Faithlife Sermons

Faith in the Face of Failure

Faith and Failure  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
0 ratings
· 6 views
Notes & Transcripts
Sermon Tone Analysis
A
D
F
J
S
Emotion
A
C
T
Language
O
C
E
A
E
Social
View more →

Intro

For the next few weeks we’re going to study 1 Samuel.
First, let me give you a little background and overview.

1 Samuel

Story in History

1 & 2 Samuel tells the story of the transition from Judges to Kings.

What was a theocracy, God was King, He employed judges to make legal and military decisions.
Priests facilitated the relationship between God and the people.
Make atonement for the sins of the people, teach the law, and provide the general tabernacle services.
No temple yet, just the traveling tent.
Early in 1 Samuel the people will demand a human king.
In their insecurity and arrogance
They question a king they can’t see
They want to be like everybody else
So they create a new barrier between God and them.
There is a greater distance between God and man.

Time

Samuel was born around 1120 BC (3100 years ago)
David takes the throne around 1050 BC
2 Samuel begins
Then Solomon takes the throne
Many kings follow, the nation is divided
Assyrians invade, Babylon exiles, Persians rebuild.
Kings and Chronicles
Ezra, Zerubabbel, and Nehemiah do the rebuilding.
Israel repeats their mistakes so around 400 BC God goes dark.

Theme

A major theme of the book is Success and Failure.
Success is rooted in faith. Out of faith grows obedience.
Failure is rooted in faithless disobedience.
The faithful aren’t always successful.
They have their moments where their pride takes over and they fail.
But, for the faithful who fail, repentance restores.
This theme of faith and failure is laid our clearly in the first few chapters.
This is the story of Samuel’s parents and his birth.
It is possible for anyone to remain faithful in the face of failure.
In the midst of it, surrounded by it, affected by it.
Faithful obedience is an individual decision no matter what is going on around.
God will respond appropriately to every decision we make.
This was a male-dominated society.
Women played important roles in raising kids and in the family business but all under the authority of a man.
Women couldn’t be employed, earn money
The priests were men, elders were men, businesses run by men. All the major decision-makers in the society were men.
Women had to play along to get along.
A woman’s well-being was totally at the mercy of the men in her life.
Hannah was Samuel’s mother. She demonstrated a remarkable amount of faith even though she was faced with failure at every turn.

Surrounded by Failure

4 significant failures

Failure #1: 2 wives

1 Samuel 1:1–2 NIV
There was a certain man from Ramathaim, a Zuphite from the hill country of Ephraim, whose name was Elkanah son of Jeroham, the son of Elihu, the son of Tohu, the son of Zuph, an Ephraimite. He had two wives; one was called Hannah and the other Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah had none.
Elkanah, Hannah’s husband.
Cultural custom allowed for more than one wife. 1 logical reason was if a first wife was unable to bear children.
Especially sons.
Then, the more sons, assumed more blessed by God.
So, it made perfect human sense for a man to have several wives.
Never God’s plan. 1 husband and 1 wife.
Trust God. Your estate, inheritance was all worked out in the law.
But, people looked down on those who had no children.
We have cultural customs that may or may not be consistent with God’s instructions.
My mom would swear inter-racial marriage was unbiblical.
Over time that has eased and we understand that inter-faith marriages are the issue. Don’t be unequally yoked.
Same-sex marriage is beginning to put a tremendous amount of pressure on the church to conform.
Women in leadership.
Same-sex marriage
What is human logic, common sense, human reason; and what is God’s instruction related to being set apart, different?
Elkanah gave in to the cultural pressures b/c Hannah had been unable to conceive.
How long should a husband wait until he took a second wife?
Elkanah didn’t wait long enough.
So, he tries to make things better for Hannah.
Ends up making things worse.
Failure #2.

Failure #2: Fairness through favoritism

1 Samuel 1:4–6 NIV
Whenever the day came for Elkanah to sacrifice, he would give portions of the meat to his wife Peninnah and to all her sons and daughters. But to Hannah he gave a double portion because he loved her, and the Lord had closed her womb. Because the Lord had closed Hannah’s womb, her rival kept provoking her in order to irritate her.
Annually they would travel to make atonement for their sins.
This was the early stages of Passover and slaughtering a lamb for the family.
1 Samuel 1:
The feeling of the day was if you gave more God would be more likely to bless you.
Not unlike today. Earning God’s favor by the size of the check you write.
So, Elkanah would try to make things better for Hannah by giving her twice as much as he gave his other wife who had children.
Peninnah would be thinking, “I’m the one producing children for you. I should get the double-portion.”
Hannah struggling w/ her feelings toward Peninnah.
Peninnah struggling w/ her feelings toward Hannah.
Jealousy, envy, anger.
Elkanah doesn’t understand, though he thinks he does.
Leads to his next failure.

