The time just before the birth of Samuel was a dark period in the history of Israel. In a few short years the Philistines conquered the nation and captured the Ark of the Covenant, the most prized symbol of God’s covenant with Israel. It was at such a time that the prayer of one distressed woman changed the course of Israel’s history and she did not even know it. Hannah, suffering the shame of childlessness, “poured out her soul before the Lord,” (I Samuel 1:15), and the Lord answered her prayer. Samuel was born, a child who grew up to be the one through whom the Lord revealed Himself in and to Israel. It was Samuel who eventually anointed David.
Let us consider how it is that God reveals Himself to the heart especially in dark days and unwanted circumstances. Scripture gives a partial answer in I Samuel 3:1: “And the word of the LORD was precious in those days; there was no open (frequent) vision.” Then in I Samuel 3:21: “And the LORD appeared again in Shiloh: for the LORD revealed himself to Samuel by the word of the LORD.”
How does God reveal Himself to us today? He does so in the same way, by the word of the Lord. It is not just by reading the Bible but also by believing it is the Word of God. How do we know this? Because of Israel’s example. They had the Ark of the Covenant, and the Lamp of God had not gone out in the Temple. Yet even with the knowledge of what that Ark symbolized, there was no, or little, personal experience of it.
Paul writes in Romans 10:17: “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” This “faith”, this “word of God”, is not just the compilation of all the books and verses of the Bible. It is that specific word for the heart, for the individual soul. It is that quickening, life-giving word that the Lord of Heaven is speaking to us by His Spirit in the present moment, to meet the present need. Do we believe this is possible? Do we truly believe that Christ, by His Spirit, can and will speak to our hearts, specifically and clearly?
John writes in his gospel: “When He, the Spirit of truth is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will show you things to come. He shall glorify Me: and He shall receive of Mine, and shall shew it to you” (John 16: 13-14). The Spirit of God is given to lead us into all truth, and to speak to our hearts in clarity and simplicity. Do we truly believe that God speaks specifically to the heart through His word? He will never speak something that is a contradiction to the written word, but He will take that written word and bring it to our remembrance, and will provide what we need to know when we need to know it.
When we seek the Lord through prayer what happens? “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7)
Israel was in darkness because the people no longer believed that God spoke to them personally. They had gone their own way, and would not listen any more. Light came, and hope with it, when the woman Hannah prayed, Samuel was born, and again, the Lord revealed Himself in Israel. Is He revealing Himself to us today? Is He speaking to specifically to our hearts today?
Dear Lord, give us eyes to see, and ears to hear, and a heart to believe and obey, then we shall see and know afresh the revelation of God to the heart. Faith will be quickened, and weak hands strengthened…and hope and joy will arise again, for “…in Thy presence is fullness of joy” (Ps. 16:11).