God Calls a Prophet

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Leader Guide ESV, Unit 10, Session 1
© 2019 LifeWay Christian Resources, Permission granted to reproduce and distribute within the license agreement with purchaser. Edited by Rev. Lex DeLong, M.A., June 2022.
Summary and Goal
Hannah is a woman in a difficult position with no hope in sight. When she came to her breaking point, she chose to go to the only One who could help her in the midst of her pain. The Lord responded and blessed her with a son who would one day become a great prophet for the Lord. He was cause for Israel to worship God, and he was called to share God’s word in a ministry that pointed forward to God’s fulfillment of His Word for their good and His glory.
Session Outline
++1. God’s response to prayer is for your good and His glory (1 Sam. 1:20,24-28).
++2. God’s response to prayer is always a reason for joy and worship (1 Sam. 2:1-2,6-8).
++3. God’s response to prayer will always reveal His faithfulness to His word (1 Sam. 3:15-21).
Session in a Sentence
God’s good and glorious response to prayer compels His people to worship Him as He reveals His Faithfulness.
ORIGINAL: God communicates His words through faithful servants who are dedicated to Him.
Christ Connection
Samuel was the long-awaited son whom Hannah dedicated to God for His service. God was with Samuel and he became a prophet who spoke the words God gave him to the people. John 1:1 says that Jesus is the Word, the long-awaited Son of God sent to show the world what God is like.
p. 11 (DDG) Humanity has a tendency to doubt God’s sovereignty and goodness. People struggle with the hardships of life, especially the things that are yet unknown around the corner. Whether jobs, families, or life that don’t turn out the way you thought they would, often we tend to struggle with the idea of God’s sovereignty over them, His goodness, and how the two co-exist.
Nothing is impossible for the Lord, but we sure are prone to think some things might even be beyond God’s reach or that maybe God is somehow different in character than we thought Him to be from the pages of Scripture.
Whatever the circumstance, the things that are out of our own hands often feel out of God’s hands too. But nothing is beyond God. He is sovereign. He is omnipotent. He is omniscient. He is omnipresent. And what’s more, He is omni-benevolent, meaning He is all good and He works all things together for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose (Rom. 8:28).
Romans 8:28 NASB
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
Ask this question:
What, or whom, does the world run to when life feels beyond their control?
(to God; to other world religions; to despair; to escape through entertainment or substance abuse; to family and friends; just run away)
· Unless the people of the world repent of their sin and turn to Jesus, no matter where they go or to whom they run, they will still be living lost and wandering in a world beyond their control. For that matter, Christians also live in a world beyond our control, but we know the One who is in control, and that should make all the difference in the world for how we live and respond to our circumstances.
We are going to encounter Hannah, a woman in a difficult position with no hope in sight. When she came to her breaking point, she chose to go to the only One who could help her in the midst of her pain. The Lord responded and blessed her with a son who would one day become a great prophet for the Lord. He was cause for worship to God and he was called to share God’s word. Furthermore, his ministry pointed forward to God’s fulfillment of all He had promised—Jesus Christ, the Word of God who became man.

Point 1: God’s response to prayer is for your good and His glory (1 Sam. 1:20,24-28).

ORIGINAL: A son is dedicated for God’s service
DDG (p. 12)
In the waning period of the judges, an Israelite named Elkanah had two wives: Hannah, who was barren, and Peninnah, who provoked Hannah because of it. This family worshiped yearly at the sanctuary in Shiloh.
1, 2 Samuel (1) The Lord Opens Hannah’s Womb (1:1–20)

Shiloh (modern Seilun, nine miles north of Bethel) had functioned as the early center of the Israelite worship of Yahweh since the days of Joshua. It was there that the Tent of Meeting (ʾōhel môʿēd) was set up (Josh 18:1), and covenant-related activities—for example, the determination of tribal allotments within the Promised Land, celebration of annual festivals, and calls to holy war—were carried out (cf. Josh 18:8; 19:51; 21:1–2; 22:9, 12; Judg 18:31; 21:12, 19, 21). Even in Eli’s day the Tent of Meeting was still in use at Shiloh (cf. 2:22), but it had been augmented by a more permanent architectural structure (cf. 1:7, 9; 3:15) that served as the center of Yahwistic activity.

