Transformed in Struggle

Home » Sermons » Pursuing God's Heart » Transformed in Struggle

Good morning church family. I’m going to invite you to the book of 1st Samuel. It’s near the beginning of scripture Joshua, Judges, Ruth, and then you get into the Samuels. We’re going to be in chapter one today. And let me just give you a little backdrop as to why we’re here. 1st Samuel is a beautiful book of scripture, it bridges the book of Judges into Samuel very well in what God desires to do in a people. I’m just going to be blunt and frank and say, this isn’t the only reason I’ve picked this portion of scripture, but I just want to give you one reason. I don’t know if you’re like me, but 2020 started and you kind of see how things have resulted in our country. And when I look at the world around me from the lens of where we live as a people group, I keep asking myself if I ever turn on the television and engage in any form of media these days, what in the world is happening?

And it’s not like our scenario is an unpredictable scenario, but what I find is a lot of similarities to where we are as a people, to what we discover through the book of Judges as you see this carry over from the book of Judges to the book of Samuel. And that’s why we’re going to engage this text of scripture today. When you read the book of Judges, here’s what’s interesting. God brings the people of Israel out of the land of Egypt. If you’re familiar with the story of the Bible, God promises through one person, Abraham, that he would build through his people, people as numerous as the sands and from his lineage would come one that would bless all nations. And shortly after we find through Abraham that God’s people end up in Egypt as slaves, and God brings a deliverer named Moses at 80 years old, who goes into Egypt and tells Pharaoh, “Let my people go,” and they leave the land of Egypt and they go into the land of Israel and they make this journey from Egypt to Israel as one people, they kind of are disgruntled the entire time.

But within that, there are 12 tribes. And when they get into the land of Israel, what you find is they really become just a collection, or like a confederacy of just 12 groups of people, but they’re not really United. And when you read the book of Judges, this is what you find is that it starts off where they’ve got this tension outside of them. This war raging with people groups around them, and God would bring up Judges. Now we talk about Judges, don’t think of courtroom judges, the way that we described Judges today, but rather these judges are more political leaders that God raises up to deliver sections of Israel and among these clan groups. When you read about a judge, it’s not really a deliverance of all of Israel, but some tension that’s built or some a war battle that’s raging between another people group and Israel.

But as you read the book of Judges, what happens and what you discover is Israel really loses their identity, or really never really has a true identity in God because they walked this obediently. But when they get into the land of Israel, they really abandon that altogether. And they get lost in who they are because they no longer have this identity under God who delivered them out of Egypt. And as you read the book of Judges, what you see is these Judges get further and further away from God. And by the end of the book of Judges, that their enemy is no longer outside of them, their enemy is within them. And Israel is actually fighting among one another and they’re killing each other and the book of Judges really ends in this tragic way.

And so when you get to the book of Samuel, the last judge is Samuel, and that’s where this book starts off as his story through his mother, Hannah. And what you find in the book of Samuel is that God brings Israel together through a leader who pursues his heart. And that’s why we call this series together pursuing God’s heart. And when you look in 1st Samuel chapter 13:14, it says to us that God seeks after a man after his own heart or in 1st Samuel 16:17, it says, “Man, looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart.” And when I look at things around me, when I don’t like what’s happening, I don’t want to play some manipulation game with people to try to force them to do something that people don’t want to do. But rather I want us to get hearts aligned with God and so I want to ask the question rather than just complain about things what can I do to make a difference?

And I think the book of Samuel is a beautiful story of how God works in the heart of an individual who seeks after him and the change that happens because of that. And the predominant character in all of scripture, we know this, is always God and was the different stories that take place, but as how God’s hand works through all of this, and it culminates really in King David and the pursuit of King David, but this story really starts on the backdrop of a prayer. And that prayer comes through a woman named Hannah. Now we dive into this book together. What I want us to know is we just ended a series on 1st Peter, and when you read the books of the Bible, like the epistles in the New Testament, most of the epistles are a lot of them are written in imperative form. Meaning very specific words are used to give us an imperative direction, how to live our lives, right?

