We're beginning a series on Samuel today. He is one of the greatest people in the entire Bible, other than Jesus. That Patriarch, Samuel, and today is the very first sermon on Samuel. It's about his mother, Hannah: Hannah's Foxhole Prayer. I hope you'll get a blessing out of this.
Now, no body lives in a foxhole forever, not even a fox. Saddam Hussein spent several hours in one. They got him out of there. Maybe you have spent some hours in one of the foxholes of life. Hannah was married to Elkanah, but there was a problem in here life. She was barren. She had no children! And she wanted to be a mother. And she didn't have any kids. In those days that was critical. Every day she felt like crawling into a hole to hide. She was discouraged greatly, but from the depths of her predicament she did something about it. Now I appreciate people who do something about their problems, and she did. She prayed to God. She prayed and she acted. Now, her husband, Elkanah was fairly wealthy but had no sons to perpetuate the family line and take care of the farm. He lacked faith that God would provide. How do we know that? Well, he got another wife. He had two wives. Now, that's not good. The problems were not only doubled but they were multiplied when you get into polygamy.
Let's start at the beginning of this exciting story. Let's come back here to 1 Samuel 1:1 in your Bible. 1 Samuel 1:1,2 There was a certain man from Ramathaim, a Zuphite from the hill country of Ephraim, whose name was Elkanah son of Jeroham, the son of Elihu, the son of Tohu, the son of Zuph, an Ephraimite. (That verse about wore my spell-check out.) He had two wives; one was called Hannah and the other Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah had none.
Now, it starts with Elkanah, doesn't it. He is not famous like some in the Bible but God noticed this man. To God we are not some computer number, or some bar-code, or some census tally. I will tell you that in God's thinking he was very significant because he was a righteous man. That's why he was significant. Have you noticed that when God wants to raise up a leader that He starts with a godly parents? That's the base, the foundation. You can't have good children without godly parents. You parents ought to know that. You grandparents are part of that foundation. You've got to make your life right. If you expect the cutting edge out there, those kids to do it right, you've got to do it right. So, when God starts to raise up a leader, He starts with godly parents. That's how he did it with John the Baptist. John the Baptist's parents were wonderful. He had a godly home. Jesus came into the humble but devout home of Mary and Joseph, and yet His parent were very godly. David came from a common home but Jesse was a devout Christian man. Samuel's parents, Elkanah and Hannah; godly people. That's how God starts.
They lived in a bad time. You can read that back here in Judges 21:25 In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit. How would you like to that? Wouldn't it be great to do as you saw fit? That's what it was like in the old west. It was wild and wooly. Everybody had his gun on his hips and they did as they saw fit. Wasn't that great? I'm glad I didn't live back then. It was kind of dangerous. Well, Joshua died and the people needed a leader. And you know, without leadership, and it is a crime that it is that way, but in every church if you don't have a good leader, the thing kind of melts down. Good leadership is very important, and not just in the pulpit, it's important in all of the divisions, all the leaders of the church, that's vital for a church to have good leaders. And they didn't have good leaders. Joshua had died and pretty soon evil just started mushrooming and abounding. It was like the old west for sure. They were sinful to the core. Baal was worshiped. They were in to paganism. All but just a small remnant had abandoned the Lord.
Judges 2:7. The people served the Lord throughout the lifetime of Joshua and of the elders who outlived him and who had seen all the great things the Lord had done for Israel. That's two generations they remained faithful. Then came a vacuum of Godly leadership. Eli was the high priest, but what kind of a priest was Eli? He was bad. His sons were even worse. So God's people were just led into sin. The example was there from the top, and the people just filtered on down and God's people were slid down into sin. So much depends on good leadership, righteous leadership. You need to pray for your leaders. The next generation forgot all about the things of God and what He had done and delivered them through the Red Sea. They didn't even remember that. It is shocking how far and how fast just one generation can go and slide downhill. Many in our present generation are quickly sliding down the hill of immorality. And it makes me wonder how much longer time will last.
