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Rise and Fall: Desperate in Faith

Stonebrook Community Church https://www.stonebrook.org

SERMON POWERPOINTOVERVIEW OF SAMUEL 1 & 2

Sunday, August 4, 2019  Brad Barrett

1 & 2 Samuel—Rise and Fall

Desperate in Faith

Series:  1 & 2 Samuel:  Rise and Fall

Sermon:  Desperate in Faith

Verse: 

1 Samuel 1:15-17 ESV Hannah answered, “No, my lord, I am a woman troubled in spirit. I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have been pouring out my soul before the Lord… Then Eli answered, “Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant your petition that you have made to him.”

Description:  In our new sermon series through the books of Samuel, we will be challenged by the rise and fall of “heroes” and “villains”.  The first story we read is that of a grieving woman named Hannah who, in the midst of severe trial was also humble and faith-filled.  And God used her to raise up a godly servant of the Lord, Samuel, who influenced an entire nation.  Hannah can inspire us to know and trust the Lord.

Introduction

There was a woman who wanted to get pregnant.  She and her husband faced infertility for many years. 

Some of you know firsthand how difficult of a trial infertility is.  Or you are close to someone who has faced it. 

Month after month waiting for the signs of pregnancy.   Those months turn into years.

It’s an agonizing trial. 

Well, this dear woman was suffering.  But instead of receiving sympathy from a woman she was close to, she received taunting.  This other woman already had children, and she taunted and mocked her for her childlessness.   

I cannot imagine the intensity of the trial.  Countless tears.  Sleepless nights.  Many unanswered prayers.  Then being tormented by this acquaintance. 

But finally, after years of waiting, she had a son.  And she loved him.

I can only imagine the pain of infertility.  And I can only imagine the extreme JOY of finally having a child.

But there was a shocking end to the story.  When the boy was about 3 years old, something unimaginable happened.  The mother gave her son up to be raised by someone else.  To my knowledge, she saw him only once a year after that. 

So consider this story:  This woman—desperate to have children—finally got pregnant years later.  The great longing of her soul was fulfilled.  But then she gives up her son to be raised by someone else.

Let’s play Judge and Jury.  Most of us are frequently tempted to do that, so let’s do that here.

With what I told you of the story, what is your conclusion?  Are you shocked?  Do you condemn the mother?  It seems like abandonment.

What if I told you she was a woman of strong faith in the Lord, and her son grew up to be a great man of God?

The woman’s name is Hannah.  Her son’s name is Samuel.  And their story is in the Bible. 

Slide

We are beginning a sermon series going through 2 books in the OT:  1 & 2 Samuel. 

These 2 books contain stories of God and his people from about 1000 B.C., so 3000 years ago.  But as with all Scriptures, God’s revelation is timeless, containing eternal truth and lessons of inspiration and of warning

Slide (Rise and Fall)

We will spend 11 Sundays on this book, being challenged by the rise and fall of “heroes” and “villains”. 

We will see stories of people who go up and down in faith.  They rise and they fall.

We will be inspired by those who walk by faith.

We will be warned by those who walk in unbelief.

This morning, we will look at one simple yet profound story.  A story of a desperate yet faith-filled woman named Hannah. 

PRAY.

Lord, you have given us your revelation, the Bible, for a purpose.

The purpose to know you and believe in you.

The purpose of understanding who we are and how we should live.

Would you in your kindness help every single one of us here this morning? 

Whether we have walked with you for many years….or whether we are just beginning a journey to even decide who you are.

Open our hearts.  Meet our needs.  Touch our lives.

AMEN.

Slide

We will begin reading in a couple of minutes in 1 Samuel 1.

For those of you whom I don’t know yet, my name is Brad Barrett.  I am one of the pastors here at Stonebrook.

My wife and I have been married for 34 years.  We met here at Stonebrook as young 20-somethings.  Got married a few years later.  We have 4 daughters, 3 sons-in-law, and 5 beautiful grandchildren.

Slide (family)

This photo is from two weeks ago at our 2nd annual family gathering called the Barrett Palooza.  We spent 4 days together at Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri and had a blast together.

So now when I meet some of you, you have to show me some of your favorite photos of family or friends.