But when you go into books of say like the Old Testament and you’re reading narrative form. You approach narrative portions of scripture a little bit different than you approach epistles and imperative portions of scripture. Narrative stories are told for us to grab ideas of how we’re to respond. But just because the Bible writes in narrative story doesn’t mean you then need to align your life exactly with what the narrative story says. The Bible has all kinds of stories that it’s just recording for us the story, but not necessarily dictating to you how you respond, because some of these stories are just playing messed up, right?

So when you look at the narrative story, we’re looking for the truth that God wants us to understand through these passages of scripture. So different than the way we approached 1st Peter, 1 st Peter we looked at verse by verse, some sections on a Sunday morning, we only covered first four verses. But when we go through this 1st Samuel book, we’re actually going to go through 1st and 2nd Samuel. We’re going to do it in 10 weeks. So I want to hit for us the highlights of what this book is about and I hope the Lord uses us to encourage you as we go through this series together, just to read those books. Maybe you’re even enticed to look at Judges and some of the things that I said but when you read through these stories, I want to hit the highlights and I really am looking forward to hitting Goliath because we messed up.

We messed that story up so bad. So if you go with us through this, I think three weeks we’re going to be on Goliath. We’re going to look through this passage of scripture and what God has for us through this story. But I really want to dive into this story today, as it unfolds in the life of Hannah. And as we dive into this section of scripture, what I want to do is I’m going to read from chapter one. So if you got a book of the Bible with you, I’m going to read a chapter one verses one to 11, and then I’m going to skip down to verses 17 to 20. Just we know what the story is. And we’re going to talk about what was mentioned here in the life of Hannah as 1st Samuel unfolds . Let’s read together.

“Now there was a certain man from Ramathaimzophim from the hill country of Ephraim from and his name was Elkanah.” Skip down to verse two, it says, “And he had two wives. The name of one was Hannah and the name of the other was Peninnah and Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children. Now this man would go up from his city yearly to worship and to sacrifice to the Lord of hosts in Shiloh.” The place of worship at that time was in Shiloh. “And the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas who were priest to the Lord there, when the day came that Elkanah sacrificed, he would give portions to Peninnah his wife and to all her sons and her daughters. But to Hannah, he would give a double portion for he loved Hannah, but the Lord had closed her womb. Her rival, however, would provoke her bitterly to irritate her because the Lord had closed her womb.

It happened year after year as often as she went up to the house of the Lord, she would provoke her. So she wept and would not eat.” Verse eight. “Then Elkanah her husband said to her, “Hannah, why do you weep? And why do you not eat? And why is your heart sad? Am I not better to you than 10 sons?” Then Hannah rose,” If you’d like to circle in your scripture, I would tell you circle that word rose. “Hannah rose after eating and drinking in Shiloh.” We’ll come back to that in just a moment. Now Eli, the priest was sitting on the seat by the doorpost of the temple of the Lord.” In verse 10, “She was greatly distressed.” Greatly distressed is important here. “Pray to the Lord and she wept bitterly. She made a vow and said, Oh Lord of hosts, if you indeed look on the affliction of your maid servant and remember me and not forget your maid servant, but will give your maid servant a son that I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life and a razor shall never come on his head.”

I’ll tell you why that’s important that she doesn’t cut his hair. In verse 17, “Then Eli answered and said, “Go in peace and may the God of Israel grant your petition that you have asked of him.” And she said, “Let your maid servant find favor in your sight.” So the woman went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad. Then they arose early in the morning and worship before the Lord and returned again to their house in Ramah and Elkanah had relations with Hannah, his wife, the Lord remembered her. And it came about in due time after Hannah had conceived that she gave birth to a son and she named him Samuel saying, “Because I have asked him of the Lord.”

