Asked from the LORD, Given to the LORD
Dear Congregation of the LORD Jesus Christ,
If there is a key word in our text from God’s Word tonihgt it is ASKED! What Samuel’s name sounds like and its meaning, but it is also used by Hannah 4 times as she brings him back and makes a play on words in Hebrew. He was asked by me in prayer, but now I give Him to you and literally not loaned, but I’am giving him back to you - as ONe Asked for by the LORD. And our task this evening is to discern what it means for us and our children to be asked of from the LORD, and to be asked of by the LORD.
There is: A) Gospel Comfort in being “asked of from the LORD”. (9-11)
A) Gospel Comfort in being “asked of from the LORD”. (9-11)
Our text does not begin with joy and fulness, but in great distress and emptiness. Barrenness and brokenness. It is not a Orpah Winfrey story for inspirational TV - that use certain secret prayer and all barrenness will be gone and fit into a world that should be easy and full of nothing but our dreams and successes. It would be a mistake to read Hannah or Elkannah as main characters of the story. The main character is God and then secondly his people. And Hannah in her barrenness, through no fault of her own is suffering for the sins of others. You see the sin of Peninnah - even in the temple for worship - there she is ridiculing, rubbing her face in suffering, - because God’s forsaken you - why your childless.
But not only her sin - sin of Elkannah while in other respects godly man. It would seem that when first wife unable to conceive and have a child - that would be when like cultures around, the earthy could afford to to take another wife - while tolerated in the OT in some form, not God’s revealed will in Genesis from teh beginning, nor in republication of his will for marriage in the 7th commandments spoken from God written with his finger as it were to us - and like other stories of polygammy - sexual sin covenant relatoinship sin - brought nothing but pain jealousy rivalary!
ANd that’s where you have to see that this context not just indivdual story, but story of Israel at the end of judges. Levites, like Eli’s sons, involved in all sorts of sexual sin brought despair destruction on Ephraim this tribe in the hill ocountry of Ephraim. and what is Hannah doing? Look at the language:
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.”
Affliction, remember not forget, this is not just any old prayer. These are the words of the Exodus of God’s people. Hannah is echoing how Israel responded and a God acted - to kick off the greatest redemption event of the OT. And She is by faith cliaming the pormisees for God to do it again in her life, and really for all Israel it is now fallen desperate sitttion.
This is why in v.10 in her deep distress and bitterness, not just resign herself to fate God’s sovereign must be his plan for this suffering I give up. But by faith, she expresses her trust in the LORD - not with some faint hope, make-believe but God do it again; yes for a child, but more for a child given over to be your servant!
Do you see it Hannha’s need, is Israel’s need and Hannah in prayer is pleading for grace of an answer to that need.
Well congregation, I wonder if we realize how much children are a gift to be sought in prayer, and not a given to be expected and dmendsed, nor an inconvience to be avoided! This child of the covenant your Samuel, though not miracuolously given after barrennness - is none the less a gift directly from the ahhd of God. Given in answer to many prayers - for young couples , for children to this congregation. We prayed for his health in your womb. We prayed for safe delivery and then growig health -
I wonder if we realize what it means that children are a ehritage from the Lord.
A Song of Ascents. Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever. As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds his people, from this time forth and forevermore. For the scepter of wickedness shall not rest on the land allotted to the righteous, lest the righteous stretch out their hands to do wrong. Do good, O Lord, to those who are good, and to those who are upright in their hearts! But those who turn aside to their crooked ways the Lord will lead away with evildoers! Peace be upon Israel!
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth.
Children are a heritage FROM the LORD.
Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth.
Irony of it all with the advances in technology decline in infant mortality rates, think we can order healthy babies when ever we want - and give up the idea that it is the Lord who opens the womb. That however it is a human soul created transmitted in union with mystery of human body - direct work of the LORD in creating another person!
And in Hannah asking for a child from the LORD, don’t lose sight that when God grants his people children, he is not just giving them to those parents, though a home a family the basic social unit. But children are given by the Lord to families, that they might also be given to His kingdom of grace on earth! Is this not what Jesus says to parents of believers:
But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.
In the same way that children in the Old Covenant marked as belonging to the LORD claimed by Him, to be perculiar people t inthis world - promsies, covenant, light of HIS WORD to their neighbours - to be commanded to walk by faith in the way of the covenant - so too in the New Testament what is the status of a child that GTod graciously gives to a Christian husband , wife , and ideally both? Paul says, the children of bleivers are holy - set apart for the LORD -
He says - they are to be brought up belonging to the LORD -
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
Oh, yes you’ve got house rules and family traidtions important and have their palce but the big deal is these children actually belong to the LROD - at it is the disicpline and the instructio nf the LORD that is the big deal in how they are to be raised!
