In 1 Samuel 1:1-8 the expression “the Lord had closed her womb” is repeated twice. What does this suggest about the solution to similar problems which God’s people may encounter?
In verses 9-18 the title “your servant” is repeated four times.What does this tell us about Hannah?Why is this attitude important to keep from falling into the devil’s snares?
Consider the way Hannah prayed to the Lord.What can we learn about prayer from the following descriptions concerning Hannah’s prayer?
Hannah stood up (9)
In bitterness of soul Hannah wept much and prayed to the Lord (10)
She made a vow (11)
“O Lord Almighty” (11)
Hannah was praying in her heart (12)
“I was pouring out my soul to the Lord” (15)
Her face was no longer downcast (18)
Verse 19 states that it was because “the Lord remembered her” that Hannah became pregnant.What does this teach us about the power of prayer? (11, 20)
In verses 21-23, what shows that Hannah sincerely cherished her son Samuel?Why did she dedicate her son to the Lord?What can we learn from Hannah about the way to manage the blessings we receive from God?
In 1 Samuel 2:1-10, Hannah offered a prayer of thanks to the Lord.What wisdom can we find in it about the way to handle the challenges of life, such as conflict with people, lack of fruit, or poverty? (1-2, 6-8, 9b)
After dedicating Samuel to the Lord, how did Hannah continue to pray for him? (1 Samuel 2:19)How did the Lord reward her for her sacrifice? (2:21)
So now I give him to the LORD. For his whole life he will be given over to the LORD." And he worshiped the LORD there.
May 9 is Mother’s Day. We would like to learn from Hannah’s example the importance of a mother who prays to the Lord for her children, for it was thanks to her prayer and dedication to the Lord that the disorderly period of the judges came to a close and the orderly day of the Davidic Kingdom was ushered in. The devil knows the importance of a spiritual mother so he tries to tempt women throughout humanity. That is why he tried to bring havoc to humanity by first tempting woman and causing her to become unbelieving.The devil sent many kinds of bait for Hannah to bite on, but thanks to her faith, spirituality, and noble character, she did not bite any of them. Rather in times of trouble, she went to the Lord and found God’s solution, turning her troubles into reasons to praise God’s name.
First, a troubled mother
The first and perhaps the most important trait for a spiritual mother to possess is the way to approach trouble in one’s life. The question to consider is: “Yes, I have this trouble right in front of me. Why did this come? Why did God send this trouble to me?” In 1 Samuel 1:1-8 the expression “the Lord had closed her womb” is repeated twice. This expression suggests to us about the solution to problems that God’s people may encounter. That is, the solution to man’s trouble is to come to the Lord for his help. Humanistic ways will never solve problems. Rather they will only complicate the problems. For those who have faith in the Lord, it can be seen that God is there behind every trouble that comes their way. God is good and perfect. Every good and perfect gift is from God. Thus when God sends us one trouble or another, we admit that it is in fact a stepping stone for a greater blessing to come. And so we have this to say: “Every trouble is God’s blessing in disguise.” If we understand this truth, we will not fall into the devil’s temptations. Rather we can turn troubles into reasons to praise God’s name.
When Jesus came he taught his disciples the same truth. One day as Jesus and his disciples were passing by they saw a man born blind. On seeing the man one of the disciples asked Jesus, “Rabbi, why is this man like this? Who sinned that this man was born blind, he or his parents?” Their view of the problem was quite fatalistic. Jesus then said, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life” (John 9:1-3).
Each time I think about my physical appearance I feel kind of embarrassed. I know my wife is photogenic, but I am not. The question then is, “Why is it that God did not shape my looks to be as handsome as any of our brothers in the Downey center?” Of course, a million different answers can be given, so that I wish to say to myself things like: “Look at your father and your mother. You received your looks out of their union.” Or, “You are of a low-browed breed. You are not of noble birth. Don’t think too highly of yourself. Know who you are. Keep your mouth shut. Go to a corner there, and sit quiet and never come out even if the whole world asks you to come out.”But none of these answers are biblical. What is a biblical answer to the seemingly troubled looks I am stuck with? I am shaped this way so that the work of God might be displayed in my life.