You don’t need to show me your SELFIE because…. well…..you’re here.  J

1-2 Samuel

Before we get into our first two chapters of Samuel, I want to give a brief overview.

Your bulletin contains an insert with a more detailed summary and overview, but I would still like to highlight a few things.

Slide

Most of the OT spans about 1600 years of history and prophecy from God and his interaction with his people from Israel and the rest of the world.

In somewhat chronological order, this is how the history and key figures play out:

Patriarchs:  Abraham/Isaac/Jacob

                Lawgiver:  Moses/Joshua (conquered the land)

                                Judges:  Gideon/Samson/Samuel and others

                                                Kings:  David/Solomon/etc.

Prophets:  Isaiah, Elijah.  (They generally coincide with the period of kings.)

Slide 

So now 1 Samuel provides the transition from the period of judges to that of kings. 

There are three main characters in 1-2 Samuel. 

The book is named after the first main character, a judge and prophet named Samuel.

We will later read about the first king of Israel, Saul.

And the second king, David, who is one of the most important figures in the OT.

This morning we are going to read about Samuel’s mother.

1 Samuel 1

Let’s begin in 1 Samuel 1.

1 Samuel 1:1–20 (ESV)

1 There was a certain man of Ramathaim-zophim [ray muh thay im-ZOH fim]of the hill country of Ephraim whose name was Elkanah the son of Jeroham [jer-O-ham], son of Elihu, son of Tohu, son of Zuph, an Ephrathite.

2 He had two wives.  The name of the one was Hannah, and the name of the other, Peninnah. And Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children.

Two things here:

  1. Having two wives.  It’s one of those difficult topics in the OT.  In the beginning it was not so.  God created marriage between one man and one woman.

So interestingly, as with many of the books in the Bible that are narratives….stories….we are often given no commentary from the author as to whether an action was right or wrong, good or evil.

We’re simply told Elkanah had two wives.

  • The second point here:   Hannah had no children.  This is quite significant, as we will see in a minute.

3 Now this man used to go up year by year from his city to worship and to sacrifice to the Lord of hosts at Shiloh, where the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were priests of the Lord.

We will see more about Eli here, too.  He is a major player in the first seven chapters.

His sons were priests, but very wicked men. 

4 On the day when Elkanah sacrificed, he would give portions to Peninnah his wife and to all her sons and daughters.

5 But to Hannah he gave a double portion, because he loved her, though the Lord had closed her womb.

“The Lord closed her womb.”  Today we call this infertility. 

It is a deeply emotional, painful trial.

6 And her rival used to provoke her grievously to irritate her, because the Lord had closed her womb.

7 So it went on year by year. As often as she went up to the house of the Lord, she used to provoke her. Therefore Hannah wept and would not eat.

Three problems here:

  1. Dealing with infertility is painful enough. 
  2. Second, to have another wife involved complicates Hannah’s life.
  3. That other wife, Penninah, constantly provokes Hannah. 

All of this seems to be beyond what Hannah or any woman could bear.

If you have any compassion at all, your heart hurts right now.  Penninah provoked her grievously to irritate her. 

8 And Elkanah, her husband, said to her, “Hannah, why do you weep? And why do you not eat? And why is your heart sad? Am I not more to you than ten sons?”

Elkanah loves his wife and tries to console her with himself.  “Am I not worth more to you than 10 sons?”

To have a loving husband who cares for his wife is a beautiful thing.  And Hannah could be thankful for that.

But thankfulness for one gain doesn’t eliminate all the sorrow from loss.

If I lose my right arm in a car accident, I can be very thankful I still have my left arm.  But I’m still without a right arm.

So I say to Elkanah, “Nice try, Dude.  But I can assure you that your words to your wife will not be full consolation.”

9 After they had eaten and drunk in Shiloh, Hannah rose. Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat beside the doorpost of the temple of the Lord.

10 She was deeply distressed and prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly.

Deep, desperate, tear-filled prayer. 

Only if we encounter some trial beyond our ability to endure would we ever pray with such desperation. 

Some of you have been there.

Disease, death, disappointment.

You can relate to Hannah.  In desperate, gut-wrenching, tear-filled prayer. 

11 And she vowed a vow and said, “O Lord of hosts, if you will indeed look on the affliction of your servant and remember me and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a son, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and no razor shall touch his head.”