Now Hannah becomes the beginning of what will be somewhat of a transformation for the people of Israel. They find a unity together in God through some godly leadership, but this doesn’t come without struggle, right? We talked about the struggle and Judges and now in chapter one, you see the struggle really in Hannah’s life. And I want to just mention just a couple of these struggles for us, because this really is the backdrop for how we find transformation in struggle, which is the title of today’s message. How do we discover transformation in struggle? We may not be able to relate completely to what Hannah’s struggle is, but in life around you, there is struggle. We all face struggle and it’s important for us in different seasons of our lives, as we encounter different types of struggle to learn how to live in light of that in response to what God wants to do in us and through us, and to take a position that makes a difference.

In the life of Hannah, she has struggle. And I want to be just upfront as we enter into this first struggle, because a lot of the beginning struggles has to do with her family dynamic, her family relationship. And I want to say this, I realized as a human being before God, and especially as a pastor, that I am accountable for every unloving word I say, and I’m accountable for every untruthful word I say are false word I say. So our objective as people is to always be truthful in love. That’s what Ephesians 4:15 tells us as a people to be truthful in love. And I am aware in the midst of that, of the confusion in our culture and the way that our society is progressing. And so we want to be very intentional when we engage our culture to do it wisely, to do it truthfully, and to do it lovingly, right? And it walks with this understanding that here’s a church we recognize, when people come participate in worship with us, we come from all walks of life.

And because our culture moves further from God, we’re absent from this understanding of how to provide a basis for a biblical idea of what it means to walk after God, because God doesn’t always agree with what we do as people, right? Sometimes I state this to this to us as a church, if God agrees with everything that you agree with, I promise you, you’re not following God. What you’re following as an idol that you’ve shaped that you call God, but it is not God because God does not agree with us and everything that we do as human beings. We war and we battle even within ourselves against who God is and we try to make ourselves God in his place. And so as people, we need a space to understand how to align our hearts with God, how to understand what a biblical picture is, and really define the tension of where we are in contrary to God and how to walk in light of that.

And particularly, I will say because of this text, as it relates to sexuality. Now, when I bring up that word in this context, it addresses the area of polygamy. And I don’t say this to just be mean or malign people or be against people. I just want to talk about a biblical picture of what scripture says about a subject as it relates to this. And I want to be honest and say, as it relates to Christians, sometimes we like to make things black and white so that we can cast out bad and say things that are good and isolate ourselves from people. But I’ll be honest and tell you, the Bible deals with that subject in a messy way. In fact, it deals with it in such a way to say, look, it gives with the expectation that Christians will interact with people in different forms of life and we should do that, right?

Just ask questions, learn and grow. So we just look at this text, it puts us in that space of immediately talking about Elkanah having multiple wives, and how do you deal with that? Let me just start with a broad biblical framework, okay? When we look at the area of sexuality in general, there is a key question that we need to answer before we talk about any area of life. All right? And I realize we’ve got a large span of age groups here, so I’m going to try to keep this high level, okay? But follow along with me, parents, leaders, adults as we listen to this for a moment, but here’s the question we’d talk about in sexuality. The key question you got to begin with is, is there mortality to sexuality and how that plays out in our lives?

Is there a mortality to sexuality, right? And then the follow up question for that would be who determines what that is? Is it the way that I feel about something? Or is it the way that God feels about something? Because when you read the book of Judges, let me just tell you what Judges says, this key idea it says over and over and over. You see the demise of what happens in the book of Judges and the key idea of the people during this time is everyone did what was right in their own eyes. Judges says that multiple times, everyone did what was right in their own eyes. If you’re looking for the reason why everyone fell apart in the book of Judges, it’s because they decided to make themselves God names to the question when it comes to terms of morality, I’m the determiner of what’s right or wrong.

And so the question we ask in sexuality is, is there a morality to sexuality? And are we going to listen to the Lord in that and follow after that? Are we going to lean to ourselves and pursue it? I know we’re talking about polygamy here, but let me just give you another question to answer as it relates to sexuality, taking the pressure off that for a minute and say this. I mean, we think in ways we can ask a question related to sexuality, I would just say, is it okay for, I don’t know, a 50 year old to marry a 14 year old? How would you feel about that? Is there something within your moral compass that sort of rubs you wrong if you were to witness something like that? And where does it come from and what would you do in that kind of environment where if the 50 year old and 40 year old say, “You know what? We really feel that this is right, right?” You would say, “No, this is wrong.” And they would say, “This is right.” How do you determine who’s right or wrong?