Second, if you will only look upon your servant’s misery…
The second most important trait for a spiritual mother to possess is a humble attitude. A proud mother never makes a good mother. Maybe she can make a good fashion model, but never a good mother. In vs. 9-18, we see the title “your servant” repeated four times. What does this tell us about Hannah? It says that Hannah was humble. She admitted that she was not worthy. She did not assume that God should do this or should do that. Rather she acknowledged God as God and herself as an undeserving creature. She was merely a servant girl. A servant has no right to command his master to do this or to do that. A servant knows that everything from the master comes to him as a favor. After all, as her name Hannah, which means grace or favor, suggests, her entire life itself was a gift from God.In her case then she did not assume that God should give her a son or two. Rather she humbly asked God for a son, for in her mind every little blessing that comes to her is a gift from God that must be used for God’s glory.
This humble attitude about oneself before God is the next key to not falling into the devil’s schemes. This humble view of herself kept her thankful to the Lord and kept her from sinning against God by complaining to God or by being rude to her neighbors like her husband or, yes, her rival Peninnah. When we have this attitude, we then can come back to him asking for his mercy, that out of the trouble in our hands, only God’s name be glorified.
Again when Jesus came he set a perfect example on this point. Throughout his ministry, waves after waves of troubles came to him, but Jesus did not complain. As we know, the greatest trouble that came to him was the grim prospect of his death on the cross. After serving all kinds of sinners with all humility, power, and glory, he had to be nailed to the cross as if he did something terrible. All he did to the people was only gracious. But the reward for all of his good work for them was to die on the cross. Facing this grim prospect, Jesus could have doubted God’s love and complained. But he did not. Rather, in humility he cried out to the Lord, “Not my will but yours be done” (Luke22:42). How could he do that? Of course many things can be said. But of all the factors, his humility stands out. The Apostle Paul saw this and wrote in Philippians 2:5-8, “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:Who, being in very natureGod, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very natureof a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death -- even death on a cross!” It is interesting to note that Paul added, “[He] became obedient to death” only after saying, “he ‘humbled’ himself.” A proud person has a serious problem with obedience. They love to issue orders but hate to accept orders. No wonder that Jesus was a truly mother-like shepherd. In his humility he put himself in the service of others even to the point of death. Yes, we talk a lot about the importance of motherly sacrifice, but before every sacrificial act of a mother, we must first appreciate and adopt the humble servant-like attitude of Hannah.
Third, O Lord!
Not all mothers are born heroes. Let us never forget that our mothers also are human beings. What then makes a mother to be strong? The answer is found in the way Hannah prayed to the Lord. How did she pray? In vs. 9-18 we see Hannah starting prayer in deep sorrow and ending her prayer with an uplifted spirit. Much has been said about prayer.
In regard to prayer it has been said that prayer is a battle. What does this mean? Hannah’s prayer gives us a pictorial description of this statement. The battle took place in the deepest part of her soul, and she won the battle. Raging storms were gone, peace settled in. It was like a seaman coming out of stormy squalls into a calm, shiny sea.
How did her struggle in the depths of the sea of her soul take place? There are seven little expressions that describe the critical paths of her spiritual battle in her prayer.
1) Hannah stood up (9). This was for her to leave the scene in order not to make a scene. The battle scene in the physical world is not the real battle zone. The real battle zone where the victory should be won is always in the spiritual realm. Thus Hannah left the physical scene. She flew to the Lord’s presence. There, asking God for help, she began suing her enemies before the Lord God.
2) Thus, v. 10 says, “In bitterness of soul Hannah wept much and prayed to the Lord.” What did she say? What were the words of her prayer? In view of her rival Penninah’s taunting mockeries, we can make a pretty good guess on the words she might have uttered before the Lord. I leave the details up to your sanctified imagination.
3) Most likely, after a good number of hours of pouring out her words of complaint and accusation, more sensible words came out of her mouth, which led her to make a vow. She made a vow to fully dedicate her son if she were allowed one.
4) But she knew that every child is God’s miracle resting on God’s power. So she prayed, “O Lord Almighty” (11).
