All right, I forgot to say something before that I'm going to say now. Is that all right? You've been given a little bulletin of sorts, haven't you, when you came in? It's kind of a sheet that tells you what we're going through tonight. And there's further resources on it as well. Because some of the topics that we deal with, we really can't get into complete detail.
But there's web addresses. For instance, some of the websites that are on tonight sheet deal with infertility, deal with the issue of adoption. And then there's also some upcoming themes that we're going to be going over in our study in 1 Samuel. And you may have questions about those general themes. We invite you to write a question in. And perhaps we'll answer it on one of these Wednesday night studies just to make it more personalized for you.
Now tonight, we have some interesting guests on a very touchy subject-- the subject of not only Why Me, Lord. But Why Me, Lord, especially when it comes to infertility-- something that affects lots of people. We have a couple gals who have dealt with it personally. We have a doctor who's an internist at UNMH here locally. And she has dealt personally with the issue of infertility herself. She's treated many patients. We have also with us Billie [? Cowe, ?] who is with Adoption Assistance, and we have Annie Griego. So we have Dr. Dana [? Fodio-- ?] I hope I said that right-- Annie Griego, and Billie [? Cowe. ?] Would you please welcome them?
Did you notice I stood up when the ladies entered the room? Please. I learned that from Franklin Graham. They do that down south. In California, we just sort of hang out and go, hi. But I'm learning. Welcome. Thank you for being here, all of you.
Thank you for having us.
Infertility is a huge issue. And I think women are probably much more in touch with it than men, unless a man is married to a wife who has these issues. How has it affected you personally? Now, I know all of you have your own story. So Annie, why don't we start with you, and then work our way down?
OK. How has it affected me personally?
How has it affected you? You need to get real close to that mic. There you go.
I think the way it's affected me personally is to-- I've always learned here to turn to the word of God to find the answers to everything that we need. And so I found answers in the word of God to comfort us and to understand that really we were never promised to have children, if that makes sense, that we're not missing out or we're not being punished, not anything like that. And so I think the strongest thing is that we've learned just to be content in our circumstances and draw closer to the Lord and draw closer to each other.
Dana, you're a physician. You're a doctor. And you've dealt professionally with this as well as personally. Could you tell us a little bit about that?
Well, actually, I don't treat infertility patients. Sometimes my patients have infertility. So it's a good opportunity to talk with them about the issue. But I went through a lot of infertility procedures. I did IVF three times. So I feel like I've kind of done the whole gamut of everything you can do for infertility. So I have a very personal experience in that regard.
And Billie, you help people adopt children.
So infertility has a whole different meaning for you. And you have people come in to see you. And what do you tell them?
Well, we tell them that there's hope. And that if God closes one door, he opens a window, or another door, somewhere else. And it is incredible, over the 17 years I've been doing this, to be able to watch how God puts families together where kids even look like their parents more than some biological children look like their parents. And not that every family it works out that way. But it is incredible to watch what we call the fingerprints of God on adoptions that are things that are far beyond anything we could plan or control in any way.
Now, each of you would have something different to say to somebody who would ask you about adoption or infertility. Let's say somebody comes to you and says, I'm really struggling with this issue, Annie. You had endometriosis. That was a problem that you couldn't conceive. So what do you tell someone who's struggling with a painful issue in their own life or with their husband with this? What do you say to them?
Once again, to turn to the word of God, to turn to Jesus. At a point in my life, infertility hadn't come to be quite a big issue. But all of a sudden, I started feeling just a little bit of emptiness, just something inside of me that I just-- a little bit of a longing. And Proverbs says that there are four things that are never satisfied. And one of them is the barren womb. And I read that. And I got on my knees, and I asked the Lord to fill that area that's never satisfied. That's what Scripture says. And He did fill that, almost like the way He fills our heart when we ask Him into our lives. And so that longing turned into contentment because Jesus is all we need. He is the Great I Am.
What's the percentage of infertile couples, infertile women? Do you know? Is there a national kind of percentage of how many this affects?
Well, my understanding is that about 25% of all adults of childbearing age are affected by infertility in some way.
Now when you say affected, they know somebody, or they're personally--
No, personally affected.
And this is men too. It's not just the women who have infertility issues. It's men as well.
Very interesting. Doctor, your story was-- there's a line that people deal with how far do we go with medical research versus trusting God. And sometimes people don't want to take any kind of help at all from the medical field. And I know it's a personal kind of decision that we make. But maybe you could give some kind of help regarding making those kinds of decisions.
Well, I think it is a very individual decision. And some people are perfectly fine with not doing any advance reproductive technology. And I think that's great. But I sort of look at it, for me personally, as I had an illness, and needed treatment, so I decided to pursue medical care. And I felt like I tried everything. But God really had a bigger plan for me, far beyond what I could imagine. And I have two adopted children that I never would have dreamed would be so wonderful. So He has much greater plans than I could have imagined.
That's a great testimony. You know, we-- my wife and I-- got pregnant. She miscarried, lost the first one. We kept praying. Nathan, our son, was born as a result of that. Then Lenya was pregnant again, and she lost that child. And we tried, and we sought help, and we just felt like after a while, you kind of get a message. This is where the Lord says stop. And different people deal differently with that issue. But the nice thing is we have an alternative, i.e. adoption. I think there's probably more kids that want parents than parents who want kids. There's just a lot of them that need help.