On one occasion, Hannah reached her breaking point.
Did she try to run away from her affliction?
Did she lash out against her rival?
She took her anguish and resentment to the Lord in prayer, asking Him to take notice of her affliction and to bless her with a son (1:9-11,16). And the Lord listened.
· Peninnah had children, yet she saw barren Hannah as her rival and took opportunities to provoke Hannah over her barrenness, most likely jealous of Elkanah’s love for Hannah. On their yearly journeys to worship in Shiloh, Elkanah would give portions of meat from their fellowship offering to Peninnah and their children, but he would give a double portion to Hannah because he loved her, even though she was childless (1:4-7).
Read 1 Samuel 1:20 (DDG p. 12).
20 And in due time Hannah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Samuel, for she said, “I have asked for him from the Lord.”
Samuel - literally, “Heard by/of God.”
Ask this question.
What must Hannah have believed about God to pray to Him under these circumstances?
(God hears prayers; God responds to prayers; God is not annoyed by the cries of our hearts; God is sovereign over the womb; God cares for those who are afflicted)
Hannah was an ordinary woman, yet her prayer was powerful, honest, and answered.
· Although the Lord may not answer all of our prayers in the ways that we hope and expect, Hannah’s example is a picture of humility and desperation for the Lord that we should follow.
We all share in the privilege of being able to approach the Lord in prayer (Phil 4:6-7; Heb. 4:14-16).
Phil 4:6-7 “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Hebrews 4:14–16 NASB
Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need.
As a part of praying to the Lord for a son, Hannah vowed that she would give that son to the Lord for His service. So when the time was right, Hannah brought Samuel to Eli, the high priest at the Lord’s sanctuary.
Read 1 Samuel 1:24-28 (DDG p. 12).
24 And when she had weaned him, she took him up with her, along with a three-year-old bull, an ephah of flour, and a skin of wine, and she brought him to the house of the Lord at Shiloh. And the child was young. 25 Then they slaughtered the bull, and they brought the child to Eli. 26 And she said, “Oh, my lord! As you live, my lord, I am the woman who was standing here in your presence, praying to the Lord. 27 For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition that I made to him. 28 Therefore I have lent him to the Lord. As long as he lives, he is lent to the Lord.”
And he worshiped the Lord there.
DDG (p. 12)
· When Hannah prayed years before in the sanctuary, Eli, the priest, saw her lips moving but heard no words. He mistook this as a sign of drunkenness and rebuked her for it (1:12-14). She earnestly and humbly explained to him, however, that she was crying out to God because of her deep pain (1:15-16).
· Eli then responded with a simple blessing and hope that her request would be answered. His words had an immediate and lasting effect on her, as she left, ate, and the sadness on her face disappeared (1:17-18).
When Hannah returned to the sanctuary with her son, she took joy in reminding Eli about her prayer and showing him God’s answer. Hannah’s joy and gratitude to the Lord, coupled with her faithfulness, led her to fulfill her vow. The Lord gave her a great gift, so she made good on her promise to give her son to the Lord. Samuel would serve the Lord all the days of his life.
And the response was worship to the Lord (1:26-28).
1 Samuel 1:26–28 NASB
And she said, “Oh, my lord! As your soul lives, my lord, I am the woman who stood here beside you, praying to the Lord.“For this boy I prayed, and the Lord has given me my petition which I asked of Him.“So I have also dedicated him to the Lord; as long as he lives he is dedicated to the Lord.” And he worshiped the Lord there.

Point 2: God’s response to prayer is always a reason for joy and worship (1 Sam. 2:1-2,6-8).

