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1 Samuel 1:1-18 – How To Help Another Human Being
1 Samuel 1:1-18 Commentary: How to Help Another Human Being
+What is the most important job Christians have? Evangelism? Personal Bible Study? These are all important, but none so vital to a life of impact than Encouragement.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4:
-The reason God blesses and delivers us is so that we could go on and do the same to others. There is no more effective a moment in the Christian life then when you can come along side another person and provide them the comfort they need. We’re not talking about clichés or doctrinal reminders, but a true encouragement that shines brightest when it’s most needed.
+The book of 1 Samuel shows an example of exactly this. A family in crisis shows the following that we can apply to our own lives as true sources of Godly encouragement.
1. The Perspective of True Encouragement: We need to know how to deal with our own problems before confronting the issues of those around us.
2. The Process of True Encouragement: We need to treat the causes of discouragement rather than just alleviate symptoms.
3. The Practical Impact of True Encouragement: We need to see exactly what a true comforter looks like in the person of Jesus Christ.
+1 Samuel historically follows exactly where the Book of Judges leaves off. Israel is in a state of anarchy. 1 Samuel marks the transition of Israel’s time being ruled by the Judges and the neglectful priesthood into its first king. 1 Samuel is the passing of the baton from the last judge Samuel into the hands of King Saul. And in addition, it also marks the transition Israel makes from an ungodly king to a man after God’s own heart as David is introduced to the world scene.
2 Chronicles 29:29:
-The authors of this time in Israel’s history weren’t just limited to Samuel alone. It also includes two other individuals. Saul’s reign was recorded by Samuel for the most part. The end of Saul’s reign and the majority of David’s was recorded by a prophet named Nathan. And finally, the conclusions to David’s reign and transition to the time of Solomon was recorded by a man named Gad the seer.
1 Samuel 1:1-2:
-The beginning of this time of transition records a family in crisis because of their willingness to go along with the spirit of the times. Evidently the father of this home had a Godly background since the name Elkanah means “God has made him.” His wife also had Godly connotations to her name since Hannah meant “Gracious.” However, the third wheel grafted into this bizarre bicycle did not have biblical roots and we see this through her behavior. The name Peninnah is hardly an unpleasant name. It merely means “Pearl.” Something attractive and valued. However, the absence of Godly roots ends up showing its cost to this family in the long run.
+Polygamy is not a Godly practice, but was prevalent during this time. Since this was the case, God’s law regulated the practice to the point that the most reasonable route to take was monogamy and fidelity. Yet this worldview and practice remained prevalent despite the burdens it always brought on a household. And regardless of the Godly names in this home, it was no exception. God’s ideal was how it was designed and defined from the beginning.
+This time in Israel’s history showed that the prevailing public opinion was a general absence of God’s authority. Therefore, His definitions of marriage were not considered with much esteem.
+The idea of polygamy in scripture has never worked out favorably whenever it came into play. The bible acknowledges it when it took place, but didn’t mince details concerning what it ultimately cost those who feel into this mindset. Those who are married may fail to see the reason why this kind of lifestyle was so commonly pursued in biblical times. One spouse is more than enough to handle by any stretch of the imagination. But the reason this practice was so common was more economic than a social fad. When you had more wives, you had more kids. Back then, a child was the equivalent of free labor and considered more of a financial asset than a burden. We see that the only thing Pearl had was the one thing Grace lacked. Likely, since children were how you showed your status in that day and Grace wasn’t having children, Elkanah likely took matters into his own hands and brought Pearl into the family for the sole purpose of producing offspring. You can imagine the emotional toll this took on all those involved.
-Large numbers of children were the mark of wealth in that day. Therefore, to a man like Elkanah, a choice was made to have peace in the home or prosperity outside it. He chose to depart from God’s ideal, and settled for the shortcut commonly advertised in his day. The consequences of this become self-explanatory.
1 Samuel 1:3-6:
+The price that was paid for this compromise was a civil war. To Hannah, it showed that there was a sense of inadequacy and deficiency to her husband. To Peninnah, the only reason she was in the home at all was to have children. She had no love due to her from her husband. Therefore, these women didn’t just receive emotional neglect from their husband, but also looked at each other as the enemy merely because the other exists.
+Marriage continues to be under attack to this day. What God defined, man has continued to pervert and distort in his own image. This isn’t just referring to those outside the church enforcing same-sex marriage and pedophilia. This is prevalent within the church as well. The 60’s may be over, but their influences have far from departed from our culture. The hook-up culture removes God’s foundation of what makes marriage the gift from God that it is. Sexuality is a gift, and a powerful one at that. When something powerful is abused or used beyond what its founder and inventor instructed it to be, you’re setting yourself for a lot of damage to yourself and others.
1 Thessalonians 4:3-8:
-If sexual activity of any kind has been pursued before marriage, it doesn’t mean that it’s too late. Just understand why it is so important. Men value respect in marriage by design. If he can’t communicate to his future wife that she’s a treasure worth waiting for as much as enjoying, how is he going to be someone she can respect? In the same way, women value love in relationships by design. If a woman doesn’t honor her husband enough to recognize God’s standards for marriage, how can he trust her to abide by them during marriage and be faithful to him? How can either be trusted if they both don’t hold themselves to a foundation greater than their own passions?
