Sabbath, November 8, 2014
“There are opportunities of inestimable worth, interests infinitely precious, committed to every mother. The humble round of duties which women have come to regard as a wearisome task should be looked upon as a grand and noble work. It is the mother’s privilege to bless the world by her influence, and in doing this she will bring joy to her own heart. She may make straight paths for the feet of her children, through sunshine and shadow, to the glorious heights above. But it is only when she seeks, in her own life, to follow the teachings of Christ that the mother can hope to form the character of her children after the divine pattern…. Let every mother go often to her Saviour with the prayer, ‘Teach us, how shall we order the child, and what shall we do unto him?’ Let her heed the instruction which God has given in His word, and wisdom will be given her as she shall have need.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 572, 573.
A marriage without progeny
1. Why was Hannah grieved, although she was married and her husband loved here tenderly? How can we understand her problem?
1 Samuel 1:2, 4-6 And he had two wives; the name of the one was Hannah, and the name of the other Peninnah: and Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children…. 4 And when the time was that Elkanah offered, he gave to Peninnah his wife, and to all her sons and her daughters, portions: 5 But unto Hannah he gave a worthy portion; for he loved Hannah: but the Lord had shut up her womb. 6 And her adversary also provoked her sore, for to make her fret, because the Lord had shut up her womb.
“Elkanah, a Levite of Mount Ephraim, was a man of wealth and influence, and one who loved and feared the Lord. His wife, Hannah, was a woman of fervent piety. Gentle and unassuming, her character was marked with deep earnestness and a lofty faith.
“The blessing so earnestly sought by every Hebrew was denied this godly pair; their home was not gladdened by the voice of childhood; and the desire to perpetuate his name led the husband–as it had led many others–to contract a second marriage. But this step, prompted by a lack of faith in God, did not bring happiness. Sons and daughters were added to the household; but the joy and beauty of God’s sacred institution had been marred and the peace of the family was broken. Peninnah, the new wife, was jealous and narrow-minded, and she bore herself with pride and insolence. To Hannah, hope seemed crushed and life a weary burden; yet she met the trial with uncomplaining meekness.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 569.
Sadness and pain
2. What happened every year when Elkanah, the husband, and his family went to the house of the Lord? Instead of being an occasion of joy and gratitude, what did the visits to the house of prayer become?
1 Samuel 1:3, 7, 8 And this man went up out of his city yearly to worship and to sacrifice unto the Lord of hosts in Shiloh. And the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, the priests of the Lord, were there…. 7 And as he did so year by year, when she went up to the house of the Lord, so she provoked her; therefore she wept, and did not eat. 8 Then said Elkanah her husband to her, Hannah, why weepest thou? and why eatest thou not? and why is thy heart grieved? am not I better to thee than ten sons?
“Even amid the sacred festivities connected with the service of God the evil spirit that had cursed his home intruded. After presenting the thank offerings, all the family, according to the established custom, united in a solemn yet joyous feast. Upon these occasions Elkanah gave the mother of his children a portion for herself and for each of her sons and daughters; and in token of regard for Hannah, he gave her a double portion, signifying that his affection for her was the same as if she had had a son. Then the second wife, fired with jealousy, claimed the precedence as one highly favored of God, and taunted Hannah with her childless state as evidence of the Lord’s displeasure. This was repeated from year to year, until Hannah could endure it no longer. Unable to hide her grief, she wept without restraint, and withdrew from the feast. Her husband vainly sought to comfort her. ‘Why weepest thou? and why eatest thou not? and why is thy heart grieved?’ he said; ‘am I not better to thee than ten sons?’ ” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 569, 570.
The prayer of faith
3. In deep anguish of soul, crying her heart out, what prayer did Hannah pour out to the Lord? With all her heart, what did she vow?
1 Samuel 1:9-11 So Hannah rose up after they had eaten in Shiloh, and after they had drunk. Now Eli the priest sat upon a seat by a post of the temple of the Lord. 10 And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the Lord, and wept sore. 11 And she vowed a vow, and said, O Lord of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the Lord all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come upon his head.
