I want to dedicate this Bible Study for Mother's Day to my mother, Lois Seefried, who turned 90 last October. Also to my dear wife Nancy, who is such a wonderful mother to our six children, now all grown with families of their own.
“But Hannah had no children. And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed to the Lord and wept in anguish. Then she made a vow and said, O Lord of hosts, if you will indeed look on the affliction of your maidservant and remember me, but will give your maidservant a male child, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life.” (I Sam. 1:2, 10-11)
The book of I Samuel begins with the story of the emotional heart-cry of Hannah and her prayer for a child. Using this woman Hannah as a model of motherhood, we may observe the following three insights:
First, HANNAH'S PRAYER. Her heart’s desire was to have a child. Every year, the journey to the house of the Lord in Shiloh became a source of grief; it was a reminder of another year gone by with no child. (vs. 5-10) Women today who are not able to have children know what that feeling is like every year when Mother’s Day rolls around. So she pours out her heart in prayer to God. The Scripture tells us she was in “bitterness of soul, and wept in anguish.” On this particular trip to the house of the Lord, the priest Eli saw her sorrow, and the way her mouth mumbled a silent prayer, and thought she was drunk. He totally misjudged her situation. How often, as Christians, we misjudge others because we do not understand their circumstances or the depth of their sorrow!
Second, HANNAH'S PROMISE. She made a promise, or vow to the Lord, that if God gave her a son, she would dedicate the child to the work of the ministry as a priest. (vs. 11) Note: here is a woman who understood the concept that children are a gift from God, and that they belong to God. It was not unreasonable in her mind, to dedicate her son back to God again, for a lifetime of service in the tabernacle. The Psalmist said: “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord.” (Psa. 127:3) When we make a promise to the Lord, we must be willing to keep it. Hannah was a woman who kept her word, and lived up to her commitment. Finally, Eli understood her need, and prophesied the Lord would grant her petition by this same time the next year.
Third, HANNAH'S PATIENCE. It is important to note Hannah’s great faith. The Bible says “she was no more sad.” Why? Because she believed the word spoken by Eli, even before she conceived! It wasn’t a change of circumstances that made her happy, it was a change in her faith and hope! A change took place in her heart before a change took place in her womb. The Bible says: “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Heb. 11:1) The Lord “remembered her” (vs. 19) and honored her prayers and her patient faith. For several years of the child’s young life, Hannah did not go up to Shiloh for the yearly worship. As a mother, she knew she only had three or four years (until the child was weaned) to have her little boy at home. All of her patient teaching, training and godly influence as a mother had to take place in those first few formative years. I think these three traits in Hannah's life are the three most important virtues of motherhood: She was a godly woman of prayer, she kept her promises, and she displayed patience, waiting on the Lord in faith.
Now, as we continue to focus on the first few chapters of I Samuel, we learn 3 more virtues of motherhood exemplified in this woman, Hannah:
Her heart-filled PRAISE. When little Samuel was weaned, Hannah went up to the tabernacle as promised and dedicated Samuel to the Lord for the ministry. We see her wonderful words of praise in verse 27: “For this child I prayed and the Lord has granted me my petition which I asked of Him.” Hannah was not only a woman of prayer, as we noted earlier, but also a woman of praise. Her heart was filled with praise to God for the gift of her son. In 2:1-10, Hannah offers a second prayer to God; not one of petition, but of glorious praise and worship. She jubilantly exclaims: “No one is holy like the Lord, for there is none besides You, nor is there any Rock like our God!”
Her yearly PILGRIMMAGE. It is interesting to note that the story ends the same way it began: yearly pilgrimages to Shiloh by Hannah and her husband alone. But there is one significant difference. God had given her a child and he was now serving the Lord. Though she was alone once again, she felt like she was a blessed woman. Can there be any greater blessing for a godly woman than knowing your child is serving the Lord? Think of it, mothers. She got to see Samuel only once each year. And in spite of the very ungodly influence of Eli’s two wayward sons (not a very edifying environment), Samuel grew up to be a great and godly man—more spiritual than the priest Eli himself. We may attribute his spiritual success, in large part, to a faithful praying mother.
Her little PRESENT. Most touching is the gift she brings with her every year: a little coat. Like the virtuous woman of Proverbs 31, Hannah devoted herself to making sure her son was kept warm by the clothing she made. Never has a mother put so much love, and tears, and care into any project as what Hannah put into her little coats each year. She literally lived her life for that one day she got to see her son, and give him her gift. She truly is an inspiration for every Christian mother today!
Happy Mother's Day, Mom, and Happy Mother's Day Nancy!