ORIGINAL: A son is reason for joy and worship
Read: Ask a volunteer to read 1 Samuel 2:1-2,6-8 (DDG p. 13).
1 And Hannah prayed and said,
“My heart exults in the Lord; my horn is exalted in the Lord. My mouth derides my enemies, because I rejoice in your salvation. 2 There is none holy like the Lord: for there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God.
6 The Lord kills and brings to life; he brings down to Sheol and raises up. 7 The Lord makes poor and makes rich; he brings low and he exalts. 8 He raises up the poor from the dust; he lifts the needy from the ash heap to make them sit with princes and inherit a seat of honor. For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s, and on them he has set the world.
DDG (p. 13)
A son or daughter is such a gift from God!
Parents are given the blessing of loving and raising another image bearer of God for His glory. What an amazing joy and stewardship.
Sadly, this truth is lost on many people who see children as a burden, with some even advocating for abortion or infanticide—both of which is the murder of image bearers.
Hannah’s heart; however, welled up with spontaneous praise at the gift of her child. We all need these reminders at times: Children are a blessing from the Lord (Ps. 127).
Hannah’s song of praise would one day influence Mary’s “Magnificat,” her song praising God for sending His Son through her (Luke 1:46-55).
Luke 1:46-55 “And Mary said: “My soul exalts the Lord, And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.“For He has had regard for the humble state of His bondslave; For behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed. “For the Mighty One has done great things for me; And holy is His name. “And His mercy is upon generation after generation Toward those who fear Him. “He has done mighty deeds with His arm; He has scattered those who were proud in the thoughts of their heart. “He has brought down rulers from their thrones, And has exalted those who were humble. “He has filled the hungry with good things; And sent away the rich empty-handed. “He has given help to Israel His servant, In remembrance of His mercy, As He spoke to our fathers, To Abraham and his offspring forever.””
Both Hannah and Mary found themselves spontaneously praising God for the miraculous gift of a son when it was thought impossible. They both praised Him for His greatness and strength and declared that He is the One who raises up the lowly to a place of honor and blessing. These two women are shining examples in Scripture, but Bible readers must note how quickly they emphasized their humanity, that they were lowly and needy.
God uses the lowly and needy, not just the powerful, and He works mightily in and through them, and that includes us.
Ask this question.
How can the church challenge the worldview that children are a burden and not a blessing from God?
(Christians should be mindful about how they speak about children so as not to communicate that they are a burden; Christians can participate in and support foster care, adoption, and struggling families; churches can be welcoming of children of all ages as a part of their ministries and their worship services)
DDG (p. 13)
Hannah thanked God for His gift and praised Him for His sovereignty and greatness even as she was leaving Samuel with Eli. Surely her heart was breaking, but that doesn’t appear to be her focus. Her heart was so full of thankfulness and praise to God.
Perhaps this brought comfort and courage to her for what she was about to do. Or maybe she realized that the gift of this son was about more than just her. Perhaps she understood that her life and his life were ultimately about the glory of the Lord.
Voices from Church History
“This constitutes the pinnacle of human dignity, this is his glory and greatness: truly to know what is great and to cleave to it, and to seek after glory from [for] the Lord of glory.” 1 –Basil the Great (c. 330-379)
Hannah was in a position where she had no choice but to throw herself on the mercy of God. She went to the Lord in need, and He answered. So she responded with joy and worship, knowing the sovereign God uses even our worst trials for good.
· She was childless. No human could help her change that. She needed the Giver of life (vv. 5,9).
· She was afflicted by enemies, namely, Peninnah. She needed the Savior God to step in on her behalf (vv. 1,3,9).
· She was among the poor and needy in her barrenness, by her own estimation. She needed the intervention of the mighty and awesome Creator God to raise her up (vv. 1-2,4-8).
Romans 8:28, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”
God took a broken, grieving woman and turned her into a vessel through whom would come a great prophet of Israel.
Hannah worshiped God without even knowing the significance of the plan God had for her son because God’s ways are always best, but often beyond our comprehension.
Why should the sovereignty of God over our circumstances lead us to joy and worship rather than bitterness and despair?
(because God is love and He is good; God’s plans are for our good, not our destruction; God’s ways are higher than our ways, and He can be trusted in the midst of difficult circumstances; the success of our enemies and oppressors must be temporary because God will accomplish His justice for His people)

Point 3: God’s response to prayer will always reveal his faithfulness to His word (1 Sam. 3:15-21).