We have an internet question, I'm told, right here on the screen. I've got a little screen that says somebody is on the internet and is tuning in and watching this. It says, "I've always wanted to be a father. Why can't God bless me in that way? And how should I treat my wife through this?" Now, I want to touch on that last part in just a minute. But would any of you-- how would you answer that? I want to be a father. Why can't God bless me in that way?
God can bless you in that way. You know, God is limited by our physical ailments or our incapacities. Because it's through our weakness that His strength is made perfect.
So God can bless us to be a father, perhaps it is to have our own children biologically by some timing that we don't understand. Perhaps it's by medical treatment that we're able to conceive. Perhaps it's by adoption, or perhaps it's by being a mentor to children who are children of maybe a single mom who needs a father figure to come and take her boys fishing on the weekend. I mean, God can be so creative in how He allows us to fulfill that parental role.
So the view of family may maybe needs to be recast or redefined. Not the little white picket fence, and it's going to happen exactly a certain way. But I give myself to others in a wholly different way.
That's so true. A number of years ago, I was able to sit in on a Bible study by a man from Britain who had been a missionary to Tibet for many years. And one of the things I have carried with me all these years that he said is God will do what He will when He will and through whom He will. And we dare not say Him nay.
Beautiful. That's beautiful. Well, Tom, asks here, "How should I treat my wife through this?" Tom, very gently, very sweetly. And walk softly around a broken heart is a motto I carry with me. And understand that the way you feel about this, you want to be a father, your wife no doubt wants to be a mother. And I think that we have another alternative. God could be preparing you for being a natural biological father later on. Maybe you're just not ready yet. God could be preparing you for adopting, helping out in that regard. And so don't limit God by just one avenue. So, very enlightening. Thank you all for being a part of this. Would you give them a big hand?
I invite you now, if you have a cell phone or pager or something that makes noise, to turn it off. I want you to just take just a second to say hi to someone.
Acts 17 says, "In Him, we live and move and have our being We are His offspring. So I pray that as we sing this song, as we open the Word tonight, we'll discover more who we are in Christ.
[MUSIC - "FINDING WHO WE ARE"]
(SINGING) In You, we're living. In You, we're moving. In You, we're finding who we are. Sing that again. In You, we're living. In You, we're moving. In You, we're finding who we are. Who we are. I worship You. And I worship You. Father of life, Spirit of truth. And I worship you. Jesus, we call on You. Call on You. In You, we're living. In You, we're moving. In You, we're finding who we are. Who we are in You. Worship You. And I worship You. Father of life, Spirit of truth. And I worship You. Jesus, we call on You. We call on You.
And I worship You. Father of life, Spirit of truth. And I worship You. Jesus, we call on You. We call on You. Call on Jesus.
Make this part your prayer. Ask God to breathe life in you tonight by way of his Holy Spirit.
(SINGING) Breathe Your life in me. Breathe Your life in me. Breathe Your life. Breathe Your life in me. Breathe Your life. Breathe Your life in me. I worship You. And I worship You. Father of life, Spirit of truth. And I worship You. Jesus, we call on You. Yes, we call on You. And I worship You. Father of life, Spirit of truth. And I worship You. Jesus, we call on You. Yes, we call on You. Yes, we call on You. I call on Jesus. Call on You.
In You, we're living. In You, we're moving. In You, we're finding who we are. In You, we're finding who we are. In You, we're finding who we are. Who we are. In You, we're finding who we are.
Lord, we pray that you would help us to do that tonight.
"In those days, there was no King in Israel. Every man did what was right in his own eyes." This was the stage on which the events in the books of Samuel were played out.
Samuel's name means heard by God. The Psalms refer to Samuel along with Moses and Aaron as examples of God's faithfulness. Samuel is mentioned 134 times in Scripture. He anointed both Saul and David as kings of Israel. And God used him to assist Israel's growth from a nomadic desert tribe to a centralized monarchy. Though Samuel helped establish the government of Israel, he failed to manage his own home. And thus his sons did not have a close relationship with God.
The book of 1 Samuel records the rise and sad decline of Saul, Israel's first king. We are introduced to mega themes of human royalty and personal loyalty as David emerges from the shadow of Goliath to patiently wait for God's timetable, and the day he would begin his career as Israel's greatest king. Key locations include Ramah, Shiloh, the Valley of Elah, Ziklag, and of course, Mount Gilboa, where Saul met his tragic end.
As the blueprint of 1 Samuel unfolds, we will trace the history of Israel from the days of the judges through its transition from theocracy to human monarchy. The major characters that we will encounter include the prophet Samuel, King Saul, his son Jonathan, Eli, and Hannah, whose empty womb caused her to ask the question, "Why me, Lord?" Note sheets and binders are available for these Wednesday night studies at Calvary. We encourage you to take notes as we experience the book of 1 Samuel. Line on Line.
Cool. Turn in your Bibles to 1 Samuel, chapter 1. Let's do that. I forgot to tell you-- I brought this book out, and I forgot to tell you more about it. That's just like me. You've got the little handout. But if you desire, there are folders in the back to keep all of the notes for all of the Bible studies in Line Upon Line, Wednesday nights through the Bible, at hand so that you can refer to them. You can write down added information, phone numbers, draw pictures on it, whatever. It's there for you. 1 Samuel, chapter 1. Why don't we pray?
Lord, thank you once again for Your word. And we gather, Lord, to hear what Your spirit would say to us. We've worshiped. We've laid our hearts down before You. And now we want to hear what You have to say to us this evening. We pray, Father, that your word would be clear to us and that our obedience and response would be immediate. We ask it in Jesus' name. Amen.
