Broadcasting now. Watch Live.

The Foundational Convictions of a Godly Woman

Tom Pennington 1 Samuel 2: 1-10


There are times when discretion is the better part of valor, and I decided that it would be discretion itself not to continue our current series on lust from the Sermon on the Mount on Mother's Day. I will pick that up when I come back from South Africa. But today, in keeping with the day, I want us to consider a remarkable woman. Her name is Hannah. Hannah was the wife of Elkanah. Hannah was, as it turns out, an extraordinary mother. She eventually had six children. But without question, Hannah is most famous for being the mother of one of the Old Testament's most important figures, a man by the name of Samuel.

Hannah's story, however well it may have ended, did not begin well. She'd lived with Elkanah in the hill country of Israel. And in many ways, if you had seen Hannah in that context, she would have appeared to have everything that an Israelite woman living 1,100 years before Christ could want. She was married to a very influential man in their town. He was also financially prosperous. That wasn't an issue. It becomes very clear from the story that she enjoyed his genuine love and affection. Her husband was not a secular man. He was a man who was committed to deep faith in the true God of Israel. But at the same time, her home was a perfect illustration of why our LORD said God's original intention was that one man would marry one woman for life, because in her case, she was one of Elkanah's two wives.

The other woman was a woman (and the pronunciation differs, but for our sakes) today we'll call her Peninnah. Peninnah had given Elkanah several children, and although Elkanah found his greatest delight in Hannah, Hannah was barren and had given him none. Peninnah knew that Hannah was favored, and out of her anger and bitterness, she constantly taunted Hannah and even mocked her, and especially the one time of year when they went to Shiloh, which is where the tabernacle was at that time. It was a hard circumstance.

Today there are married women, perhaps here this morning, who long to have children, but find that they are unable to do so. That is a hard, difficult thing. But as difficult as it still is, it was even more difficult in the ancient world. Because on a practical level in an agricultural world, children were important, even necessary, for survival as the couple aged and were no longer able to care for their property. Children could assist with all of the hard work that was necessary to eek out a living from the hard, unforgiving, rocky soil that is Palestine. But the plague of barrenness was even more than that. In the ancient Near East, to be a wife and not a mother was not merely a manner of personal loss, the loss of the joy of family and children, it was a matter of personal reproach and humiliation. Sadly, often people would assume that the reason for that woman's barrenness must be that she had some how secretly offended God, that this was God's judgment on her for some unknown sin.

That was exactly the position where Hannah found herself. So, year after year she prayed to the LORD for a son. And she vowed to the LORD that if He would give her a son, she would return that son to the LORD in service all of his life. In His time, God answered Hannah's prayers. Look at 1 Samuel 1:19. It says,

Then they [that is, Hannah and Elkanah] arose early in the morning and worshiped before the Lord [there in Shiloh], and [they] returned again to their house in Ramah. And Elkanah had relations with Hannah is wife, [I love this.] and the Lord remembered her. [He remembered her prayer.] [And] it came about in due time, after Hannah had conceived, that she gave birth to a son; and she named him Samuel, saying, "Because I have asked him of the Lord."

Once Samuel, this firstborn son, was weaned (We don't know exactly when that was, possibly around three years of age.), Hannah made good on her vow, and she took her young son to Shiloh, where the tabernacle was located at that time, and she offered a sacrifice to the LORD. And then she left her young son there in Shiloh to grow up in the service of the LORD. In conjunction that day with that act of worship, as she brings her newly weaned son to leave him there for the rest of his life, Hannah offered a magnificent prayer to the LORD. Look at it with me in 1 Samuel 2 :1:

Then Hannah prayed and said,

"My heart exults in the LORD;

My horn is exalted in the LORD,

My mouth speaks boldly against my enemies,

Because I rejoice in Your salvation.

"There is no one holy like the LORD,

Indeed, there is no one besides You,

Nor is there any rock like our God.

"Boast no more so very proudly,

Do not let arrogance come out of your mouth;

For the LORD is a God of knowledge,

And with Him actions are weighed.

