Day 20: May 22, 2018: What Might God Do?
1 Samuel 1:9-11, 19-20: After they had eaten and drunk in Shiloh, Hannah rose. Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat beside the doorpost of the temple of the Lord. 10 She was deeply distressed and prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly. 11 And she vowed a vow and said, “O Lord of hosts, if you will indeed look on the affliction of your servant and remember me and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a son, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and no razor shall touch his head.”… They rose early in the morning and worshiped before the Lord; then they went back to their house at Ramah. And Elkanah knew Hannah his wife, and the Lord remembered her. 20 And in due time Hannah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Samuel, for she said, “I have asked for him from the Lord.”
The text says that the Lord “remembered” Hannah when he enabled her to conceive a son (v. 19). The use of the word “remembered” does not mean that God had previously forgotten about Hannah. Rather, this is a common way in which the OT describes God acting on behalf of his people, often in response to their prayers. God remembered Noah and the animals on the ark (Gen. 8:1). God remembered Abraham when he rescued Lot from the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen 19:29). God remembered his covenant with the patriarchs in response to the groaning of the Israelite slaves in Egypt (Ex. 2:24). Many other examples could be given. To say that God remembers his people, then, is to say that he focuses his attention on them and intervenes in their lives for their good and according to his purposes.
In this story, God remembered Hannah and took away her anguish and disgrace by giving her a son. But God was also accomplishing far more. God can work in response to our prayers to accomplish his purposes which extend far beyond our own circumstances. Hannah wanted a child to remove the disgrace of being barren and to silence the attacks of her rival Peninnah. She even vowed to dedicate her son to the Lord (v. 11), and she kept that vow (1 Samuel 1:21-28). Hannah was not thinking about kings and kingdoms or about messiahs when she wept before the Lord and cried out to him for a child. Yet the child whom the Lord enabled Hannah to conceive, and whom she gave into the Lord’s service was Samuel, who became the transitional figure between two great eras of Israelite history – the era of judges and the era of kings. Samuel was the last of the judges and the first of the prophets. Under God’s direction, Samuel facilitated the rise of the kingship in Israel. He anointed Saul as Israel’s first king. Later he anointed David as Saul’s successor and it was to David that God promised an eternal kingship (2 Samuel 7). It was upon this covenant between God and David that the psalmists and prophets fostered the expectations of a coming king who would be the righteous deliverer of Israel and the nations. It was from David’s line that this promised ruler came to bring God’s salvation to all people (Matthew 1). So, God worked out his larger purposes in history in response to the anguished prayers of one ordinary, barren woman. What might he do in response to our prayers?
Last week I received this message from Nancy Moore of Africa Fire Mission, which is one of the missions which BCC partners with. Nancy wrote in an email, “I woke up this morning to this message from the Marianki Fire Brigade, In Kilifi County Kenya. ‘We’ve been having daily devotions here in our station and we’ve been using the material from AFM 90 days of encouragement which has been a blessing to us Firefighters and friends of Firefighters . Today, we launched a church service here in our station. We thank God for his doings. May God continue to be glorified in the Fire service!! Welcome all to friends of Firefighters fellowship 10:00 to 11:00 AM every Sunday. Purpose to share vision with the Fire service community through prayer and teaching the word.” Then Nancy continued, “I am overwhlemed at the faithfulness of God. As we pursue His purpose for us, he blesses the work in ways we cannot imagine! Please pray for these firefighters and their new church.”
Just as in Hannah’s situation, God is able to do far more abundantly than all we ask or imagine. Africa Fire Mission is evangelistic in nature, but its primary purpose is not to start new churches. However, as Dave & Nancy Moore have obediently pursued God’s calling and faithfully prayed for God’s power to work, God has accomplished – and is accomplishing – his kingdom purposes in amazing and unexpected ways.
So, let us persevere in believing prayer, for God can use our requests and his answers to do great and mighty things which bring glory to his name!
Take time now to seek God. This brief prayer can help you get started: “Lord, you are great and mighty! There is no limit to your power and understanding. Thank you for the great things you accomplished through Hannah’s son Samuel. Thank you for all that you are doing through Africa Fire Mission, and especially the new church in the Marianki Fire Brigade in Kenya. O Lord, bless, strengthen, direct, and protect that church. Thank you also, Lord, for how you will do for more than I can imagine in response to my prayers. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”