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Hannah’s Prayer (Part 2 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
The Truth Network Radio
February 9, 2022 3:00 am

Hannah’s Prayer (Part 2 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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February 9, 2022 3:00 am

Have you ever hung upside-down from a tree branch or playground bar? It changes your perspective, doesn’t it? Find out how God turns worldly values upside-down to give us the proper perspective on life—and death! Join us on Truth For Life with Alistair Begg.



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Have you ever hung upside down from a tree branch or on a playground bar? It gives you a different perspective on the world doesn't it? Well today on Truth for Life we'll find out how God turns worldly values upside down to give us a proper perspective on life and death. Alistair Begg concludes his message titled Hannah's Prayer today. He's teaching from 1 Samuel chapter 2. We're in verses 1–10. So first of all, then, what God has done from the personal perspective of Hannah.

After all, although this goes beyond her immediate circumstances, it certainly includes them. And she is writing out of the fullness of her heart. You will notice that there are three my's in verse 1.

My, my, my. First of all, my heart, she says, exults in the Lord. Secondly, she then goes on, essentially, to give us, if you like, a view of the world which is distinctly biblical.

I put it in that way to begin so that if we're tempted to lose our way through this, we can have that as a kind of anchor. Not only is God holy and powerful, but she wants us to know in verse 3, which is a kind of bridge verse, that the Lord is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed. Do you remember how Belshazzar discovered this? Back in our studies in Daniel, some of us will recall in chapter 5 how Belshazzar was having this amazing feast with a thousand of his folks, drinking wine, using the materials that had been stolen from the temple of the Lord when they had snatched the people up and taken them into exile in Babylon, and how, as he went about his business, in the middle of all of their carousing, from the presence of the God of knowledge, a hand was sent.

And a hand appears on the wall and writes. Someone says, Well, the best hope you have is in Daniel, who comes, of course, and speaks to him, and tells Belshazzar, Let me tell you exactly what this is. God has written this. And God has written it in order that you might know Belshazzar, that you can carry on like this, that you think you're a big shot, you think that you and your friends can continue just to go on your way and reject the idea of the living God, and I want you to know that it can't happen. He says, You know that God rules over all of heaven and earth, that God rules the kingdoms of mankind, and he sets people in position as he chooses. You've praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood, stone, which don't see or hear or know. But the God in whose hand is your breath, and whose are all your ways, you have not honored. That is the word of declaration. And what is the word that is said to him? You have been weighed in the balance, and you have been found wanting. The hand from his presence was sent. And as you read the end of the chapter, And that very night Belshazzar died.

Done. Now, the balance of this section, having sounded out her warning, is simply a catalogue of the ways in which God turns human estimates of significance and power upside down. If you want to just get a hold of the sort of prevailing notion, look at the final phrase of verse 9, For not by might shall a man prevail. For not by might shall a man prevail.

Man qua man. No man or woman will eventually prevail as a result of their human and innate abilities. And so what she does is she unpacks that. Now, we could have a whole series on this which we're not going to have, and I will disappoint some and encourage others by trying to move through it as quickly as I can. Look, verse 4, The bows of the mighty are broken, but the feeble bind on strength. We're not going to have to wait very long before we have a wonderful illustration of this when the Philistines are sent running for their lives. Not because of the massive power of the Israeli army, because all they were doing was standing there every morning looking as the giant came out to taunt them.

No. What did God do? He reached down for a feeble boy, for a young fellow, for a ruddy-faced boy who had a sling and five stones. And you will see there, this is what he does, the feeble bind on strength. You remember?

We can't anticipate it at all. But you remember how Saul says, No, you should wear my armor. Because you'll get killed if you don't wear my armor. And he tries on the armor, and it's ridiculous. And so he takes it all off again. And Saul said, Well, what are you going to do? He said, Well, I'll just do what I normally do.

I'll just take five stones, and we'll go from there. I can imagine Saul watching him walk out the door. He says, He's a dead man, no question. But he wants to do it. He wants to do it.

That's okay. The Philistines go running down the street. Those who were full have become beggars. Notice verse 5.

Now they're on the streets, saying, Buddy, could you lend me a dime? The hungry now have been fed. Incidentally, as you read this song, it'll make you think of other songs. We've already had Miriam. A thousand years on you will have the Magnificat, the song of Mary, in Luke chapter 1, verse 46 and following. She doubtless knew this. She's, I think, has borrowed some of it, we might say. Remember, she declares on that occasion, He has filled the hungry with good things, but the rich he has sent empty away.

He has brought down the mighty from their thrones, but the humble he has exalted. That's exactly what she's saying here. The baron has borne seven—seven, a picture of perfection. She doesn't have seven yet. Maybe she did.

