Like Sarah, Rebekah and Rachel before her; Hannah had been unable to conceive.
The story of Samuel begins with his mother, Hannah. Hannah was married to a man called Elkanah and she had a deep desire to have children. But like Sarah, Rebekah and Rachel before her; Hannah had been unable to conceive. To make matters worse, Elkanah also had another wife (it happened in those days!) and this other wife, Peninnah, was not the most kind and considerate of women. Rather than being supportive of Hannah, Peninnah mocked her inability to have children. The first lesson that we can learn, is that although Hannah was extremely upset because of the situation, she did not say, “Well, I guess its just not God’s will for me to have children, if it was I’d have had a baby by now. Oh well, que sera sera“. Instead, Hannah prayed and God prompted Eli the priest to come into agreement with her prayer. This agreement was in line with Jesus’ words spoken in Matthew 18:19, “ If two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven“.
As far as Hannah was concerned, her prayer was as good as answered.
The second lesson that we can learn here, is what Hannah did next. Prior to going to Shiloh to worship God, Hannah had not eaten – it appears that this was because of sadness, not because of fasting. But after she had prayed and Eli had come into agreement with her prayer, verse 18 of 1 Samuel 1 in The Message translation says, “Then she ate heartily, her face radiant“. As far as Hannah was concerned, her prayer was as good as answered. She didn’t go away wondering if God had heard her, wondering if it was God’s will for her to have children, etc. There was no, “Well Elkanah, I’ve prayed, so hopefully I’ll be able to have children now, but you never really know what God is going to do…..“. No – Hannah knew God better than that and she did exactly what Jesus would much later say in Mark 11:24 – she believed she received, when she prayed. Then, about nine months later Hannah received the physical manifestation of what she had already taken as hers in the spirit realm – her firstborn son, Samuel.
Samuel was constantly close to God.
At the time that Hannah had prayed for a son, she had promised God that if He would give her a son, she would give him back to God. So after Samuel had been weaned, Hannah took him to Eli the priest. One of the laws that God set in place during the Creation, was the law of seedtime and harvest (see my post, ‘Seedtime and Harvest‘), which stated that every seed would produce after its kind. This law does not just refer to natural seeds. So when Hannah gave Samuel to work for God, God treated Samuel as a seed and sure enough that seed produced a harvest. 1 Samuel 2:21 in The Living Bible says, “The Lord gave Hannah three sons and two daughters“. Meanwhile, Samuel began to grow up in the house of the Lord. Samuel was constantly close to God, and as a result, “The child Samuel grew in stature, and in favor both with the Lord and men” (1 Samuel 2:26, New King James Version). The more time that you spend in God’s presence through going to church, reading the Bible, praying, listening to anointed teachers etc, the more you too will grow in favour, both with God and with men.
Like many Christians today, Samuel did not recognise God’s voice.
The next lesson that I want to take from Samuel is found in 1 Samuel 3. It is here that God begins to talk to Samuel, but like many Christians today, Samuel did not recognise God’s voice. Now in Samuel’s case, it appears that it was an actual audible voice; but whilst God does still speak audibly, at times, to some people, it is by no means the norm. The usual way for God to speak to us as Christians, is through the still small voice on the inside of us (see ‘Stop Wandering In The Dark‘ and ‘How To Block Out God’s Voice‘), through the Bible and through preaching & teaching. The point is that, like Samuel, we need to learn to recognise the voice of God and then in faith act on it. With some guidance from Eli, Samuel, listened to what God had to say and then although what God wanted was for him to deliver a scathing report on Eli’s parenting of his sons, Samuel was obedient to God. Part of what Samuel was required to speak to Eli, was due to the role of prophet, which God was moving him into. It is important for us to understand that in these days, hearing from God does not make us a prophet (although that office is still very active). Today, God is speaking to all Christians; the contrast between now and Samuel’s day could not be more stark. 1 Samuel 3:1 in the Contemporary English Version states, “In those days, the Lord hardly ever spoke directly to people“. Today God is speaking, the question is, are we listening?
Samuel’s words carried power.
To conclude this post, I want to highlight that after Samuel had delivered God’s message to Eli, 1 Samuel 3:19 in the New Life Version says that, “The Lord was with him and made everything he said come true“. The reason that Samuel’s words carried such power was that, like Jesus, he only said what he heard God say. This is a very important lesson for us to take note of, particularly in light of what Jesus said in Mark 11:23, “For verily I say unto you, that whosoever shall say unto this mountain, be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith“, or as the Common English Bible says, “It will happen“.
If you have any further questions or thoughts, please feel free to leave a comment.
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