ORIGINAL: A son is called by God to share His words (1 Sam. 3:15-21).
DDG (p. 14) Contrast Eli’s sons, Hophni and Phinehas, with Samuel.
Samuel’s surrogate family was less than ideal, marked by wickedness that God would not overlook. Eli’s two wayward sons, Hophni and Phinehas, took advantage of their position as priests at the sanctuary. Eli had expressed his misgivings about their sinful actions, but he did not stop them and allowed them to continue to despise the Lord.
Samuel, on the other hand, grew in stature and in favor with God and His people (1 Sam. 2:26). He knew who God was and faithfully served Him, but he didn’t know the Lord personally yet because he hadn’t heard from Him. Though Samuel lived in a time when a word from the Lord was rare, God would speak to and through this young man throughout his entire life.
The sins of Eli’s sons, Hophni and Phinehas:
· They disobeyed the rules of sacrifice. Eli’s sons took whatever portion they could get for food. They also insisted on taking the fat, which was reserved for God alone, and required their portion raw instead of boiled, meaning the blood was still in it (1 Sam. 2:15-16; see Lev. 3:12-17; 7:25-27,31-34).
· They enticed the Israelite women at the tent of meeting to have sex with them (1 Sam. 2:22).
· They ignored their father’s attempt to correct them (1 Sam. 2:23-25).
Fill in the blanks: DDG (p. 14)
Special Revelation: Refers to God’s revealing Himself to humanity through historical events, His Word, and through Jesus Christ. Through special revelation, human beings learn about God’s character, His will, His purpose for creation, and His plan of redemption.
Special revelation shows us the nature and character of God, and because God has revealed Himself in this way, we can know Him—through a saving relationship with Him in the person and work of Jesus Christ.
One night, on three separate occasions, Samuel thought he heard Eli call his name, but each time Eli sent him back to bed. The third time, Eli clued in on what was happening and instructed Samuel to listen to the Lord.
What Samuel heard was his first prophecy, a message of judgment against Eli and his sons (1 Sam. 3:3-14).
Read 1 Samuel 3:15-21 (DDG p. 14).
15 Samuel lay until morning; then he opened the doors of the house of the Lord. And Samuel was afraid to tell the vision to Eli. 16 But Eli called Samuel and said, “Samuel, my son.” And he said, “Here I am.” 17 And Eli said, “What was it that he told you? Do not hide it from me. May God do so to you and more also if you hide anything from me of all that he told you.” 18 So Samuel told him everything and hid nothing from him. And he said, “It is the Lord. Let him do what seems good to him.”
19 And Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground. 20 And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba knew that Samuel was established as a prophet of the Lord. 21 And the Lord appeared again at Shiloh, for the Lord revealed himself to Samuel at Shiloh by the word of the Lord.
What are some of the similarities and differences between Samuel’s prophetic message for Eli and sharing the gospel of Jesus with others?
(sometimes we can be afraid to share the gospel; the gospel is a message of judgment for those who don’t believe; the gospel is a message of grace for those who do believe; the gospel is a privilege to share with sinners because we have been saved by it)
Samuel was born, dedicated, and called as a prophet to speak to God’s people on His behalf. He was recognized as a prophet of the Lord whose word could be trusted (see Deut. 18:15-22). While his ministry lasted his lifetime and would have great impact upon the world, it was still temporary and limited.
· Jesus, however, fulfilled the role of prophet to perfection, by design. All the prophets, from Moses to Samuel and beyond, spoke God’s messages and announced the two comings of Jesus (Acts 3:17-26). But more than that, Jesus is the message of God, the Son of God who came to save sinners (Heb. 1:1-3).