It is true that God gives us children they are ours, the state, nor the church, nor a business, nor sports club, nor school to , nor even governement - but really just lent ot the LROD for this time of groiwing up, - given them to nuruture them for God. They are to become arrows, leave your quiver and be launched into the world - serve the LROD, be theri own people for the lOrd, starte their own homes. Kind of on loan for a hwile - but ultimtaely elong to the LORD -
Don’t misunderstand Christina prayer, nor the gift of children to be a bargain. Hannah wasn’t saying, God I’ll let my boy do somehting really big for you, if you’ll just let me get preganant. No, look at how Hannah relates to her Godin prayer:
O LORD of hosts, Lord Sabbaoth his name - God of the heavenly armies, heanvely hosts - Hannah knew how God had made himself known, relying and acknoeldgeing abosltue power. And how did she see herslef in asking God for this child? Your servant - Humility and servant’s haeart to great God. And in that relationship of grace and in covenant, she holds nothing back in prayer - here are my sad circumstances - inI entrust them to you a ttend to me like you did to your people in ethe Exodus.
Well, I believe Steve and Rachel, parents and grand parents that this prayer for children - received as a gift from God is one we are never really done with. Times when you will hold onto the as ifyou own them, even parent for selfish pupose, distortd love, Other times wonder God do you have apurpose look at wondering, or God look at suffering going through . But this example shows how everything including our children, are to be set apart in our lives, to b received with prayer:
for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.
For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.
for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.
YOu have prayed for Samuel, God’s word pleads that you would continue to pray for him, that part of the faith required by parents in bpatism not only in Christ as their personal Saviour, but Christ is Lord of your home, and so living faith relyi on Him for everything for your children, conitnue to pray and uphold them. That’s the first part of our text - Samuel given by the Lord as asked for in prayer.
But the second part of our text is the surprising and the hard part of our text.
B. Great Gospel Challenge in becoming “One Asked-for by the LORD.”
Surely you were taken a bit aback, by Hannah’s vowing a vow to make this Samuel, not only a Nazarite - temporary intensified seeking of the Lord and serving him - out of special thankfulness or seeking a blessing or guidance. But she vowed to make him that for life!
Surely, you were taken a bit aback and asking yourself - doesn’t seem right - mother bringing a three year old just weaned from tight connection of breast feeding to be brought up by this old man the high priest Eli in the house of the Lord. Incidentally only form of infant dedication in the Bible. And it is unique situation, not to be taken as how we fill up the church ranks with dedicated Christians. And it is should be noted that God’s pattern is for parents to give that kind of nurture. It is striking that Hannah doesn’t go up with the family for the annual celebrations, excuses herself even from worship - to nurture Samuel in those tender years. Surely as our culture and economic pressures and indeed our government - wants to take the role of parent out of our homes - need to re-think our commitment to God’s plans.
But the striking thing we note here, is when that age of Jewish boys beginning their tutelage under father now as well, at that point - Elkannah agrees with Hannah - he will go to the presence of the LORD at the OT tabernacle and he will dewell their schooled by the high priest serving the LORD in intensive way. And look at those woreds of Elkannah as Hannah says going to bring him to the house of the LORD.
Elkanah her husband said to her, “Do what seems best to you; wait until you have weaned him; only, may the Lord establish his word.” So the woman remained and nursed her son until she weaned him.
These are no passing words, in their biblical context. God hand’t spoken any words to Hannah what did Hannah mean? Surely - he as God-fearing worshipping though not perfect believer in dark time, understood that what God would establish in this boy was needed for the nation. Like Hannah who if you will read her prayer of thanksgiving - you will see that they both -understand in part this is for God’s kingdom on earth - Reign of Grace - even of a Messianic King who will raise up the humble weak of the earth and cut off the wicked in darkness, and not by military might, but with the power of the LORD from heaven Hannah sings of the LORD in
He raises up the poor from the dust; he lifts the needy from the ash heap to make them sit with princes and inherit a seat of honor. For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s, and on them he has set the world.
Humble mother - eyes on the pillars of the earth and God’s involvement there. By faith what does this mother have her eyes on look at the end of her prayer, what the Jews understood as great Messianic promise: their is the Messiah guard the feet of this faithful ones… There is the LORD establishing Jesus b
The adversaries of the Lord shall be broken to pieces; against them he will thunder in heaven. The Lord will judge the ends of the earth; he will give strength to his king and exalt the horn of his anointed.”
You can’t read this prayer without hearing the echoes of Mary’s prayer and do you see what they have in common. Most basic struggles of all God’s people in this world, the struggles of the oppressed brought in touch with God’s work through the Messiah!
Elkannah gets it and says - May the LORD establish this work - and even through our boy - whom we give back to the LORD to be the Lord’s Servant!
And so now three years later Hannah returns to the tabernacle, in Shiloh. There is Eli a few more white hairs and this growing boy. And look what she does - What the nations around did too. First born son - belongs to the gods - give elaborate sacrifices, sometimes given to temple for life of service. Sometimes even sacrificed.
God had said all of SIrael is my first born son, instead of every fist born on the nation - given to me - tribe of Levi - but your first born given with sacrfices to remember this. According to the Torah, every firstborn male child belonged to the Lord (cf. , ; ; ; ) yet was to be redeemed at one month of age for the price of five shekels. As part of a vow, a male child could be given over to the Lord for a period of years, then presumably redeemed later (cf. ).26 However, Hannah chose instead to give Samuel to the Lord in permanent Nazirite service.