Now, step back with me to 1100 BC. Because you're going to see the formation of the nation of Israel. And we start, as you heard, with looking at the figures-- the first being Samuel, who is in the lineup of the prophets. He's the first prophet. The book will highlight Samuel the prophet, Saul the first king, and David who will succeed him. So we have the story of a prophet, a politician, and a poet, really. That's what David was. He was a shepherd king. And all of them influenced the nation. All of them had flaws. All of them were growing. All of them influenced each other. And God used their unique personalities blended together to form this nation.
Before we jump in, think of the people who have influenced you in your life. I'm sure that you can think of one or two or three. And as you think about them, think about what it was exactly that caused that influence. Was it their stamina, their commitment, their dedication? Was it their love for the spouse that they had? Was it their commitment to Christ? Was it a certain capability that they had? And as you think about who influenced you, then follow that up by the question whom are you influencing? Where are you leaving your footprints? When the book is read, and the legacy of your life goes down, and it's all over with, what will be said of you?
And that's a great question especially to open up this book with. Because we see how Saul started well, finished poorly. David started well, had some problems, ended pretty well. And even Samuel started well, could have had a better finish, but probably better than Saul finished. It's not just a story of great men. It's also the story of great women.
You know, somebody once said that when God wants to do a great work, he'll get a hold of a man. But when God wants to do an especially great work, he'll get a hold of a woman. And we find that here. We're introduced to a woman who was infertile, whom God raised up to birth the first prophet to bring revival to a nation. If you look further back in the Bible, when God wanted to redeem Israel from the hand of Egypt in bondage, God raised up a woman named Jochebed, who was a godly woman who lived by faith and shoved little baby Moses-- by the way, our cameraman up here, right over here, his name is Moses. Isn't that interesting? So this is the Mo cam right here.
When God wanted to preserve a nation in Persia, God raised up Esther, a godly woman. And the gospels begin with the faith and the dedication of a woman named Mary. Show of hands tonight, how many here are parents? Raise your hands. Wow, quite a bit. How many of you someday plan to be parents? Raise your hand. OK, a few. How many of you have parents? Raise your hand.
Oh, you didn't have any? How many of you are single? Curious. Raise your hand. But keep your hands up, and look around quickly.
I thought it would help, you know.
Verse one-- "There was a certain man of Ramathaim-zophim--" so if you think it's hard spelling Albuquerque for people, imagine living in that town. Ramathaim-zophim, this is Ramah it's called in the Bible. It's modern day Ramallah. If you've been watching the news lately, there's a lot going on right now in Ramallah. And we'll talk more about modern Israel and how that interfaces with our times coming up. "--of the mountains of Ephraim. And his name was Elkanah--" which means, by the way, "God has created."
"The son of Jeroham, the son of Elihu, the son of Tohu, the son of Zuph, an Ephraimite." You're looking for Bible names for those children you're planning? There you go. I mean, why use John or Peter. Zuph is a good one. Come here, Zuphy. "And he had two wives." And automatically, we go, uh-oh. There's a problem in paradise.
"The name of one was Hannah." Her name means "grace." She needed a lot of it because of the rival she had. "The name of the other was Peninnah--" which means "ruby." Ruby red. "Peninnah had children. But Hannah had no children." The burning desire of every Hebrew couple was to have children. Why? Because parents believed that their lives were passed on and lived on in the lives of the children that came after them. And they thought the more, the better. The more kids, the more blessed you are. For instance, Psalm 127, "Children are a heritage from the Lord. Happy is the one whose quiver is full of them." So they saw this as a sign of God's blessing.
Now, this guy, Elkanah, God Has Created, has two wives. It is against God's ideal. Now you'll find polygamy in the Bible. That doesn't mean it was right. God has an ideal in Genesis chapter 2 of one man and one woman. And if you're married, you know that just that isn't that easy. Why complicate it with more possibilities? But there was a custom. It was allowed, though it was not God's original or highest intention. And that was if for some reason the wife you married could not produce children, it was Semitic culture and customs to marry another woman to bear children so that your family and your tribe would perpetuate in the land.
But being childless was a stigma. Some people thought they were actually cursed by God. Now, we know better from a Biblical perspective today. But that was the mindset back then. Many of them were plagued with superstition. Even Jacob, Genesis chapter 29, he had a couple of wives, as well as a couple others on the side, the servants or the concubines of these gals. And one of his wives, named Leah, as soon as she conceived and had a child, she said, "The Lord has surely taken away--" listen to this, "--my affliction." Childlessness was seen then as an affliction.
Well, when she conceived. Then the other wife, Rachel, got very put out, wanted to have kids. And she said to her husband, "Give me children, or else I'll die." She was serious about it. . Of course, he had the right answer. He said, "What? Am I in the place of God that I can open up your womb and give you a child?" But it was a stigma. In fact, the rabbis had a list of people they said were excommunicated from heaven. Number one on the list-- a Jewish man that has no wife. Number two on the list-- a Jewish man who has a wife, but no child. In fact, in some cases, though again, this isn't according to God's mandate, but in some circles, barrenness was a grounds for divorce.
And it was worse for Hannah because there was this other gal Ruby-- Peninnah-- who had not one child, not two children, but seemingly lots of them. In fact, look at verse 3. This man went up from his city yearly to worship and sacrifice to the Lord of Hosts in Shiloh. "Also, the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas--" remember their names. You'll see them again. "--the priests of the Lord were there. And whenever the time came for Elkanah to make an offering, he would give portions to Peninnah his wife and to all--" notice that word-- "all her sons and daughters. But to Hannah, he would give a double portion. For he loved Hannah, although the Lord had closed he." womb.
