CASTING YOUR BURDENS UPON THE LORD
A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS
23 JANUARY 1994
Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor
1 Samuel 1:1-18
If we look at our bulletin cover and our preparation verse for this morning, which is the first part of Psalm 55:22, we get the impression that God will indeed help everyone who puts their burden upon Him.
That's true – but only to an extent. Let's listen to the whole verse:
22. Cast your burden upon the Lord, and He will sustain you;
He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.
If we are righteous, and we have a burden which we cast upon the Lord in prayer, we will be sustained and remain unshaken.
But the burden of an unrighteous or unrepentant person may be there because of the Lord; and until that person changes their ways, or removes themselves from under the influence of others who are the cause of their problem, their burden will remain upon them.
Hannah, the mother of Samuel, was a righteous woman; and in the opening 18 verses of 1 Samuel, we observe her burden and the way she casts it upon the Lord.
1. Now there was a certain man from Ramathaim-zophim from the hill country of Ephraim, and his name was Elkanah the son of Jeroham, the son of Elihu, the son of Tohu, the son of Zuph, an Ephraimite.
2. And he had two wives: the name of one was Hannah and the name of the other Peninnah; and Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children.
Throughout the Bible, whenever we find a person with more than one wife, we also find problems.
And in those days, childlessness was considered a reproach, which a burden cast upon people by society.
We also know that when someone is weak, or burdened with a problem, a rival will take advantage of the situation.
Such was the case between Hannah and Peninnah.
3. Now this man would go up from his city yearly to worship and to sacrifice to the Lord of hosts in Shiloh. And the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas were priests to the Lord there.
4. And when the day came that Elkanah sacrificed, he would give portions to Peninnah his wife and to all her sons and her daughters;
5. but to Hannah he would give a double portion, for he loved Hannah, but the Lord had closed her womb.
Elkanah showed favoritism to Hannah over Peninnah, and that fueled the fires
The Lord closed Hannah's womb, not because of her unrighteousness, but because of Elkanah's actions.
If you remember, the same thing happened with Jacob, because he loved his wife Rachel more than his wife Leah.
Keep your finger here in 1 Samuel and turn to Genesis 29:30-31 for a moment.
30. So Jacob went in to Rachel also, and indeed he loved Rachel more than Leah, and he served with Laban for another seven years.
31. Now the Lord saw that Leah was unloved, and He opened her womb, but Rachel was barren.
From these two situations, we can also see that we might be carrying a burden because of someone else's unrighteousness.
Now, let's return to 1 Samuel and pick up our story of Hannah at 1:6.
6. Her rival [Peninnah], however, would provoke her bitterly to irritate her, because the Lord had closed her womb.
7. And it happened year after year, as often as she went up to the house of the Lord, she would provoke her, so she wept and would not eat.
8. Then Elkanah her husband said to her, "Hannah, why do you weep and why do you not eat and why is your heart sad? Am I not better to you than ten sons?"
Even to this day, there are people who go to church regularly, but who, because of jealousy, provoke others about their sensitivities in order to try to get them not to go to church.
And many people have left the church because of personality differences and outright harassment, such as what was happening to Hanna.
There are also many people insensitive to the real cause of other people’s burdens, just as Elkanah was insensitive to the real cause of Hannah's burden.
But Hannah never ran away from the Lord her God; she went to Him.
You can never get rid of your burdens by running away from the Lord.
If necessary, do an end run around those who seek to block your entrance into the Lord's presence; for once you get around them they can never catch you, for they are not welcome in the Lord's presence until they repent of their actions.
And when they do repent, they won't block your way any longer.
So don't worry about such people; do as Hannah does:
9. Then Hannah rose after eating and drinking in Shiloh. Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat by the doorpost of the temple of the Lord.
10. And she, greatly distressed, prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly.
If someone were to make you feel this badly every time you came to church, you would probably not want to come any more, and I guess we can all understand those kinds of feelings.
