God Prepares For Revival
A Lesson From First Samuel, Chapter One
By D. Colin Jones
Dead Christianity is corruption made to look respectable! When religion is dead, it has an objectionable odor. But when Christianity is alive, it is a sweet fragrance which causes people to look with a desire to possess it. In every age God has moved through His people bringing life from seeming death. This is called revival. This happened in Old Testament times on many occasions. It happened in the life of Samuel.
Note the four main characters of this chapter. They are Elkanah, Hannah, Peninnah and Eli. Here is a godly man and his two loving wives. Both are loved but one is fruitful and the other barren. Contrary to logic, revival began out of a deep sense of need in the heart of Hannah, the childless one. Twenty years before revival came the Lord heard the inward cry of this godly woman.
An Unfruitful Life – “But unto Hannah he [Elkanah] gave a worthy portion; for he loved Hannah: but the Lord had shut up her womb” (v. 5). She had the love of her husband but the Lord had closed her womb. This to a Hebrew woman was the most terrible tragedy. God’s blessing to a woman was assessed by the size of her family. In her need she was most sorrowful. Peninnah’s attitude didn’t help at all.
An Unhappy Heart – “Then said Elkanah her husband to her, Hannah, why weepest thou? and why eatest thou not? and why is thy heart grieved? am not I better to thee than ten sons? So Hannah rose up after they had eaten in Shiloh, and after they had drunk. Now Eli the priest sat upon a seat by a post of the temple of the Lord. And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the Lord, and wept sore” (vv. 8-10). The first part of this chapter is full of sorrow. Elkanah tries to comfort her with a rather man-like remark. “Am I not better than ten sons?” She did not reply to this remark as there was no substitute for fruitfulness. She did not cast herself into her loving husband’s arms but hastened to prayer in the temple of the Lord.
Oh that we, as the very bride of Christ, would sorrow concerning our unfruitfulness! Where are the conversions to Christ? Where are the baptisms? For years, we have been barren. We rush hither and thither seeking a cure for our infertility but prayer, real heart-rending prayer, is scarcely to be seen or heard.
Unless we sorrow over our barrenness, unless we come in desperation to God, we will not know true, Scriptural revival, and we will have to live with modern-day substitutes. God give us unhappy hearts and longing desires for Him and for souls.
An Unselfish Promise – “And she vowed a vow, and said, O Lord of hosts, if Thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of Thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget Thine handmaid, but wilt give unto Thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the Lord all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come upon his head” (v. 11). Here we have a baby promised to the Lord. That is wonderful, but more wonderful we see a woman completely sold out to the Lord. She gave away her most precious possession before she had it! Here is an Old Testament picture of real commitment. She was young and yet completely committed to the Lord. There is a sense in which only the young can know such surrender. Many of our readers will be of more mature years. We should be desperately trying to get the message into young people’s hands so that they live in the light of the soon-coming Rapture and herald revival in the church by giving to Him the years that yet they have not seen….
An Unquestionable Prayer – “And it came to pass, as she continued praying before the Lord, that Eli marked her mouth. Now Hannah, she spake in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard: therefore Eli thought she had been drunken. And Eli said unto her, How long wilt thou be drunken? put away thy wine from thee. And Hannah answered and said, No, my lord, I am a woman of a sorrowful spirit: I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but have poured out my soul before the Lord” (vv. 12-15). Here is true revival prayer. “I have poured out my soul before the Lord.” Thousands around us are living and dying without Christ. How long is it since we had agony of soul before God for lost people? Little wonder that the church is so infertile! The agonizing prayers, or as James puts it, “...The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (Jas. 5:16).
Undoubting Faith – “And she said, Let thine handmaid find grace in thy sight. So the woman went her way, and did eat, and her countenance was no more sad” (v. 18). Her sadness was turned to gladness by faith alone. She was revived in her own heart before she could be used to bring revival to her own people. This verse needs to be contrasted with verse ten. Formerly she was hard to live with, but now she was a delight to have around. Before she was off food (v. 8), but now her appetite was restored. Previously her countenance was sad, but now she reflected the joy of the Lord. She was truly revived. She was a herald of revival within the nation.
Unbridled Worship – “And they rose up in the morning early, and worshipped before the Lord, and returned, and came to their house to Ramah: and Elkanah knew Hannah his wife; and the Lord remembered her” (v. 19). She remembered the Lord by rising early in the morning to worship Him. He remembered her by granting her request. Worship and fruitfulness are vitally related. Worship is intimate fellowship with God which always produces fruitfulness. As we come to Him, He comes to us. In turn we go to the lost and they come to Him through us. What a wonderful circle of grace! But the vital relationship begins in my heart!
Unlimited Blessing – “Wherefore it came to pass, when the time was come about after Hannah had conceived, that she bare a son, and called his name Samuel, saying, Because I have asked him of the Lord” (v. 20). Samuel is born. He was the first of many sons. The blessings came because a woman really prayed and believed.
Unconditional Surrender – “And when she had weaned him, she took him up with her...and brought him unto the house of the Lord in Shiloh: and the child was young. ...And she said, Oh my lord, as thy soul liveth, my lord, I am the woman that stood by thee here, praying unto the Lord. For this child I prayed; and the Lord hath given me my petition which I asked of Him: therefore also I have lent him to the Lord; as long as he liveth he shall be lent to the Lord. And he worshipped the Lord there” (vv. 24-28). She fulfilled her vow in the very place where she had unburdened her heart to the Lord. She came back to surrender the most precious treasure of her life and God received her baby. One day revival would break out through him. The revival which first came to faithful Hannah.
Did her surrender bring sadness? Certainly not! As we enter chapter two we join her as she sings a song of thanksgiving to the Lord. She found a new self, a new strength and a new conception of God.
To hold back from God robs you, robs God and may well rob the world of revival!
Surrender always brings joy and places you in a position where God will be pleased to use you for His future purposes.
– From The Herald of Hope, Australia.