Chapter 10 Recap

Blessing. This was meant to be the distinguishing mark of the people of God. God’s covenant with Israel required obedience and promised ultimate blessing. Yet, the period of the judges is anything but a time of obedience and blessing in Israel. More fitting descriptions are: Barrenness.  Blindness.  Battles.  Bereavement.  Blessing was hard to come by in those days. God’s people had abandoned God Himself, and “everyone did as he saw fit.” (Judges 21:25)  Few remembered God’s commands. Even fewer obeyed.

But God always has a few. One was a woman named Hannah. She had long endured the grief of childlessness accompanied by the taunts of her husband’s other wife. On one of her visits to worship at God’s house in Shiloh, Eli, the priest, mistook her devotion for drunkenness. She had poured out her heart first in desperate prayer and then to Eli and vowed that she would dedicate her son to the LORD. Eli assured her that her prayer would be heard.  God did give Hannah a son, and she kept her word. She named the boy Samuel and took him to serve in the tabernacle under the High Priest, Eli.

God spoke to Samuel one night when he was still a boy. God told Samuel that Eli and his sons would be judged and his priestly line would soon end.  And as it always does, God’s word came true, this time through the Philistines. Israel lost their first battle with the Philistines at Aphek and blamed their loss on the absence of the ark of covenant. Their own absence of obedience went unnoticed. They faced the Philistine army again, this time with the ark as their good luck charm and lost both the battle and the ark. Eli had grown old and blind, and the devastating news of Israel’s defeat, the death of his sons and the loss of the ark of covenant left Eli dead on the spot.

Samuel took Eli’s place, but Israel was dissatisfied and asked for a king. Samuel knew better and expressed his opposition. God knew He’d been rejected. Israel knew only that they wanted to be like their pagan neighbors, the very people they were not to emulate. God warned that their demand for a king would be costly; that he would exploit them to the point of slavery.  The people ignored God’s warnings and still insisted on having an earthly king to fight their battles. Saul was anointed by Samuel and began well. He was affirmed by miraculous signs from God.  He fought the Ammonites and gave God credit for their victory. Samuel reminded the people that God had not rejected them, even though they had turned away from Him. He encouraged them again to follow God and serve him from the heart, and God affirmed Samuel’s words with unheard of thunder and rain during harvest.

Saul’s honeymoon as king was short-lived.  During another battle with the Philistines, Saul got nervous; Samuel was late. So Saul took his authority too far and took matters—and offerings—into his own hands, violating the role God had reserved for the priests. Samuel confronted Saul; he backpedaled, made excuses, and tried to justify his sin, but wound up losing a dynasty. Saul’s path of half-hearted obedience and fear-based leadership grew longer by the year and more twisted with every step.

God rejected Saul as king. Saul’s reign was Israel’s opportunity to see that monarchy is no better than anarchy when a man after God’s own heart is not on the throne. God had already chosen such a man, an unlikely shepherd boy who would one day become Saul’s successor.  His throne would endure and would point God’s people again to the Shepherd King who was yet to come.

Faithful vs. faithless

Sometimes in Scripture we see people that walk in step with the will of God and others who would rather create their own path. In chapter 10 we see two clear examples of people that are doing just that. We know that rain falls on the just and unjust a like. The faithful can prosper just like the faithless can prosper, but we do know that the faithful prosper spiritually as the faithless hold on to their own ways. Let’s take a look at these examples to see what we can learn.

I. Hannah and Peninnah   

You would think that by now some of the Israelites could look back at their forefathers and figure out that bigamy (two wives in this case) is not a good idea.  Evidently, Elkanah didn’t.  Perhaps Hannah’s barrenness led Elkanah to take Peninnah as a wife, but we don’t know which of the two came first.  What we do know is that Peninnah’s actions reveal what is in her heart, as did Hannah’s.

A.     Faithless, disobedient Peninnah

  1. She arrogantly provoked and irritated Hannah because of Hannah’s empty womb.  It is possible that, based on Deut. 28:4-5, Peninnah accused Hannah of sin that resulted in her barrenness.
  2. Peninnah had a full house, but an empty heart.  Elkanah loved Hannah more than her, and he made that known.
  3. None of Peninnah’s children were notable.
  4. God graciously blessed her with many children.  Instead of responding to God with love toward others, she acted hatefully.  The LORD humbled her by exalting Hannah and Hannah’s son.

B.     Faithful, obedient Hannah

  1. Innocent Hannah never retaliated against her rival, though she anguished about her condition and her situation.
  2. Hannah poured her heart out in prayer to the LORD, trusting in His mercy alone.
  3. Hannah vowed she would give her son to serve the LORD if only He would give her a son.
  4. God answered her prayer and gave her five more children after Samuel.
  5. Hannah is exalted as the mother of Samuel, rich in children, rich in faith, and praised God for delivering her from her enemy Peninnah.
  6. God graciously answered Hannah’s humble prayer.  Hannah responded to God with faith and obedience, making good on her vow, and praising Him for His mercy.  She enjoyed the blessings of fertility.