I mean, in any scenario where two people disagree, what do you appeal to if all that you use to determine morality is the sense of self. Prisons are full of people that thought what they did was really good idea for them at the time, but did it make it right? No. And my point in all of this is to simply say, “Look, even in terms of sexuality, there’s a way that we could believe some of this, right? We could even want something to be right, but it doesn’t necessarily make it right.” And so we have to understand as people were going to contradict God in all sorts of ways in our life. This is why we give people grace, right? But at the same time, we still speak truth. Now, when it comes to the area of polygamy, as it mentions in scripture you’ll see places in the New Testament where it says, “Don’t appoint leaders or elders in the church who practice this.” But it doesn’t specifically say and end I. Interesting, isn’t it?

But you look at passages like Deuteronomy 17:17 that just plainly warn, if you engage in it, that it says that it will stray your heart from God. And from the beginning of creation, you see one man and one woman. So I think there’s a basis there in scripture, certainly, but we need to be gracious to people no matter where they come from in life even if you agree or disagree with their sexuality, to give them time, to let the Lord work on their heart and to speak that truth in love. Like I can tell you what, I’m more interested in as a church far above what people do is where their heart is in Jesus. Because I can preach morality to people all day long, but their heart isn’t given to God. Is that truly worship? Let me just give you an example.

If you go into this world today and you say to people, “What’s the point of this world? Why do we have life?” Can I tell you the majority of people will answer the same and it’s always wrong. If I go out of here and I ask people, “What’s the point of life?” I can almost guarantee nine out of 10 will say this, “Well, I’m a good person. I’m a good person. As long as you’re a good person, that’s all that matters.” And look, I’m glad we don’t have violent people in most of our areas of life, that’s great, but is that really the point of life? I mean, just think about this guys. We’re here to worship the Lord, but there are plenty of good atheist people in this world. So is that really what the point of life is? Like there’s people that don’t believe in God and they’re still good.

As long as you’re good, that’s all that matters. Is God more interested in whether or not you’re good or is God more interested in whether or not you’re godly? There’s a difference there. A significant difference because when you lean into the Lord and you pursue him with your life, you’re saying, “Look, I may pretend like I’ve got it all figured out and I want to make myself Lord of this world, but I didn’t create it. Someone else did and areas of my life, aren’t going to agree with them and some are.” And sometimes I can buy into the lie that I will only be happy if I could do the things that I want to do. If everyone would just do what I want them to do, then this world would be a better place, right? I think that’s what they thought in Judges.

It’s all about me. Everyone did what was right in their own eyes. We’ve got to acknowledge that maybe it’s not about me. And maybe I’m not the source of peace. Maybe that is found in the Lord and maybe I need to discover in my own heart right now, where it’s at war with him. And I may not fully understand, but I really want God to do a work in me, in this world around me. We need peace, right? And you see this right in the life of Hannah because you know, when you look at polygamy, if you said, “Okay, well, the Bible in the New Testament doesn’t blatantly say anything against that.” I think it’s got versus definitely I’ll reference some of this for you but people will argue that.

Well, let me just say this from a narrative perspective. When you read stories about that kind of interaction and scripture, there is not one example anytime a narrative tells a story about a relationship like that, where it’s ever good, not one. I mean, even when you read the story of Elkanah with his two wives, Peninnah and Hannah, even in this scenario and Elkanah was taking his family to worship and on the way to worship, they’re arguing and fighting. So you only have one good example of what this would look like in scripture. It’s always a bad scenario, but the question for us and the struggle answer the questions that relates particularly to sexuality is their morality is a sexuality and who determines it?

