But Hannah replied, “That’s not the way it is, my lord! I am under a great deal of stress. I have drunk neither wine nor beer. Rather, I have poured out my soul to the Lord.
[1 Sam 1:15 NET]
How much there is in that expression pouring out the soul before the Lord! Shall I use a familiar figure to illustrate it, as sometimes familiar figures are best adapted to that purpose? Look at a sack of corn; you know, when the mouth of the sack is tied up, there is no pouring out its contents; but let the sack be opened and thrown down, and then its contents are immediately poured out, and the rich grain falls upon the floor. Our hearts are sometimes like the sack with the mouth tied; there are desires, pantings, and longings; there are needs, and these urgently felt; but we cannot give them utterance. As we read, “I opened my mouth and panted.” But the Lord in mercy, at times, opens the mouth; and then when the mouth is opened, the heart can pour out its desires, just as the rich grain is poured out of a sack when the mouth is untied.
But must not the sack be full before the grain is poured out? If there are but a few grains at the bottom, or only half-a-pint of wheat in one corner of the sack, though you open the mouth, there is no pouring out of the rich grain. So with our hearts. If the heart be not full; if there be no vehement desires struggling for utterance, we may open the mouth, but there is no pouring it out in pantings and longings.
If you want a scriptural instance of what it is to pour out the soul before the Lord, read the first chapter of the first book of Samuel, where you will find that gracious woman Hannah, so agitated, and so discovering the state of her mind by the convulsive movements of her frame, that the high priest charged her with being drunken; but though her heart was so full that her lips quivered, and her very features betrayed what was passing within, yet she meekly replied to his chiding speech, when he bade her to put away her wine, “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.” That was something like prayer. And we know what a blessed answer the Lord gave her, and how the Holy Spirit has recorded her triumphal song.