I mean, you take America. When I was born, when I was a teenager in high school and starting college back in the sixties, I would say that this nation was a fairly Godly nation compared to what it is now. But sometime back in the sixties, the United States Supreme Court began to remove religion from their decisions. It was just like opening up a floodgate. Quickly we began to see rioting. Do you remember seeing the rioting back in those day? It was on television. We saw drugs coming in. We saw crime mushrooming. Divorce started shooting up. Morals began dropping to the bottom. Mini skirts led to mini values. Homosexuality came out into the open. We even stopped our children from praying in the public schools. Now it is illegal to display the ten commandments in a public place. All this has happened in two generations. How quickly we go down in just two generations.
I will tell you something: one hundred and five years ago, a little lady named, Ellen White, made a profound statement about America. I want to read you one sentence from Maranatha, p. 193.6: "The law of God will, to all intents and purposes, be made void in our land; and national apostasy will be followed by national ruin." That's what's happening. The lack of Godly leadership here in the United States is taking place, even as we speak. And, that's what caused the ruination of Israel in those days. This same void of Godly leadership is rampant today, and it's going to end up in the national ruin of America. Do you believe that?
Do you really want to know why they back-slid so fast? It's a lack of Christian education. Come over here to Deuteronomy 6 in your Bible. Now you can see the Ten Commandments in Deuteronomy 5. It's also in Exodus 20. Right after giving the 10 commandments God gave them the key to passing the torch to the younger generation. Deuteronomy 6:6-8, These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. That's pretty important isn't it.
That's what we're supposed to do. In other words, what is God saying? You need to teach your values to your children, because if you don't, who's going to do it? This is why Christian Education is so vital. They failed miserably and the whole nation was so deep into paganism that they needed a Godly hero to restore them to true values again! When we hit the bottom, God always sends a deliverer. He's going to do that in the final days: Jesus is going to come. In those days, God sent help, and that help was Samuel.
Now, Moses knew what would happen in the near future and he warned about that. He knew that
Now, Elkanah, Samuel's daddy, was an unemployed Levite. They didn't need any help in Shiloh because Eli and his two bad boys were pretty well handling the whole thing. But he was a Levite (I Chronicles 6:26-27, 34-35). His only possible claim to fame was that he was a Zuphite. If you look back, Zuph was a person who helped care for the ark
Now, Hannah, his wife, was barren. She never had the privilege of announcing that she and her husband "were co-operating with God in the creation of a new life" - Barber. Now, that's a privilege, isn't it. She never had that announcement year after year. Probably people gave her questioning looks, from other women especially. As time passed, and as she got older she realized that her chances of becoming a mother were less and less. And she thought, "What am I going to do about that?" And probably people were wondering, "Maybe God has withheld His blessing from her because of some secret sin in her life. Maybe that's the problem. We don't know."
And so, times were so bad for Hannah. And the times were so bad that there were very few who were faithful to God. Not very many people were going up to Shiloh to worship. I can't blame them not wanting to come to Shiloh. Eli was a wishy-washy high priest. He let his two boys do the officiating at the services and they were bad! In fact Hophni and Phinehas were evil! And they were the ones who were officiating in church every Sabbath.
That leads to a question, and I want you to think about this: Should you stay away from church because the leadership is bad? "I don't go to my Sabbath School department because the leader there is bad." "I don't want to go to church because the preaching is bad." "The nominating committee makes bad decisions; they didn't put me in." "The church board makes bad decisions." "It just isn't right, and I am going to just stay away." Is that right? I've known people to stop attending church because of something the pastor said, or something the pastor didn't say. Or maybe they've stopped attending church because of the church board or the nominating committee. Elkanah and Hannah attended Shiloh every year under bad leadership. And I will tell you that's an example here in the Bible and there's a lesson in that. And why did they do that? They didn't attend church because of the leadership, good or bad. They attended church because they were internally committed top God. And that's what we need to have
You never read here in the book of Samuel of any complaint of Hannah or Elkanah that it's too far away to go to church. Now you know we have people that attend the McDonald Road church. We've got a man who came to our church this morning that drove over forty miles to get here this morning. And he does, every Sabbath. They didn't complain that it was a whole day's walk rom where they lived up to Shiloh. They never complained about that. No, they were faithful. They were solid gold and God Noticed. God notices when His people do right. Their home was not happy. How could it be? Elkanah had two wives! He was a polygamist. Is polygamy approved here? No. There are lot of things in the Bible that people do that are not right. But we all have problems, don't we. We all have short comings. One wife couldn't have any kids and the other couldn't stop having kids. And so there was a problem. Hannah had the Godly character that a good mother ought to have, but her competitor kept having all the babies.
