Welcome to a new edition of Walk Through Scripture. Today, I begin walking through the book of 1 Samuel. I encourage you to follow along with me every Wednesday and Friday. Read 1 Samuel for yourself, take notes, and compare what you shear from God with what I see and hear. God’s Word is alive and active. We don’t need to see the same things!
If you are new to reading the Bible, I encourage you to read my post, How to Understand the Bible. It gives you 5 tools to read the Bible, so you understand it. So take a few moments to read that post, and then take a little more times to read 1 Samuel 1.
Now, let’s jump into it!
From a drop to the drip, drip, drip in God’s ear.
One of my favorite places to visit on a vacation is a large city — the top being New York City. I love the feeling of being a part of a mass of humanity yet being alone at the same time (spoken by a true introvert). Yet, there is actually a downside to being one of millions of people in a small area. While I love visiting big cities, I don’t appreciate begin swallowed up by that sea of humanity day after day. I don’t want to feel like I’m a drop in the bucket.
A quick history lesson…
1 Samuel opens as Israel is in a cycle of oppression and pain. You might remember the story of God using Moses to lead Israel out of 300 years of Egyptian slavery. It wasn’t a perfect transition from slave to freedom though. The slave mentality was tough to shake — less than, not enough, victim. Israel wandered the wilderness for 40 years before they were able to enter the Promised Land. Finally, they entered this land promised to their ancestor Abraham, but they stopped short of driving their enemies out of the land. This mistake haunted them for the rest of their existence as a nation. You can read this story in Exodus, Deuteronomy and Joshua.
The book of Judges documents the centuries and decades before 1 Samuel. You can read how Israel would cycle through following and obeying God, and then they would fall away from Him. When the people were obedient, things would go well. But when Israel was disobedient, the wheels would fall off, and God would use a surrounding people group to oppress them until His people came back to Him.
1 Samuel 1: Players: BIG and small.
Every time a down cycle would occur, and the people would humble themselves, God would use a person to help liberate Israel from the oppressor. As the book of Samuel open, we meet both important people and bit players.
Eli is the high priest, and his sons Phineas and Hophni oversee the tabernacle (the precursor to the temple built by Solomon). They are the spiritual head of Israel, and by default, the leaders of the country. They are important. Elkanah was a member of the tribe of Ephraim. He was not an important person, but based on the sacrifice he makes, he was not poor. He was not important but not a “nothing.” Elkanah had two wives — Peninnah, who had several children, and Hannah, who had no children.
As the characters are introduced, you begin to see the pecking order – important down to just another drop in the bucket. Hannah was married but neither rich nor poor. She has no children, and her husband has another wife with children. A childless, married woman was nearing the bottom of the food chain in that society.
Hannah is the drop in the bucket.
Humble over Proud
But Israel needs a hero, and God isn’t worried about status or position. As the book of 1 Samuel will constantly remind us, God prefers the humble and willing over the powerful and arrogant. God chooses the humble, willing and desperate Hannah in this chapter. God’s choice sets up the entire book, and it changes the history of the Israel.
No matter who you are, what position you hold or how much you possess, there are times you feel like a drop in the bucket. It’s how our culture works, but it’s not how God operates. If you are humble and willing (and if you become a little bit desperate) it’s amazing what God will do through you.
From 1 Samuel 1 to Jesus
Hannah was a drop in the bucket, but she chose to be the constant drip, drip, drip that God couldn’t ignore. Jesus could have used Hannah as an example as taught about prayer in Luke 18. He shared the story of a widow who day after day petitions a judge for justice. Jesus said the judge could care less about this woman or even God, but because of this woman’s persistence, he judge relents. He says,
“…this woman is driving me crazy. I’m going to see that she gets justice, because she is wearing me out with her constant requests!”Luke 18:5
Feel like a drop in the bucket? With humility, become a drip, drip, drip in God’s ear. He promises to hear you and act!