“Hannah uttered no reproach. The burden which she could share with no earthly friend she cast upon God. Earnestly she pleaded that He would take away her reproach and grant her the precious gift of a son to nurture and train for Him. And she made a solemn vow that if her request were granted, she would dedicate her child to God, even from its birth. Hannah had drawn near to the entrance of the tabernacle, and in the anguish of her spirit she ‘prayed,… and wept sore.’ Yet she communed with God in silence, uttering no sound.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 570.
4. Did Eli the high priest, who was officiating at that time, understand that she was opening her heart to the Lord? What blessing did he pronounce when he became aware of her ardent prayer?
1 Samuel 1:12-17 And it came to pass, as she continued praying before the Lord, that Eli marked her mouth. 13 Now Hannah, she spake in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard: therefore Eli thought she had been drunken. 14 And Eli said unto her, How long wilt thou be drunken? put away thy wine from thee. 15 And Hannah answered and said, No, my lord, I am a woman of a sorrowful spirit: I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but have poured out my soul before the Lord. 16 Count not thine handmaid for a daughter of Belial: for out of the abundance of my complaint and grief have I spoken hitherto. 17 Then Eli answered and said, Go in peace: and the God of Israel grant thee thy petition that thou hast asked of him.
“In those evil times such scenes of worship were rarely witnessed. Irreverent feasting and even drunkenness were not uncommon, even at the religious festivals; and Eli the high priest, observing Hannah, supposed that she was overcome with wine. Thinking to administer a deserved rebuke, he said sternly, ‘How long wilt thou be drunken? put away thy wine from thee.’
“Pained and startled, Hannah answered gently…. The high priest was deeply moved, for he was a man of God; and in place of rebuke he uttered a blessing: ‘Go in peace: and the God of Israel grant thee thy petition that thou hast asked of Him.’ 1 Samuel 1:17.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 570.
The Lord’s answer to her prayer
5. What promise supports prayers of faith? Was this promise fulfilled in the case of Hannah’s earnest prayer?
Mark 11:24 Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.
1 Samuel 1:18-20 And she said, Let thine handmaid find grace in thy sight. So the woman went her way, and did eat, and her countenance was no more sad. 19 And they rose up in the morning early, and worshipped before the Lord, and returned, and came to their house to Ramah: and Elkanah knew Hannah his wife; and the Lord remembered her. 20 Wherefore it came to pass, when the time was come about after Hannah had conceived, that she bare a son, and called his name Samuel, saying, Because I have asked him of the Lord.
“Hannah’s prayer was granted; she received the gift for which she had so earnestly entreated. As she looked upon the child, she called him Samuel–‘asked of God.’ ” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 570.
“Especially does responsibility rest upon the mother. She, by whose lifeblood the child is nourished and its physical frame built up, imparts to it also mental and spiritual influences that tend to the shaping of mind and character. It was Jochebed, the Hebrew mother, who, strong in faith, was ‘not afraid of the king’s commandment’ (Hebrews 11:23), of whom was born Moses, the deliverer of Israel. It was Hannah, the woman of prayer and self-sacrifice and heavenly inspiration, who gave birth to Samuel, the heaven-instructed child, the incorruptible judge, the founder of Israel’s sacred schools. It was Elizabeth the kinswoman and kindred spirit of Mary of Nazareth, who was the mother of the Saviour’s herald.” –The Ministry of Healing, p. 372.
Received and consecrated to the Lord
6. After the child was born, did Hannah forget or remember the vow she had made? While the child was still small, where did his parents take Samuel?
1 Samuel 1:24-26 And when she had weaned him, she took him up with her, with three bullocks, and one ephah of flour, and a bottle of wine, and brought him unto the house of the Lord in Shiloh: and the child was young. 25 And they slew a bullock, and brought the child to Eli. 26 And she said, Oh my lord, as thy soul liveth, my lord, I am the woman that stood by thee here, praying unto the Lord.
“In your work for your children take hold of the mighty power of God. Commit your children to the Lord in prayer. Work earnestly and untiringly for them. God will hear your prayers and will draw them to Himself. Then, at the last great day, you can bring them to God, saying, ‘Here am I, and the children whom Thou hast given me.’