Look at 1 Samuel 1:5 But to Hannah he gave a double portion because he loved her. When they went up to the feast and they were eating there, he gave Hannah double portion. She had twice as many choplets and fri-chick and whatever it was on her plate. Why would he do that? Well, this was the same amount food as if she had actually did have a son and there were two of them sitting there. That's why he did that. 1 Samuel 1:6,7 And because the LORD had closed her womb, her rival kept provoking her in order to irritate her. This went on year after year. Whenever Hannah went up to the house of the LORD, her rival provoked her till she wept and would not eat.
Now, a food- strike is a serious indicator. Her agony was deep. She exhibited signs of deep depression. I think she was depressed. I don't know the nature of her depression, but all the bickering, all that needling had resulted in a miserable trip. Hannah was reduced to tears. In a time before Kleenex, I am sure she suffered greatly.
The crisis drove Hannah to her knees. Now, that's a good place to go when you're in a problem, isn't it. She did not give up. She did not curse God and say, "Well, I can't get pregnant.". She prayed about her problems. And I want you to notice eight keys to successful prayer in Hannah's experience. And I think you will be benefitted by going through this. Eight keys to successful prayer. Do you want to have answered prayer in your life? Do you want to have a successful prayer experience. Look at these:
1 Samuel 1:10 In bitterness of soul Hannah wept much and prayed to the LORD.
1. In other words, Her prayer was zealous. It was impassioned. You could tell that she was giving it her all.
2. She vowed to do her part. 1 Samuel 1:11. And she made a vow, saying, "O Lord Almighty, if you will only look upon your servant's misery and remember me." "If you give me a son, I will do my part and give him to Your work all the days of his life." So, if God answers your prayer and If God blesses you, you need to be willing to be generous with Him. Don't be selfish with God. That's a part of answered prayer. Commit a hundred percent all the way.
3. Be Humble. In 1 Samuel 1:11 she calls herself God's Servant! That tells me she was submissive. In true prayer you need to be submissive. You need to be humble. You need to accept God's will. Always pray A maid servant is submissive to God's will. Always pray according to God's will.
4. Keep Praying! 1 Samuel 1:12, As she kept on praying to the Lord. You need to not quit. You need to keep on praying. Now, Eli observed her mouth, that it was moving but no sound came out. Now, I think there is some merit to silent prayer. Silent prayer keeps the devil in the Dark. There is some merit to silent prayer, but you need to keep on praying.
5. Pray with your Heart! 1 Samuel 1:13. Hannah was praying in her heart, and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard. Eli thought she was drunk. It was not just a perfunctory prayer, not just some words, but pray from your heart. That's a key to prayer. Pray from your heart. Hannah was praying from her heart. Her lips were moving, but her voice was not heard, and Eli thought she was drunk. Shame on him. He couldn't recognize genuine prayer when he saw it.
Poor Hannah. Eli misjudged her. Her rival exasperated her. And her husband couldn't figure out what was wrong.
1 Samuel 1:14-16. (Eli) said to her, "How long will you keep on getting drunk? Get rid of your wine." Now, I respect him for taking a stand against wine. Was Eli right in condemning her for drinking wine? Yes he was. Verse 15, "Not so, my lord," Hannah replied, "I am a woman who is deeply troubled. I have not been drinking wine or beer; I was pouring out my soul to the Lord.' That's fervent prayer, isn't it. It's fervent effectual prayer. Verse 16, "Do not take your servant for a wicked woman; I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief."
6. Believe it will happen! If you really want to get answered prayer in your life, you need to believe in God. Believe that it will happen. If you don't believe it will happen, who else will? Look at 1 Samuel 1:17. Eli answered, Now he didn't even know what her prayer was, but he answered. He said, "Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him."
1 Samuel 1:18. She said, "May your servant find favor in your eyes." Then she went her way and ate something, and her face was no longer downcast. She ate food! No more hunger strike. Her face showed great belief. She ate the food. No more hunger strike. Her face showed her belief.