"The bows of the mighty are shattered,

But the feeble gird on strength.

"Those who were full hire themselves out for bread,

But those who were hungry cease to hunger.

Even the barren gives birth to seven,

But she who has many children languishes.

"The LORD kills and makes alive;

He brings down to Sheol and raises up.

"The LORD makes poor and rich;

He brings low, [and] He also exalts.

"He raises the poor from the dust,

He lifts the needy from the ash heap

To make them sit with nobles,

And inherit a seat of honor;

For the pillars of the earth are the LORD's,

And He set the world on them.

"He keeps the feet of His godly ones,

But the wicked ones are silenced in darkness;

For not by might shall a man prevail.

"Those who contend with the LORD will be shattered;

Against them He will thunder in the heavens,

The LORD will judge the ends of the earth;

And He will give strength to His king,

And will exalt the horn of His anointed."

Then Elkanah went to his home in Ramah. But the boy ministered to the LORD before Eli the priest.

Notice verse 1 introduces this passage as a prayer, a prayer offered by Hannah. At the same time, notice that this portion I just read to you is set off and structured in our English Bibles in such a way to tell us that in Hebrew, it is poetry. Specifically, it is a hymn, it's a psalm. It's similar to other Old Testament hymns such as the Song of Moses, or the Song of Miriam, the Song of Deborah, and especially the Song of David which ends 2 Samuel. In fact, there are many similarities between this song and David's. It appears that one of the psalmists later borrowed several verses from this poem for Psalm 113. Mary, Jesus' mother, borrows from this great song for what we call her Magnificat. It is a prayer-song of thanksgiving.

Now, it's unlikely that Hannah prayed in verse. It's more likely that she had several years to anticipate this day. From the time she learned that she was pregnant with little Samuel, until he was weaned, a number of years would have gone past. And as she anticipated the day when she would bring her new son and present him before the LORD, she carefully composed this beautiful poem, this beautiful song. And on that day, as she offered Samuel to the LORD, she offered this song as her prayer of gratitude to God. And as she does so, we see in it a glimpse into her own great heart. We see her carefully composed hymn of thanksgiving filled with the foundational convictions that made Hannah such a godly woman.

It is those same foundational convictions that should mark every godly woman, and every godly man as well. This was a remarkable woman, and this song is a remarkable bit of rich theology. Let's open it together. Let's see the convictions, the foundational convictions of a godly woman.

The first conviction we notice here is that God Himself is the source of all joy. God Himself is source of all joy. We see this conviction unfold in the first three verses. It begins with a personal expression of praise in verse 1. "Then Hannah prayed and said, 'My heart exults in the LORD; my horn is exalted in the LORD, my mouth speaks boldly against my enemies, because I rejoice in Your salvation.'" Five times in that first verse, Hannah refers to herself directly. The pronoun "my" occurs four times, and the pronoun "I" occurs once. But remarkably, after verse 1, Hannah never clearly refers to herself again in the rest of this song. Verse 1 is her personal expression of praise to God for what He has done in her circumstances in answer to her prayer. And in her expression of gratitude we see her heart. She says literally, "My heart finds its joy in Yahweh." My heart finds its joy, not in my humiliation being done, not in my young son Samuel, but in the LORD.

She goes on to say, "My horn is exalted in the LORD." In the Old Testament, the horns of an animal were used to symbolize its strength, its pride. And she is saying here that the LORD Himself has become her strength and her source of pride. She doesn't fear other human beings, because she has found God to be a rescuer, a savior. She rejoices in God's saving, rescuing act. God rescued her when it looked like she was beyond hope. I love what one author says. He says,

God's tendency is to make our total inability His starting point. This is how God acts. Our hopelessness and our helplessness are no barrier to His work. Indeed, our utter incapacity is often the prop He delights to use for His next act. [The author goes on to say,] This matter goes beyond the particular situations of biblical, barren women. We are facing here one of the principles of Yahweh's modus operandi. When His people are without strength, without resources, without hope, without human gimmicks, then He loves to stretch forth His hand from heaven.

