May 17, 2021

Foot in Mouth

 Devotion for the Week...

Have you ever said something and then immediately realized how foolish or embarrassing it was? This is often referred to as putting your foot in your mouth. If a person is especially prone to these stupid remarks, we might say they have foot in mouth disease. As awkward as those moments can be, we can at least be comforted in knowing they are a near-universal experience. They are one of the reasons there is a forehead-smacking emoji and there's even record of one such moment in the Bible.

Hannah had no children and she desperately wanted to be a mother. "Once after a sacrificial meal at Shiloh, Hannah got up and went to pray" (1 Samuel 1:9). Usually we pray these desperate prayers in the privacy of our homes, but on this day Hannah went to the entrance of the Tabernacle to pray. The Bible tells us that she "was in deep anguish, crying bitterly as she prayed to the Lord" (v. 10). 

It's at this point that Eli enters the story and promptly inserts his foot into his mouth. We are told that "Eli the priest was sitting at his customary place beside the entrance of the Tabernacle" (v. 9) and that he saw Hannah there praying. "Seeing her lips moving but hearing no sound, he thought she had been drinking. 'Must you come here drunk?' he demanded. 'Throw away your wine!'" (vv. 13-14).

Hannah immediately set him straight: "Oh no, sir!' she replied. 'I haven’t been drinking wine or anything stronger. But I am very discouraged, and I was pouring out my heart to the Lord. Don’t think I am a wicked woman! For I have been praying out of great anguish and sorrow.'" (v. 15-16). 

After hearing that, Eli changes his tune pretty quickly. "In that case,' Eli said, 'go in peace! May the God of Israel grant the request you have asked of him'" (v. 17). Can't you almost feel his embarrassment as he realizes how wrong he was? He can hardly get the words out fast enough as he tries to get his foot out of his mouth! 

I always feel like Eli should have done better in this situation. He was the priest, after all, so shouldn't he have been accustomed to people coming to the Tabernacle to pray? Shouldn't he have been more likely to give a person the benefit of the doubt, rather than immediately assuming the worst about them? Maybe he could even have spoken to Hannah before accusing her of being drunk??

But then I remember that Eli was no different from the rest of us. We've all made assumptions about people, only to discover later just how wrong we were. And yes, sometimes those assumptions leave us with the awful taste of foot in our mouths. Back in high school, a friend of mine told me her mother taught her "Assume makes an ass of u and me." Oh, how true that is!
it would be a good idea to slow down and make sure we're not about to put a foot in our mouth |
When we're tempted to make quick assumptions about people, and especially when we're tempted to act or speak based on those quick assumptions, it would be a good idea to slow down and make sure we're not about to put a foot in our mouth.

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