And I would say, guys, it applies to every area of our sexuality, every area of our lives that we might compromise in this scenario that’s apart from what God’s says, “I mean, God created as a beautiful thing to enjoy, and you can certainly enjoy it within the way that he wants to lead us to enjoy it. So you see this struggle in the life of Hannah and her family relationship, right? I mean, it says that she goes to this place of worship with her family and, and there’s this tension with Peninnah in this and there’s a struggle in their relationship to the point in verse six, it describes Peninnah, as Hannah’s rival in their own family.

Hannah has a rival. So you see this struggle that’s weighing on her and she even is weeping and mourning over this want for it to go away. But not only that, there’s also a second part to Hannah’s struggle and I think a lot of it has to do with the culture. Now, I know when you read the story, it’s talking about a kid that Hannah can’t have a kid, and she’s upset about this and Peninnah irritates her about this and her husband tries to make up for it and say, “Look, aren’t I better than 10 son? We plainly see that as the struggle in this passage of scripture, right? And when you read this story, maybe you can relate to it. Maybe you’ve had battles in your own life in this way. Maybe this story might resonate with you. You wear the pressure that Hannah faces. Maybe not.

But in verse 10, what it says about Hannah, it says she’s greatly distressed, right? And what does this means in verse 10, when it says Hannah is deeply distressed or greatly distressed, depending on what translation you’re reading, what it’s saying to us is that Hannah feels this, not just emotionally, but this is deep in her soul. This is how much Hannah is affected by this. So when you look at the particular thing that Hannah’s facing, maybe you can relate to it but if you don’t, I’m certain at some point in your life, if not right now you’ve experienced what Hannah’s saying from the depth of her soul this grief and this stress of your circumstance.

Now when you read this passage scripture, we acknowledge, okay, Hannah can’t have kids and that is upsetting, right? If you have that desire and you’re not able, that is an upsetting thing. I don’t want to look at the scripture that I want to just consider it just a little bit deeper in the cultural context where Hannah’s at, because in our society today, sometimes we look at children as if they are not what scripture says, a joy and a delight but rather sometimes we see them as a burden and we’ve gone a totally different way in our culture today, as it relates to kids. But the scripture says, “Blessed are you whose quiver is full of them,” right?

In Hannah’s day, children represented more than just having kids. And I’m not trying to cheapen anyone else’s struggle in saying that, but I just want us to think and think a little bit deeper here in the context of this passage of scripture. This is the reason why Peninnah is driving this so hard at Hannah. In Hannah’s day, children had a very broad purpose in what it accomplished for the family. And let me just give you a few ideas. In Hannah’s day, children learn the trade of their parents. And so the larger your family, the bigger the business and the better your people’s economy could thrive. And so by having children, you would have more financial success in that way and more people to run the family business and the family business could thrive in a larger level and it would benefit Israel by large, or at least the clans of Israel because Israel was in a major trade route.

Second to that, because of this time period, your people were only as safe as the size of the group and their ability to fight. Israel isn’t this United group right now. They’re these section of clans that are fighting against other sections of people groups and when you can make your people group larger, there was greater protection and if your people group weren’t large and you didn’t have that protection, you can come up and get colonized by another group. And so Hannah is not contributing that way. And then third is, as you think about this story that children were a means to your healthcare and retirement plan.

As you got older, and you started thinking about your health needs that might arise and your retirement plan and how people are going to take care of you. It’s not like we have today. You depended on your family and for Hannah, it’s made very clear where she stands with her extended family. I mean, Peninnah is basically saying to her, “Look, if Elkanah is gone, good luck for you because that’s all you got.” And so Hannah feels the stress of all of this where the pressure of her culture being made known to the life of Peninnah and it’s just pressing on her. And she’s helpless in this moment. What does she do? The Bible shows us the beautiful picture of her transformation. It’s not it’s not just get upset about your circumstance and complain about it, right?

