The Word became flesh and dwelt among us….


Looking for The King: 1 Samuel

“Looking for the King: Hannah’s Life of Worship”

Have you ever stopped to consider the things that make you truly happy?

Family? Friendships? Work? Holidays? Your team winning? The other team losing?

When we get down to our heart motives when we think about those things that make us happy, we realise we are looking for something that captures our attention and fills us with a sense of satisfaction.

That satisfaction is too often found in temporary things, but in worship of God, we find our worship is not only meaningful and purposeful, but that it also can bring true joy, despite our circumstances.

We met Hannah when she was at her lowest. Married to a polygamist, barren, attacked by her rival, and crying out to God. We know that God answered her prayer for a son that she would then dedicate back to God for all his life.

Hannah’s whole story is grounded in worship. (1:3,7,9,15,19,21,24, 2:1-11, 18-21). It wasn’t something she was given to do once or twice a year. It was her lifestyle. It wasn’t something she only did when she needed something from God. Her worship of God defined who she was.

We can learn from Hannah how to develop a worshipful life, even in the midst of hurt and doubt.

1 – Establishing God’s Word ( 1:20-28)

Yearly traditions may vary for family to family. It might be a specific holiday location you return to every year, a favourite meal you all like to eat together, or certain events you never miss. Traditions can be great blessings.

The tradition that Elkanah and his family had was a good one. Every year they went to Shiloh to worship. For Elkanah’s faults, he had this it seems, he lead his family to worship the one true God. His worship was compromised, but no more than our’s is most times we gather together.

We need to wary of not doing something purely out of tradition ( no matter how good it is) and ignoring God’s Word and Will for our lives, as Elkanah seemed to do. Traditions can be a blessing, but they can also lead to us being bling about things we’re getting wrong. I’ve been an Elkanah many times.

The year on from Hannah’s promise to God, God has remembered her and given her the son she asked for – Samuel, ‘heard of God/ the one asked for by God’ .

She could not take him up to the temple at that young age to serve, so she stayed behind until he was weaned, which could’ve well been several years.

Elkanah’s desire that God’s word would be established (1:23) seems like an odd thing at first to say.God has done His bit!

It’s reminding us that God is faithful and true to His Word, He can be trusted.
For Hannah and Elkanah, He had proven Himself, now it was up to them to prove their word, which they had every intention of.

In the midst of culture of perversion and secularity, Hannah was going to give her son the best she could in the time she had with him, she was going to establish God’s Word in her own life, so that it would flow into her child’s.

When it does come time to take Samuel to the temple,she takes very costly sacrifices along as well. You could excuse them from having to take anything as they are bringing their son, but they still bring what is required in the law for a firstborn son ( Exodus 13:11-13), but they bring so much more also.

Hannah’s approach to Eli shows that although it was Eli that spoke the promise to her, she acknowledges God had done it all, and she was there to fulfil her vow and to do so willingly.

When God’s Word is established in our hearts, we will want to not only please God by obeying what He has commanded, but our whole lives will be defined by worship and sacrifice.

What have you given up for God?
Has His Word gone down deep into your heart and mind?

2 – Praising The God of Reversals ( 2:1-11)

Mary’s ‘Magnificat’ echoes Hannah’s song ( Luke 1:46-55) and the most telling similarities are praise of God as humble servants, but also the parallels and reversals that they point out so vividly.

mighty are broken, feeble gain strength (v.4)
the full are hungry, the staved are no longer hungry (v.5a)
the barren is fruitful, the fruitful are barren (v5b)
the poor made rich (v.7ff)
the lowly are exalted (v7ff)

Hannah shows us that in God’s economy and kingdom, the things and people we value by our standards mean nothing when God gets involved.

God turns things upside down and inside out.

He reverses destinies by His grace and mercy. He brings life where there is none.

Usually the announcement of a birth or impending birth isn’t quite done like this. We see the ultrasound image on Facebook and then it’s official. We sent out invites to a baby shower. We put a notice in the local newspaper. We call our family and friends and fawn over the little baby, or act politely if it’s ugly.

Hannah isn’t here to fawn over Samuel and boast about him. She isn’t here to gloat about her accomplishment. She’s here to praise the God Who not only made it all happen, but Who was with her before, during and after her trial of barrenness.

He has taken her from the bottom to the top, and He has done for her what He does for all His people Who trust in Him and take Him at His Word, He has saved her (2:1b).

Her emphasis is on His power, His strength, His sovereignty.

What causes you to boast?
What causes you to break out in worship? Your works, or God’s?
3 – Getting More Than We Can Ask or Imagine ( 2:18-21)

We skip ahead slightly and see that Hannah gets far above and beyond what she asked of God.

She asked for one son whom she could give back to Him. A son she couldn’t even keep, but had to give up. She is a faithful woman of God, a solid theologian, and could live out what she proclaimed. An excellent example to follow.

She faithfully went back to Shiloh every year with her family to visit her son, and bring him a new outfit every year.

We can picture that scene.

The anticipation, not only of worshipping the God she trusted in, but of seeing His answered prayer right before her eyes, every time she entered His house to worship Him? The weeks and days ahead of that year’s pilgrimage, busily sewing and threading a new garment, just a little larger than the one from last year. It’s heartwarming, although also a little heartbreaking. She would have to say goodbye every year as well.

God’s blessing to Hannah doesn’t end with Samuel though.

He ‘visited her’ (2:21a) and she had five more children after Samuel. She had a full home and life because she had received God’s Word and obeyed Him in it.

It’s a challenge to us as we go to worship – what are observing about what God has already done and is doing for us that above and beyond what we could have possibly asked for?

4 – There is No Rock Like Our God ( 2:2,11)

These are familiar phrases to us that Hannah shares about God being her rock and salvation.

We see them all through the Psalms. David often refers to God as the ‘horn/strength being in the Lord’ and his ‘rock and refuge, his salvation’.

At the end of 2 Samuel (22:1-23:7) David’s closing words are very similar to Hannah’s.

David learnt much from Hannah. As did Mary. As can we.

Here is a woman, by all accounts a nothing, a nobody. Unnoticed by all. An outsider. Mistreated. She asks God for a son, and received one, whom she gives back to God.She doesn’t resign herself to defeat and ridicule though. She turns to God.

We today face what Hannah and many others have faced around the world through various ages and cultures. We face apathy. We face compromise in the family and the church. We live in a secular society. We are part of a church that seems destined for fruitfulness as so many have abandoned God’s Word ‘to do what is right in their own eyes’ or others have just given up completely.

What are we to do?

What did Hannah do when faced with all this corruption and her own barrenness?

She turned to God.

She certainly was not a defeatist.She believed in the God Who could reverse the worst of situations.

“The church’s weakness should turn us to the Lord in desperate prayer, not away from him in resigned defeat.” – Tim Chester

She had an extraordinarily hard life, but yet she can say ‘There is no rock like our God’.

What a faith! That is a prayer we could pray for one another, as a church. As families. As friends.

If we as a church could call upon God, not only would we be fruitful,we would be so much more of the church we are meant to be.

If we do not think that prayer changes anything, then we will not pray and nothing will change. If we believe, as Hannah did, that pray can change things, then why do we not pray?

Hannah can say this before she’s received the extra blessing of five more children. She can say that as she surrenders the one thing in life she had most desperately wanted back to the One Who gave him to her. She can say that because she knows her Holy God is enough. He’s all she had before Samuel, and He’s all she’ll need after she gives him up.

We never see the end of all our troubles in this life, but can we with Hannah trust that our God is a Rock on which we can rest and that He is enough?

Hannah also points forward, in her closing words of her song, to One Who would be anointed ( Messiah). We would think that she’s referring to the kings we meet in the rest of 1 and 2 Samuel, but there has been no talk of kings yet.

She is prophesying about the ultimate King Who would initiate the ultimate of reversals. He would take the opposite direction to Hannah’s story. He would ‘turn the world upside down’( Tim Chester).

Hannah reminds us so clearly of Jesus.

She was low and then exalted.

This King, even though she proclaims His strength and power, will come down instead of ascending.

She was ridiculed then praised.

He was praised for all eternity, and came to face ridicule.

She was wrongly judged and then proven innocent.

He was the only innocent one, wrongly accused and condemned.

She had nothing but was blessed with abundance the end.

He had everything and gave it all up.

She made a new robe for her son to wear.

He put aside robes of glory to put on our filthy rags.

She gave up her son and gained more children.

He was the only begotten Son, given up at great cost.

Hannah was looking for a King.

We know Who He is.

Is He your Rock and salvation?


“Looking for The King: Hannah’s Faith” 1 Samuel 1:1-20

We live in what is known as the age of entitlement.We want freedom and tolerance, and by that we mean that we should be free do whatever we want and others should tolerate it.

‘You can’t tell me what to do’

‘Don’t impose your views on me’ are heard often.

One way of summing this view up, is by using the definition the writer of Judges gives over and over again, ‘everyone did what right in their own eyes’.

Judges 19-21 certainly paints a very graphic description of what a society that does whatever it wants look like. It’s not pretty. It also sets the scene for 1 Samuel. The last verse a reader of the Hebrew bible reads before 1 Samuel is Judges 21:25. ‘In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in their own eyes.’

So far as Israel is concerned, the way to fix the problem of rampant lawlessness and depravity is to be like all the other nations( 1Samuel 8:5). They were sick of judges who failed.They wanted honour and prestige among the other nations and getting a king was the way to do it, or so they thought.

‘The real problem was not the lack of a king, but a lack of obedience to God as king.’ – Tim Chester

So God gives them what they want, and we are left to study this account in Israel’s history that is full of not only human failure, heroism, shame, defeat, and victory but also accounts of God’s faithfulness, promises coming true, and all along, the hints at a True King that would one day come.
1 – Hannah’s Predicament 1 Samuel 1:1-8

The first person we need to meet is Hannah.

Of all the people in 1 Samuel we are to meet, only two stand out as Godly and without blame, true heroes, are Hannah and Samuel. In a book about how kings are meant to solve all moral and social problems, a barren woman and her son play the parts of the most integrity and humility.

Hannah’s situation is not one anyone would envy.

She’s married to a guy named Elkanah. He’s not exactly model husband material. Mainly because he’s married to someone else as well.

Hannah was more than likely his first wife, and when it became clear that she couldn’t bear children, he married again, because that was the ‘done thing’ in order for men to keep their pride.

It certainly wasn’t God’s thing and it’s a clear indication that Elkanah had been corrupted by the thinking of the day ( do whats right in your own eyes) even though he did worship God ( 1:3).

Going through the motions of being a ‘loving’ husband to Hannah (1:5)and worshipping God while engaging in polygamy shows Elkanah is not so much a villain, but a case study in what was wrong with Israel. They couldn’t trust God to give them fruitfulness in the land, even though He had promised it.

Hannah also had someone else to deal with, the ‘other woman’.

Peninnah doesn’t have any redeeming qualities at all. She has borne Elkanah children where Hannah could not and therefore sought any opportunity possible to point this out in cruel and demeaning ways.

The text points it out also. Hannah’s identity is rooted in her barrenness. ‘she had no children’ – v2b.

It’s a terrible predicament, and our hearts go out to a woman whose heart is broken. Her name is meant to mean ‘favoured’, but God has not favoured her. Far from it, it would seem.The text clearly points out it was God’s Sovereignty that she was not bearing children( 1:5b, 1:6b).

This was her affliction.


A compromised husband.

A cruel and provocative rival.

Empty arms.

Full eyes.

A God she believes in but doesn’t understand.

There is much I could say about the burden of infertility and the grief that goes with it.

To mourn for a person you have never met, but miss all the same.

‘Empty chairs at empty tables’ doesn’t just apply to those we have know, loved, and lost.

It might be the little soul you never got to meet in person, but saw a grainy black and white picture of.

The little one you see only in your dreams.

You can miss someone you’ve never met. I know this to be personally true.

There is indeed a ‘grief that can’t be spoken’ and we so rarely do speak of it.

How do you handle such an issue?

Scripture certainly isn’t silent on the issue of barrenness.

Sarah. Rebekah.Rachel.Hannah. Elizabeth. Mary. God is and always has been in the business of bringing about life where it simply has not been naturally possible.

Scripture isn’t silent on the issue of affliction as a whole – no matter if we get the answer we have asked for or the answer God deems far better than we could have asked for, we are told to go to God and call on His name whenever we come to something in our lives that we simply cannot bear any longer. His grace is sufficient, and sometimes, it’s all we ever have.

2 – Hannah’s Prayer 1:9-18

There is much to learn from Hannah’s approach to God, but that her distress lead her to the temple rather than away from it shows that although she was bitter, depressed, irritated, and hurt, she knew God was a God Who listened to the cries of the heart(1:13a).

She prays with:

deep distress v10
bitter weeping v10
affliction v11
a troubled spirit v15
anxiety and vexation v16

All these show that we are never to “stuff” or hide our emotions when we come to God. If we are to demand an answer of Him, we should at least let Him demand our honesty. Like Job, in all this, we don’t see Hannah accused of sin or doing wrong before God.

The words Hannah uses to ask God for a son echo the cry of the slaves in Egypt, ‘Look on the affliction of your servant.’ ( 1:11; Exodus 3:7). She knew the history of God with His people. He was a deliverer. He was powerful. He was true to His word.

