God Answers Hannah

His Promises Through the Prophets  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  26:50
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A small act can have global and eternal implications. Hannah’s heart, and Samuel’s ministry are examples for us all.

We are now looking at a time after the Israelites have failed to trust God, after the 40 years of wilderness wanderings, after finally entering the Promised Land and failing to drive out the other people around them, and now there has been a long time where there were Judges. Some did a great job of directing the people in the ways of God. Others were horrendous. And Judges ends with the statement:
Judges 21:25 NIV
25 In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit.
So in this chaotic and very ungodly time we come to the scrolls of Samuel (1 & 2 OT books are writings that occupied two scrolls).
We meet Hannah, the favored wife of Elkanah who is very much loved, but unable to have children. The text tells us that the rival wife, Peninnah, would continually harass Hannah, and provoke and bully her to the point where Hannah was so upset she could no longer.
1 Samuel 1:9–11 NIV
9 Once when they had finished eating and drinking in Shiloh, Hannah stood up. Now Eli the priest was sitting on his chair by the doorpost of the Lord’s house. 10 In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the Lord, weeping bitterly. 11 And she made a vow, saying, “Lord Almighty, if you will only look on your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head.”
Promising to dedicate her child to the LORD, and promising that he would be a Nazarite, she prayed continually and deeply. Hannah uses the language of pouring out her soul. She was praying so intently that Eli thinks she is drunk. But after learning the situation, Eli blesses Hannah.
1 Samuel 1:19–20 NIV
19 Early the next morning they arose and worshiped before the Lord and then went back to their home at Ramah. Elkanah made love to his wife Hannah, and the Lord remembered her. 20 So in the course of time Hannah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, saying, “Because I asked the Lord for him.”
Notice that what Hannah asked for she received. The LORD remembered Hannah.
Now it’s at this point that I feel we need to be reminded of God’s faithfulness. God always keeps his promises, but God does not always give us what we ask for. Consider Hannah verses Job. Or Hannah verses David. God keeps his promises, but he has never promised to give you everything you ask for. Why he does or does not grant us our wishes is beyond the scope of this sermon, though you can read the Bulletin article from this week for more wrestling with that topic.
But I want us to pay close attention to Hannah’s prayer. It does several things within the scope of the Bible. It sets up major themes that will be developed throughout Samuel and Kings. It is a source of inspiration for Mary’s song when she learns of her miraculous pregnancy with Jesus. But notice how it contextualizes God’s actions in her life. Hannah realizes that what is happening here is not just about her.
1 Samuel 2:1–10 NIV
1 Then Hannah prayed and said: “My heart rejoices in the Lord; in the Lord my horn is lifted high. My mouth boasts over my enemies, for I delight in your deliverance. 2 “There is no one holy like the Lord; there is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God. 3 “Do not keep talking so proudly or let your mouth speak such arrogance, for the Lord is a God who knows, and by him deeds are weighed. 4 “The bows of the warriors are broken, but those who stumbled are armed with strength. 5 Those who were full hire themselves out for food, but those who were hungry are hungry no more. She who was barren has borne seven children, but she who has had many sons pines away. 6 “The Lord brings death and makes alive; he brings down to the grave and raises up. 7 The Lord sends poverty and wealth; he humbles and he exalts. 8 He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap; he seats them with princes and has them inherit a throne of honor. “For the foundations of the earth are the Lord’s; on them he has set the world. 9 He will guard the feet of his faithful servants, but the wicked will be silenced in the place of darkness. “It is not by strength that one prevails; 10 those who oppose the Lord will be broken. The Most High will thunder from heaven; the Lord will judge the ends of the earth. “He will give strength to his king and exalt the horn of his anointed.”
Notice how God does not only bring good and pleasant things. Hannah knows this. God works to level the field. The wealthy become poor, the poor become wealthy, etc. God is working things out in a flawed world through flawed people to carry out his perfect plans and promises.
Hannah does not praise God for the blessings he has brought on her, but for the way he keeps his promises to Israel as a nation, and how he works in the whole of humanity.
We so often forget the global picture of what God is doing, and only concern ourselves with our current state. We must remember both. Both are important. Both are near to God’s heart. But God does not nakham…God keeps his promises. Our job, is to bear His image to others, and to walk faithfully in relationship with Him.
Samuel is the last of the Judges, and a great prophet who will anoint David as king of Israel, and will set in motion the fulfilment of God’s ultimate promise: to rescue his people from the grips of sin by sending a descendant of David, the King of all Kings, Jesus!
Hannah did not pray asking God to make her child an integral part in the sending of the Messiah and Savior of the world. She prayed, “look on your servant’s misery and remember me.”
And God did. God saw the misery of Hannah, and I would say he also saw the misery of the entire nation in the midst of the spiraling mess of the Judges, and remembered his people. God’s unfolding plan for Israel began with God noticing the misery of a poor sufferer, and remembering his promise to Israel.
We serve the God who hears. We serve the God who remembers. We serve the God who fulfills his promises.
We may receive everything we ask for. We may receive nothing we ask for. The question is what are we asking for?
Because we will always receive what we ask for and what we want when our heart’s desire is the fulfillment of the never failing promises of God. Our understanding is not God’s understanding. Our plans are short sighted. Perhaps we should pray bigger! Not LORD grant my request, but LORD use me to fulfill your bigger purpose in reaching every man, woman, and child with the saving message of Jesus.
Those are the kinds of prayers we see God answering. Those are the stories of faith that the Scriptures point us to. God fulfills his promises, and he does so through his prophets. The church needs more prophets, men and women who are willing to stand up and proclaim what God is doing in the world and call the people back into covenant relationship with him.
Remember your people God. Remember the misery. And carry out your mission through me!
What are you praying for?
Luke 1:46–48 NIV
46 And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord 47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 48 for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed,
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