“When Samuel shall receive the crown of glory, he will wave it in honor before the throne and gladly acknowledge that the faithful lessons of his mother, through the merits of Christ, have crowned him with immortal glory.
“The work of wise parents will never be appreciated by the world, but when the judgment shall sit and the books shall be opened, their work will appear as God views it and will be rewarded before men and angels. It will be seen that one child who has been brought up in a faithful way has been a light in the world. It cost tears and anxiety and sleepless nights to oversee the character building of this child, but the work was done wisely, and the parents hear the ‘Well done’ of the Master.” –The Adventist Home, p. 536.
7. How thankful was Hannah for the grace she had received? To whom did she and her husband dedicate the child who had been received by grace? Where did Samuel begin to serve when he was very young?
1 Samuel 1:27, 28; 2:11 For this child I prayed; and the Lord hath given me my petition which I asked of him: 28 Therefore also I have lent him to the Lord; as long as he liveth he shall be lent to the Lord. And he worshipped the Lord there…. 2:11 And Elkanah went to Ramah to his house. And the child did minister unto the Lord before Eli the priest.
“As soon as the little one was old enough to be separated from his mother, she fulfilled her vow. She loved her child with all the devotion of a mother’s heart; day by day, as she watched his expanding powers and listened to his childish prattle, her affections entwined about him more closely. He was her only son, the special gift of Heaven; but she had received him as a treasure consecrated to God, and she would not withhold from the Giver His own….
“From Shiloh, Hannah quietly returned to her home at Ramah, leaving the child Samuel to be trained for service in the house of God, under the instruction of the high priest. From the earliest dawn of intellect she had taught her son to love and reverence God and to regard himself as the Lord’s. By every familiar object surrounding him she had sought to lead his thoughts up to the Creator. When separated from her child, the faithful mother’s solicitude did not cease. Every day he was the subject of her prayers…. She did not ask for her son worldly greatness, but she earnestly pleaded that he might attain that greatness which Heaven values–that he might honor God and bless his fellow men.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 570-572.
8. Why are such experiences with the Lord recorded in the Scriptures? When you receive children from the Lord, do you wish to consecrate them to Him, as did Hannah and Elkanah?
1 Corinthians 10:6, first part, 11 Now these things were our examples,… 11 Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.
Romans 15:4 For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
“Each morning consecrate yourselves and your children to God for that day.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 7, p. 44.
“Those who obtain a knowledge of God’s will, and practice the teaching of His word, will be found faithful in whatever position of trust they may be placed. Consider this, parents, and place your children where they will be educated in the principles of truth, where every effort will be made to help them to maintain their consecration, if converted, or if unconverted, to influence them to become the children of God, and thus fit them to go forth to win others to the truth.” –(Extracts from an article in the Bible Echo, September 1, 1892) Fundamentals of Christian Education, p. 205.
- How many of God’s people have the great desire to dedicate their children to the Lord, as did Hannah?
- Do we have the faith and spirituality to help our children in their mission for God?
- What consistent atmosphere in the family will help prepare our children for the Lord’s service?
For further study
Exodus 13:2; Isaiah 8:18.
“Samuel … was kind, generous, obedient, and respectful…. Samuel was helpful and affectionate, and no father ever loved his child more tenderly than did Eli this youth. It was a singular thing that between the chief magistrate of the nation and the simple child so warm an affection should exist. As the infirmities of age came upon Eli,… he turned to Samuel for comfort.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 573.
“Let the youth and the little children be taught to choose for themselves that royal robe woven in heaven’s loom, the ‘fine linen, clean and white’ which all the holy ones of earth will wear. This robe, Christ’s own spotless character, is freely offered to every human being. But all who receive it will receive and wear it here.
“Let the children be taught that as they open their minds to pure, loving thoughts and do loving and helpful deeds, they are clothing themselves with His beautiful garment of character. This apparel will make them beautiful and beloved here and will hereafter be their title of admission to the palace of the King. His promise is: ‘They shall walk with Me in white: for they are worthy.’ Revelation 3:4.” –Education, p. 249.