How can you tell someone is strong?
If I could do 10 push ups would I be strong? 20? 30? 40 pushups?
I don’t think I could do that many!! Well I am not super strong, but today we are going to talk about God being strong.
But I have question… How can you tell how strong God is? I mean, we can’t see Him, so you can’t look at Him and tell He’s strong. You can’t watch Him lift a heavy box and know that He is strong. How can we tell if God is strong?
I’d like to tell you a story from the Bible that I think perfectly illustrates just how strong God is.
This story takes place about 3,000 years ago in Israel.
It starts with a man named Elkhannah. He had two wives, Peninah and Hannah.
Every year Elkhanna would go here:
(Show slide #1: The temple at Shiloh)
This was the tabernacle that the Israelites had carried around in the desert for 40 years. After they had arrived in the promised land, they built a more permanent house, like this one, for the things inside the tabernacle.
Three times every year Elkannah went to the temple in Shiloh and gave thanks to God. Elkhannah would take Peninah and Hannah with him. The problem was, both of these women didn’t have the same experience.
Peninah was a wife to Elkhannah and the mother of his children. She had several kids and each year when she went with her husband to the temple we can imagine what she might have thanked God for:
“Lord, thank you for my husband, thank you for my kids, thank you for the great family you have given to me. I get to enjoy them every day and they bring happiness to my life. Thank you for blessing me and showing me favor by giving me this great family.”
Peninnah was what we all might think of as a typical ‘mom’.
Hannah, on the other hand, was a bit different.
Peninnah Teases Hannah
Each year when she went with Elkhannah to the temple in Shiloh it was probably a very painful experience. Everyone went to the temple to thank the Lord, but Hannah probably didn’t feel that awful thankful.
Hannah didn’t have any kids. While Peninnah had kids with some to spare, Hannah didn’t have a single one.
And this caused her great pain.
In fact, she shows symptoms of depression! Hannah stopped eating and felt intense pain during these times. This was not an easy event for her to handle.
[pullquote cite=”BetterBibleTeachers.com” type=”left, right”]While Peninah was thanking the Lord for all her children Hannah was probably asking God why she couldn’t have any.[/pullquote]
While Peninah was thanking the Lord for all her children Hannah was probably asking God why she couldn’t have any.
Not only that, but Peninah would tease Hannah. In 1 Samuel it says:Because the Lord had closed Hannah’s womb, her rival kept provoking her in order to irritate her. 1 Samuel 1:6
In other words, Peninah woud tease and make fun of Hannah because she didn’t have any kids.
We can imagine what they must have been like:
“So Hannah, what are you thankful for? Are you going to thank the Lord for all your kids…oh wait! You don’t have any kids! How does it feel to not be loved by God enough to have kids? Hannah, you must not be loved by God as much as me!”
We don’t know for sure, but the author of 1 Samuel tells us that Peninah was quite intense about teasing and making fun of Hannah. In one translation it says her rival provoked her “severely”.
So on one visit to Shiloh, Hannah does what she had probably done often before. She goes to a room to pray. A place in the tabernacle designed for prayer.
And she begins to pray…
(mimic someone praying and move your mouth but don’t say any words out loud)
Now to use this doesn’t look too unusual.
You have probably seen people praying like this.
But in ancient Israel, most people prayed out loud. It was very unusual for someone to pray silently.
So when Eli, the high-priest of the temple sees Hannah praying he goes up to her and asks:“How long are you going to stay drunk? Put away your wine.” 1 Samuel 1:14b
Eli thinks she is drunk!
[pullquote cite=”BetterBibleTeachers.com” type=”left, right”]Now think for a minute how it must feel to be Hannah at this moment.[/pullquote]
Now think for a minute how it must feel to be Hannah at this moment.
You are forced to go to the temple 3x a year to give “thanks”, you are reminded every day that you have no children, you are teased for your rival for being childless, and now you are accused of being drunk by the high-priest!
It can’t get much worse for Hannah!
So when Eli goes up to Hannah to ask her about her drinking habits, Hannah doesn’t lash out at him like you and I might. Instead she explains that she is sad…“Not so, my lord,” Hannah replied, “I am a woman who is deeply troubled. I have not been drinking wine or beer; I was pouring out my soul to the Lord. 1 Samuel 1:15
Hannah explains that she was praying to God because her heart was so sad.
Let’s look at what Hannah prayed, and discover something really amazing about her prayer.
God the Almighty
In Hannah’s prayer to God we see her address God by a name that hasn’t been used to this point in the Old Testament. Hannah uses the name “Lord of Hosts” to address God, a name that refers to God’s power and His access to anything or anyone He wishes to use.
