Hannah was unable to bear children; she was barren (1 Sam. 1:2, 5-6). She asked the LORD for a son. She promised to lend him back to the LORD as long as he lived (1 Samuel 1:28; Exodus 13:2; Nehemiah 10:36). The LORD granted her request. Hannah called his name, “Samuel,” for she said, “I have asked him of the LORD” (1 Sam. 1:20). Hence, “Samuel” means “asked of the LORD.”
There was another man whose name meant “asked.” It was king “Saul.” The difference between Samuel and king Saul is that Hannah asked the LORD for Samuel, that she might give her firstborn to the LORD all the days of his life. But things were much different with king Saul. The people asked for Saul because they rejected God. They rejected His word and rejected His rule (1 Samuel 10). The people rejected the LORD and Samuel His prophet. Their request arose from their sinful hearts. They wanted a king like all the nations around them. They wanted a man, not the LORD, to rule over them! (Let us not make the same mistake when we go to the polling booth!)
The LORD told Samuel: “Hearken unto their voice: howbeit yet protest solemnly unto them, and shew them the manner of the king that shall reign over them” (1 Sam. 8:9). The LORD told Samuel to give the people what they wanted. But He told Samuel to solemnly protest against the people for their sinful request. Samuel protested. The people insisted. And true to His word and purpose, the LORD granted the people the king they wanted.
There is a big lesson here. The LORD granted two different kinds of requests: one arising from God's operations of grace in the heart of His afflicted daughter, \according to His revealed will; the other arising from the ungodly, sinful desire of unbelieving sinners. Hannah's request was good. She asked the LORD to remember her, to look on her affliction, and to give to her that she might have to give back to the LORD from what was His own, what He gives out of His goodness. The people's request was sinful. The people did not trust the LORD. They trusted men (Jer. 17:5). They wanted a king -- not after God's heart -- but like themselves. God granted both requests. God’s prophet protested against the people in warning them what their sinful request would bring. But they rejected the words of the prophet. And God — as He told Samuel He would — gave them what they wanted!
God will give us what we truly want. We will not want what God wants unless He makes His desire our desire. Unless and until the LORD puts His desire — what He wants — in our hearts, we will ask out of our flesh, for ourselves, to promote ourselves, to consume our requests upon our own lusts, to trust anything other than the LORD the Giver, who gives us all things in Christ and for Christ’s sake alone. The difference in these two requests and God's answer to each case makes me cry out to the LORD. I want Him to do His will. I do not trust my own desires. I want Him to give me His desires, His will, what pleases Him. And what is that? It is that He would save me to the uttermost, that He would not leave me to my sin and my sinful desires under the condemnation I deserve!
Hannah’s request was the result of God’s operations in her heart. We can only ask the LORD’s will if He prepares our heart to do so. When He does, it will be to bring about His good will, according to His eternal purpose, for our eternal good, to conform us to His Son, and all for His glory (Rom. 8:28-29).
“LORD, thou hast heard the desire of the humble: Thou wilt prepare their heart, thou wilt cause thine ear to hear” (Psalm 10:7).
Thus, every account recorded in scripture of a sinner pleading with a God-given eye to Christ crucified, pleading that the LORD would save them and give them mercy in Christ; every time such an account is given, it shows the LORD’s work to prepare the heart of His people to cry to Him out of their affliction, out of their desperate need, out of their helplessness, when they are stranded by God's mercy on the Rock Christ to trust Christ only. The LORD works in His people to draw them to ask Him to remember them for Christ’s sake alone, and deliver them from their sins with an eternal salvation.
Think of Bartimaeus (Mark 10:46-52). Think of the thief on the cross (Luke 23:39-43). Think of king David (Psalm 51). Think of the Publican (Luke 18:13). Think of all those who were afflicted by God's grace to turn them from their sin to Himself in Christ (Psalm 107:17-21; Psalm 90:3; Psalm 80; Jer. 31:18-19; Acts 5:31; 2 Tim. 2:25; Matt. 9:11-13; Psalm 50:15; Rom. 10:9-13). When the LORD works in us to accomplish His will, He will make His desire our desire and make His word our heart's prayer to ask according to His will.
“Delight thyself also in the LORD; and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart” (Psalm 37:4).
“Take with you words, and turn to the LORD: say unto him, Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously: so will we render the calves of our lips” (Hosea 14:1-2).
Jesus said, “And this is the will of Him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:40).
Thus, our desire to see and believe Christ is a desire God must plant, maintain and increase. May we therefore have grace to ask our sovereign God to give us Christ and glorify Himself in our eternal salvation! May the LORD put it in our heart to come to Him, trusting the blood and righteousness of Jesus at all times, asking Him to give us the desire of His will, promised in His word, that will which we need most, to see and believe Christ, to be given by grace what will glorify Him, that we might have to return to Him out of His goodness to us with thanksgiving, in faithfulness, as Hannah did (1 Sam. 1:27-28)! The Lord teaches us that we must go to Him to ask of Him all that He asks of us. Jesus taught this lesson in His words to the woman at the well of Samaria, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that says to you, Give me to drink, you would have asked of Him, and He would have given you living water" (John 4:10)!
Jesus Christ is God’s gift to His elect (2 Cor. 9:15; John 4:10). The LORD grants us faith in Christ that we might worship Him and return to Him His goodness to us. Do you want the LORD to save you? Do you want to be delivered from your wretched man? Do you want a heart that beats with His? Do you want Him to give you to desire His will? Do you want Him to give His word to you that you may have warrant and words to ask? Oh, dearly beloved, let us ask Him!
“The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the LORD shall not want any good [thing]” (Psalm 34:10).
“Do not err, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning”( James 1:17).