Summary: A message on Hannah's prayer to God for a son.
Charles Spurgeon said, “[God] loves to hear the loud outcries of needy souls.” With God’s help today, I want to point you to an awesome, powerful God who reigns above the universe and has all power in His mighty hand; but I want to also show you a God who comes as low as we are to hear and answer our prayers. Jesus once told his disciples a story, and Luke said the point of the story was “that men ought always to pray, and not to faint.”
There seem to be two directions we can go here, as believers. We can see the circumstances around us, feel our own frailty, sense the darkness of sin, and grow weary. We can faint.
Or, we can take the circumstances around us to the throne of grace. We can ask God for strength in our weakness. We can ask God for victory over sin. We can be renewed as eagles. We can pray.
Fainting or praying — that’s our choice when we’re faced with the circumstances of life, and I think many of us find ourselves in between those two options this morning. I know I do.
So, this morning, we’re going to sneak a peak into Hannah’s life as she chose the better way, and we’ll try to learn some lessons for ourselves along the way.
Facing the Mess We’re In
One of the first steps to getting help is to admit the mess we’re in. Sometimes we’ve made it for ourselves. Sometimes it really is the fault of other people. Sometimes the circumstances of life just seem to close in on us. But we need to face the mess. Realize where the problem is.
This chapter begins with Elkanah and his family, including his wife Hannah and his other wife Peninnah, going on an annual trip to Shiloh to make their sacrifice to God. This trip seemed to focus attention on the mess she was in.
Personal Relationships (1 Samuel 1:2, 4-7)
Elkanah had two wives. This wasn’t the Bible plan for marriage. God had instituted marriage in the Garden of Eden to be one man, one woman for life, and you always get in trouble when you mess with what God intended. The two wives had problems between them, and those problems were aggravated by the fact that Hannah had no children, and Peninnah was always tormenting her for it.
Bad Leadership (1 Samuel 1:3)
Hophni and Phinehas were priests at the time, but chapter two tells us that they were “sons of Belial” who “did not know the Lord.” Chapter three adds that they “made themselves vile, and Eli [their father] restrained them not.” In fact, people were avoiding the required sacrifices so they wouldn’t have to observe the wickedness in the tabernacle!
This is often the result of bad leadership — people reject God along with the wicked leaders, and many people had given up on the leadership and therefore had given up on making their sacrifices or their annual trip to the tabernacle.
Personal Failure (1 Samuel 1:5-7)
It’s not your fault if you’re not able to have children, but in Hannah’s case, she took it like a personal failure. She was a Jewish woman. Jewish woman were expected to have children. She didn’t have any. Therefore, she felt worthless and unfulfilled.
This is a difficult place to be in, and one of the most depressing places. We all hunger for significance and belonging, and Hannah felt out of place in the home, at the well.She was loved, she was cared for — but there was one thing that kept her from joy, and that was her barrenness.
Impossible Situation (1:5)
There are some situations that we got ourselves into and we can get out of. But Hannah was in a place where she could not change the situation on her own. She couldn’t have children, and there was nothing she could do to change that.
So, Hannah was in a mess. Her family life was a mess. The other wife would constantly berate her for not having children. She felt like a failure to Elkanah, to God, to her society. Her church was messed up. The leaders didn’t care about God or the people — they were just in it for themselves and the money (or food, in their case). Things were dark.
Now, Hannah had a few options at this case. Some people get into a dark area like this and contemplate suicide. That’s an awful option that won’t solve any of this, but it looks attractive when things are the darkest. Hannah probably didn’t see it right then, but she was part of the solution for these problems. Suicide would have broken her husband and family, and Israel would have lost it’s best leader ever.