Failure #3: Missed the issue

1 Samuel 1:8 NIV
Her husband Elkanah would say to her, “Hannah, why are you weeping? Why don’t you eat? Why are you downhearted? Don’t I mean more to you than ten sons?”
1 Samuel 1:
NO!
Typical man. Wife is upset. Assumes he understands.
Thought he’d solved her problem. Totally swung and missed.
Making the situation that much worse.
He should understand. W/out children the marriage is in trouble.
She faced ridicule at home and in public. No amount of additional sacrifice can ease her pain.
Only one thing can ease her pain right now.
So, she goes and pours her heart out to God.
And her priest piles on the pain.

Failure #4: Assumed drunk

1 Samuel 1:12–14 NIV
As she kept on praying to the Lord, Eli observed her mouth. Hannah was praying in her heart, and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard. Eli thought she was drunk and said to her, “How long are you going to stay drunk? Put away your wine.”
1 Samuel 1:
I’ll talk about her prayer in a minute, but what’s important here is another authoritative man in her life let her down.
Hurt her deeply.
One who was supposed to represent God’s compassion and love callously criticized her assuming her to be drunk.
In Eli’s defense, He wasn’t used to seeing too many people in earnest prayer. This was not a stellar time in the history of Israel. Worship like this was very uncommon.
And, when someone is under the influence and an addict they tend to mutter to themselves in religious themes.
All that said, his assumption was insulting and cut deep.
Still, in the midst of all that, Hannah held on to her faith.
It’s all she had.
How easy it would have been to get mad at God, blame him.
But, she didn’t. She turned to Him for help.
And, God responded to her faith in Him.

Filled with Faith

3 significant acts of faith

She prayed

1 Samuel 1:10–11 NIV
In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the Lord, weeping bitterly. And she made a vow, saying, “Lord Almighty, if you will only look on your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head.”
1 Samuel 1:
How many people stop praying when things like this happen?
How many lose their faith? Blame God.
He quit on me so I’m quitting on Him.
She never did.
On the surface it looks like she’s offering God a deal. She wants a son. So, if you do this for me I’ll do this for you.
A deal is all about what’s in it for me. Selfish. I want. Manipulate the situation to get what you want.
She made a vow. A promise. And it is completely unselfish. God wins either way.
The vow is, if she has a son, she will give him up to God.
More on this in a minute.
Don’t get the idea God responds to deals.
If you let me hit the Mega-millions lottery I’ll give you 25, no 35, okay 50%.
Net not gross. The gov’t takes the first 50%.
That’s selfish, and a proposed deal.
Hannah made an unselfish promise to God.
Besides, God doesn’t need the money.
If He does He can print it.
God responded to her faith, not her sacrifice or even her prayer.
Had she prayed w/out faith there would have been a completely different outcome.
She believed. She poured her heart out to God. She knew He could. She didn’t know if He would.
He did.
She had a son and she thanked God in a special way.

She named him Samuel

1 Samuel 1:20 NIV
So in the course of time Hannah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, saying, “Because I asked the Lord for him.”
1 Samuel 1:
Shem-u-el
Shem = Name, fame, reputation
El = God
His name is God.
God is famous for this and he will make God famous.
God proved and improved His own reputation and Samuel will prove and improve God’s reputation during his lifetime.
When you glorify something you make it look good.
When I complement my wife to you the intent is for you to think more highly of her than you did. I glorify her.
When we glorify God we make Him look good. Give Him all the credit he’s due. We take no credit for anything.
Do the people in this community think more of God, less of God, or anything about God because you’re here?
Anyway, she gave God glory for giving her a son.
Then, she turned around and gave him right back.
Imagine how hard it was for her to keep her promise!

