Mothers’ Day 2017 –
Hannah: A Woman of Faith
1 Samuel 1: 1 - 2: 10
Proverbs 31 - “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” “Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her.”
We want to bless every woman here today, whether you are a mom or not. If you’re a woman we’d like you to stay seated while the rest of us rise and bless you. Let’s applaud the value and dignity of all women right now!
Moms teach us so many things, don’t they? My mother taught me MEDICINE: “If you don’t stop crossing your eyes, they’re going to stay that way.” My mom taught me about GENETICS: “You are just like your father!” My mother taught me about my ROOTS: “Were you born in a barn?” My mother taught me about ANTICIPATION: “Just wait until your father gets home!” She also taught me RELIGION: “You better pray that will come out of the carpet.” The #1 thing my mother taught me was JUSTICE: “One day you will have kids, and I hope they turn out just like you!” Actually, I’ve been blessed because our daughters have turned out to be more like their mom…and that’s a good thing!
Some of you probably didn’t want to come to church today because your mother is no longer alive and you really miss her. Others of you don’t care much for your mom and you’re a bit turned off by all the syrupy sentiment. Some of you may have a mother who is very sick right now and you wonder how much longer she’s going to be with you. Perhaps you’re parenting solo as you work hard to nurture the faith of your children. A handful of you have experienced the devastating loss of a child’s death. Others of you have a broken heart because your child has gone prodigal or is not saved (yet). There are probably some mothers here this morning that wish they didn’t have kids and I know there are women here who would give anything just to have a child. Some of you are in a blended family and things just feel messy on Mother’s Day. There are also moms here who feel like they’ve failed and struggle with all the #supermoms and #best-mom-ever posts.
Let me say that womanhood is not only about marriage and children. Your worth as a woman goes far beyond your marital status or whether or not you have kids.
Today we’re going to learn about a woman with a lot of woes. In the midst of Hannah’s hurts, God ministered His grace and mercy to her. Here’s what we can learn from her: Until we fully surrender, we won’t fully serve the Saviour.
The nation of Israel is torn apart by a lack of leadership. The situation is bleak, much like our society today. “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” God would appoint a judge to lead His people. Many of the judges, like Samson, had some fatal flaws. Then we’re introduced to Hannah, who became the mother of the prophet who would end up anointing Israel’s first 2 kings. Mothers matter because their prayers can change the course of a nation.
1. Women of faith exhibit real problems v. 1 – 8
It’s easy to think that the heroes in the Bible were somehow different than we are and that it’s tough to relate to them because their lives were so perfect. Actually, the Bible is filled with real people with real problems, who face them with real faith. We’re introduced to a man named Elkanah – v. 2.
The wife’s chief role in those days was to provide children. A barren womb was considered a curse and Hannah would have been looked down upon. She was spiritually disturbed, socially disgraced and emotionally depressed. Because she was barren her husband married another woman so he could have children.
Elkanah and his 2 wives made a yearly visit to Shiloh, This shows us something about his spirituality. When the whole culture was headed south spiritually, Elkanah swam against the tide of apathy, and made sure his family gathered with God’s family for worship. He could have said, “No one else is going, it’s too far to travel, the service is too early, and I don’t like the pastors anyway.”
v. 4, 5 - This sacrifice was a thank offering, which allowed the worshippers to eat the part that was not offered to God. This “double” portion indicated a “select portion,” like rump steak. She was barren, but beloved. It had to be difficult for Hannah to eat the food that was associated with the “thank offering,” when she probably wasn’t all that thankful. Having a husband who expressed his love probably helped a lot.
He was devout in his walk with God and devoted to Hannah, but he had a divided family. It’s likely that Elkanah had married Hannah first and then, because she was not able to have children, he decided to marry Penninah. Though the Bible records the polygamous relationships of some of the patriarchs, it never endorses it. Contrary to what our culture now says, marriage is a covenant commitment between one man and one wife for life.
Even though these 2 wives did not get along, the most difficult thing that Hannah faced – v. 6. This is one of the hardest lessons we will ever learn. Our problems are given to us by the Lord Himself. It is God who is behind the circumstances of life. We don’t really want to believe this. We’d rather blame it all on Satan, or on someone else. Hannah had to settle the sovereignty issue – He’s God and she’s not.
v. 8 - Elkanah tries his best to comfort his wife. While it’s significant that a husband would even notice a wife’s sadness and want to find out why she’s crying, I wonder if his attempt at empathy was appreciated. He’s basically saying, “You’ve got me, babe (or at least part of me), what more could you want?” I’m not sure he really understood how deeply she wanted to have a child because having children was the way for a woman to have honour in that culture. After all, it’s possible to love one’s husband and still want to have children. Some of you have been hit with some insensitive comments, either by your husband, or from others. God understands your pain.
2. Women of faith express vibrant prayers v. 9 – 18
Hannah had some problems but she didn’t shut down, lash out at those around her or develop bitterness against God. She expressed her faith through prayer. God uses our problems to get our attention. Our problems should drive us to prayer – v. 10, 11.