Now watch what happens. "And her rival also provoked her severely to make her miserable because the Lord had closed her womb. So it was, year by year, she went up to the house of the Lord that she provoked her. Therefore, she wept and did not eat." So not only did this gal Hannah have to live with the stigma of not being able to bear children because it says "the Lord closed her womb," but she had competition. She had a gal in the house who was very fertile and made that fact known a lot.
So just try to put yourself in her sandals for a moment. Imagine what it's like to cook family meals with the other gal and all her children, to go on family outings, even to go to church, and the stigma that would be placed upon you. Now the worst thing is when they would go on their yearly trek northward to Shiloh, about 20 miles north of Jerusalem. That is where the tabernacle stood at that time. The tabernacle was the place that was kept in central Israel for the worship of God. And they would go up there typically three times a year. This yearly feast was probably the Feast of Tabernacles, which took place around September, October.
They would go up to offer a sacrifice. And this is how it worked. The animal was given to the priest. The blood was shed. The sacrifice was made. A portion of the animal was given back to the family. The family would roast it. And the family was commanded to eat that meat with joy and rejoicing before the Lord.
Well, for Hannah, there was no joy because there was this Peninnah chick who would rub it in. God blessed me and didn't bless you. I have children, and you don't. And all she could do is eat the bread of sorrows. It says she wept and she did not eat.
No in looking at Hannah, you get a little bit of insight into what it's like for women who face this issue of infertility. It affects millions of Americans as we heard tonight in some of the statistics. I heard an estimate that said one in six couples deal with this issue, which would mean that's a conservative estimate. Because one figure we heard tonight was 25%. That would be at least 16 out of 100 couples. So hundreds of people right here, right now have dealt with this issue. It's touched us.
Now, it doesn't seem that way if you're not one of them. And here's why. You come to church. And if you have a child, or you go to the children's ministry, you walk by the nursery, you think, man, that nursery is packed full of babies. There's a lot of kids that go to this church. That's true. But there's a problem. None of those babies belong to those couples that we just mentioned. That's where the pain comes in. Because girls, sometimes guys, mostly girls, dream of their futures. You know, guys think, yeah, I'll grow up and have a really cool car.
Fast. Girls grow up, and they think about the husband they're going to marry, the children they're going to have. They play house. They play mother. All of those dreams shattered when they find out, well, you can't have children. And even couples, when they plan their marriage, they often say, well, how many children do you want? Well, I don't know. One, two, 10. But to have those plans not come to fruition. And it gets worse because some will go to the doctors. And they'll try certain things. Then they'll come to the church, and they'll get prayed over and anointed with oil. And some people even hallelujah, yay, and try to heal them of it instantly.
And when it doesn't work, the feeling is worse. And imagine what it's like for that gal, that couple, every time there's a baby dedication. Imagine what it feels like every Mother's Day-- that sense of alienation and isolation. And that's why it's important, as I said a little while ago. Walk softly around a broken heart. Don't slap them on the back-- don't worry about it, sis. No, try to enter in there to that pain and pray with them and love them.
Now, I want to tread lightly on this. Because there's feelings attached to it. But here it plainly says, as in other portions of Scripture, that the Lord closed her womb. And to balance all of the truth of the Scripture out in a quick fashion, childbearing is part of the sovereignty of God. It is part of His sovereign nature. Now honestly, I don't know why the Lord opens up one womb and closes another. I don't know that. I don't know why there's millions of pregnant teenagers who didn't want to get pregnant and millions of people who try to get pregnant and don't.
But I do know this. I've learned this through other situations. Life doesn't come in neatly designed packages that you have designed. Life can throw you a curve sometimes. And you can end up saying, why me, God? Why me, Lord? But I also know that if you are unable to bear, it doesn't mean that you're cursed. It just means that God is opening your life to other blessings.
And I can tell you a few of them. Number one, it could be that you are not ready yet. And God is preparing you. Some people wait six months. Some people wait 16 years. Number two, it could be that God is preparing you to be an adoptive parent, a big brother, a big sister, to bring somebody who's looking for an adoptive parent into your home. And as we mentioned before, there's probably more children wanting parents than parents wanting children.
That'd be another good question to ask by the way. Why is it so expensive to adopt? We should pray that some of those costs will go down as lawyers are a little more lenient merciful perhaps. But there is another reason. Perhaps God wants you to be available for something else in his kingdom, another work in his kingdom that you wouldn't be able to be available for if you were to be a full-time parent of several children. So God has his plan for your life. Look at verse 8.
"Then Elkanah, her husband, said to her, 'Hannah, why do you weep? Why do you not eat? Why is your heart grieved? Am I not better to you than 10 sons?'"
If I were to write a list of the 10 insensitive things not to tell your wife, this would be on that list. Honey, you're not the issue. You're a great guy. But that's really not the issue here. Hey, don't worry about it. You got me. Yeah? "So Hannah arose after they had finished eating and drinking in Shiloh. Now, Eli the priest was sitting on the seat of the doorpost of the tabernacle of the Lord. And she was in bitterness of soul and prayed to the Lord and wept in anguish. And she made a vow and said, 'O, Lord of Hosts, if you will indeed look on the affliction of your maidservant and remember me and not forget your maidservant, but will give your maidservant a male child, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life. And no razor shall come upon his head.'"
Now, a note to those of us who are parents already. Notice that Hannah wanted what many parents, what many people are willing to leave. And that is a family. More than anything else, she wanted to identify herself within the home, not apart from the home. I'm not getting down on people who work outside the home. But notice, she wants what a lot of people are willing to leave-- family, children.
She saw her children not as an inconvenience, not as a burden financially, but as a blessing from God. Our nation needs women like Hannah who cry out to the Lord, Lord make me, a mother, even if that means an adoptive mother. We need that. We need stability in our homes. And what is a godly mother who will trust the Lord and seek the Lord for a word for that along with her husband.
I heard a story about a British couple. They were Christians. He was a factory worker, had sort of a grunt job working around a bunch of rough and tough characters who always mocked his Christian faith. But he would tell his buddies, I'm praying that we have a child. Oh, you're praying for a child. Well, I can tell you how to have a child. It's not through prayer, buddy. And all that kind of stuff.
He came to work one day and announced, God is answering our prayers. My wife's pregnant. She's going to have a child. Oh, they mocked him once again. Nine months later, the child was delivered. But the child had Down syndrome. Their heart was broken. Here they had prayed. Here they had trusted. Their expectation was on the Lord. They cried out. They told their non-Christian friends that God answered their prayers. And now they have a child with Down syndrome.
Now he knew that the guys at the factory were going to get all over his case for this. So he said, Lord, give me wisdom on how to share this. He went to work, and he shared it. And he got his share of ridicule. The guys at the factory said something like, so God gave you this child, huh? You've been praying for it. God gave you this baby, and you're glad? He said, yes, I am glad. Oh, you're glad? He said, yes, I'm glad. And let me tell you why. I'm glad the Lord gave the child to me and not to you. And you know what? I am too. Because a parent who would rely upon God's strength and be committed to each other and committed to that child no matter what, that child has a blessed future.
She made a vow, verse 11. "She said, 'O, Lord of Hosts--'" it's a great term by the way. It's used about 180 times in the Bible. Yahweh, or Jehovah, Sabaoth, the Lord of Angelic Hosts. In other words, my God is the general of the biggest army you've ever seen. All the angels are at his sovereign command. That's the idea behind the term. I love it. When you pray, pray with the right perspective. Know who you're talking to. Not, "God, I come to you. I don't know if you can handle this or not." No, you are the Lord of Hosts, the commander of the armies of heaven.
Verse 11, "If you will look indeed on the affliction of your maidservant and remember me and do not forget your maidservant, but will give your maidservant--" notice how she calls herself God's servant-- "a male child, I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life. And no razor shall come upon his head." So Lord, give me a boy and, I'll make him a hippie. No, that's not really what it means.
She was promising to make him a Nazarite, one wholly dedicated to the Lord. And there's a whole prescription in the Old Testament on how to raise a Nazarite child to the Lord. He'll drink no wine, he'll have no product of the vine, he'll not grow his hair out, all symbols of dedication and consecration to God. By the way, Samuel was one of three Nazarites mentioned in the Bible-- Samson, John the Baptist, and this guy. But notice, she she's basically saying, Lord, give me a boy, I'll give him back to You.
God was glad to hear that. And because of this prayer, the Lord opens up her womb. She conceives. And Samuel is born. Now listen carefully. If God had answered her first prayer for a boy, perhaps-- perhaps-- Samuel would have been raised as any other normal child in the land of Israel. And God wouldn't have had the man that he had in Samuel who would bring revival to the nation in a time when other people were listening to God. But now she says, OK, Lord, look. I'll strike a deal with you. You give me that child, and that child is Yours. He will serve You all the days of his-- I'll give him back to You in full time service.
So God used her barrenness to get her in line with His purposes. Verse 12, "And it happened as she continued praying before the Lord that Eli--" this is the priest now, the guy at the tabernacle in Shiloh where they were gathering. There wasn't a temple back in those days, no courtyard, no grass, no trees, no meeting places, just this tent structure in Shiloh. No real place to congregate. So she comes close to the door of it. And she's praying before the Lord. Eli watched her mouth. Now Hannah spoke in her heart. Only her lips moved. Her voice was not heard. Therefore, Eli thought she was drunk.
"So Eli said to her, 'How long will you be drunk? Put away your wine from you.'" Boy, it shows you how degenerate Israel had become. This is right after the Book of Judges when every man did what was right in his own eyes. In a place where you would think this is unthinkable to have an alcoholic, the tabernacle, the priest thinks, here's another drunk.
Now, as odd as that might sound, once you read about this guy's sons, Hophni and Phinehas, you'll go, oh, I get it. No wonder he thought that. Because they weren't any better. They were officiating as priests, but they themselves were corrupt. But have you ever stopped to think. Imagine how you must look to an unbeliever. Think of an unbeliever coming in, never come to a church service, and they come in, they watch you. You might have your hands raised. They go, what are they doing? This is odd. I know this because the first time I walked into a church service, and I heard true worship, and people with their hands raised, I thought, they're weird.
I even thought, they might be on something. I was just unfamiliar with true worship. Eli has been professionally in the ministry for a long time. He could be very out of touch. And Hannah, he accuses her of being drunk. And Hannah answered and said, (SLURRING) No, my lord. No, she said very soberly-- excuse me-- "No, my Lord. I am a woman of sorrowful spirit. I have drunk neither wine nor intoxicating drink, but have poured out my soul before the Lord." Beautiful answer.