But don't miss the larger point of verse 1. Do you see what has captivated this woman's heart? My heart exults in Yahweh: I rejoice in Your salvation, Your rescue, Your deliverance. Remember what God has just done for her. Twice in the first chapter we're told that God had closed her womb, and now He has removed her barrenness and her reproach. He has granted her a child. But the only way she refers to those things is at the end of verse 1 as "Your salvation," Your rescue. What I want you to see is that Hannah was not carried away primarily by God's reversal of her circumstances; instead, she is captivated by God Himself. My heart finds its joy in Yahweh.

She moves in verse 2 to a personal confession of her faith: "There is no one holy like [Yahweh]." That is a statement of her confidence in monotheism, that there is only one true and living God, and that God is Yahweh. "Indeed, there is no one besides You, nor is there any rock like our God." The Hebrew word for "holy" just means "to be set apart." What does it mean in reference to God? When we say God is holy, we're saying He's set apart, but set apart from what? When you see that referencing God, it is used in one of two ways. It either means that God is set apart from sin, and it's describing God's absolute moral purity. Or other times, as here, it refers to God as being set apart, not simply from sin, but from everything else. It speaks of His being transcendent in His majesty. There is nothing, there is no one, like God.

We all fall into categories. I am a husband. I'm a father. I'm a pastor. I'm a man. But there are lots of other people here this morning who fall into many of those categories. We share categories, because we share similarities. God is His own category. There's nobody else in God's category. She goes on to say, there is no rock. The Hebrew word, literally, bedrock. There is no other bedrock for life. There's no other source of stability, no foundation for life, no other refuge, like God Himself. There's nobody like Him. Hannah's going to go on in just a moment in her prayer to rehearse some of the ways that God is utterly unique.

But before she does, the first strophe here, the first stanza, closes with a call to personal faith in her God. Notice verse 3, "Boast no more so very proudly, do not let arrogance come out of your mouth; for the LORD is a God of knowledge, and with Him actions are weighed." Now at first glance, you might think that Hannah is getting in a shot here at Peninnah, her nemesis in the home. But it's clear that's not what's going on, because in Hebrew, the first two verbs of verse 3 are plural. She's not talking to one person, she's talking to a group of people. Hannah is here warning all who might be tempted not to submit themselves to the one true and living God, who is set apart from everything else, that in fact they must. It is essentially an invitation to all who read this poem of hers that it is imperative for them to submit themselves to the one true and living God.

That would be her invitation to you this morning. If you have never come to a point in your own life where you have acknowledged the one living and true God and His right to rule you through His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, this is the day. This is her invitation. She goes on to say, you must humble yourself before the God who sees and knows every single thing. Nothing, nothing escapes His knowledge. He knows your thoughts before you think them. He knows your words before you speak them. He knows every single attitude, desire, sin. He knows it all. And notice, He weighs your actions in His scales. Hannah says, whatever you do, you must humble yourself before the one living and true God.

Hannah had come to understand, in these first three verses it becomes clear, that God Himself is the source of all joy. She could rejoice in Him whether her circumstances never changed, and whether she remained barren the rest of her life and suffered the indignities that came with that in the ancient world, or whether God granted her a child, as He did. And when God did grant her a child, this deep-seated, theological conviction just comes gushing out of her heart in praise to God. Her joy was not in herself that her barrenness and her humiliation had been removed. Her joy was not even in her son Samuel. Her joy was completely and solely in Yahweh, in the LORD Himself.

Let me ask you. Do you share this foundational conviction with Hannah? Do you really believe that God alone is the source of all true joy? Or, have you convinced yourself that if God would just change your circumstances, then you could find joy? Spiritual stability like that Hannah enjoyed is not possible when our joy is tied to what's happening around us. It's only possible when our joy is tied to our unchanging God.

