Passage for Study: Judges 21: 25 … In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.
Secondary passage: 1st Samuel 1: 1 - 28 … 1st Samuel 1 linked for study and context …
My Journal for Today: Today Swindoll is setting the context for a short study into the life of Samuel. And as we read in the last verse in the Book of Judges, in our study today the up-and-down period of the Judges is about to end; and God’s people, the Hebrews are without leadership again. And as the book of 1st Samuel opens, the Hebrew nations have fallen again into a spiritual lull. And at this point we’re introduced to a faithful woman of God, Hannah, … a woman who regularly went to the Tabernacle for prayer, praying that God would give her a son, her being barren into her older years. Hannah prayed and prayed for a son; and God finally granted her a son, whom she named “Samuel,” whose name in Hebrew means, “asked of God,” or “God heard.”
Really Swindoll doesn’t have a major point or powerful lesson from today’s passage other than to set the context for the next few days of study; but it is of interest to identify with Hannah’s desire to be right by God as well as her discipline to seek the Lord’s favor with diligent and disciplined prayer. Hannah’s day was a time in the life of God’s people when their faith and spiritual discipline waned. The world was getting more worldly again; and if you’ve read the book of Judges that had been the pattern over and over. God’s people would succumb to the ways of the world, waning in spiritual worship of the one true God; and God would have to send bad times and a “Judge” to wake them up.
For a Christian who might be reading here, … does the pattern here where we meet Hannah, Eli, the Priest, and Samuel sound familiar? Yeah, it’s not unlike today, is it? The people are motivated by worldly schemes and pursuing self-reliance, rather than surrendering themselves to the Lord. That was the case in the days we see taking place in 1st Samuel; and it is the way of the world now. But we see how just one diligent, and praying, believer can have an impact. And we’re going to be looking at the life of Samuel, who was the result of Hannah’s prayer, as he interacts with Eli, the old Priest.
But here we see the principle we need to glean from today’s study. Yes, we need to see – and believe - how God listens; yes, even when God is silent and when our prayers of concern seem to be bouncing off the ceiling of our prayer closet unheard by God. We must see – and believe - that this is not the case. And as I’m meditating on this and writing here, God’s Spirit, through my memory of His word has brought me remembrance of two wonderful truths; and the first comes from Proverbs 3: 34 and/or Hebrews 13: 5, that “God will never leave us (as believers) or forsake us.” And the second truth is from Psalm 116: 1-2< which says, “I love the LORD, because He has heard my voice and my supplications. 2 Because He has inclined His ear to me, therefore I will call upon Him as long as I live.”
I love that one phrase in Psalm 116: 2, which says, that God “inclined His ear to me.” That phrase is the Hebrew word “natah,” which has the word picture of someone bending down and straining to hear what is said. I can just imagine a father wanting to make sure he hears the little voice of his young child, to make sure what he/she is saying by getting closer, bending down to listen intently. That was the God to Whom Hannah prayed; and He is the Father in Heaven, in the person of our Advocate and High Priest, Jesus, Who, through His Spirit, listens intently to every prayer where we come to Him with a humble heart, praying intently, even if, like with Hannah, it is with requests which seem way beyond our reach. God wants to hear our hearts praying to Him. Oh, of course He knows our hearts before we pray; but He wants to hear us, even bend down to hear us, when we voice our hearts to Him.
My friend, what in our world or in your life do you need to be going to our Lord and praying diligently and intently for Him to intervene? Do you have a dear loved one who has rejected God who needs salvation? Do you see injustice and evil in the world which absolutely needs a work of God to correct? Perhaps you have a stronghold of sin which needs to be eradicated in your attempt to live as a “living sacrifice” to God. I don’t know what the desires of your heart might be; but we need to know and believe that God is listening, even listening intently as it says in Ps. 116: 2. And it’s comforting for me to know that my God will never leave a child of pure faith, like Hannah, to just ignore her (or you). Sure, God may SEEM distant; and He may SEEM like He’s ignoring our prayers; but if we cannot and will not believe that God hears, we will be without the hope that is promised and has been revealed in God, the Father’s Son, our Lord and Savior, Jesus.
My dear one, purify your heart and remain humble and diligent in your prayers. God hears!
My Prayer for Today: Lord, You know my heart; and You hear my prayers. So, I will continue to bring my heart to you every day, knowing that You bend down to hear … just me. Amen