5) Verse 12 then says, “Hannah was praying in her heart.” Not all prayers come out of our hearts. Our eyes or mouths are like a porch of a house. Our minds are like the living room. Our hearts are like a bedroom. There is an English expression “pillow talk.” While a couple is in bed they talk about intimate subjects. They pour out what is in their hearts. In her prayer, Hannah then poured out what was in her heart. On many occasions in our prayers we leave our hearts somewhere else. We pray only with our mouths, not with our hearts. But Hannah prayed in her heart!
6) Hannah went deeper yet in her prayer. In v. 15 Hannah said, “I was pouring out my soul to the Lord.” Here she described her soul as if it were like a gallon of water in a container. Why then was pouring it out necessary? In v. 18 we see the expression, “Her face was no longer downcast.” She became extremely bright. Why then was it only after having fully poured out her soul before the Lord that she became bright? We know that a soul is a spiritual container which came from God (Genesis 2:7). Just as a physical container like your room can be terribly cluttered with all kinds the undesirable things, so also one’s soul can be cluttered with all things that are not meant to be there in this spiritual container. These undesirable things stand in the way of our fellowship with the Lord. In yesterday’s Daily Bread, the Psalmist prayed that the Lord would let his face shine on us that we may be saved (Psalm 80:3, 7, 19). These undesirable things keep the Lords light from shining on us. Exodus 15:26 says the Lord is the Lord who heals you. He is a healing God, and he heals you with his shining light. But these stumbling blocks that fill the spiritual container called the soul prevent you from having clear access to the presence of the Lord. We see even many prominent servants of God, as prominent as Ezekiel or Elijah, suffering from these stumbling blocks in the world of their souls.In Ezekiel 1:4-5, the prophet Ezekiel says, “I looked, and I saw a windstorm coming out of the north -- an immense cloud with flashing lightning and surrounded by brilliant light. The center of the fire looked like glowing metal, and in the fire was what looked like four living creatures. In appearance their form was that of a man….” These statements indicate that before Ezekiel was able to see the Lord, he had to go through layers and layers of confusing stumbling blocks. First, he saw a windstorm, then an immense cloud with flashing lightning and surrounded by brilliant light. Then he saw the center of the fire which looked like glowing metal. Still the Lord was visible. And he had yet to overcome the living creatures also. While Elijah was hiding in a cave praying, he also went through similar stumbling blocks. Elijah was a saint of saints. So he should have had no problem in accessing the Lord in prayer. But like Hannah he fell into deep depression. Deeply sunken into his deep depression, although he heard the Lord’s voice, he could not meet the Lord himself. Describing the confusion he had to go through in his prayer, 1 King 19:11-13 reads, “The LORD said, ‘Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD , for the LORD is about to pass by.’ Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’” With these examples in mind, let us read once again what Hannah said to Eli in vs. 15-16. “‘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. Do not take your servant for a wicked woman; I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief.’”
In 3 John 1:2, the Apostle John writes, “Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.” Today is Mother’s Day. As we pray for the mothers of this nation, let us pray that their souls would be getting along well. May the Lord bless us with the wisdom to understand what it is for us to pray that our mothers would get along well in their souls, for when they get along well in their souls, their homes, their societies, their nations, and certainly the whole world will get along in peace, joy, and deep happiness.
7) Finally, by pouring out her soul to the Lord, the Lord gave her his healing touch. She became well. Bright, spiritual sunshine shone on her soul. Result? “Her face was no longer downcast” (18). The Lord God fixed her at the deepest level of her soul. Healing came from inside out. Hannah was no longer a broken mother. She became a strong mother.
In many ways man is like a plant or a tree. In order for a fruit-bearing tree to bear good fruit, the tree must first be healthy and strong. Having been healed of all the ill elements that existed in her ailing soul, Hannah was now healthy and strong. The Lord then worked on her. And so vs. 19-20 say that in the course of time she became pregnant. She gave birth to a son named Samuel. Upon giving birth she named him Samuel meaning, “I asked the Lord for him.” Each time she called her son Samuel, she meant, “I asked the Lord for him.” In a sense, each time people called him Samuel they were in effect saying, “He is from God.” So his friends called him Samuel only to mean, “He is from God”. Samuel also introduced himself to his friends saying, “I am Samuel,” only in effect to say, “I am from God.” Then his friends ask, “What do you mean?” “Oh, my mother asked the Lord for me.” In this way, he was blessed throughout his lifetime to say to everyone, “I am from God.”