There was a second theological conviction that gave hope to Hannah in the midst of her circumstances that she reveals to us here. She was convinced that God is Sovereign over all things. God is Sovereign over all things. In verses 1 - 3, we have the specific story of Hannah's deliverance in her personal praise. But in verses 4 - 8, Hannah essentially tells us that she wasn't surprised at all by what God did for her, because it's how God normally acts. It's perfectly consistent with His nature and His character and His rule. Now when you look at this conviction that she had, we can break it apart in two ways, and she seems to do that for us here in the text.

Hannah was (when it came to God's sovereignty), she was convinced that there are no circumstances God cannot change. There are no circumstances God cannot change.

In verses 4 and 5, Hannah rehearses a series of remarkable reversals. God steps into the world and He reverses the way things normally work. Notice, the weak army defeats the mighty army. Verse 4, "The bows of the mighty." In Hebrew, the word "mighty" here can actually be translated heroes. The heroes, the ones you expect to win, their bows "are shattered." The ones with the bigger army and the more powerful weapons are defeated, "but the feeble gird on strength." Small, little, fledgling force with a bunch of pitch forks and knives win the battle over the powerful army.

The full go hungry and the hungry are fed. Verse 5, "Those who were full." The word "full" here is a word that implies wealth and having more than enough. These are wealthy people. They have to hire themselves out, they have to sell themselves in indentured service just to survive. They used to have all the food they wanted and be able to do whatever they wanted, and now just to live they have to sell themselves into a kind of slavery so they can have food to eat. "But those who were hungry cease to hunger." They suddenly have more than enough. Those who were starving have more than they need. The barren woman has a family, and the mother with many has none.

Look at verse 5, "Even the barren gives birth to seven." Now obviously, there is a reference here to Hannah's situation. But she's not referring directly to herself in this verse, because she only, as verse 21 of the same chapter tells us, she had six children. Seven here is simply a poetic way to speak of completeness. The barren woman comes to enjoy a complete family. But the one who once had many children, children who would have supported her, comes to the end of her life and dies childless in poverty and want. Wow! Dramatic reversals.

What's going on here? Hannah's point in verses 4 and 5 is that whether your circumstances are good or difficult, wherever you find yourself today, don't ever forget that God has unlimited capacity to change those circumstances. It was that knowledge of God's power to intervene and change circumstances that sustained Hannah through her difficulty. Because if you truly believe that God has the capacity and the power to step in at any moment and change your circumstances, it provides great hope, even if He chooses not to do so.

What are the difficult circumstances in which you find yourself today? Maybe on this Mother's Day do you find yourself wanting a child? Do you long to be married? Do you struggle with a very difficult marriage that you want to be better? Do you need a job? Or do you need a better job just to make ends meet and support your family? Are you financially near a breaking point? Do you struggle with long-standing illness, or have you or someone you love been diagnosed with cancer, some terminal illness? Or maybe your difficulty, your circumstances, are different from any of those. What is it? Listen, whatever it is, you need to come to grips in your heart with the conviction that there are no circumstances God is not big enough to change. That doesn't mean He will, but the knowledge that He can, if He determines it's best for us, becomes a source of incredible hope and comfort.

Verses 6 - 8, Hannah takes her conviction of God's sovereignty once step further. In these verses she explains, not only are there no circumstances that God cannot change, but there are no circumstances God does not determine. In these verses, her focus is not on God's ability to reverse the circumstances, but on His absolute sovereignty over them all. She describes in these verses a series of extremes over which God has absolute control. The point is, not only does He have control over the extremes, but everything between.

Notice what she says, verse 6, "The LORD kills and makes alive." Yahweh has the power over all of human existence. Wherever there is life, it came from Him. When life began in the womb of Hannah, and Samuel was conceived, it was from God. He gives life. When death approaches, it is only possible if He either directly wills it or wills to allow it (in the case of death caused by the sin of other humans). God takes ownership of this issue throughout the Scriptures.

Deuteronomy 32:39, "See now that I, I am He, And there is no god besides Me; It is I who put to death and [it is I who] give life. I have wounded and it is I who heal, And there is no one who can deliver from My hand." God takes responsibility for everything from the moment of life to the moment of death and everything in between.