You know, as I look at the life of Hannah, I see a couple of things. Number one, here's a gal rightly related to her God. She is a woman of prayer. When she was hurting, she prayed. When she prayed and it was answered, she kept praying. Every year, she kept praying. Notice how she describes her prayer. She said, "I have poured out my soul before the Lord." That's a great description of prayer-- deep, heartfelt, spontaneous expression.
Many people say, well, I don't know how to pray. Well, do you know how to talk? Do you know how to express pain, sorrow, anguish, what you're feeling? Yeah. Then you know how to pray. Not that that's all prayer is. Prayer is much more than that. But it's pouring out your heart before the Lord. Tell him your wants, your hurts, your needs. Psalm 55, the psalmist says, "Cast your burden upon the Lord."
In line with this, not only does this gal pray spontaneously to the Lord deep, heartfelt prayers, but if you look at Chapter 2, the first portion of it, she writes her own worship song. Here's a spiritual gal. This is more than "Now I lay me down to sleep" stuff. This gal has learned how to communicate with God. What a great heritage then Samuel had, wouldn't you say? A praying mother. Abraham Lincoln once said, "No one is poor who has a godly mother." So I would say young Samuel was very rich.
Something else-- not only was she rightly related with her God, she was rightly related to her husband. Now there's just a couple of things that we skipped over, and I want you to notice back in verse 5. This man knew that his wife was hurt because she was infertile. And he loved her. And it says he gave her a double portion of the food, of the sacrifice. As if to-- OK, maybe he was insensitive by saying better than 10 sons, right? But still here's a guy who knew what was going on. And because of his love, in his own way, tried to reach out by giving a double portion.
Then look at verse 8. He asked the question, "Why do you weep? Why don't you eat? Why is your heart grieved?" Now you might say, well, that's a very sensitive thing to say. I'll tell you what. Back in those days, a lot of guys would have just said, get over it. He didn't do that. At least he went after her. He questioned her. And I think a happy marriage is when a husband and a wife will seek to build each other up, not tear each other down. And I think this was the kind of a guy that was doing that for her.
By the way, parents, the greatest single gift I believe that you can give your children is to love each other. Husbands, if you love your wife deeply, that's the greatest legacy you can leave your child. Women, if you love your husband deeply, your kids have tentacles, man. They can hear and see all that stuff. And there's a sense of security that is built into a child when that child knows mom and dad love each other. There's no question. There's no doubt. Through thick and thin, this couple was together.
By the way, just a note, if you're contemplating having children, you might want to use these two things as your guides-- number one, make sure your marriage is centered on Jesus Christ. That's right. Make sure it has the right foundation. Not, well, she's cute. We'll, he's cute. Well, he makes good money. You want something that's going to stand the test of time? Make sure that relationship is built on a solid rock, Jesus Christ. Number two, that you love each other based upon the love of Jesus Christ. You have those elements together and you have children in that environment, it's cool.
But some people will say, well, we're going to have a child. Maybe having a child will save our marriage because we're not getting along. Oh, no. Wrong motivation. Or somebody else will say, well, you know, our parents are pressuring us. They really want to be grandparents. Uh-uh. Hang up the phone on them more often.
Or somebody else will say, well, nobody really loves me. My spouse doesn't love me. If I have a child, at least that child will love me. Don't do that to that child. Make sure that your marriage is solid on the rock of Christ and that you love each other with his love. Your marriage is God-centered. Look at verse 16 now.
"Do not consider--" she continues to Eli-- "your maidservant a wicked woman. For out of the abundance of my complaint and grief, I have spoken until now. Then Eli answered and said, 'Go in peace. And the God of Israel grant your petition which you have asked of Him.' Then she said, 'Let your maidservant find favor in your sight.' So the woman went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad."
It is interesting to me-- and I have tested this. When you do pour out your soul honestly to God, you let everything off of your heart, you leave it with Him, that there is a lifting of the countenance. Fervent prayer brings those feelings of peace. Fervent prayer brings feelings of peace. That's what Paul said. Be anxious for nothing. But in everything, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will rule and will reign in your heart.
So what's the cure for worry? Redirect your worry. Redirect your concern. Replace your concern with prayer. It's called casting in the Bible, right? Casting all of your cares upon Him, Peter tells us. 1 Peter chapter 5, verse 7, "Casting all your cares upon the Lord because He cares for you." Have you noticed that the very first thing we should try, prayer, is usually the last thing we do? Do you hear people talk about prayer that way? There's nothing left to do but pray. What is that? That should be the first recourse. Something happened. Let's pray right now. Instead of the last thing. I think if it would become the first thing, it wouldn't be a last resort.
And sometimes we think, well, right now, this is a little matter. It's a little issue. I just bring the big issues before God. God's busy. He's God. He's like running the universe. You know, if you would cast the little stuff on the Lord, it probably wouldn't become big stuff. It wouldn't grow to a mountain. A widow came to G. Campbell Morgan. I mentioned him at the beginning of our service tonight, this guy who taught through the Bible.
And she said, Dr. Morgan, I've been wondering. Do you think it's OK if we bring the little things to God, or should we just bring the big things in our life that we deal with to God? And he said in his characteristically British manner, "Madam, do you honestly think there's anything at all in your life that would be considered big to God?" He's God. He spins the universe. You have a big issue. So what? It's not big to Him. Casting all of your cares upon the Lord because He cares for you.