Hannah brings way more and she does give Samuel for life! But look at the words with which she does it:
Proper word for praying, then she says The Lord has given me my asking; which I asked of Him; and I also have caused the Lord to ask him; as long as he lives he is asked to the Lord.
Therefore I have lent him to the Lord. As long as he lives, he is lent to the Lord.” And he worshiped the Lord there.
This also is why we are here tonight. And what happened this morning too. Yes, we acknowledge our children’s are the LORD’s, lifted up prayer of thanksgiving at birth; the the big deal in baptism is the sign and seal from God applied indivudally and personally - as child of believer or new convert enters God’s church, but the other side of baptism - is the response it is to elicit from the one baptized, the new convert or the covenant child!
This is the meaning of Samuel’s name - not that God absolutely gave him Hannah and then Hannah just loaned him back. God didn’t lend the baby to Hannah and then Hannah lent him back. The child was prayed for , and then given back as one devoted to teh LORD. Old Enlgish meaning has changed, Hannah is dedicating Samuel to the sevice of the LORD - consecrating - Elissa, ELisha. She is recognizing that now Samuel’s identity is ASKED OF BY THE LORD.
This like a law of reciprocity with what ever God puts into our care. We are stewards for him. You have prayed for this child and so have we. and we must continue in receiving him from the LORD. But do you see it the reciprocal action is that what God gives in answer to prayer, that we devote to God, that we dedicating to develop and use for God’s kingdom. That’s how God kingdom work, we give thee but thine own what ever gift may be, all that we have is thine O lord, a trust Oh Lord from thee. ...
This is to be the case even with our children, and as is the example here, even from the age of their weaning! This is the principle of Christian education - not talking which institution - but am talking about that from earliest years a child should be devoted to the Lord’s service, with self-denial and prayer. Their is a selfish parental love that wants to keep chldren on the apron strings, as if the child exists for the parent to coddle - denying that kind of love - like Hannah forgetting our own advanage: we are to devote them to their Father’s business - even lik eour Lord.
Parents, grand parents, church of Jesus Christ - we rejoice in the reecieving God’s gift in children , let us not be slow in giving God’s service - in rearing children for the LORD.
Listen to the Arch Bishop Cramer - crazy time in England when the church owned up to a seventh of the land in England, all sorts of wealth, and you know why - so that monks could learn, and especially perform all sorts of fasting prayer, ceremonies for nation - Cramer says: the rearing of children gives to parents its true, great toil and trouble. But when done in faith - parents dedicating their children to Lord in their homes does way more than a whole network of monks and nuns!
And so in covenant baptism if with a child, it is understood that parents give their children back to God, in baptism presenting to God in prayer and rearing them for Christ. Of course for one newly professing faith as for a new covenant child - the baptism itself is but a tool, and not the guarantee of the inward realities pictured. But as we live in covenant with the LORD, with these children, with any new converts we are comitting, named as belonging to Christ, we are committing to join with those aroud us to live citizens engaged inChrist’s kingdom!
Whether that’s pushing the engineers pencil to the fourth generation or swinigng the hammer to the third , wehather its preaching God’s word from a pulpit or the front seat of a pick up truck. whether in ministrering to the deaf - all of life lived fro King Jesus. And it is for us as a churh and for you as family and friends - to make sure comes to know this King of the Kingdom - to discover the grace of his kingdom.
Hannah had to pray for Samuel’s miraculous birth, but then you bet she prayed for HIs service ot the LORD, along with Eli. What we are called to pray now - just as miraculous re-brith in Christ - twice born - die once, once born die twice. Why apostle JOhn later writes:
I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.
It is why Paul speaks of his job in sharing the gospel and confirming those to whom he ministered:
But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children.
No doubt of your physical care finacial, education - but spiritually like Eli to Samuel, not just Christian parents, but uncles aunts, great uncles and aunts, Sunday school teachers, catechizing. And what is our prayer and desire. Listen to Paul as some Galatian Christiaans not confirmed, stumbling - as our children most certainly will - as deal with growing up, as deal with own fallen nature - and we present them the gospel:
But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more?
my little children, for whom I am again in the anguish of childbirth until Christ is formed in you!
Dear Congregation each of us in Christ, has been asked by of the Lord, been prayed over - Where were you when world’s foundation layed, - In Christ’s heart - believer can say! And further we with our children, are asked of , given over ot he Lord as His servants. But here is an even greater wonder - though not grew up like Samuel in God’s courts, there is another to whom Samuel pointed that did - aslways about His Father’s business, totally a Nazarite and dedicated to servie fo the LORD< He is Jesus - and baptized into HIs name - taking hold of the grace promsied there - we too - consecrated whole life to the LORD.
I ma sure Steve and Rachel some relief that you get to bring Samuel home again. Because Christ given for him, don’t need another Samuel, but as grow with you devoted to the LORD, it is true that share in His ministry beginning in home, in church in society.
Baptism visit - struck me - prayer from R Kent Hughes book. What has changed since professing faith, marriage. Bible reading tied to prayer in your home. And now a child named - asked of the Lord, and given back as ONe Lord Asked For - May it be in prayer Amen.