Verse 6 goes on to say, "He brings down to Sheol and [He] raises up." The word "Sheol" refers to the grave. Hannah may here mean one of two things. She may be saying that God has the power to bring death, and then when someone has actually died, He has the power to bring life again, to bring resurrection. That point is made in other places in the Old Testament. You remember Job talks about the reality that even if the worms destroy his body, yet in his flesh will he see God. Or it may be that Hannah is here saying that God has the power to bring someone near to the grave with a terminal illness, and then the power to raise that person up from their death bed. And of course, we can't be absolutely sure of which she means here, but both are true.

Verse 7, "The LORD makes poor and rich." The LORD is sovereign over the economic circumstances of every individual. That doesn't exclude the responsibility for human sin, for lack of diligence and carelessness. But the bottom line is, God takes responsibility for everything on the economic scale, from the person who lives in poverty, to the person who lives in opulent wealth, and everything in between. He brings low; He also exalts. It is within His right and sovereign control to humble someone from a high position and bring them down, or to exalt someone from a humble position and to elevate them.

Verse 8 goes on to explain how God exalts. "He raises the poor from the dust, He lifts the needy from the ash heap To make them sit with nobles, And inherit a seat of honor." These expressions "dust" and "ash heap" are often used in the Old Testament to describe the absolute lowest levels of human existence. In fact, "ash heap" really describes a combination rubbish and dung heap outside all of the ancient towns. And the poor would go, and they would rummage through those rubbish and dung heaps to find whatever they could to keep body and soul together. God is saying, I can find someone in the absolute worst possible human condition, and I can raise them up to have a place of honor and leadership and authority.

God does this throughout the Old Testament. A couple of instances came to my mind as I thought about this. One of them is in 1 Kings. Glance over just a few pages, 1 Kings 16. One of the kings of Israel, of the norther ten tribes, a man by the name of Baasha, has a prophecy made against him in 1 Kings 16:1.

Now the word of the LORD came to Jehu the son of Hanani against Baasha, saying, 'Inasmuch as I … [Watch this.] … I exalted you … [Baasha] … from the dust.'" [God brought this man into a position of leadership from nothing. He was at the bottom.] "I exalted you from the dust and [I] made you leader over My people Israel." Here's a perfect example of what God said He could do.

[However, Baasha,] … you have walked in the way of Jeroboam [that is, idolatry] and [you've] made my people Israel sin, provoking Me to anger with their sins, behold, I will consume Baasha and his house, and I will make your house like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat.

In other words, nonexistent. Here is a picture of God doing both: exalting from the dust and lowering to the dust again. Same thing happened, didn't it, with Job? You remember the story of Job, probably one of the wealthiest, if not the wealthiest man, the most influential man, in the east at his time during the period of the patriarchs? And what did God do? In a day, He humbled him. And where do we find Job in Job 2:8? Sitting on an ash heap, using a piece of broken pottery to scrape his open sores. And yet what did God do? Eventually, He took him from the ash heap, and what? Exalted him back to a place of honor.

Listen, God can and does bring low some and exalt others. And listen, He has every right to do so. Look at the end of verse 8, "For [Because, here's why God can do this.] the pillars of the earth are the LORD's, and He set the world on them." Here, Hannah explains why God has the right to be sovereign over this planet and every life on it. This isn't intended, by the way, verse 8, to be a scientific cosmology. Some skeptics and critics assault the Bible because poetic statements like this are made. In other places the Bible is very clear that the world is a globe, that it hangs in space on nothing. Read Job 26:7. Read Isaiah 40:22. Here, what you have is poetic language describing the world as a house God made and carefully set on its foundation. In other words, this world God made. And because He made it, it belongs to Him. And because it belongs to Him, He can do what He chooses. By the way, that's why the evolutionists so much hate creation. Because creatorship implies ownership, which implies sovereignty. And that's exactly what Hannah's saying here.