I don't know. But what she's saying is emptiness has been replaced by fullness. The person who has had many children and thinks that because they've had many children, everything will be hunky-dory may actually discover that it is a source of pain. Security does not lie in prosperity. It doesn't lie in numbers. It lies in God. Who is God? He is the Rock. There's no Rock like our God. Yahweh is in charge, you will notice, of life and death.

The Lord kills and brings to life. Now, here is a salutary, striking statement, isn't it? Because our culture is focused on wellness. You say, well, it should be.

Yeah, but not to the extent that it is. No, our preoccupation with wellness is grounded in large measure in a view of the world which has us at the center. Therefore, it is absolutely essential that we're around for as long as we could possibly be. Because after all, we're needed.

Really? We hide from death. We deny its prospect. When we think of death, we ignore God, who raises the dead. And in that respect, our ideas of reality are just distorted.

They're distorted. Because one out of one dies. All the days of your life were written in his book before one of them came to be. You don't die early, you don't die late. And the God who brings about our demise is the God who raises us from the dead. People say in the Old Testament, you don't have the resurrection. Well, I'll tell you what, Hannah believed in the resurrection.

That's what she's saying here. The Lord kills and brings to life. He brings down to Sheol, and he raises up. Goodness gracious, he's raised me up from chapter 1 into chapter 2.

Look at me! My mouth, my strength, my words! And one day he will raise me up.

I think she would have been very happy to join us in our song. And when I face that final day, he will not leave me in the grave. Why? Because he is the God who kills and gives life. He is the God who raises us from our destruction. He makes poor and he makes rich.

Put that in your pocket and think about it for a while. He brings low and he exalts. What's she saying? She's saying this—that poverty and prosperity, obscurity and popularity, are in his hand. He determines this. He raises up the poor from the dust. He lifts the needy to sit with princes in the place of honor. So, your money is not about the government, and it's actually not about the stock market.

It's actually not about your view or my view of political-economic theory, whatever that might be. God sovereignly determines this, thereby, in Paul's case, allowing him to say, I have learned in whatsoever state I am therein to be content. Because he realizes that whether he abounds or whether he is abased, the fact is that God is constant in his faithfulness.

That doesn't make poverty something special and wealth something horrible. It simply puts them in their place. And you find, again, the same thing when you listen to Mary, saying… What a picture this is! He lifts the needy from the ash heap.

The Times this morning in London—I know, because I read it last night, because it was already this morning when I read it—but it focuses once again on the opioid crisis in Great Britain, which is at a level that is almost unassailable. And as you just go through the headlines of the newspaper, and you think about your culture, you see, it's almost like an ash heap. You see those lives lost and wasted. You see the destruction of things. You see the chaos. You hear the politicians explain, If we do this, we'll fix that.

If we can adjust this, we will deal with that. You watch the chaos of the unfolding drama in relationship to Europe. You turn your gaze upon our own nation here, and what do you discover? That unless there is a God who is able to raise people up out of the ash heap, to be able to bring us up out of our poverty and in our need, to show us our need, and so on, then there is no hope.

We're without hope in the world. The ash heap is where Job is in Job chapter 2. Remember, when his friends come to him, he's outside the city wall. He's at the place down here off Harper Road, that big mound of stink. That's where he is.

I know it's not supposed to—shouldn't say stink in the church, but it's disguised stink. It's a landfill. He raises people up from the landfills.

How does he do it? Well, where was Jesus buried? Where was Jesus crucified? Outside the city wall.

In the city dump. He was dumped, so that those of us who realize ourselves to be dumped may be raised up, may be made new. There is a green hill far away outside a city wall where the dear Lord was crucified, who died to save us all.

Well, we must hasten to a close. But you will notice that Hannah writes, sings, prays out of an unshakable conviction that God is in control. Verse 8b, For the pillars of the earth are the LORD's, and on them he has set the world. I don't really understand what all that means, but I like it.

It sounds good. Every so often, when you do building bricks with your grandchildren, you try as best as you can to build a solid foundation with the Lego. And it's only a matter of time before some little customer comes along and hits them a mighty swipe, and they're all disintegrated, and they go everywhere.

You say to yourself, I should never even bother it in the first place. But God never says that. For the pillars of the earth—the pillars of the earth, the social, physical, moral, intellectual, scientific, artistic pillars of the earth—are grounded in God the Creator. How vastly different is that from the preoccupation of our culture? We teach our grandchildren simple songs—the wonderful song from 1870, written by a merchant's wife in Sheffield, so that in the Sunday school the children might have their hearts and their heads filled with truth. God, who made the earth, the air, the sky, the sea, who gave the light its birth, cares for me. You see how our view of the world absolutely matters? So that's 1870 as a children's song.

I grew up singing it. Somehow or another, I believed it. What an amazing grace! Unnumbered comforts to my soul His tender care bestowed Before my infant heart conceived From whom those comforts flowed Some of you have come along the pathway, around the pathway, of agnosticism and atheism and so on. God in his providence is dealing with that. Some of us have never been there. God needs to save you out of that.

God in his mercy has saved me from that. I believe that God made the air, the sky, the sea, that he gave the light its birth, and that he cares for me. You see? Or do you want to go with the film The Thomas Crown Affair, version 1, with Steve McQueen, not version 2 with Pierce Brosnan? Version 1, the song that won the Oscar for the best song in a film in 1969, when McQueen is flying that glider, and there's no dialogue, there's just the words, round, like a circle in a spiral, like a wheel within a wheel, never-ending or beginning, on an ever-spinning wheel, like a snowflake down a mountain or a care-of-something-something balloon, and the sound of the—dum-dum-dum-dum-dum—that's just the most unbelievable nonsense you ever considered in your life, that there is no beginning and there is no end, and everything that's in the middle is just completely out of control and chaotic, and there's no way you can fix it. So let's just either smoke dope and die, or let's become crazy radicals, or let's just become acquisitive, or let's just get at least a wooden idol, for goodness' sake, that will be able to satisfy our longings. As opposed to, My soul exalts in the Lord, he made me, he cares for me.

And he's actually going to finally and ultimately put matters to right. Let me give to you verses 9 and 10. What is he saying there? What is she saying there?

She's saying that there comes a day of separation. The faithful ones will be guarded, as those who have trusted in him, who have taken him at his word. The wicked will be cut off in darkness. The adversaries, which is a parallelism for the wicked, they'll be broken to pieces. The faithful will be welcomed.

And the Lord will judge the ends of the earth. He will give strength to his king. To his king? We don't have a king.

No, but we're expecting one. Hannah had some inkling that somehow or another, in the gift of this boy, we were on our way. In fact, the word that is used here in Hebrew for anointed is the word Messiah. And you find that this is the first time that is used in connection with the king. He will give strength to his king.

He will exalt the horn of his Messiah—this Messiah who stepped down into the ashes in order that he might lift us up into glory. If there is a missing note in some of our preaching and some of our thinking, it is surely the note of God's judgment and justice. It's not easy to proclaim.

It's not easy to hear. It is absolutely central to the truth of the Bible. Here is a quote from a hymn that we have in our records.

It goes like this. But sinners filled with guilty fear shall see God's wrath prevailing, and they will rise and find their tears are wholly unavailing. The day of grace is past and gone. They trembling stand before his throne, all unprepared to meet him.

Would you meet him unprepared? What is it—who is it—that stands in between you and me and that reality? Jesus. The cross. In order to get there, you have to sidestep Jesus. Step over Jesus. Ignore Jesus.

Ignore the king. Maybe that's what you've been doing. Maybe today God says, Hey, that's enough. Because, listen, my loved ones, don't go out of here and say, I want it my own way, and I'm gonna have it my own way.

Because God may actually say to you, Go ahead, have it your own way. It's quite a prayer. That is Alistair Begg challenging us to face coming judgment with confidence by trusting in the Messiah. You're listening to Truth for Life, and please keep listening.

Alistair will return to close in prayer. If you'd like to know more about the Messiah, about God's plan for redemption, let me encourage you to take a few minutes to watch a couple of free videos available on our website. Visit truthforlife.org slash learn more. We've been learning how important it is for us to trust God and not rely on self-effort, regardless of our circumstances, and this is an important lesson for all of us, even for young children. That's why we're recommending to you a book called Little Pilgrim's Big Journey.

Too often people believe that the Christian life is supposed to be easy, but that's not what the Bible teaches. Little Pilgrim's Big Journey introduces children to the common struggles, trials, obstacles, and distractions that face us in our Christian journey. But more importantly, this book points children to the many ways God helps us persevere along the way. Request the book Little Pilgrim's Big Journey when you donate today. Visit us online at truthforlife.org slash donate or call us at 888-588-7884. If you'd rather mail your donation along with your request for the book, write to Truth for Life at P. O.

Box 398000, Cleveland, Ohio 44139. Now, here is Alistair to close with prayer. O Lord our God, look upon us in your mercy and grace, we pray. Help us even in these final moments and in our song. As our hearts are uncovered before you, since you know the beginning and the end. Lord, grant that we might turn from ourselves and turn to your dearly beloved Son, for we pray in his precious name. Amen. I'm Bob Lapeen. Thanks for listening. Did you know it's possible to be heavily involved in church and not actually know God? It happens more often than you'd think. Find out more when you join us tomorrow. The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life, where the Learning is for Living.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-06-07 14:53:25 / 2023-06-07 15:01:22 / 8

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