Hannah’s Song – Part Five (1 Sam 3)

We’re  continuing in our series in the first three chapters of 1 Samuel. If you’re just joining us, it’s probably best to begin with the first post in the series, last Wednesday.

Today, we come to the outworking of Hannah’s song: where her little story and God’s big story intersect. It’s a famous one – a Sunday School favourite. That’s because the central human character is a child. But there’s something quite profound going on in the story.

1 Samuel 3:1 The boy Samuel ministered before the Lord under Eli. In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions.

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Hannah’s Song – Part Four (1 Sam 2)

We’re  continuing in our series in the first three chapters of 1 Samuel. If you’re just joining us, it’s probably best to begin with the first post in the series, last Wednesday.

God the great reverser

As we saw yesterday, God is the great rescuer. Having been rescued, we become part of God’s rescue plan. But Hannah’s song also praises him as the great reverser. That is, those who are powerful but unfaithful will be brought low; those who are weak but faithful will be raised up to be used in God’s service:

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Hannah’s Song – Part Three (1 Sam 2)

We’re  continuing in our series in the first three chapters of 1 Samuel. If you’re just joining us, it’s probably best to begin with the first post in the series, last Wednesday.

God the great rescuer

As we saw last Thursday, Hannah’s song connects her story with God’s story: the story of God the great rescuer, and the great reverser. We’re going to look at these two themes now.

Firstly, God has rescued her from suffering and humiliation. And so she sings about the God who’s in the business of rescuing; rescuing on a much grander scale. She starts like this, about her own story with God:

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Hannah’s Song – Part Two (1 Sam 2)

Yesterday, we began a series in the first three chapters of 1 Samuel. We looked at Hannah’s story (read it now to catch up if you missed it) and noticed that God cares about more than just ‘the world’ in general. He cares about us as individuals. But, of course, there’s also the other side of the coin, which we’re focusing on today. God’s concern for the world.

The song of Hannah: God cares about the world

So what does Hannah do next in the story? Well, she fulfils her vow – as painful as it would have been. She brings Samuel as a young boy to the temple, to live there with Eli and be trained in God’s service.

1 Samuel 1:21-28 When her husband Elkanah went up with all his family to offer the annual sacrifice to the Lord and to fulfill his vow, 22 Hannah did not go. She said to her husband, “After the boy is weaned, I will take him and present him before the Lord, and he will live there always.”
23 “Do what seems best to you,” her husband Elkanah told her. “Stay here until you have weaned him; only may the Lord make good his word.” So the woman stayed at home and nursed her son until she had weaned him.
24 After he was weaned, she took the boy with her, young as he was, along with a three-year-old bull, an ephah of flour and a skin of wine, and brought him to the house of the Lord at Shiloh. 25 When the bull had been sacrificed, they brought the boy to Eli, 26 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. 27 I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him. 28 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.

And when she does this, she sings a song about God. A song in response to all that God has done for her.

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Hannah’s Song – Part One (1 Sam 1)

We begin a new series today, in the first three chapters of 1 Samuel.

As humans, we have an inbuilt desire to connect our own, personal story to a much larger story. To see where it is that we fit. To understand how the narrative of my life finds its place amongst the life of my family, my community, and my world.

It’s why some people are so passionate about tracing their family tree. It’s why many children who are adopted seek out their birth parents. It’s why we bother learning history at school. We’re fuelled by a need to see in some way where our story fits into a much bigger story.

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Daniel and the Lions II: this time, it’s literal

Yesterday, we left Daniel stuck in the lions’ den. What’s more, we sealed it with all of our signet rings so we’d know if someone had been in to help him. And then we spent a sleepless night wondering if God would rescue him. It’s time for part two:

Daniel 6:19-20 At the first light of dawn, the king got up and hurried to the lions’ den. 20 When he came near the den, he called to Daniel in an anguished voice, “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?”

I would have shouted “are you OK in there?” but he’s a king, so he’s probably had his speechwriter up all night crafting the perfect soundbyte.

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Daniel and the Lions: a political thriller

As we conclude our tour of the first six chapters of Daniel, we come to the best known story in the whole book: Daniel in the lions’ den. Although we won’t get to the literal den of lions until tomorrow, as we read the set-up of the plot we’ll notice that Daniel’s already very much in a metaphorical den of lions. He’s surrounded by jealous and scheming enemies who wish to do him harm, frequently described as “lions” by David:

Psalms 57:4 I am in the midst of lions; I am forced to dwell among ravenous beasts—men whose teeth are spears and arrows, whose tongues are sharp swords. (See also Ps 22:13, 21; 35:17.)

The story begins with the new king, Darius,* appointing Daniel as one of his three key administrators – and grooming him for the top job. Which doesn’t go down well with all the others, having this foreigner put in charge:

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Daniel 5 – Part Three-and-a-half

Over the last two days we’ve read the story of King Belshazzar’s feast, a defiant rallying of the troops in the face of a looming Persian invasion – and a brazen slap in the face to Israel’s God, using the temple cups in drunken worship of his idols. So God writes some graffiti on the wall, which no-one can interpret. No-one, of course, except Daniel. Taking Belshazzar’s arrogant and unrepentant attitude to task (in contrast with that of his more teachable ancestor, Nebuchadnezzar), an aging Daniel is about to interpret the writing on the wall.

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Daniel 5 – Part Two (Fresh pants, please)

Yesterday, we saw how King Belshazzar gave a banquet, probably as a rallying-cry to war, with the Persians approaching the gates of the city. During the banquet, he deliberately brought out the gold and silver cups stolen from the temple in Jerusalem by one of his predecessors, Nebuchadnezzar, as a way of reminding the faithful of previous conquests. Belshazzar used them in drunken worship of gold and silver idols (not to mention those made of bronze, iron, wood, and stone). That pretty much sums up his attitude toward God. And, as we’ll see in today’s reading, God’s not impressed.

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