We understand this, this idea of if you make something, it belongs to you. This is a universal principle of God's moral universe. If you made it, it belongs to you. This morning, as I'm preaching this sermon to you, I'm preaching a message that I created, and therefore under the copyright laws of our country, it technically belongs to me. I'm happy for anybody to use it, but technically it belongs to me. Why? Because I created it, therefore it belongs to me. And if it belongs to you, you can do what you want to with it. That's the point Hannah's making at the end of verse 8. God made this planet; He made everyone and everything on it. Psalm 24:1 says, "The earth is the LORD's, and all it contains, the world, and [Listen to this.] those who dwell in it." It all belongs to Him. He made it; it's His; He has a right to say what happens. He has right to sovereignty over it.

Hannah was convinced that God is sovereign in all things, that there are no circumstances He cannot change, that there are no circumstances that He did not ultimately determine. Even when human sin is involved, He shapes and directs it to ends unintended by the sinners. Let me ask you, are you truly convinced of that yourself? Are you convinced that God is sovereign over all things; that whatever circumstances you find yourself in this morning, He can change; that He ultimately is responsible and determines all things? Do you believe that in your heart of hearts about your circumstances this morning? It's only in that confidence that we can find peace for our souls. For you and I, if we're going to have spiritual stability regardless of what comes in life, we must share Hannah's foundational convictions. We must believe that God Himself is the source of all joy, not our circumstances, and that God's sovereignty rules over all things.

But there's a third conviction that we must share with Hannah. And it's this: God will accomplish all His ultimate ends. You see this in verses 9 and 10:

"He keeps the feet of His godly ones,

But the wicked ones are silenced in darkness;

For not by might shall a man prevail.

"Those who contend with the LORD will be shattered;

Against them He will thunder in the heavens,

The LORD will judge the ends of the earth;

And he will give strength to His king,

And will exalt the horn of his anointed."

In these verses Hannah makes her perspective even broader. In verses 1 - 3, she rehearses her own experience. In verses 4 - 8, she lifts her eyes from her own experience, and says this is how God normally acts in the world He made. But in verses 9 and 10, Hannah looks into the distant future at what it will be like when Yahweh completely and visibly rules this world.

Notice what she says, verse 9, "He keeps [or guards] the feet of His godly ones." That has a picture of walking on a path. And of course, if you've been to Israel, you know that it can be a place where your foot can slip very quickly, and you can fall. God guards the path of His "godly ones." The Hebrew word translated "godly ones" comes from one of my favorite Old Testament Hebrew words, the word hesed, which means God 's loyal love. It's covenant love within the context of a legally binding promise made to each other. So, "godly ones" here means those on whom God has first set His own covenant love, and who in turn respond to His covenant love with faithfulness. They're the "godly ones."

And notice, Hannah says God will ensure that they are protected, not from all difficult circumstances, but from ultimate harm. Because, notice the contrast with the next part of verse 9, "But the wicked ones are silenced in darkness." There Hannah pictures the wicked at death, sinking into the silent darkness of what our Lord would call hell.

The last phrase in verse 9, "for not by might shall a man prevail," should be connected with the first phrase, I think, of verse 10. The point is, human strength is no match for God. "Those who contend with," those who try to do battle with God will ultimately "be shattered" by His own divine justice. Verse 10, [The Lord] will thunder ... the Lord will judge the ends of the earth." "The ends of the earth" meaning all nations, all peoples, every single human being. These verses—what I what you to see is, verses 9 and 10 are describing the grand finale. Ralph Davis, writing on this passage, says,

This is no piddly, little affair. This is [what happened with Hannah] is a manifestation of the way Yahweh rules and will bring His Kingdom. Hannah's relief is a sample of the way Yahweh works, and of the ways He will work when He brings His kingdom in its fullness. The saving help Yahweh gave Hannah is a scale model demonstration of how Yahweh will do it when He does it in grand style.

God will deliver. He will rescue His covenant people, and He will shatter the resistance of all those who oppose him. And He will judge the ends of the earth.

And notice, all of this will be accomplished, verse 10 goes on to say, through the king, His anointed one. This phrase anointed one is the first time in the Old Testament the Hebrew expression Hamashea, the Messiah, occurs. The question is, who is this king and who is this anointed one? Remember now, it's her son Samuel, who has just been weaned, who will appoint Israel's first King, Saul. I think clearly she's anticipating that reality. She's anticipating the human kings, who are recorded later in this book. But I think there's more there as well. This passage has historically been interpreted with Messianic overtones.