She prays, “Lord, if you give me a son, I swear I will devote him to the service of the Lord for the rest of his life.” 

Some of you may have offered up to the Lord before some conditional prayer.  “Lord, if you do this, I’ll do this.”

Story:  Recently I was reading the story of a man who was in danger of his life.  And he prayed, “Lord, if you get me out of this, I’ll serve you for the rest of my life.”

We have no biblical recommendation that this is the kind of prayer we should offer.

As in all narratives, just because one godly person takes a specific action doesn’t necessarily mean we should do precisely the same.

Anyway, this is Hannah’s prayer.  And we will find out she means it.  God answers her.  And she keeps her word.

Hannah’s faith impresses me.

How easy it is very painful trials to turn away from the Lord.  To become angry, bitter.

And we think in our hearts, “If that’s how the Lord treats me, I’m done with him.

Hannah, though enduring an agonizing trial for years, still worships and prays in her most desperate hour. 

She is an EXAMPLE to us in our trials.

Will we get angry and bitter, hardening our hearts?

Or will we—even with tears—pour out our hearts to the Lord…again?

Now the story gets interesting.  And perhaps embarrassing for Eli.

12 As she continued praying before the Lord, Eli observed her mouth.

13 Hannah was speaking in her heart; only her lips moved, and her voice was not heard.  Therefore Eli took her to be a drunken woman.

14 And Eli said to her, “How long will you go on being drunk? Put your wine away from you.”

Eli is God’s priest, but he makes an erroneous assumption. 

Eli takes her for some crazy, drunken woman.  So he rebukes her.

We won’t spend much time on Eli today.  But let me make a summary of his life.

Though Eli has some faith, we find in the first four chapters that he has poor spiritual eyesight, and he does not honor the Lord higher than he honors man.

And it’s noteworthy to say that this woman, an apparent nobody from Nowheresville surpasses this priest in her faith, her humility, and her intimate walk with God.

15 But Hannah answered, “No, my lord, I am a woman troubled in spirit. I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have been pouring out my soul before the Lord.

16 Do not regard your servant as a worthless woman, for all along I have been speaking out of my great anxiety and vexation.”

17 Then Eli answered, “Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant your petition that you have made to him.”

This is beautiful.    Eli gives her a blessing from the Lord.

Here is how Hannah responded. 

18 And she said, “Let your servant find favor in your eyes.” Then the woman went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad.

19 They rose early in the morning and worshiped before the Lord; then they went back to their house at Ramah. And Elkanah knew Hannah his wife, and the Lord remembered her.

That Elkanah “knew his wife” is an OT euphemism for sexual intimacy.

20 And in due time Hannah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Samuel, for she said, “I have asked for him from the Lord.”

After years of infertility.  Gallons of tears.  Enduring torment from a rival wife.  Shame of having no children.

Now after all this time, she finally has a son.  I read this and I smile.

What JOY Hannah would have had.  What relief.  What satisfaction. 

Everyone would have been thrilled for Hannah….perhaps except for one person:  Penninah, her rival wife. 

Well, if the story ended here, we would be happy enough.

But the story takes an interesting turn.

Hannah’s faith surprises me.  And she impresses me and has motivated me the past two weeks as I studied this passage.

21 The man Elkanah and all his house went up to offer to the Lord the yearly sacrifice and to pay his vow.

22 But Hannah did not go up, for she said to her husband, “As soon as the child is weaned, I will bring him, so that he may appear in the presence of the Lord and dwell there forever.”

23 Elkanah her husband said to her, “Do what seems best to you; wait until you have weaned him; only, may the Lord establish his word.” So the woman remained and nursed her son until she weaned him.

In that ancient culture, it was common for a mother to nurse her child until about 3-years old.

So little Samuel may have been about three. 

24 And when she had weaned him, she took him up with her, along with a three-year-old bull, an ephah of flour, and a skin of wine, and she brought him to the house of the Lord at Shiloh. And the child was young.

25 Then they slaughtered the bull, and they brought the child to Eli.

26 And she said, “Oh, my lord! As you live, my lord, I am the woman who was standing here in your presence, praying to the Lord.

27 For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition that I made to him.

28 Therefore I have lent him to the Lord. As long as he lives, he is lent to the Lord.” And he worshiped the Lord there.

Hannah’s faith in the Lord and her love for him astonishes me.