II. Eli’s line and Samuel  

Eli was the high priest of Israel which meant that he should be serving as the spokesman of God to the nation.  He should be the man who turned Israel away from apostasy (remember, we’re in the dark ages of the judges), and back to the LORD.  Eli’s physical blindness was indicative of his spiritual blindness.  He would fall from a place of honor to disgrace, while innocent Samuel would rise from humble beginnings to a place of honor.

A.    Faithless Eli and his sons

  1. We learn that Eli was going blind.  Blindness indicates covenant disobedience for Israel.  This is not a physical ailment alone.  It is a barometer of the condition of Israel who was blind to their own depravity and it was a symptom of Eli’s blindness to his own sons’ terrible abuses.
  2. The word of God was rare in those days.  This was another indication that Eli and his priestly-but-evil sons were not in the place of obedience.
  3. Eli’s arrogant line was judged by God because of the sin that Eli knew about but failed to restrain.  The sons were abusing their priestly role by take the best sacrifices for themselves, and fornicating with women in the tabernacle!  (1 Sam. 2:17, 22)  These two sons were, as the author of Judges wrote, “doing what was right in his own eyes.”
  4. Eli’s sons wrongfully thought that the Ark would bring them victory against the Philistines.  Rather than look to and inquire of God, they misused the Ark as more of a good-luck charm than the holy presence of God.  Consequently, they were killed in the battle and Israel lost the Ark to the Philistines.  Their attitude toward the Ark was really their attitude toward God.  They failed to honor God as holy.
  5. God graciously allowed Eli and his sons to serve as priests.  But they failed respond by faith and obedience to the covenant.  Instead they arrogantly sinned or dismissed the sins of the people.  God made low the high priest and his sons.  They died.

B.     Faithful Samuel

  1. Samuel was a child conceived by grace through the faithful prayer of his mother.
  2. Hannah made good on her vow to give little Sammy to serve the LORD all the days of his life.  She honored the priestly role he would someday have by making him a little ephod (priestly garment) every year.
  3. The LORD was with Samuel as he grew up in the presence of the LORD, and He did not let any of Samuel’s words fail.  He revealed Himself through His word to Samuel while His word was rare to Eli.
  4. Samuel worked to turn the people back to the LORD, and he defeated the Philistines.  This was another sign of his covenant obedience.
  5. God graciously revealed Himself to little Samuel.  He responded by faith and obedience.  God exalted him to the spiritual leader of Israel.

IV. The New Testament believer. 

We can see from these two conflicts, as well as other conflicts throughout this historical period, that we could predict the destiny of a character or the nation based upon their character and faithfulness. Does God still exalt the humble and bring low the arrogant? What does the NT have to say?

A. Matt. 18:4  “Whoever humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

B. Matt. 23:12 “Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.”

C. Phil. 2:3 “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself.”

D. James 4:10 Humble yourself in the presence of the LORD, and He will exalt you.

E. 1 Pet. 5:5-6 “…clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.  Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time.”

F. The promises and exaltations to the New Covenant believer are not earthly like those to Israel.  They are spiritual.  Ephesians 1 tells the Church that in Christ we are:

  1. Blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places (1:3)
  2. Chosen before the foundation of the world (1:4)
  3. Predestined to adoption as sons (1:5)
  4. Redeemed and forgiven (1:7)
  5. Rich in grace (1:7)
  6. Promised an inheritance that the Holy Spirit is the down payment for (1:13-14)

V.    Applications and Implications

A. God answered Hannah’s humble prayer.  I can pour out my anguish to God knowing that He can answer my deepest needs.

B. My actions toward other people reveal my attitude toward God.

C. God is opposed to the proud who disregard Him.  I will humbly seek to obey Him by faith.

D. The place of blessing is smack dab in the will of God.

E. God can, has and will use young people to serve Him.  I should not disregard or dismiss the faith and service of a child.

F. A parent’s faith does not guarantee the outcome of a child.  But it is an influence.  Therefore, I will seek to encourage and grow the faith of my children.

G. I treasure the spiritual blessings that are mine because I have the Holy Spirit.

A Woman of Faith: Hannah

Hannah’s story is one of the most well-known and beloved accounts in the Bible.  Chapter 10 of The Story introduces us to the first king of Israel, and to Samuel, who holds him accountable to God.  But long before Samuel did his great, godly work, Hannah, Samuel’s mother, did a equally great and godly work—she learned to delight in the Lord.

I.  Hannah’s Plight. 1 Samuel 1:1-8.

Bearing children was very important for the woman of the Bible.  It was a woman’s desire, as well as her duty, to provide her husband with children, preferably sons.  An Israelite woman also dreamed of birthing the Messiah.  Hannah’s plight prevented her from any of these pleasures.