She actually wants to see God do something and so in verse nine, it gives us this beautiful word. It says to us, “Hannah rose. Hannah rose.” So she goes to the temple, she’s worshiping and then all of a sudden, the midst of the pressure around sort of like she wants to put this in the right perspective and all of a sudden she rises up and this is the Hebrew way of saying, and now finally, Hannah decides to do something about it. It’s like saying she puts her foot down or she places her flag in the ground because she’s about to make her life or see her life differently through a different lens than the circumstances in which she has faced before. And you see this story, I love the beauty of how Hannah handles her situation.

Because in verse six it says, Peninnah, she puts all this pressure on Hannah and she just makes Hannah feel miserable and then her husband shows up and verse eight, I mean, I don’t know how…. guys, sometimes we just say some dumb stuff, right? And the husband in the situation he shows up and says, “Look aren’t I better than just 10 kids?” I mean, Peninnah she’s my baby mama, right? But you I love. Right? How messed up is that situation? It’s like there’s her and yeah, she’s a part of this family, but I really love you. Like you can just imagine Hannah. I don’t want to be in that circumstance either, warring for love. What kind of tension does that create in the home? You don’t want it. You don’t want to be in that kind of scenario, right? That’s not making it any better, Elkanah. And Hannah, in those moments, rather than say anything, she’s just silent.

I mean, what wisdom is there in that, right? You don’t like how things are going? Just bite your tongue for a minute. I have to get up and complain about everything. What’s that going to change? Right. You can have godly intentions and you can say stuff, but is complaining really going to make that difference? And Hannah, in these moments, in order to see the lens through this Lord’s eyes, it says that she rises up beautiful story and the way she rises up, get this is by bowing down to something else. She could surrender herself to the pressures of her culture and be like, “Yeah, you’re right. I stink.” Or she can surrender herself to God’s plan for her life. And that’s exactly what she does because in verse 10, as she rises, it tells us the next thing she does. She bowels not to Elkanah, not to the culture, but she bows before the Lord and she prays, right?

And that’s the next point? Is Hannah’s transformation happens two ways. She rises up and then she bows in prayer. I would just say, guys, you know someone is serious and seeing things happen for the Lord, not when they complain about it, but when they start with praying about it. When I look at the book of 1st Samuel and I say, “Look, King David comes and he’s a man after God’s own heart and God unites the people and someone that’s pursuing the heart of the Lord. It all starts. It all starts on the prayer of a woman. Her heart before the Lord. I think all of us need these kinds of moments in our lives where it’s the moment where you’re like, “Man, I am just tired of me. I’m tired of the circumstances. I’m tired of the way things are going.” And it comes a place where you put your foot down, you plant your flag in the ground and say that this is it.

And you set that moment apart by the way that you pray. Like, “God, I don’t like what’s happening right now in this world around me. The things that I think our country are signing for people around me and it’s just breaking my heart, God, but I know that you’re big and glorious and I’m trusting in you right now.” And I think in the life of a believer, these are the kind of moments that don’t just have to happen once they can happen every day where we just plant our flag every day to stand for the Lord and we have those moments that just reshape us. Like, “God, I don’t completely understand what you’re doing, but understand there’s this desire that I have and I want to go around and punch Elkanah in the face and Peninnah right after that. But then there’s what you want and you want to transform hearts and I’m going to surrender to your will rather than my own, because what you desire for us is good. It is better than the way I can dictate my own circumstances order and so Hannah bowels down to that.”

And maybe for some of us, we need to have that prayer for the first time in our lives where we’ve hit that wall and we’ve tried to take charge of things and we tried to stand up to the Elkanahs and Peninnahs and tell them where they’re wrong, but it’s worn us out and we’ve come to realize we can’t manipulate hearts. God’s got to change them. And we need a big savior. And that savior, it tells us in 1st Samuel 13:14, the Lord is seeking someone after his own heart. And so Hannah bows down here and she prays the Lord and here’s something worth considering. In verse 11, I think it’s worth asking the question is Hannah bargaining with God? Verse 11 you read this Hannah’s prayer. She made a vow and said, “Oh Lord of hosts, if you will indeed look on the affliction of your maid servant, remember me and not forget your maid servant, but will give your maid servant a son. Then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life and a razor should not come on his head. Is Hannah bargaining with God?