But if we look at this name of God in another translation it reads like this:
(Show Slide #3: Angel Armies)
“God of the Angel Armies”
This is what Hannah calls God. She says, “God your name is ‘God of the Angel Armies’ “.
Think about that for a minute. We all know what an army is right? We can picture it in our heads. Now imagine, instead of ordinary men and women making up the army that the entire force is made up of angels!
God is leading the charge, and behind him is an army…of angels!
What an amazing idea! God is so big and so powerful, that He leads an army…of angels!
When Hannah talks to God about what’s on her heart, she addresses God, not as someone who ‘might be able to help.’ No, Hannah talks to God as the ultimate power, the One with all the strength, the God of Angel Armies.
Maybe you’ve heard the word ‘Almighty” before? That’s another way this name of God is translated. God being ‘almighty’ is like God being in charge of an angel army. He has all the power. God is the ultimate. He is the greatest. He is the best. He is almighty.
After Hannah gets done praying things with Elkhannah are wrapped up at the temple and they all head back home.
And sure enough, a few months later Hannah’s belly starts to grow. Hannah is pregnant!
When the baby is born, she names him Samuel, a name that reminds her that God heard her prayers.
Samuel Hears God
It’s hard for us to even imagine but once Samuel is done nursing Hannah goes back to the temple so Samuel can live and work at the temple. Hannah isn’t dropping Samuel off at work. Hannah is telling Samuel that he has a new home, and it isn’t with his mom.
When Hannah had prayed for a son, this was part of the promise she had made to God. If God gave her a son, Hannah would give him back to work at the temple.
So when Hannah had Samuel, she followed through on her promise and delivered Samuel back to Eli at the temple.
As Samuel grew older he started to have some responsibilities around the temple. That weren’t super fun jobs, but he did things like sweeping the floor, straightening the rooms, and keeping the oil filled up in the candle holders.
Then, when Samuel hit about 12 years old, something happened to him that I bet a lot of you have heard of before.
One night, Samuel is laying down in bed and he hears a voice…
Samuel goes in to Eli’s room and asks what Eli needs, But Eli says he didn’t call him and that Samuel should go back to bed.
So Samuel listens and heads back to bed.
The voice speaks to Samuel again:
So again, Samuel goes to Eli and again Eli sends him back to bed because He didn’t call him.
But sure enough a little while later, Samuel hears the voice for a third time. When Samuel goes in to find out what Eli needs, the high-priest Eli realizes what has happened.
This story is probably familiar to you, but there is a piece of information you may have never realized before.
Eli, the high-priest, was one of the closest people to God at that time. In fact, you could say that Eli’s job was to be close to God. He was Israel’s ‘human connection’ to God. So if God was going to speak, Eli should be one of the first ones to recognize Him.
But God wasn’t speaking very much in those days. Because the people were constantly disobeying God they didn’t hear much from him.
So when God speaks to Samuel, it was such a surprise that it took one of the closest people to God, three times to realize what was going on. This was something that just didn’t happen in those days.
So as Samuel went and laid back down he heard God speak to him again:
and he responds:
“Speak Lord, your servant hears”
God goes on to tell Samuel some very grown up things. Even though Samuel is only 12 God trusts Him with some information about the high-priest Eli and the future of Israel.
Think with me to another Bible story you probably know…
Remember when King David was anointed as the next king of Israel? A guy show up at his dad’s house and looks at all of David’s brothers and says that none of them are the next king. The guys asks David’s dad if he has any other sons, and when David is brought in from tending sheep he is declared to be the next King.
Do you know who anointed King David?
The same 12 year-old boy we are talking about today grew up to be a very important person in Israel and anointed both King Saul and King David when their time came.
This is an incredible reminder of God’s power. God wasn’t wringing his hands when Hannah couldn’t have any kids. God didn’t lose control when only Peninah had a family.
God had a plan, an amazing one, to give Hannah a son, one that would come to be a key player in the history of our world.
God was in charge all along. God had, and still has all the power.
God is Almighty!
As we finish up, there is a picture I want to leave you of what Almighty ‘looks’ like.
In the book of Isaiah God’s Almighty power is pictured for us. When God talks about His power he talks about himself as being a ….
(Show Slide #3: Lion)
Anyone want to mess with a lion?
I didn’t think so!
When you think of an almighty God, you can picture a lion. A powerful force that can conquer any problem.
And the power of God, as a lion, isn’t out out to get you. No the power of the lion, God’s power, is working FOR you.
You have the power of God, the power of a lion, inside you as a Christian. The Almighty God, rules the entire world, AND will take care of you.
That is some serious power!
As we close, let’s say this verse together….a perfect reminder of how Almighty God is:with a mighty hand and outstretched arm; His love endures forever. Psalm 136:12 Share this post: