1 Samuel 1 (please click here to read the passage)
Happy New Year! I trust that you had a wonderful Christmas and enjoyed the blessings of the Lord as you celebrated the birth of Jesus. I thought that we would spend some time in the Old Testament as we begin the New Year. I was thinking we would take a walk through 1 and 2 Samuel. One thing to remember as you read in the Old Testament is to read bigger sections in order to get a picture of the narrative and what it’s saying about our relationship with the Lord.
The historical context of 1 and 2 Samuel is right after the time of Judges. In fact, Samuel is the last Judge and the first prophet. The end of Judges is not a pretty time for the people of God. They are struggling with huge moral failings and Judges leaves us with the stunning statement, “everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” Not a good time for the people of God as they had no moral compass, no moral conscience, the leadership was perverse and the people were wicked. Read the end of Judges and you will be shocked!
But God is about to change things through the birth of Samuel. 1 Samuel 1 sets the scene with the birth of Samuel. He is the one who is going to bridge the gap between two periods - that of the judges and the start of the monarchy in Israel.
We begin with the details of Samuel’s birth. I love the heart of Hannah in all of this and the record that we have of her prayer before the Lord. In verses 15-16, her openness about her prayer to Eli has two characteristics that I love:
First, prayer has been a constant in her life. She is not praying in the spur of the moment when she decides to pray for a child. She has been praying constantly about this and, in the process, trusting the Lord and His timing for her life.
Second, we read that she is brutally honest with the Lord about her feelings and her request, “pouring out my soul before the Lord.”
The other point I find stunning is the vow that Hannah makes, a vow which she keeps. She came to the Lord with nothing, the Lord gave her the desire of her heart for which she had been longing and suffering through for years. Then, she returns and entrusts to the Lord that which means everything to her - fulfilling her vow. It is astonishing and it reminds me of the narrative regarding Abraham and his son Isaac in Genesis. All of this begins with her open, raw prayer before the Lord.
That’s the point that I would like to focus on today; pouring out our hearts before the Lord. Prayer isn’t just an exercise that we engage in so that we can check it off our list of things to do each day as good Christians, or to somehow obligate the Lord to give us the things that we desire.
Prayer is this wonderful time of real, personal, and intimate connection with the Lord. We need to approach our times of prayer with the expectation that God is with us and hears us. We need to be open before the Lord with all things and then trust the Lord as His good timing.
It is perfectly fine to express our desires and wrestle with the Lord in prayer, but in the end, we must always humbly submit our lives to His care and trust in His goodness and timing and that He will provide perfectly, although it may not be when or what we expect.
2 Peter 3:9
The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.
God bless you and know that you are constantly in my prayers.