She kept her promise

1 Samuel 1:25–28 NIV
When the bull had been sacrificed, they brought the boy to Eli, and she said to him, “Pardon me, my lord. As surely as you live, I am the woman who stood here beside you praying to the Lord. I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to the Lord. For his whole life he will be given over to the Lord.” And he worshiped the Lord there.
This is the son she had prayed for so earnestly and for so long.
This is the son that changed her life. No longer was she looked down upon in public and in her own home.
No more an apparent failure.
On the surface, she looked like the failure. A woman’s primary purpose is to bear children.
Elkanah didn’t look like a failure. Peninnah, certainly not.
And Eli, the priest, didn’t look like a failure. He was a priest after all.
Yet, beyond the surface, down to what really matters, Hannah was surrounded by failure and she showed remarkable faith.
She kept her promise.
She gave up her son, her only son.
She sacrificed her son so that he could make sacrifices for everyone.
Do you think God understood the depth of her sacrifice?
And, she would uniquely understand, from heaven, when God gave up His only son to be a sacrifice for everyone.
She did the right thing even when surrounded by people doing the wrong thing.
How would God respond?

God Responds

Ch. 2 and 3 are each written as chiasms.
They are parallel, though opposite.
Explaining how God responds to faithful and unfaithful people.

Faithful and blessed

1 Samuel 2:20–21 NIV
Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife, saying, “May the Lord give you children by this woman to take the place of the one she prayed for and gave to the Lord.” Then they would go home. And the Lord was gracious to Hannah; she gave birth to three sons and two daughters. Meanwhile, the boy Samuel grew up in the presence of the Lord.
1 Samuel 2:
God blessed Hannah for her faith, not her actions.
But her actions proved her faith.
God blessed her with more children.
God responded to Eli and his family, too.
Just in a different way

Unfaithful and judged

1 Samuel 3:11–14 NIV
And the Lord said to Samuel: “See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears about it tingle. At that time I will carry out against Eli everything I spoke against his family—from beginning to end. For I told him that I would judge his family forever because of the sin he knew about; his sons blasphemed God, and he failed to restrain them. Therefore I swore to the house of Eli, ‘The guilt of Eli’s house will never be atoned for by sacrifice or offering.’ ”
1 Samuel 3:11–15 NIV
And the Lord said to Samuel: “See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears about it tingle. At that time I will carry out against Eli everything I spoke against his family—from beginning to end. For I told him that I would judge his family forever because of the sin he knew about; his sons blasphemed God, and he failed to restrain them. Therefore I swore to the house of Eli, ‘The guilt of Eli’s house will never be atoned for by sacrifice or offering.’ ” Samuel lay down until morning and then opened the doors of the house of the Lord. He was afraid to tell Eli the vision,
1 Samuel 3:
1 Samuel 3:10–15 NIV
The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” And the Lord said to Samuel: “See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears about it tingle. At that time I will carry out against Eli everything I spoke against his family—from beginning to end. For I told him that I would judge his family forever because of the sin he knew about; his sons blasphemed God, and he failed to restrain them. Therefore I swore to the house of Eli, ‘The guilt of Eli’s house will never be atoned for by sacrifice or offering.’ ” Samuel lay down until morning and then opened the doors of the house of the Lord. He was afraid to tell Eli the vision,
God had made Eli a promise. And He kept is.
Eli was a decent priest, not a great father.
His sons were awful.
Normally, sons follow their father into his profession.
Carpenters: Joseph and Jesus
Priests: Eli and his sons Hophni and Phineas
Eli’s sons were horrible.
Priests were allowed to take a portion of what ever person brought to sacrifice.
Priest lived on this. It was modest, but enough.
Hophni and Phineas gouged the people.
And, they took advantage of their position of authority and forced women who came in with their families to do favors for them.
Worse than Harvey Weinstein.
God does not let disobedience like this go on w/out a severe reaction.
We don’t have to get even. We can trust that God will make things right in His own way and in His own time.
This was the promise to Eli. And, God was about to keep it.
Their behavior no only cost them their priesthood, but it cost them their lives.
Animal sacrifice didn’t really atone for anyone’s sins. It was symbolic for God would do for those of faith, who believe in Him.
Any atoning sacrifice is only of value to those who believe.
Jesus, on the cross atoned for our sins. But his death is only of value to those who believe.
Hophni and Phineas were only going through the motions. They had no faith in God therefore whatever they gave t/b sacrificed for their sins was of no value. It meant nothing.
There is only 1 unforgiveable sin. Unbelief. The ultimate failure.
Any one of us, everyone of us can remain faithful even when surrounded by the actions and failures of the faithless.
It’s an individual decision.
And, God will respond favorably to every faithful decision we ever make.

Applications

Struggles

Faithful people will still struggle.

Glorify

Do people in this community think more of God, less of God, or think of Him at all after you’ve been around?
Are you more concerned about making yourself look good?
Our primary job here on earth is to make God look good. Glorify Him everywhere you go and in everything you do.

Be faithful

No matter what is going on around you.
Related Media
Related Sermons