Fifth, Now I give him to the Lord!
It has been said that to receive a blessing is easy, to bear it is not. But Hannah did what was difficult, that is, to bear the blessing she received from God by giving it back to God.
Let us read 1 Samuel 1:21-28 responsively. Here she teaches us that keeping God’s blessing as ‘God’s blessing’ is the key to bearing God’s blessing and then making it even more prosperous.
Plus, because she dedicated him to the Lord she kept her vow. In other words, she was faithful to the Lord from first to last. Many people ask God for this blessing or that blessing and they do so even by “faith”. But when God blesses them with one blessing or another they take it for granted. They then end up abusing it. Why? They abuse it because they treat it as if it is their own. But Hannah did not treat Samuel as her possession. She remembered that Samuel is from God and thus she served Samuel as a child from God from first to last.
We can apply Hannah’s wisdom in serving our Bible students. We have been praying for 700 1:1 Bible studies, and then 7,000. But before praying for this many 1:1 Bible studies we must first be thankful to the Lord for even one sheep. Then, as the Lord finds us worthy, he will grant us more.
Sixth, my heart rejoices in the Lord.
In 1 Samuel 2:1-10, Hannah dedicated to God words of thanks in a beautiful poem. Let us read this part responsively. Overall, her prayer teaches us that trials are tests of faith from God. So, in times of troubles, we should always humble ourselves and give thanks to God, never doubting Gods’ love for us. Then, in prayer we must approach God with all kinds of prayers and supplications. We can then personally experience that God is truly a good shepherd who knows his children and works to fulfill his desire to bless all peoples on earth through them.
Seventh, abounding grace
After dedicating Samuel to the Lord, how did Hannah continue to pray for him? In 1 Samuel 2:19, we find an answer to this question. In prayer for him, each year she made a little robe for little Sammy the prophet. We can copy her example by preparing Bible notes and feeding God’s flock with spiritual food freshly cooked in the heavenly kitchen built in our souls.
At first glance it looks as if dedicating all we have received back to the Lord is a losing business. Like any nursing mother, it is not easy for a mother to dedicate her son to the Lord. But when Hannah denied her attachment to the baby and dedicated him to the Lord, the Lord blessed her with more children. In 1 Samuel 2:21, we see the Lord blessing Hannah with three sons and two daughters. We can practice this principle by giving what is best back to the Lord -- our money, time, and energy to the Lord in serving the Lord’s world mission command.
Today we learned that a strong mother posses seven powerful traits of grace: 1) the ability to bring troubles to the Lord; 2) a humble servant’s attitude; 3) the spirit of powerful payer; 4) the spirituality to know how to give credit to God for all his blessings; 5) the virtue of dedicating her best blessings to the Lord; 6) the spirit of a faithful and wise manager; and 7) the grace worthy of God’s abounding grace.
May the Lord bless our nation and her children with many spiritual mothers like Hannah.
May 9 is Mother’s day. We can learn from Hannah’s example the importance of a mother who prays to the Lord for her children, for it was thanks to her prayer and dedication that the disorderly days of the judges were over and an orderly days of the Davidic kingdom was ushered in. The devil knows the importance of a spiritual mother, so that is why he tries to bring havoc to humanity by first tempting woman and causing her to become unbelieving. The devil sent many types of bait for Hannah to bite, but thanks to her spirituality and noble character, she did not bite any of them. Rather in times of trouble, she went to the Lord and found God’s solution, turning her troubles into reasons to praise God’s name.
In 1 Samuel 1:1-8 the expression “the Lord had closed her womb” is repeated twice. What does this suggest about the solution to similar problems which God’s people may encounter?
** The solution to man’s troubles is for us to come to the Lord for His help. Humanistic ways will never solve the problems. Rather they will only complicate the problems. For those who have faith in the Lord, it can be seen that God is there behind every trouble that comes our way. God is good and perfect. Every good and perfect gift is from God. Thus when God sends us one trouble or another, we admit that it is in fact a stepping stone for greater blessings to come, so that we have this to say: “Every trouble is God’s blessing in disguise.”
In fact this is the key to not falling into the devil’s temptations.