1.  Describe Hannah’s family life.(v. 2-7)

2.  How did Elkanah demonstrate his faithfulness to God? (v. 3)

3.  How did Elkanah demonstrate his love for Hannah? (v. 5,8)

4.  Why had Hannah remained childless? (v. 5)

5.  How did it this affect her? (v. 7)

The emotional pain of  barreness, combined with the provocation of Peninnah had become unbearable for Hannah.  One year, during the annual feast in Shiloh, Hannah took advantage of her proximity to the Lord’s temple.  Her choice was to take her plight to the Lord.  This choice alone makes Hannah a worthy example for anyone who carries a burden of pain.  Our pain should point us to the One who will provide perfect healing, if we will let Him.

II.  Hannah’s Petition. 1 Samuel 1:9-18.

1.  At what point in the festivities did Hannah decide to take her sorrow to the Lord? (v. 9)

2.  What was Hannah’s emotional state as she prayed? (v. 10)

3.  Besides prayer, what else did she do before God? (v. 11)

4. As Hannah prayed, what did Eli observe and what did he think she was doing? (12, 13)

5. Fill in the blanks and note three things about Hannah’s prayer:

            Hannah was praying in her ___________________ and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard.  1:13

….I was __________________________________________to the Lord. 1:15b

I have been praying here out of my great_________________and ____________. 1:16b

6.  What was Eli’s answer to Hannah? (v. 17)

7.  How was Hannah changed after the time of prayer? (v. 18)

Eli saw Hannah’s lips; God saw her heart.  The result of this outpouring in prayer was a change of her very being.  Before Eli pronounced his blessing upon her, God had already worked in Hannah’s heart.  When she took her pain and anguish to the Lord, He helped her realize what her true need was.  She needed to be content with God Himself.  Her vow to God revealed that she was no longer seeking her own selfish desire; instead she was offering an unselfish sacrifice.  The son, whether a desire in her heart, or a flesh and blood reality, would belong to God.

“A woman was not so unimportant in Israel as to be considered incapable of communicating with God.  Significantly, Yahweh was also portrayed as a deity who listened to a woman and answered her prayer” (Bergen).

III.  Hannah’s Praise. 1 Samuel 1:19—2:11.

Soon Hannah gave birth to a son they named Samuel.  Elkanah and Hannah, with great delight, fulfilled the vow Hannah had made.  The generous offering and the joyous prayer of praise gives testimony to the condition of Hannah’s heart.

Hannah’s prayer expressed her complete delight in the Lord.  The prayer is one of the longest in the Old Testament and lifts up God’s name, Yahweh, 18 times.  Although Hannah was not an ancestor of Jesus, the prayer, or praise song, contains the first reference to the Messiah:

He will give strength to his King and exalt the horn of his anointed. 1 Samuel 2:10b

In The Remarkable Women of the Bible, Elizabeth George outlines the content of Hannah’s praise song.

1.  From 1 Samuel 2:1-10, note the attributes of God that Hannah extols:

2:1 I rejoice in Your ____________________________.

 

2:2 No one is __________________ like the Lord.

 

2:2 There (is no) ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­_______________________ like our God.

 

2:3 The Lord is the God of ______________________________.

 

2:4  Only the Lord has the ____________________ to make the mighty weak….and the humble exalted.

 

2:9-10  The adversaries of the Lord shall be _________________________ in pieces.

 

2.  How old was Samuel when Hannah took him to Eli? (1:24)

Hannah had gone “before the Lord” with her request.  Samuel was presented to the Lord (1:24) and he remained “before the Lord” always (2:11,18,21).

3.  What shows Hannah’s steadfast love and care for her son, even from a distance? (2:18-19)

4.  How did God further bless Elkanah and Hannah? (2:21)

Everything about Hannah’s life provides inspiration and example for us today.  The fact that she had deep, unmet longings was not wrong.  Her story has shown us a way  to handle our deepest unmet desires.

IV.  Our Path from Petition to Praise.

1.  Read Psalm 17:1-3.

What do you think are the deeper longings of mankind that only God can see?

Think about your own deepest longings.  Have you asked God about them?

2.  Read James 4:2b-3 and Matthew 6:18-21.

Why doesn’t God give us what we ask for sometimes?

3.  Jesus reminds us in Matthew 6:25-34 not to worry about earthly things because the Father knows what we need to sustain earthly life.  Is it wrong to ask God about earthly things? Why or why not?

(cf. Matthew 6:11)

4.  Read Matthew 7:7-11.

What kind of gifts does God give? Are the things we ask good for us?

In this scripture Jesus says to “ask”.  What requests would God be delighted to answer?

God answered Hannah’s heartfelt prayer by providing for her deepest need, the need to delight in the Lord. If God were to personally ask you to trade in your deepest longings for a deeper relationship with Him, would you accept?

5.  Hannah’s story ends with a song of praise.  Create your own expression of praise, or write down words from a praise song that are meaningful to you.

Key Question:  What area of worry and want in your life will you exchange for delight in the Lord?

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