Remember, at this point, Hannah only has the first seven books of the Old Testament. But in those books it was clear to anyone who read and studied them that a special person was coming. Genesis 3:15, the seed of the woman will come and deal with sin once and for all. But also, in the first seven books of the Old Testament, it becomes clear that person is going to be a mighty king and ruler.

You remember in Genesis 49:10, when Jacob made his prophecy over Judah his son? He said this to him in that passage. Genesis 49:10, "The scepter [will] not depart from Judah, nor the ruler's staff from between his feet, until Shiloh comes [Literally, until He comes to whom the right to rule belongs.], and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples." That prophecy has historically been interpreted as pointing to Jesus Christ, to the Messiah.

Balaam, in Numbers 24, talked about a future king, a Messianic King that would come. Numbers 24:17, "… A star [will] … come [out of] … Jacob, A scepter [will come out of] … Israel…." Hannah understood, I believe, that reality. Hannah was living in anticipation of Israel's human kings, but only because they pointed forward to the great King who would come. What a remarkable woman. What a remarkable understanding. Hannah realized something very important.

You say, what does all this have to do with her circumstances and her song and my life? Listen, Hannah realized something you and I have to realize. She realized that life is not about having the perfect circumstances. It's not about everything going our way. God has a great eternal plan. And He's working that plan out on a macro scale in the lives of nations and empires. And He's working that plan out on a micro scale in every individual life, including yours. Life on this planet is not primarily about my personal happiness. It's about God. It's about the great, eternal, transcendent God, working out His ultimate ends on the stage that is this pale blue dot hurling through space.

If you're going to maintain any degree of spiritual stability in this life, you are going to have to be convinced that God has a plan, and He is working that plan out in human history and in your personal life. However dark it may look today, however unlikely it may seem from your vantage point that any good can come out of where you find yourself, He is, as Paul said, causing all things to work together for good to those who love Him, who are the called according to His purpose.

He will judge the earth, and when He does, He will shatter the wicked like clay pots. But He will guard the steps of His own throughout this life, and into His eternal presence. One day, He will exalt His Anointed One and establish His kingdom on earth. Do you understand that nothing that is happening to you today can thwart God 's ultimate ends, either for this planet, for His Son, or for you personally? And the end He has in mind is the exultation of His name, the exultation of His Son, and your eternal comfort and joy if you are one of His.

When Hannah was suffering through her difficult circumstances, I'm sure it seemed to her that nothing good could ever come from it, being taunted by Elkanah's other wife. But eventually, in His own time and His own way, God answered her prayer and gave her a son. Think about this now. Through her difficulty in trouble, and through her turmoil, God gave Israel, Samuel, the man whom He used to bring Israel out of 400 years of its greatest darkness, the period of the Judges, and to set up a series of kings in Israel pointing to the ultimate King, our Lord Jesus Christ.

Listen, God may not choose to deliver you from your circumstances like He did Hannah, but if He doesn't choose to deliver you from your circumstances, He'll give you the grace to go through it. And in His sovereign purpose, He will bring about His ultimate ends, for the planet, and for you.

Let's pray together.

Father, thank You, for this magnificent insight into the heart of this godly woman. Father, may we embrace those fundamental convictions that she embraced.

Father, forgive us. Forgive us for doubting You. Forgive us for doubting Your goodness. Forgive us for looking for our joy in our circumstances rather than in You. Father, forgive us for doubting Your sovereignty, Your capacity to change our circumstances, Your sovereignty over all of our circumstances. And Father, forgive us as well for making life all about us and our own happiness.

Remind us, O God, that You have a plan. And may we humble ourselves before You. Lord, I pray for the man or woman here today, who has never humbled himself or herself before You through Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. May this be the day they own You as the One who has the right to rule them.

We pray in Jesus' name, Amen.