"Then they rose up--" verse 19-- "early in the morning and--" get this-- "worshipped before the Lord and returned and came to their house at Ramah." That's that Ramathaim-zophim. It's better just to say Ramah. "And Elkanah knew Hannah, his wife." They had sexual relations. That's the intention of the writing. "And the Lord remembered her."
Now, what I want you to notice about this worship is she and her husband worship before she became pregnant, not afterwards. There was no pregnancy at that point. She cried before the Lord the day before. Eli said go in peace. Her countenance was lifted. She had that, I've given it to the Lord. The next day, she worshipped not because the Lord blessed her in a certain way, but because He was the Lord. That's what true worship is by the way. True worship is a response to God from the heart for who He is, not what He does. Who He is-- He is still the Lord. But He didn't give me what I wanted. He's still the Lord. He still is deserving of worship. That's true worship.
Before she was pregnant, they rose up early in the morning and worshipped the Lord. James Hewitt is an author that collects stories. And he tells a story about a church he visited in Connecticut. It was a very liturgical church, but something really astonished him. It was a point in the church service when the congregation got on their knees, and they sang hallelujah to the Lord, something they do every week. But there was a woman who perched herself up on the pew as if to stand with her arms lifted in the air, head tilted back, eyes closed, and she was singing to the Lord. He said, what struck me about this lady is that her hands were gnarled with arthritis. She was in obvious pain. She had crutches that she put to one side. And she tried to push herself up, and she was worshipping.
And he thought, oh, Lord, what is it that makes these Christians worship in that condition? You know what the answer is? Because God is worth it. He is still the Lord. Now, some people stop worship when God doesn't perform for them. I'm taking my football and going home. He didn't give me what I wanted. There's a lot of people who joined the bless me club. God, I'll make a deal with you. You bless me, and I'll bless Your holy name. Deal? No, the idea is you bless the Lord because He's worth it.
And Samuel had parents who made worship not a liturgy, but a lifestyle. They did it regardless. They did it all the time. By the way, parents, I notice a pattern sometimes. This is typical of American parents that a couple will get spiritual suddenly after they have children. Oh, I have kids now. We better go to church. Hey, good. I'm glad. I'm glad you do. But you know what? Do it before you have children. Set a good foundation before all that happens. Let it be real in your life, not just something-- we need church. You know, these kids need a good foundation.
Listen, if they don't see it in your life, they don't see it. They don't get it. And so we dedicate babies to the Lord every Sunday. But you know what? Though we dedicate children to the Lord, parents must also be dedicated to the Lord. Because if parents aren't dedicated to the Lord, the child's going to see that. Oh, yeah, mom and dad, they took us to church, but they were hypocrites. Needs to be a lifestyle.
Abraham Lincoln said, "For a man to train up a child in the way he should go, he must walk that way himself." Great words from an American president who had the guts to say it. Verse 20, "So it came to pass in the process of time that Hannah conceived and bore a son and called his name Shmuel." That's the Hebrew pronunciation. Shmuel, Samuel. "Heard by God." Some think it means "The name of God." And it's difficult to understand which one we should say it is. The Hebrew word for name is "Shem," "hashem," the name. Shemuel is the name of God. Shmuel means "God has heard." Because the Hebrews say "Sh'ma, Israel." Hear, O Israel. So the word sounds similar. It's probably the second one. God has heard. I've prayed, and God answered. So I'm going to call him God Heard, Samuel because I have asked for him from the Lord.
"Now the man, Elkanah, and all of his house went up to offer to the Lord yearly sacrifice and his vow. But Hannah did not go up for she said to her husband, 'Not until the child is weaned. And then I will take him that he may appear before the Lord and remain there forever.' And Elkanah her husband said to her, 'Do what seems best to you. Wait until you have weaned him. Only let the Lord establish His word.' So the woman stayed and nursed her son until she had weaned him."
Now typically, when a child was born, mom stayed home for seven days if it was a boy. If it was a girl, if she stayed home 14 days. Then 33 days later, an offering was made. But here it says, the child was weaned first. That's a long time. It's between three and five years, probably closer to five years. Kids were breastfed for a longer time back then. And the weaning-- the word "wean" in Hebrew means to deal fully with a child and has the idea of instruction as well. And so the mom was instructing this child from an early age to follow the Lord. Dealt fully with.
You know, it's great. The Hebrews start early with their kids. You know what Paul said to Timothy? He said, "From infancy you have known the holy scriptures." Those children were born just bouncing up on the knee. Mom and dad would quote scriptures to the child. In fact, one of the ancient rabbis concerning raising his son said boys should learn scripture at age five. They should learn the Mishnah, the commentaries, at age 10. They should learn to fulfill the law, that's their bar mitzvah at age 13. And they should study the Talmud-- these are multi-volumes-- at age 15. So they were serious and intense about weaning, training, preparing a child.
The first five years of a life are so impressionable. It's estimated that 85% of our character is developed during those first five years. Charles Spurgeon said it so beautifully. "Before a child reaches seven, teach him all the way to heaven. Better yet, the work will thrive if he learns before he's five." So she did that. And so Elkanah said the right thing as the hubby should do. He said, do what seems best to you, dear. Sometimes that's the best answer. Wait 'til you have-- I heard a woman say amen.
Wait 'til you have weaned him. No, he's not a milquetoast however. He says, "Let the Lord establish His word." Left it in God's hands. "So the woman stayed and nursed her son until she had weaned him." What a concept-- weaning, nurturing. If you have young children, please nurture them. You know what I mean by that? Spend concentrated time with them.
