Advent 2 Midweek “For unto us a Son is Given”: The Answer of Samuel
In the Name of Jesus. Amen.
The devil loved barrenness. In Genesis 3:15, after the devil had tempted Eve, and she and Adam fell into sin, the Lord said to the Serpent, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed
; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” The devil knew that one day a Seed of the woman would come and defeat him. So the devil was very glad whenever a woman could not conceive. He took it as an opportunity to gloat, as if there were a possibility that God’s promise wouldn’t be fulfilled.
Last week with Sarah, and next week with Elizabeth, we don’t hear the devil’s gloating. But this week we have Peninnah. Peninnah was the wife of Elkanah. Peninnah’s womb was fruitful; she has multiple sons and daughters. Elkanah also had a wife named Hannah, whom he loved, in spite of the fact she could bear him no children. The Lord had closed Hannah’s womb.
From time to time, Elkanah would go with his family to Shiloh where the tabernacle was set up, and it’s likely that he went for the appointed feasts. During these feasts, the Israelites offered peace offerings. The priests would burn certain parts of the animals on the altar, and the Lord gave a portion of the meat from the peace offerings to the priests. But most of the meat was given back to the one who brought the offering. And it was now holy meat to be eaten as a sacred meal from the Lord. The peace offerings were an Old Testament anticipation of the Lord’s Supper.
During these feasts, Elkanah gave portions to Peninnah and her sons and daughters. “But to Hannah he gave a double portion, because he loved her, though the Lord had closed her womb” (1 Sam. 1:5).
It was during these feasts that Peninnah provoked Hannah and made her weep bitterly. Peninnah proved to be a rival, an adversary, tormenting Hannah because the Lord had closed her womb. Hannah wept, and refused to eat. No doubt Hannah felt the personal hardship of being barren. But as a faithful woman who trusted the Lord’s promises, she’s not just thinking of herself. She thought of the Seed of Promise who is to come for all people and end the gloating of God’s enemies.
Yet there’s Peninnah mocking: I have children and you don’t. Poor barren little Hannah! All she wants is a child, but she’s a fruitless tree, a dead end of descendants. Under these taunts are the taunts of Satan himself against all of God’s people: “You wait for the promised Savior, but he’s never coming. Has He said He would never leave or forsake you? Look at how things are? You call this promised answered? I’m the prince of this world, and no one can overthrow me. You’re destined to live under me in my kingdom, and serve me in everlasting unrighteousness, guilt, and cursing.”
Hannah weeps, and we weep with her. We feel our bodily malfunction—the parts that fail to function as God first created them, the lives cut short, our own waning strength. We see the devil’s offspring everywhere in the form of those who hate Jesus. This is what our eyes see and our ears hear, but we do not see our Lord fighting back. We cry out with David in Psalm 13, “How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?” We cry out with Moses in Psalm 90, “Return, O Lord! How long? Have pity on your servants!” Like Hannah, we pour out our hearts before the Lord!
After everyone else had eaten and drunk in Shiloh, Hannah rose and prayed to the Lord in the bitterness of her soul. She prayed, “O Lord of hosts, if you will indeed look on the affliction of your servant and remember me and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a son” Literally what it says in Hebrew is “a seed of men.” Hannah asks for a seed, and it’s not a stretch to hear her praying for the Seed, the promised One, who as Hannah says, will “appear in the presence of the Lord and dwell there forever” (1 Sam. 1:22).
It wasn’t the Lord’s will at that time to send the Promised Seed. Nevertheless, He gave Hannah a son in order to show that he does not make his promises in vain. “And in due time Hannah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Samuel, for she said, “I have asked for him from the Lord.” (1 Sam. 1:20). The name Samuel in Hebrew means, “One who is heard by God” or “God heard.” Hannah named her son Samuel because he was an answer to prayer. God heard, and He sent a seed.
This was a great comfort to Hannah, not only because the Lord opened her womb, but because he confirmed His promise. Hannah’s comfort is our comfort because we have longed with her for the promised Seed. And we have even greater comfort than Hannah’s because we know that promise was fulfilled.
For centuries God’s people prayed in distress under the weight of sin and death, “Return, O Lord! How long?” For centuries the devilish Peninnah mocked God’s people. And then the fullness of time came (Gal. 4:4). The womb was Mary’s womb, and the child’s name Jesus, which means “the Lord saves,” (Matt. 1:21) because He would save His people from their sins. Jesus is the true Samuel. He is the one for whom Hannah and all the faithful prayed, and it is of Jesus that we say, “I have asked him from the Lord” and He has heard us.
Much to the chagrin of the devil, God’s promise proved true. Jesus came and fulfilled that ancient curse against the serpent. The devil opened wide his mouth to destroy Jesus with false accusation and bitter death. Yet it was on the cross that Jesus crushed the ancient serpent’s head with his heel. After Satan, whose name means “accuser” spoke bitter, discouraging, and tempting lies to men, Jesus answered for them once for all! Peninnah has been silenced forever, and in our ear, Jesus speaks peace: “Your sins are forgiven. The ruler of this world is cast out. You shall not die, but you shall live. The children of the desolate one are more than her who is married.” Take heart! God’s promised Seed has come in answer to your heartfelt cries!
We are a people at peace in the word of the Lord that He gives us. But the voice that is no longer heard is the accusing voice of the devil. Together with all of the blessings Jesus gives, He also gives us a holy and peaceful silence. Jesus makes the devil shut up. In John 8, a woman caught in adultery is brought to Jesus, and the Pharisees say, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. 5 Now in the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” Jesus silences them by saying, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” Finally, one by one they leave, and Jesus says, “‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’ 11 She said, ‘No one, Lord.’ And Jesus said, ‘Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.’”
In the same way, Jesus answers for and silences all of Satan’s accusation. When Jesus gave himself for us, he showed his promise to be true and the devil’s taunts to be lies. The devil may still rant, but because of what Jesus has done we can tell him, “Silence” “Submit yourselves to God, resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7) He must be quiet, and let you come to the house of God and eat the double portion of Christ’s sacrifice in peace. And then at the end, the devil will go down bound hand and foot to hell, and God will wipe away every tear from our eyes.
In the Name of the Father,
and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
 Matt. 9:2; John 12:31; Psalm 118:17; Isaiah 54:1