Is that okay to bargain with God? Let me just tell you, I don’t think so. And I don’t think Hannah in this situation is actually bargaining with God. Now let me just give you a few reasons why. The first key is in verse 18. I just want to point out, verse 18 because it says, “Hannah prays before the Lord, and then she really walks away and she’s no longer sad.” Eli says there, the priest in verse 17, “Go in peace.” And then it tells us in verse 18 that Hannah rises up and her face was no longer sad. That’s what it says. And if Hannah were bargaining, this is the way it would look, there’s something Hannah wants, she sees God as this puppet to give her what she wants and if God doesn’t give her what she wants and she’s not going to be happy until she get what she wants, right?

But that’s not what it says about Hannah. What it says about Hannah rather she laid her desire before the Lord, she laid her struggle before the Lord. And because she laid it before the Lord, she walked in peace. Meaning what Hannah is actually doing, she’s coming before God, and she’s pouring out her heart, but she’s laying it down before the Lord and saying, “Look, God, I can let the culture pressure me. I can let Peninnah pressure me, I can let Elkanah pressure me, but rather God, what I’m choosing to do is just lay this down before you. I’ve given you my heart. I know that what you desire for me is good and I’m going to walk that path and put that on you.” That’s why scripture says, “Cast all your cares on him because he cares for you.” Right? She lays it down on him and she rather walks after God trusting in what God desires for her life.

So if Hannah were bargaining with God, it would be like this prayer, I got to want prayer, deliver what I want and then I have peace, but rather goes like this, prayer, and then she goes straight to the peace because she’s trusting in God in this situation. Second thing I noticed with Hannah is in verse 11 and she says about this prayer for a child that if God gives her a child, she would not let her razor touch his head. And what this is, is a Nazarite vow. During his day and even beyond this, Samson was a Nazarite to give you an example, but a Nazarite vow included a few things. A Nazarite vow, when you had a child and you dedicated them in a Nazarite vow, you wouldn’t cut their hair and they would never drink. They would never have alcohol, okay?

And what this was to do was to distinguish this child as given over to the Lord and this child would serve in the temple like a Levi and Israel’s day, there was this tribe of Levi’s that cared for the needs within the temple and in a Nazarite vow, you would dedicate your child and they would serve at the temple. And so what Hannah is actually doing is giving her child away. She’s having a child to only give her child away and when you read the story, you find this Hannah only sees her kid once a year. So Hannah like saying, “Look, God, I’m really worried about my future, my healthcare, what people think about me. I need kids to make people think better things about me.”

What she’s actually saying is, “No Lord I’ve turned this over to you so much that even if you give to me, I’m giving it right back to you. My future’s in your hands, the way I’m cared for is in your hands. I’m not putting it in the hope of a child to take care of me when I get old, I’m putting in the hope of you and I’m showing you so much that when this kid is born, I’m going to get him right back to you.”

Guys, you want to see change in your culture, comes from the desire of that kind of heart. You don’t like the way your country’s going, start in your own home. I hear people complain a lot about public education and the way schools are gone and God’s out of schools, right? But man, I really don’t care about people’s opinions or relates to that if you’re not discipling your kids in your own home. If you’re really concerned about the way things are going, God gives you gifts to influence in this world. Don’t just complain about things, right? Do something. That’s what Hannah’s story is. And it starts in the surrendering of our heart before the Lord. I’m not saying there’s this magical thing about prayer. Like we don’t just want to manipulate God by praying. We just start praying right now, it changes everything. I want us to know that it’s not just prayer itself, but it’s the desire that drives the prayer that makes the difference here, right?