She had prayed in desperation four years earlier for a son.  And she vowed, “Lord, if you give me a son, I will give him up for your service.”

She never forgot that vow.

So now she gives her young, young son over to Eli to raise him and train him as a man of God.

Let that sink in:  This woman who for so long desperately longed for a son now had a son.

Surely this boy was the apple of her eye.

Any good mother loves her children and will protect them like a mother bear with her cubs.

Yet Hannah willingly and cheerfully gives her son up.

And it seems she saw him only once a year from then on.

I think of you young moms here in this room. 

I cannot imagine you giving up a son or daughter at age 3 or 4 to be raised by someone else for the rest of his/her life.

Two of my grandchildren are 5-years old.  If either of my daughters did what Hannah did, I would freak out!

Hannah’s faith and the fulfillment of her vow to the Lord is unfathomable for me. 

I suspect many of us are tempted at this point to judge Hannah.  To criticize her.

What kind of mother would do this?  Today she would be charged with child abandonment.

Is she that callous?  Doesn’t she love her son?

I want to examine this for a few minutes.

Slide

FIRST, in the OT, if someone made a vow to the Lord, they were required to keep it.

This was a very serious matter.

Hannah had vowed that if the Lord gave her a son, she would give that son back to the Lord in service to him. 

And this was a vow of Nazirite service.  Samson and John the Baptist were consecrated to the Lord directly by the Lord himself.  In Samuel’s case, his mother did it for him.

Hannah understood the seriousness of her prayer and vow to Almighty God.

She HAD to keep her word.

SECOND, though it’s still hard for us to fathom what Hannah did, what better life could you ever ask for for your children than to wholeheartedly serve the Lord for their entire lives?

If you are a Jesus follower, isn’t that what you want for your children??

THIRD, the only reason she now had a son now was because God graciously gave him to her.

So in a very real way, her son was not really hers to keep.

Even for us today, you moms (and dads) here are ultimately not the “OWNER” of your children.  God is the ultimate giver of life.  He is the Lord of all, whether child or adult. 

Hannah was actually doing what we are ALL called to do:  WE are to be devoted to the service of the Lord. 

As I read about Hannah and what she did, the Lord brought to mind something from the NT in our relationship with Christ.

Slide

2 Corinthians 5:14–15 NIV  For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.  And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.

This has been my Life-directing verse for over 35 years.  (I have it tattooed on my right arm.)

What Paul says to the Christian is this:  You were dead, spiritually dead.  Bound for HELL.  Then Jesus died in your place and rose from the dead to give you new life.  You believed in him, and now you are now born again.

And this new life you have is not to be lived for yourself.  EVER.  Not selfishly.  Not focused on self. 

Instead, this new life you have is to be lived completely—entirely, without reservation—for Jesus. 

You were dead.  Now you are alive.  So live for the One who died to give you that life.

This is essentially what Hannah did.

By giving up her son to the service the Lord, she gave up what was most precious to her:  the son she had pleaded for to the Lord.

The Lord graciously gave her a son.  So now she offered him back to the Lord. 

We will read more next week about Samuel, but he grew up to become a great man of God.  A judge and a prophet.  And he helped guide the nation of Israel for many years.

1 Samuel 2

So now we turn to chapter 2.  She just gave up her son up to the Lord to serve him all his life.

Now she utters a beautiful prayer.

It was probably sung either then or later, like a Psalm.

As we read this, look for two themes.

  1.  The first theme:  her understanding of God.

She knew the Lord well.

She understood his attributes.

She loved the Lord.  She knew him.  She worshiped him.

  • The second theme:  God lifts up the humble, and he puts down the proud.

Slide

1 Samuel 2:1–10 (ESV)

1 And Hannah prayed and said, “My heart exults in the Lord; my horn is exalted in the Lord. My mouth derides my enemies, because I rejoice in your salvation.

2 “There is none holy like the Lord: for there is none besides you;  there is no rock like our God.

3 Talk no more so very proudly, let not arrogance come from your mouth;  for the Lord is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed.

4 The bows of the mighty are broken, but the feeble bind on strength.

5 Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread, but those who were hungry have ceased to hunger. The barren has borne seven, but she who has many children is forlorn.

