Summary: This sermon looks at Hannan’s faith in believing Eli for Samuel’s birth
She was heartbroken, all she had ever wanted to be was a mother and it seemed as if that was the one thing she’d never be. She lived in a society where children were considered to be a blessing from God and the greatest honour that could be bestowed upon a woman was motherhood. She had a loving and supportive husband but no children. Her name was Hannah and her heart was broken because she had no children. From the very core of her being she cried to God asking for the gift of a child.
One day when her husband went to the tabernacle to worship God (remember this was before the temple was built and the tabernacle was like a temporary church kind of like worshipping in a community centre) Hannah went with him and after supper when the tabernacle was empty she went in and began to pour out her heart to God. On her knees she wept as cried to the Lord “If you give me a son, then I will give him back to you and he will be yours for his entire life.”
Off in the corner of the Tabernacle was the Priest, a Godly man name Eli and as he watched Hannah pray, he was a little confused. The Tabernacle wasn’t a place that women normally came and here was a lady obviously beside herself, weeping and seemingly talking to herself, her lips were moving but there were no words coming out. And so Eli went over and told her to get a grip on herself, to go home and sober up, he assumed that she’d been drinking, and you know what happens when you assume? That’s right sometimes you’re wrong!
Hannah, wiped away her tears and bared her heart to the man of God telling him how much she wanted children, she spoke of her prayers and her passion. And when she was done he said “ok, no problem, God will take care of it.” And if you know your bible then you know that God did take care of it. That Hannah eventually gave birth to a son she named Samuel who became a great man of God and then she had two more sons and a daughter. But it is Samuel that we know about.
Let’s take a look at the background of this book. 1 Samuel is the first part of a pair of books, the second one coincidently is called 2 Samuel and they are the 9th and 10th book of the bible respectively. Actually for the first 2500 years that they were around they were one book. It was around the 15th century that they were split into two volumes. The most logical and accepted theory as to why is that the it takes almost double the amount of space to write something in Greek as it does in Hebrew. Kind of like when they make the announcements on the plane in English and then repeat it in French, it seems to take much longer. I was always afraid that they were adding additional information like: Don’t tell the Anglophones but the front emergency exits don’t really work, go to the ones at the back of the plane.
Anyway that was simply an aside. Because it took more space when the text were translated into the Greek it required more scrolls and when the they were translated into the Latin and subsequently into English the scrolls were seen as dividing points.
Although Samuel has been mentioned in the titles for three thousand years authorship was never attributed to him and the actual author remains a mystery. Scholars estimate that the books were written around 900 BC shortly after Israel was divided into the Northern and Southern Kingdom. Why was 1 Samuel written? It continues the history of the Israelites, connecting the time of the Judges to the time of the Kings.
So what are we learning about today? We are learning about faith, in particular the faith of Hannah. Faith is a vital ingredient in our relationship with God, the very foundation of Christianity rests on faith. We need to have faith to believe that Jesus is God’s son, that he was born of a virgin and that he rose from the dead. If we don’t have the faith to believe those things then we might as well walk away because there is nothing left that will give us eternal life.
In the New Testament book of Hebrews it is spelled out very clearly when it says: Hebrews 11:6 So, you see, it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that there is a God and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.
“But Denn” you say “I want to follow Christ but I only believe what I understand.” Well, Sir Thomas Browne summed it up when he said “To believe only possibilities is not faith, but mere philosophy.”