Her weeping led to worship as her tears mingled with her prayers. The Lord Almighty has all the hosts of heaven ready to do His work. She is appealing to His power and authority, because she knows there is nothing she can do. As part of her prayer, she is making a vow that if she’s given a son, he will be dedicated to the Lord for his entire life. Hannah realizes a very important truth: Our children are on loan from the Lord and it’s our job to parent, to shepherd and to train them for the Lord’s work.
v. 12 - Her quiet prayer had an unfortunate consequence when Eli, the priest, accused her of being drunk. Some of you can relate to being misunderstood and having your motives questioned. When she had the opportunity to explain herself, Eli answered – v. 17, 18. This benediction was a huge blessing to Hannah. She had left her concerns with the Lord and now she’s experiencing the peace of the Lord.
3. Women of faith experience God’s provision v. 19, 20
v. 19 - Hannah conceived and give birth to a son, naming him Samuel. His name sounds like the Hebrew for “heard of God.” Every time she said his name she was reminded of his origin and destiny.
“Human life begins in a bright flash of light as a sperm meets an egg, scientists have shown for the first time, after capturing the astonishing ‘fireworks’ on film. An explosion of tiny sparks erupts from the egg at the exact moment of conception.” The Bible teaches that life begins at conception – I love it when science catches up with what we already know is true!
Let’s be careful here. Just because Hannah’s prayers for a son were answered, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you will be given a child because you prayed for one. But you will receive God’s provision, one way or another. He loves to give good gifts to His children - Matthew 7: 11: “…how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”
God allowed a time of barrenness in Hannah’s life to bring a greater blessing than she could ever imagine. But God was doing an even bigger thing in her life as He brought her to the realisation: Until she fully surrendered, she wouldn’t fully serve the Saviour.
4. Women of faith excel at keeping their promises v. 21 – 28
After Samuel was born, Elkanah went again to Shiloh in order to worship. v. 22 - Many people make promises to God, only to forget them once time passes. Not so with Hannah. She fully intended to keep her promise because she knew that Samuel did not really belong to her anyway.
Hannah not only dedicated herself to her child, she dedicated her child to the Lord – v. 28. “Every time she felt Samuel kicking in her stomach, every time he moved right under her heart, every jab in her ribs, she was reminded to say, ‘Yes, Lord, he is yours. Yes, Lord, he is yours.’” It’s one thing to say that our children are dedicated to the Lord; it’s another thing altogether to give them to the Lord. Hannah loved Samuel so much that she was willing to forgo a mother’s greatest joy – that of bringing up her son and having him around her. She was committed to do whatever it took for him to reach his godly potential. Because Hannah had already settled the submission issue, she was able to keep the promise she had made.
Women of faith exhibit real problems, express vibrant prayers, experience God’s provision and excel at keeping their promises –
5. Women of faith explode with praise 2: 1 – 11
We don’t have time to plumb the depths of Hannah’s stirring psalm of praise, but I do want to point out that there is no element of sadness here at all. She has just dropped off Samuel at the temple and now she breaks out into praise. She was thrilled to be able to parent a prophet!
v. 1, 2 - she doesn’t brag about how handsome Samuel is, or how smart he is, or that he can say prayers at his young age. She overlooks the gift and gives praise to the Giver. There is no one else who is holy like the Lord and no one else who will be her Rock through the storms of life.
v. 3 - she focuses on God’s wisdom and knowledge, recognizing that He’s the one who weighs the actions of men and women. We shouldn’t brag about what we have or what we do, because God knows our hearts.
Hannah had a son who served a nation; Mary had a Son who saved the world. Hannah is an example of a woman of faith. She endures years of silent suffering because of her barrenness and the cruel harassment at the hand of her rival. She goes to the place of worship, knowing how painful it is. She faithfully worships, pouring out her tears and petitions. When God answers her prayers, she not only keeps her promise, she explodes with praise.
1. You are of great worth in God’s sight whether or not you have a child. Lift up your head and realise that God loves you for who you are, not for what you do or what you have. He understands your sorrow and your pain and He’ll meet you right where you are.
2. God bless those who are standing in the gap. I want to give a shout-out to adoptive mothers and stepmoms. Way to go.
3. Grandmothers can make a grand impact. Paul’s words to Timothy - 2 Timothy 1: 5: “I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.”
4. All women can become spiritual mothers. As you live on mission by sowing the seed of the gospel, you can have the joy of having spiritual children.
5. Mothers, make it your mission to give your children to the Lord. There’s no greater purpose, and no higher honour, than to have your children give their lives in service to the Lord. Samuel served as priest, prophet, judge and a king-maker.
6. Each of us needs to be growing in our own relationship with God. If you want your kids to learn about God, and to love Him with all they’ve got, Jesus first has to be real in your life.
We started by standing and celebrating women. I wonder how many women are willing to stand now to demonstrate your desire to be fully surrendered to the Savior. Can you say, “Yes, Lord” to Him right now? Are you ready to settle the sovereignty and servanthood issue? Until you fully surrender, you won’t fully serve the Saviour.
I’d like every girl and every woman to stand so I can pray for you. We’re going to cheer you on as you strive to be the women He’s called you to be.