-Divorce has frightening statistics that show the consequences of these kinds of lifestyles prevailing. 1 out of 2 marriages end in divorce in the US alone. And that is not even taking into account the stats from second and third marriages whose likelihood for divorce are infinitely higher.
1 Samuel 1:7:
-The price paid on Hannah is shown to be exactly what could be expected. If Peninnah couldn’t gain the affection of her husband, then Hannah would know the one thing she could give him either.
1 Samuel 1:8:
+Guy logic at its finest. We aren’t good with emotions. Unfortunately, this isn’t just a clash of mentalities at work here. Elkanah didn’t want to take responsibility for the fact that he was the one who didn’t love his wife enough to be satisfied in her despite the one thing she couldn’t provide. He didn’t want to deal with his role in this problem. He just wanted the problem to go away. He didn’t want to listen. He just wanted the cost of his decisions to stop.
+If you don’t have the time to deal with your own problems, don’t you dare try to engage in solving the problems of others. Church isn’t a place where you can hide from your problems by immersing yourself in the lives of others. Start at home before you try to sell it.
1 Samuel 1:9:
-Eli, the current High Priest, is introduced in a remarkable position. He’s not standing before God or serving people. He’s just watching people from a comfortable position. This is a dangerous place to be in ministry. You can be in God’s house and be where God’s working, but treat it like entertainment. The horizontal perspective can keep you from seeing the true vertical relationship God wants to have with you.
1 Samuel 1:10-11:
+First, understand the level of desperation Hannah is showing in this prayer. She’s not only asking for a child, but promising that he would be dedicated to God his entire life according to the Nazarite vow. This was a reference to the hope that the mother of Sampson was given the same deal when she was never supposed to have a child. Seeking God’s intervention, she bargains. However, it wasn’t what she said that got God’s attention. It was the heart she came to God that knew someone was listening and wouldn’t shy away from her pain. It didn’t matter if there was an answer or not. She didn’t come for a miracle as much as she just came to be heard. The Psalms are an example of this. David says things in those passages that are theologically flawed, yet is simply asking for God to be there to hear him.
-God knows what’s going on in your heart. He’d rather see us pour ourselves out before Him honestly then straighten our halos and pray eloquent prayers that biblically analyze and appropriately request everything we need.
1 Samuel 1:12:
-Note, it’s dangerous to watch others pray. You could be taking that time to focus on God yourself. We can spend the time in worship noting the odd ways people tend to worship as just desperate attempts for attention. Yet it’s amazing how in those times, God can ask us as we’re watching someone make a show of themselves, “They’re worshiping Me. What are you doing?”
1 Samuel 1:13-14:
-This is a textbook case of what not to do when trying to be an encouragement to someone. When you jump to conclusions, you can transform a noble endeavor in your mind into a mistake the moment it leaves our mouths.
“You are dreadfully like other people.” -James Russel Lowell
-The things that bug us most about others are usually because they are the things we feel the worst about ourselves. We can vindicate ourselves when we do the same things, but our sins look their worst when on someone else. Where do you think Eli got such an advanced knowledge of getting drunk in the sanctuary?
1 Samuel 2:12:
-How do we avoid getting caught in the business of jumping to conclusions? God gave you two ears and one mouth. Use proportionally. Listen before you lecture.
1 Samuel 1:15-16:
+If anyone else was under these kinds of circumstances, they’d probably wilt under the spiritual pressure and never come back to the presence of God because of this one bad experience. Yet not so with Hannah. She responds to a poor priest with honesty and clarity about her real issues instead of fear of further condemnation. This shows that she knew what she came to God’s house for in the first place. She didn’t just go there to be there and feel good about herself. She came to hear from God. When this priest got it wrong, she didn’t assume she was hearing from God. She knew God knew her problems. And she also knew Eli knew the scriptures, even if he lacked tact in how he presented them. If you go to a church and someone pulls rank as if they are some figure of authority, leave that church. If on the other hand, a representative of God at a church simply presents God’s word and makes a claim on its authority, you’re no longer dealing with a man. You’re dealing with God’s word. If someone claims to be an authority over God’s word, they’re a false prophet. An example of this is a man named Job. Even when he received the worst possible counsel time and time again, his integrity held and God was ultimately the one who restored him.
1 Samuel 1:17-18:
+Hannah found her encouragement. Where? Not through Eli’s blessing, but the reminder that God was with her in her circumstances.
-Don’t make yourself the source of the encouragement people need in life. That’s how cults get started. The only true comfort you can provide is pointing people to the only true source of comfort people can have. The person who says, “Look at me, I can straighten you out.” Is a false prophet. The person who says, “Look up, God can help you.” That’s how you become a source of true encouragement.
-It’s great to have good Christian friends and people willing to help bear your burdens, but you’ll never find the satisfaction and peace God has for you if you look for it in people. They don’t have it to give. That’s when the peace and healing come. Not when counsel is given, but when it leads to prayer.