “buy whatever your heart desires and eat it” part of those verses. It seems to be saying that beyond helping the larger Christian body, a tithe is also meant as a way to remember that God has blessed you. And so buying a nice meal and celebrating with friends is a way to remember that and honor God at the same time (the holiness of communal eating, another fascinating topic). If that’s the case, as these verses seem to be saying, it seems easy to extend that to the idea of God delighting in his creation being happy, so when we are doing something that makes us happy we are honoring God. Leaving out the “happiness” that comes from immorality, I wonder then if the money we spend on community meals, going to see movies with friends, buying a tv so that the community has a place to fellowship while watching football on Sundays, etc. might be seen as an act of tithing. Not saying that God wants us to be rich, because riches are not happiness, but it sounds likespending money on things that build the community can be a tithe… Thoughts?

    I’d be interested in knowing what people think. It’s an intriguing idea, although I’m not sure if I’d go so far as buying a tv. :)

  6. 2-7-2012

    Drewe,

    I wonder if sharing meals together opens so many doors (and hearts) because we don’t consider it “holy” or “religious”…

    Fred,

    I like Josh’s comment alot. It reminds me of 1 John 1:3 – “…so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.”

    -Alan

  7. 5-20-2013

    A good observation to share with those who think eating and drinking is either ‘unspiritual’ or irrelevant to ‘true worship.’ Thanks for the post!