6 The Lord kills and brings to life;  he brings down to Sheol and raises up.

7 The Lord makes poor and makes rich; he brings low and he exalts.

8 He raises up the poor from the dust;  he lifts the needy from the ash heap to make them sit with princes and inherit a seat of honor. For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s, and on them he has set the world.

9 “He will guard the feet of his faithful ones, but the wicked shall be cut off in darkness, for not by might shall a man prevail.

10 The adversaries of the Lord shall be broken to pieces;  against them he will thunder in heaven. The Lord will judge the ends of the earth; he will give strength to his king and exalt the horn of his anointed.”

Slide

The first THEME is that she knew the Lord:

  • worthy of praise, victorious and Savior (vs. 1)
  • holy, unsurpassed, mighty [the Rock]  (vs. 2)
  • all-knowing [he knows even our hearts]  (vs. 3)
  • giver and taker of life (vs. 6)
  • merciful and compassionate (vs. 7-8)
  • sovereign creator and owner of all things (vs. 8)
  • AND MORE

What beautiful faith for us to aspire to!

Most of us, I suspect, would say we know these things ABOUT God.  We know in our heads that he is great, powerful, humble, merciful, Creator.

The question today (and every day) is, do we know actually KNOW him? 

Do we BELIEVE in our hearts that he is this way?

When we pray to the Lord, do we speak of him this way?

When we sing to him and about him, do we recall who he is?

When we are facing trials of confusion and darkness and grief, do we rely upon the God with these attributes?

The Second THEME is that God is opposed to the proud but he lifts up….he gives GRACE…to the humble.

For those of us who are strong and have great intelligence and wealth and power….be warned about PRIDE. 

For those of us who are weak and frail…..we feel we have little to offer….be humble and be hope-filled.  The Lord will lift you up in DUE TIME. 

What now?

But what now?   What can we take from this unusual story? 

Slide

  1. Seek the Lord. 

In your trials—whether long and heavy or short and light—don’t waste the moment.

Seek the Lord.  Know him.  Long for him.  Pray to him.

Don’t give up.  He loves you and has not forgotten you. 

My wife shared a verse with me on Thursday:

Psalm 119:71 CSB  It was good for me to be afflicted so that I could learn your statutes.

The lessons we learn from trials are extraordinarily valuable.

Don’t waste the moment. 

Our trials will be different than Hannah’s.

The outcome of our trials will be different, too.….for the Lord seldom works in exactly the same way twice…

…But our hearts of faith and praise of the Lord can be similar. 

At lunch today, consider re-reading this story and discuss it. 

Pray for faith like Hannah, that even in the midst of great suffering you would continue to walk by faith. 

  • Remember the love of Christ

God gave up his Son so that you would live. 

Now with this new life…..live for him.  He loves you.  No longer live for yourself, but for him who died for you.    

2 Corinthians 5:14–15 NIV  For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.  And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.

  • Pass it on to others.

Take what you are learning and pass it on to others. 

Last week Matt gave an excellent overview to our main THEME this coming ministry year:  The theme is BUILD.

To BUILD one another in the faith.  To DISCIPLE. 

To take what we have learned and help others to learn it and grow in it.

In some of his last words on earth, Jesus said, “Go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them.  And teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”

My job and your job as a Jesus follower is to help us along on their journey.

To know Jesus.  To love him.  To obey him.

So whatever you learned or are thinking about or worshiped the Lord for in music, conversation, or sermon……share your lessons and questions at lunch today. 

With roommates, spouse, friend.

Meet for coffee this week with someone from your Community Group.

PRAY

Prayer

Lord, teach us to walk by faith, not by sight..

Help us to believe you.  To believe your words. 

Give us eyes that look up to see you.

Strengthen us today.

Humble us.

Breaking Bread

We are going to break bread this morning.

I am so glad we are doing this today.

Jesus commanded us to do it to remember him.  To take the bread which reminds us of his body given up for us.

To take the juice which reminds us of his blood shed for our forgiveness.

Remember his names:

  • Lamb of God
  • Savior
  • Lord
  • Way, Truth, and Life
  • Resurrection and Life
  • Friend
  • Good Shepherd.

Remember Jesus and rejoice.

Benediction

2 Thessalonians 3:16 NIV

Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.