Reading the Bible through with me? Then grab your pen and journal and read I Samuel 1-3. Remember the very last verse of Judges? It says, “In those days Israel had no king; all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes” (Judges 21:25). Do you ever wonder if our culture is heading in that direction? That last verse of Judges is really the preface to the first verse of 1 Samuel 3. Read it again: “In those days, the word of the Lord was rare and prophetic visions were NOT widespread.” Years had passed, priests continued to in their religious functions, and yet, the Lord God was not speaking to them. Since God was silent, priests and common folks went through the motions of religion. There was a righteous woman named Hannah who had been unable to have children. Her husband loved her very much, but in that culture in those days, a woman without children would be considered cursed. See Numbers 5:11-31 for more detail. Hannah was fervent in her desire to be a mother. She went to the Tabernacle weeping bitterly as she begged God for a child. She promised God that her son would belong to the Lord God for life and sealed her prayer with promise of the Nazirite vow. Read Numbers 6:1-21 for more information. God heard her prayer and gave her a baby boy whom she named Samuel.
Samuel means “heard by God.” Her little boy became the one to whom God would speak to the nation of Israel. He would be their spiritual leader for decades. He would anoint Saul as Israel’s first king and he would anoint David as Israel’s greatest king. God used Hannah’s son as the faithful one who would hold Israel together during turbulent years. He was, indeed, an answer to prayer.
What we really need today are more women like Hannah and more men like Samuel. Common folks who get into God’s presence NOT to tell Him things He already knows, but to hear from Him what He wants us to be doing and saying. What can we learn from these chapters?? First is that God hears and answers earnest, fervent prayer. Hannah came to him in tears, anguished in her petition for God to bless her with a son. Her attitude and her approach to the Lord Who hears was one of humility and chutzpa. Chutzpa is Hebrew for an audacious confidence. She did not tell God what to do. She begged His with tears because she had confidence in what He COULD do. Second is the undeniable biblical truth that children are a gift from God. She and Elkanah were the caretakers who would raise him to know God as they did. Third is the consistent biblical truth that God is a champion for the oppressed, afflicted, and marginalized. That is the God of the Old Testament!
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