I mean, Hannah wants to see a difference. That’s why she rises up, but that’s also why she bows down. Prayer is important. Prayer is essential to our lives, but more than just the object of prayer, it’s what drives the desire of prayer. It’s Hannah’s desire to want to see things done different in the life around her. And she’s showing, “Look, this isn’t just a bargain with God. I’m just not trying to get what I want. I want to see a difference made so much so that I’m willing to even give my children over to the Lord to make a difference in this world.” And that’s exactly what happens in the life of Samuel. He becomes instrumental in the way that he goes and an annoyance to David. Now he’s got problems in his own life. No, one’s perfect when you read through this story together, but this idea of surrendering to the Lord, this is where this transformation happens in our lives.

Not my will Lord, but yours be done. And guys when I look at this what I discover in this passage is how incredibly freeing this is. You see the stress of Hannah when she goes on this passage of scripture, she’s deeply stricken in her soul because of this. She takes all of that pressure of the world and she lays it down before a powerful God who loves her and chooses to trust in him above all else. Guys, and I’m not saying that’s easy. I don’t think Hannah walked away from this and that was all she needed just this one time. I think this is probably something she continued to surrender over to God time and time again, because I don’t think Peninnah stopped. But this is what Hannah does before the Lord and it’s an encouragement to us.

Here’s the beauty of this whole story guys. One of the things that I love about this is a few thousand years later, or not quite a few thousand million, a little over a thousand years later, there’s another young lady who’s in a similar situation. When you get to chapter two of 1st Samuel, what you discover is Hannah has this baby and she prays this beautiful prayer. That’s how 1st Samuel 2 starts, verses one to 10 and I don’t have time to go through it all, but she prays this beautiful prayer and towards the end of the prayer in verse six, seven, eight, nine, 10, what Hannah says is she’s discovered that God is for the downcast. God has for the broken in the week and he makes the week strong. That’s the beauty of the Lord. And she then talks about God bringing about this King that will be anointed through her child.

I think it’s a picture of foreshadowing, a David, but I think it’s a picture and ultimate picture of a foreshadowing of Jesus. And the reason I say that is because when you turn to the gospel of Luke 1:46-55, the prayer of Hannah is prayed again, only this time it’s prayed by Mary and it’s prayed by Mary when she finds out by the Lord that she’s pregnant with Jesus. And what a credible prayer she prays because, well, what Mary, if you understand her situation, she’s a young girl, not married and she’s about to have a child. And how do you explain that to people around you? This Virgin birth? I mean, she knows within her culture, she’s going to face tremendous pressure. Even her own future husband didn’t believe her at the time, right?

But what does she choose to do? I think Mary remembers the stress of Hannah and the sorrow of her own soul and circumstance. But at the same time, the joy of trusting in the Lord and knowing that God will deliver a Messiah and verse 10 of chapter two of 1st Samuel, that’s exactly what it talks about. And Hannah celebrates this deliver. Now here’s the beauty for all of us. Isaiah 9:6 tells us, “Unto all of us, a child is born. Unto all of us a son is given and he shall be called almighty God, everlasting father and the prince of peace, a wonderful counselor.” He is the Prince of peace. This child that comes really through the promises of the Old Testament, through the life of Hannah in her prayer into the time of Mary at his birth, this child wasn’t just for one, it was for everyone so that what? Your soul could have peace.

So that you could look at all the pressures of the world around you and everything that might stress you out about life. And you like Hannah or Mary could bow before God and just say, “Lord, not the way I want it. There’s this depth of my soul that weeps but Lord I rise up in this moment to bow down before you, rather than the gods of this world around me to say what you want matters and what you bring heals and what you offer is a peace. And I don’t have to live to the standards of the world. I live for a King that makes a difference.”

The story of Hannah becomes a personal story for all of us because of the child that is ultimately born for us, he brings peace because we all need those monumental moments in our life where we rise up and we rise up to bow to something, to live our lives for something. The question is, is what? The story of Hannah, the reminder for us as his people is as a King that cares for you, that you can trust him to make a difference. And that’s what we see in 1st Samuel and that’s what we’ll see together.

Thou Shalt Not Murder

Learning From Failure