Worship Through Crucible Pain
Hannah was in distress of soul,
praying to the LORD and weeping bitterly
1 Samuel 1:10Hannah provides an Old Testament example of someone who manifested complete commitment in her worship. As the first book of Samuel opens, Hannah is carrying a great burden. She is unable to have children. This experience is a painful one for any woman, but it was especially difficult for Jewish women who felt obligated to continue the seed of Abraham. And Hannah faced individual circumstances that aggravated the problem. Her husband Elkanah had another wife, Peninnah, who had children (1 Samuel 1:2) Peninnah was not a nice person to Hannah. The Scripture record that "her rival also provoked her severely, to make her miserable, because the Lord has closed her womb ... therefore she wept and did not eat" (1 Samuel 1:6-7). Yet Elkanah "loved her" (1 Samuel 1:5) and tried to compensate for her barrenness by giving Hannah extra provision. The story of Hannah illustrates to us how God can bring good out to our difficult circumstances by using those circumstances to draw us into greater dependence on Him. Our greater commitment to God, in turn, leads us to more
TRUE WORSHIP. 1) THE WORSHIPER MAKE A VOW
The way Hannah dealt with her problem illustrates the fact that she learned humility and commitment. Her "heart grieved" (1 Samuel 1:8) or, as we would say today, her heart was broken. Hannah was not merely a woman who was angry at her circumstances. Literally, the Hebrew word speaks of a heart that trembles out of uncertainty or fear. When Scripture says that Hannah "was in bitterness of soul" (1 Samuel 1:10), it means that she was in pained because of her heavy burdens. What did Hannah do? In the pain of her broken heart she vowed a vow to God. "Then 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 ...' " (1 Samuel 1:11). Hannah willingly committed what she did not yet have to God's service. Put yourself in Hannah's situation. What if God did grant her request, as she fully believed He could? She was agreeing up front to surrender the very thing she requested and wanted so badly! No selfish person would be willing to make such a vow! Only through an unselfish heart can we, like Hannah, truly display God-honoring humility. If our worship and requests are not rooted in humility, they will be rooted in selfishness. By her unselfish request, Hannah demonstrated her humble submission to God. This demostration was reinforced by her subsequent actions. "And she said, 'Let your maidservant find favour in your sight.' So the woman went her way, and ate, and her face was no longer sad" (1 Samuel 1:18). Her vow was not impulsive, frenzied outburst that left Hannah emotionally drained, wondering what she had promised God in the heat of the moment. Hannah was satisfied to make her commitment and trust God. This point is critical. Although her circumstances had not changed, she was satisfied to let God handle the matter as He saw fit. The next day, with a confident spirit, she and Elkanah "rose early in the morning and worshiped before the Lord" (1 Samuel 1:9). Like Hanah, we too can offer God TRUE WORSHIP when we lay everything at His feet and are satisfied to let Him do with it what He wants.
2) THE WORSHIPER KEEPS HER VOW
The Scriptures recorded that Elkanah and Hanah worshiped at the tabernacle before returning home from the annual sacrifice. They came into the presence of God, in the manner He prescribed for them, and they bowed in humble commitment. In this case, God granted Hannah's request and personally intervened in her circumstances. Upon return home, "Elkanah knew Hannah his wife; and the Lord remembered her" (1 Samuel 1:9). Hannah conceived and bored a son, and called his name Samuel, saying' Because I have asked him from the Lord.' " (1 Samuel 1:20). As soon as the child was weaned she brought him to the temple in Shiloh and presented him there with these words: "For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition which I asked of Him. Therefore I also have lent him to the Lord; as long as he lives he shall be lent to the Lord." So they worshiped the Lord there." (1 Samuel 1:27-28). Let us note two phrases here: "The Lord has granted me ... I lent him to the Lord." The Lord gave her the child and she gave the child back to the Lord. The sum total of her request was for this child and when she had received all she had craved for, she gave ALL back to the Giver! Hannah's offering can be truly written that she "WORSHIPED THE LORD." It is not the person who wants God's grace, but the person who wants God Himself, who can worship Him wholeheartedly! Hannah shows us what was supremely precious to her ... not the answer to prayer, not the grace given but God's way with her in the giving of His gift. God gave Samuel to her and she gave Samuel back to God; and as Samuel passed out of her hands into God's hands, WORSHIP emerged from her heart to God's heart.