But Hannah sees beyond the evilness of others; and no one – absolutely no one – is going to keep her away from the Lord her God.
So she goes forth and casts her burden upon the Lord:
11. And she made a vow and said, "O Lord of hosts, if Thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of Thy maidservant and remember me, and not forget Thy maidservant, but wilt give Thy maidservant a son, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and a razor shall never come on his head."
Jesus reminds us that we don't even need to make a vow, as did Hannah; but to just come forth in love and truth, being honest with ourselves and with God.
12. Now it came about, as she continued praying before the Lord, that Eli was watching her mouth.
13. As for Hannah, she was speaking in her heart, only her lips were moving, but her voice was not heard. So Eli thought she was drunk.
Sometimes we misinterpret what we see, or think we see; but the Lord knows the truth and the intent of the heart.
14. Then Eli said to her, "How long will you make yourself drunk? Put away your wine from you."
Priests and pastors make mistakes just as everyone else does. Just hang in there as Hannah does.
15. But Hannah answered and said, "No, my lord, I am a woman oppressed in spirit; I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have poured out my soul before the Lord.
16. "Do not consider your maidservant as a worthless woman; for I have spoken until now out of my great concern and provocation."
Hannah doesn't get angry, for our anger only makes it seem like we are trying to cover up something.
She simply tells Eli what is happening.
And because of her peace and the sustaining power of the Lord exhibited within her, Eli responds positively.
17. Then Eli answered and said, "Go in peace; and may the God of Israel grant your petition that you have asked of Him."
18. And she said, "Let your maidservant find favor in your sight." So the woman went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad.
God can change things in our lives.
It no longer mattered whether or not Peninnah changed her ways.
The Lord has carried Hannah above all her insults and insecurities.
In another example of casting our burdens upon the Lord, Jeremiah, who lived and wrote during the beginning of the Babylon captivity, when Israel had turned far from the Lord, said (Jeremiah 3:21-25):
21. A voice is heard on the bare heights,
The weeping and the supplications of the sons of Israel;
Because they have perverted their way,
They have forgotten the Lord their God.
The Lord is not receiving their burdens, or strengthening them, for they are yet unrighteous.
22. "Return, O faithless sons,
I will heal your faithlessness."
"Behold, we come to Thee;
For Thou art the Lord our God.
23. "Surely, the hills are a deception,
A tumult on the mountains.
Surely, in the Lord our God
Is the salvation of Israel.
The Israelites had built shrines and altars to false gods upon all the hills, yet their burdens only increased.
It isn't until they return to the Lord our God that He hears their prayers and loosens their burdens from them.
First, we must recognize who we are before God; then we must do something about it; and after that, cast our burdens upon Him, and He will heal us.
24. "But the shameful thing has consumed the labor of our fathers since our youth, their flocks and their herds, their sons and their daughters.
25. "Let us lie down in our shame, and let our humiliation cover us; for we have sinned against the Lord our God, we and our fathers, since our youth even to this day. And we have not obeyed the voice of the Lord our God."
King David recognized the problems in his own life, and like Hannah, he would always take them to the Lord in prayer.
Listen to what he tells us in Psalm 62:5-8.
5. My soul, wait in silence for God only,
For my hope is from Him.
When we find that something is bothering us, and we feel like spouting off, or barging in and doing something that could be foolish because we haven’t thought it through, quiet down and begin to talk to yourself:
What's bothering you!
Wait upon the Lord.
Let Him know what is bothering you, and then be silent so that you can hear His answer.
6. He only is my rock and my salvation,
My stronghold; I shall not be shaken.
7. On God my salvation and my glory rest;
The rock of my strength, my refuge is in God.
No human-made fortress, no army, no abundance of money, is able to provide us with the protection that comes from the Lord.
In Him is our true strength.
Everything else is only secondary.
8. Trust in Him at all times, O people;
Pour out your heart before Him;
God is a refuge for us.
"Cast your burden upon the Lord, and He will sustain you."
Your Comments are welcome
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