Fill in the blanks: DDG (p. 14).
Christ as Prophet: Jesus fulfills the role of prophet: He alone is the ultimate teacher and has the words of eternal life (John 6:68). Jesus is also God’s ultimate revelation of Himself, the very Word of God (John 1:1).
When Eli confronted his sons about their sins, he made a fearful statement: If one man sins against another, God can intercede for him, but if a man sins against the Lord, who can intercede for him (1 Sam. 2:25)?
Their sins in the sanctuary led the Lord to kill them in judgment. But in truth, all sin deserves such judgment. That’s why God created the sacrificial system in the first place, in order to picture a substitute death that could take place for the remission of sins.
God alone can intercede for humanity when they have sinned against Him, and He did that once for all in sending Jesus, the Son of God made man, the one Mediator between God and man (1 Tim. 2:5-6).
1 Timothy 2:5–6 NASB
For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony borne at the proper time.
Though sinners are far off from God, they are never too far from His grace in Jesus Christ (Eph. 2:13).
Ephesians 2:13 NASB
But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
All wretched sinners who have experienced His grace through faith (i.e., Christians) then have the joy to praise God for their redemption and the privilege to share His gospel with the whole world.
Because we have experienced the power of the Word of God leading to our salvation, we listen carefully to what God says to us in His Word and share His truth to those around us.
Session Outline
1. God’s response to prayer is for your good and His glory (1 Sam. 1:20,24-28).
2. God’s response to prayer is always a reason for joy and worship (1 Sam. 2:1-2,6-8).
3. God’s response to prayer will always reveal His faithfulness to His word (1 Sam. 3:15-21).
· What will you pray about in light of the truth that God is sovereign, gracious, and good?
· How can you support those who are struggling with faith in the midst of their life circumstances?
What kind of response will you have, even today, to God’s answer to your prayers?
· What steps will you take to overcome your fears and trust God to be faithful to His word in all things?
Voices from the Church
“Sin either stops up our ears from God’s voice or makes God’s voice terrifying rather than comforting.”
“Sin causes us to fear God’s voice rather than love God’s voice.”
–Heath Thomas and J. D. Greear (Prof. of OT at Oklahoma Baptist University/Pastor in Raleigh, NC)
Christ-Centered Exposition: Exalting Jesus in 1 & 2 Samuel (Nashville, TN: B&H, 2016) [Wordsearch].
Close in prayer:
1. Basil the Great, On Humility, quoted in Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1–2 Samuel, ed. John R. Franke, vol. IV in Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture: Old Testament(Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 2001) [Wordsearch].
2. Heath Thomas and J. D. Greear, Christ-Centered Exposition: Exalting Jesus in 1 & 2 Samuel (Nashville, TN: B&H, 2016) [Wordsearch].
3. Robert D. Bergen, “The Message & Purpose of 1 Samuel,” Biblical Illustrator (Summer 2016): 17.
4. Angukali Rotokha, “1 Samuel,” in South Asia Bible Commentary, gen. ed. Brian Wintle (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2015), 343.
5. “1 Samuel,” in Worldview Study Bible (Nashville, TN: B&H, 2018), 321, n. 2:1-10.
6. Joy Osgood, “1 & 2 Samuel,” in The IVP Women’s Bible Commentary, eds. Catherine Clark Kroeger, Mary J. Evans, Elizabeth Kroeger Elliott (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2011) [Wordsearch].
7. Robert D. Bergen, 1, 2 Samuel, vol. 7 in The New American Commentary (Nashville, TN: B&H, 2003) [Wordsearch].
8. Robert D. Bergen, “1 Samuel,” in Apologetics Study Bible (Nashville, TN: B&H, 2007), 411, n. 3:21.
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