Do you ever feel like the stories of the Bible don’t always relate to today’s world? Sure the characters are inspiring, the miracles are incredible and the promises are so comforting but how can tales from thousands of years ago pertain to your world? A world filled with student loans, sick kids, another increase in your cable bill, flat tires, burnt on the edges and frozen in the middle microwave fettuccine and the list goes on. I am so right there with you. How can my world even begin to resemble the world of the Bible days? Allow me to share some thoughts with you, but there’s a lot so hold on!
The Lord directed me to I Samuel this week. We’re all familiar with the story of Hannah. She was barren, but pleaded with the Lord for a son. She committed to Him that if He would bless her with a son, she would give him back to serve Him. God gave her Samuel. Once weaned, Samuel was taken to the neighboring city of Shiloh to serve with Eli, the priest, at the Tabernacle.
Let’s stop right there and focus on Hannah. First, I am always amazed that this name has so many letters, yet it can still be spelled backwards! Short names like Bob are no biggie to flip, but six lettered Hannah is a different conversation! Anyway, Hannah couldn’t have children. I personally can relate to that issue and I’m sure a large number of you can as well. This was way before fertility, so imagine knowing that outside of an intervention from the Lord, there was absolutely no hope. However, Hannah kept her faith. She clung tightly to the only One who could change her circumstances.
Now the priest, Eli, would see Hannah and her husband, Elkana, every year when they would come to present their sacrifice. He would bless them and ask the Lord to give them more children. I Samuel 2:21 says that Hannah had three more sons and two daughters. As best I know, this is one of a very few times that a daughter is even mentioned in the Bible, especially as a birth announcement!
Of course, I’m sure you are familiar with this part of the story as well. Samuel is laying down, hears his name called and assumes it Eli. Eli says he didn’t call and sends the boy back to bed. This happens three times. On the third time, Eli realizes it is God calling Samuel. The first verse of I Samuel 3 says that words from the Lord were rare and visions from Him were not common. However, it appears God is speaking this night to Samuel.
In the same way, do you ever go through dry, quite spells in your faith? You know without a doubt that God is real and alive, but can’t seem to “tap in” to Him. I’ve been there too. It is a time intended for seeking, growing and learning. However, I always found encouragement from other Christians who were currently hearing from God and seeing Him move. It gave me comfort to know that God was still near. Unlike the city of Shiloh where no one was hearing from God or seeing Him move. Up until this point, God had been still.
Therefore, His calling out to Samuel was HUGE! Eli instructed Samuel that if he heard the voice call out again to answer with, “Speak for your servant hears”. Sure enough, God did call out again and Samuel responded. God then told Samuel that due to the sins of Eli’s sons and Eli’s sin in not stepping in to correct them, God would no longer forgive them when they sacrificed. Eli questioned Samuel the next morning as to what the Lord had said to him and Samuel told him the truth. Eli voiced that the Lord should do what is good in His eyes.
Ok, we’re winding down so stay with me.. I’ve tried to fly through this quickly, but there are so many juicy details! (Another way this fabulous story mirrors our lives today….so many great details!) Samuel grew up and God’s presence with him was clear to everyone. Verse 3:19 says that everything Samuel said proved to be reliable so all of Israel knew that Samuel was a prophet of the Lord. Then…this is the BEST part…“The Lord appeared again in Shiloh. For the Lord revealed Himself again to Samuel in Shiloh by the word of the Lord.” I Samuel 3:21.
Did you catch that? A broken hearted woman (and we’ve all been there with boyfriends, jobs, health, kids, ect.) clung to her faith in spite of her emptiness. Her faith moved the Lord to bless her with a son. Her gratitude for God’s blessing caused her to want to give God’s gift back to Him. Best regift ever! If Samuel had not been sent to the Tabernacle, God might not have spoken to him as He did and the Lord may not have returned to Shiloh. Hannah’s faith, unselfishness and reliability to keep her commitment were tools that ultimately brought the presence of God to a town.
Now that is so applicable to today’s world. You never know how big or far reaching your ripples are. Sister, never discount yourself or what you do. It could be major down the road. Do you think precious Hannah, with the super fun name trick, expected anyone to be talking about her all these years later? I’m sure not, but faith is timeless and so are Hannah and Samuel’s stories. Keep the faith, my sweet friend. You never know what the impact of your faithfulness could mean for someone. You could be the tool for God’s presence in their life. Keep the faith!