She makes a promise, that if He remembers her and gives her a son, she will give that son back to Him for all the child’s life.

Even as she now calls upon God, from a pure heart, a true heart of faith, she is still being judged and misunderstood by others. This time it’s Eli’s turn to kick her while she’s down.

Eli is another conflicted and compromised character in 1 Samuel. His own sons were drunks and immoral ( 1 Samuel 2:12-17;22-25) but he does little about that while here ironically, falsely accusing Hannah of drunkenness(1:12-14).

Either way, God still uses Eli here.He is Gods appointed leader for now.

Hannah boldly sets him right, and he sees the truth and gives her answer from God she was seeking.

The promise Eli gives her as she leaves fills her with hope that she knew within herself that God was on her side after all.

She had found her face again, she had joy again. She had found herself again – she was ‘favoured’ in Eli’s sight.

What faith she shows, to leave the temple with peace and joy, trusting the Word Eli had given would come to pass!

Hannah’s faith is as challenging as it is beautiful.

3 – Hannah’s Peace 1:19-20

How do we find Hannah’s peace that she found after so much searching and distress?

Don’t be an Elkanah

Don’t be an idiot.
You are not the be all and end all of your wife’s life.
You are not better than ten sons.
If you think you are, you’re a jerk.
Don’t offer platitudes to someone who needs unconditional love.
Don’t tell someone who is facing affliction that you are the answer to all their problems, if only they’d listen. You’re not. If you think you are, you might be one of the biggest problems they have.
We can so often worship God and be completely out of touch with His Will.
Don’t be a Peninnah

If you see someone who has an affliction, don’t rub it in their face.
If you’re the kind of person who gets kicks out of other people’s misery, you are cruel and on par with the devil. It’s his job to be the attacker and provoker.
Don’t judge others for their grief when you have never personally been where they are. Even if you have gone through something similar, you cannot possibly know what that person is feeling at any particular time.
Be a Hannah

The worshipful faith of those who suffer deep personal hurt, both at the hands of others and from the effects of living in a fallen world with a fallen body, and still run to God and call upon His name, their worship is not just remarkable, it is precious.

The great thing about Hannah is not just that she had faith in the midst of doubt and hurt, but that she trusted in God while everyone else did what was right in their own eyes. She submitted to His Will and Sovereignty, and He gave her the desire of her heart.

As we know, her vow was not a ‘foxhole’ promise. She followed through. She kept her word because God had kept His.

The point of Hannah’s story is not about getting God to give you what you want by making vows and promises. We are warned elsewhere in scripture about making foolish vows ( Judges 11:29-40; Matthew 5:33-37).It’s about admitting your helplessness and hopelessness to the One True God, Who hears and blesses beyond what we could ask or imagine ( Ephesians 3:20).

“Our utter incapacity is God’s starting to point to act…When God’s people are without hope, strength, resources, gimmicks, then He loves to stretch forth His hand.” – Kent Hughes

If you have something your heart cries out for, ask for it of the God Who hears prayers.

There may be an overwhelming sadness in your life, but even in that, we are meant to turn to a Sovereign God who longs to bless.

“The sadness you feel is normal, holy in fact. God delights in His design and when it is broken, He is grieved. Barrenness is part of the curse, but Christ bore our curse for us, so we could be fruitful in the land we have been given.” – Russell Moore

If we do not ask, we will not have.

How does Hannah’s prayer encourage you to pray for your own unspoken needs and burdens?

God is in the business of working out His plan through the least likely people.

We say it’s foolish to use weak things to show great power, but God thankfully doesn’t listen to us.

He uses the outcast, the downtrodden. The barren woman. The lepers. The lame. Those who walk with a limp.

He’s interested in the small things, the little people that otherwise go unnoticed.

The despised.

The rejected.

The ones acquainted with grief.

The afflicted.

The cursed.

He’s so interested in these particular kinds of people and cares for them so deeply, He became one of them and suffered the ultimate suffering in their place.

Hannah reminds us of Christ. She suffered an unbearable burden, and when faced with what she could not bear, she sought the face of God in Heaven and submitted to His will.

Christ died for her curse. He died for your’s also.

What you do with that knowledge will show whether you are an Elkanah – knowing, but proud and compromised. A Peninnah – cruel and selfish, looking out only for your own interests. Or a Hannah – sometimes troubled, but at peace with a God Who hears and answers prayer.

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