Yesterday in our sermon series through the Old Testament, we looked at 1 Samuel 1:9-20. This is the story of Hannah, who becomes the mother of Samuel. As we noted in the post last week, the period of the Judges was one of turmoil and disunity, following a pattern of rebellion, judgment, repentance, and deliverance.
I Samuel marks the transition from the period of Judges to the monarchy, under the kingship of Saul, and later David. And Samuel is that transitional leader. He is the last of the Judges, the first of the prophets, and the one who anoints both Saul and David as king.
Hannah was one of two wives of Elkanah. “Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children” (1 Samuel 1:2). Even worse, it seemed to Hannah, “but to Hannah Elkanah would give a double portion, for he loved Hannah, but the LORD had closed her womb” (1 Samuel 1:5). The other wife, Peninnah, “her rival, however, would provoke her bitterly to irritate her” (1 Samuel 1:6). Even the words of her husband could not comfort Hannah (1:8).
1 Samuel 1:9–20 (GW)
9 One day, after Hannah had something to eat and drink in Shiloh, she got up. (The priest Eli was sitting on a chair by the door of the Lord’s temple.) 10 Though she was resentful, she prayed to the Lord while she cried. 11 She made this vow, “Lord of Armies, if you will look at my misery, remember me, and give me a boy, then I will give him to you for as long as he lives. A razor will never be used on his head.”
12 While Hannah was praying a long time in front of the Lord, Eli was watching her mouth. 13 She was praying silently. Her voice couldn’t be heard; only her lips were moving. Eli thought she was drunk.
14 “How long are you going to stay drunk?” Eli asked her. “Get rid of your wine.”
15 “No, sir,” Hannah responded, “I’m depressed, not drunk. I’m pouring out my heart to the Lord. 16 Don’t take me to be a good-for-nothing woman. I was praying like this because I’ve been troubled and tormented.”
17 Eli replied, “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant your request.”
18 “May you continue to be kind to me,” she said. Then the woman went her way and ate. She was no longer sad.
19 Early in the morning Elkanah and his family got up and worshiped in front of the Lord. Then they returned home to Ramah. Elkanah made love to his wife Hannah, and the Lord remembered her. 20 Hannah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel [God Hears], because she said, “I asked the Lord for him.”
When it seemed as if the world around her was in turmoil, the family in constant tension, and God had forgotten, Hannah was reassured that God had not forgotten her. Just as He did with Noah (Genesis 8:1), Abraham (Genesis 19:29), and the people of Israel (Exodus 2:24), so God remembers Hannah. He remembers for the purpose of delivering and bringing hope in the midst of despair, comfort in the midst of sorrow.
Many centuries later, God comes to another young woman, unknown in the world, insignificant in terms of the Roman empire, or any other ancient kingdom. This young woman gives birth to an even greater son, Jesus. He is the Judge, the Prophet, the King, the High Priest.
Two women, with nothing to offer the world, yet God remembered His covenant. He uses them for His saving purposes, far beyond their expectations, far beyond their comprehension. That is the God who saved us, who works in us, and uses us. Thank God that He is indeed that kind of God.
And because of what Jesus has done, God remembers you.