In vs. 9-18 the title “your servant” is repeated four times. What does this tell us about Hannah? Why is this attitude important in not falling into the devil’s schemes?
** Hannah admitted that she is not worthy. She did not assume that God should do this or should do that. Rather she recognized God as God and herself as an undeserving creature. She was merely a servant girl. A servant has no right to command his master to do this or to do that. A servant knows that everything from the master comes to him as a favor. In her case, she did not assume that God should give her a son or two. Rather, she humbly asked God for a son, for in her mind every little blessing that comes from the Lord is a gift from God that must be used for God’s glory.
** It helps us to remain thankful to the Lord and not sin against him by complaining to him and then never coming back to him because of doubt of his love. When we have this attitude we can come back to him asking for His mercy with even a thankful mind.
Please consider the way Hannah prayed to the Lord. What can we learn about prayer from the following descriptions concerning Hannah’s prayer?
Hannah stood up. (9)
In bitterness of soul Hannah wept much and prayed to the Lord. (10)
She made a “vow”. (11)
O Lord Almighty (11)
Hannah was praying in her heart. (12)
I was pouring out my soul to the Lord. (15)
Her face was no longer downcast. (18)
** She could have made a scene even before the Lord. But she exercised self control. She then walked away from the presence of her enemy/rival (Peninnah), and took refuge in the Lord.
** It is always a healthy and even a necessary thing for us to cry a lot in the seat of prayer. She did this because she knew that Penninah also had her own load of challenges. She also knew that brawling with her rival would only worsen the problem.
** Perhaps she repented her wrong motive in asking for a son. It is not unlikely that she sinned by secretly hating her rival, or by desiring to take revenge against her by wanting to have more children than her rival had. She then made a vow to God, making the motive for her request for this blessing very clear before God.
** She believed that the Lord God can do anything. She believed that nothing is impossible with the Lord.
** God sees our heart. Our words may not be accurate in expressing our wishes to the Lord. But God sees our heart.
** This shows the real depth of her prayer. Heart exists at the innermost sanctum of a person. But soul is the essence of one’s heart. She then gave her whole life itself in offering her prayer to God. This shows then that she cast “all” troubles that existed even at the deepest level of her inner world [on the Lord]. Psalm 55:2, 1Pe 5:7.
** She found God’s healing. She was touched by God’s healing touch. God is the God of the living. God is so alive that when we pour out our soul to Him, He gracefully heals our soul. Then one’s bodily secretions even become normalized.
V. 19 states that it was because “the Lord remembered her” that Hannah became pregnant. What does this teach us about the power of prayer? (11,20)
** God answers prayer by making one’s life full, thus fulfilling the original purpose of his creation as it is expressed in Genesis 1:26-28.
What shows in vs. 21-23 that Hannah sincerely cherished her son Samuel? Yet, why did she dedicate her son to the Lord? What can we learn from Hannah about the way to bear the blessing(s) from God?
** The word ‘weaned’ is repeated again and again. She also wanted to nurse (perhaps by breastfeeding), watching her baby in her arms, holding him close to her bosom,praying ever so dearly to the Lord for the baby!
** It is to be filled with thanks and offer the blessing back to God, for God to fully bless and use it for His glory. The point is that God is the best person to take care of the blessings for his children. In fact God himself is the best blessing of all.
In 1 Samuel 2:1-10, Hannah offered a prayer of thanks to the Lord. What wisdom does her prayer teach us about the way to handle such challenges of life as conflicts with visible people or troubles such as lack of fruit or poverty? (1-2, 6-8, 9a)
** Overall her prayer teaches us that trials are tests of faith from God, so in time of trouble, we should always humble ourselves and give thanks to God, never doubting God’s love for us. Then in prayer we must approach God with all kinds of prayers and supplications. Then we can personally experience that God is truly a good shepherd who knows his children and leads his children to fulfill his desire to bless all peoples on earth in and through those who put trust in His goodness.
After dedicating Samuel to the Lord how did Hannah continue to pray for him? (1Sa 2:19) How did the Lord reward her for her sacrifice? (2:21)
** She kept praying for her son. The linen ephod she made yearly for little Samuel shows symbolically how every mother must pray and serve her children.