7. Do your part to make it happen! If there is something you are supposed to do, you can't just pray, "Lord. Please do this." Go do your part. Do your best. 1 Samuel 1:19. Early the next morning they arose and worshiped before the Lord and then went back to their home at Ramah. Elkanah lay with Hannah his wife, and the LORD remembered her. Her foxhole prayer worked. They did their part. God did His part. And this isn't all.
8. Wait on God. She did not get pregnant that day. How do we know when she got pregnant? Samuel was born just before the next yearly trip to Shiloh. Three months waiting, nine months pregnant, 1 year. (See Barber p. 331) You need to wait on the Lord. Now, you wait, be patient. Don't give up. Keep praying. Keep believing. And God will answer your prayers.
Samuel's birth was living proof that God answers prayer! We have a Heavenly Father Who listens to our prayers. He loves to hear His people pray.
1 Samuel 1:21 is interesting. If you have your Bible, I'm going to read this wrong. You catch what part that I read wrong. We're looking at 1 Samuel 1:21. When the man Elkanah went up with all his family to offer the annual sacrifice to the Lord and fulfill her vow. Who did the vowing here? Hannah did. Hannah made a vow. Did she or did she not? Hannah is the one that made the vow. "If You give me a son, I'll give him to You." And what did he do? It says Elkanah went up to Shiloh the next year to fulfill his vow! Her vow had now become his! He had bought in to her promise. In a good marriage, two should become one! They were united. Here's this picture of a united husband and wife. I think that is wonderful. In a good marriage, that's how it ought to be. You're both united on it.
I Samuel 1:23. ... (Hannah) stayed at home and nursed her son until she had weaned him. Now, I can imagine little Samuel was nursed about longer than any baby that had ever been born. As soon as she quit she had to take him to the temple. Little Samuel, breast-fed for I don't know how long. Maybe three years.
What can you really do in three years? Can you really have an influence on a young child in that time? Yes, you can. Those first years are critical. Baby Samuel grew, she gave him to the Lord. She gave him to God. But what spiritual influence can you have on a baby?
Look at the last experience here. Right after her big prayer, in 1 Samuel 2: 11, Then Elkanah went home to Ramah, but the boy ministered before the Lord under Eli the priest. They brought Samuel there. They fulfilled their vow. Then they went home and they left him under the care of Eli. Now, wasn't that a good choice? Don't you think Eli would be a fit parent? Did Eli have a good track record? Would you give your child to Eli to raise? That doesn't make any sense, does it. An evil environment.
Actually, Samuel was not raised by three evil men. Samuel was raised by some women. There were women there. Exodus 38:8 in that area of the Bible says the women served at the door of the sanctuary. I think one of them was Jephtha's daughter. Remember Jephtha? His daughter. She probably helped to raise Samuel. If you've ever wondered about that, you ought to read that. But God blessed the entire nation through Samuel because his Godly parents did was right. And, I want you to give your children to Jesus just like they gave Samuel to Jesus.
I think somehow Hannah taught Samuel that he was brought into the world for a special Godly purpose. Teach your kids that God has a special purpose for them.
Basically She gave Samuel to Eli to raise. Was that a wise choice? Did Eli have a good track record? NO! His two sons were badly wicked. Would you trust your only son in such an evil environment? How she must have prayed!!
Would people think you were drunk by the way you pray?
Sources: Patriarchs and prophets, Ellen White, Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1958 The Books of Samuel, volume 1, by Cyril J. Barber, Loizeaux, Neptune, New Jersey 1994. 1st and 2nd Samuel, by J. Vernon McGee, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, 1991 Men of Character, Samuel, by Gene A. Getz, Broadman and Holman, Nashville, TN, 1997 Bible Amplifier, Samuel, by Alden Thompson, Pacific Press Publishing Association, Boise, ID, 1995 The NIV Application Commentary, 1st and 2nd Samuel, by Bill T. Arnold, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI 2003 Chosen to be God's prophet, Lessons from the life of Samuel, by Henry Blackaby, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN, 2003 _________________________________________________________ Hymn of Praise: #229, All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name Scritpure: 1 Samuel 1:24-28 Hymn of Response: #505, I Need The Prayers Of Those I Love 040731- 1 Samuel 1- #555
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last updated August 3, 2004 by Bob Beckett.