And here's why. Your input to your child has a very limited shelf life. There's a period where that child let you into his world. You're everything. Soon that changes. Soon peers, in their view, have a greater influence and more important voice than yours. So you have a window to speak into that child's life effectively. Nurturing means concentrated time. And it means spiritual training. You know what, parents? It's not the Sunday school's job to give your kids spiritual training. It's not Christian school's job. It really is your job. If you count up how many hours they spend at Christian school or at Sunday school compared to how many hours they're in your care at your house, you can obviously see that you have the greater influence.
Somebody wisely said an ounce of parent is worth a pound of clergy. That's true. I've never heard parents bemoan this fact, by the way. I've never had a parenthood toward the end of his life say, (WIMPERING) I spent too much time with child. That's my only regret. Man, I should have been on the golf course more. Should have built up that business and been away from home more.
Never heard that. I've heard the opposite. Spend time. Because it's easier to build a boy than it is to repair a man. Even Socrates way back when wondered how men could spend so much time training their animals or colts or cattle and so little time training and molding their children in ancient Greece.
"Now, when she had weaned him--" verse 24-- "she took him with her with three bulls, one ephah of flour, a skin of wine, brought him to the house of the Lord and Shiloh. The child was young. They slaughtered a bull. Brought the child to Eli. And she said, 'O my Lord, as your soul lives, my Lord, I am the woman who stood by you here praying to the Lord. For this child I prayed. And the Lord has granted my petition which I asked of him. Therefore, I also have lent him to the Lord.'" Great wording. "'As long as he lives, he shall be lent to the Lord.' So they--" there it is again-- "worshipped the Lord there."
The word "lent" means an irrevocable giving to the Lord. She has nurtured him for three to five years. Now she's dropping him off for good at the tabernacle. I know what you're thinking. [GASP]
Horrible. How could they do that? Well, if you would just divorce yourself for just a moment from his age, OK, and think of the goal of the parent. What's the goal of these parents? I want a child who serves God. Now if your goal ultimately for your child is I want him to make a lot of money, I want him to have a great car, house, school, and serving the Lord, that'd be good too. Well, then, you'll probably be more shocked than this. Because their whole goal was to get them to serve the Lord. That's what he's going to be doing. From an early age, he's going to be loving God and bringing revival to a nation, which is a good goal for any parent. And by the way, back then, I don't want to get too down in our generation. But back then, you know what? Kids just grew up quicker.
What I mean by that is they took more responsibility at a younger age. At age 13, they went through a bar mitzvah. They became a son of the commandment, or a bat mitzvah, a daughter of the commandment. And they were considered at that age an adult member of the Jewish community. Responsibility was laid on their shoulders. They were grown up. It was the rite of passage. Today, there's 35-year-old guys still living at home with mom. These kids grew up young. And this one grew up to serve the Lord. He was a heritage from God.
And then in chapter two, there's this hymn of praise from verse 1 down to verse 11. And what a contrast it is from this weeping prayer of anguish before the Lord in chapter one. Now there's this triumphant hymn of praise that no doubt, she sang to the congregation. It was probably a public testimony that she gave to the congregation at the tabernacle of Shiloh. And Hannah prayed and said, "My heart rejoices in the Lord. My horn is exalted." That's figurative. She didn't actually have horns growing out. It meant authority. "--is exalted in the Lord. I smile at my enemies because I rejoice in your salvation. No one is holy like the Lord. For there is none beside You, nor is there any rock like our God."
And the language is woven so beautifully as she considers those who mocked her and how the Lord has treated her. Look at verse 7. "The Lord makes poor and makes rich. He brings low and, He lifts up. He raises the poor from the dust. He lifts the beggar from the ash heap to set them among the princes." In other words, God can reverse human circumstances. God can make the poor rich. He can make the rich poor. He can take the humble and make them exalted. He can take the proud like Peninnah and bring her down. God is able.
"'He will guard the feet of the saints," verse 9, "'but the wicked shall be silent in darkness. For by strength, no man shall prevail. The adversaries of the Lord shall be broken in pieces. From heaven, He will thunder against them. The Lord will judge the ends of the earth. He will give strength to His king and exalt the horn of his anointed.' Then Elkanah went to his house at Ramah. But the child ministered to the Lord before Eli the priest."
Hannah, a woman whose only claim to fame is that she for a period of time was infertile, and she cried out to God, and she became a birth mother, a mother who gave a child to the nation of Israel to be a leader. Now, she began by saying, "Why me, Lord? why am I so bitter? Why am I so unblessed?" But in effect, she ends up by saying, why me, Lord? Why am I so blessed? Her perspective is changed.
Can I just say something to moms as we close? Moms, my hat goes off to you. And I don't even have a hat. So that's like a miracle in and of itself. But I have the highest regard for the role of a mother in our society. And you know what? It's time that men sing the praises of these women who have to put up with us and raise our children. So let's close in prayer.
Heavenly Father, we thank You for the role that each of us has in Your plan and Your kingdom. And we pray, Father, especially for those who are asking this question-- why me, Lord? Why has this happened in my life? That we would see that You have a plan that isn't like that package we have designed in our own hearts. You have a creative way of making us a blessing and using us. And we pray, Father, that You would comfort us and help us to have tender hearts toward those who are suffering, especially in this area. Thank You for the moms and those who are praying to be moms who are in our congregation, in the Church of Jesus Christ, that we would support them and love them and honor them. In Jesus' name, amen.