Our Mother’s Day sermon came from 1 Samuel, chapters 1 and 2 – the story of Hannah, a great woman of faith. I gleaned from her story some particular points that will certainly benefit us all if we consider them and make some applications.
Hannah was a woman who loved the Lord. What love she had toward the Lord may not have been as great as the love she did come to have, but there is no reason to think that prior to her marriage to Elkanah she did not love the Lord with some great devotion. This emotional quality and behavioral response Hannah exhibited points to two strong reminders in human relations. First, a woman wants to be loved. She wants to be loved by the Lord and she wants to be loved by her family. If she was raised with no love in the home, that no-love experience carries into adulthood and manifests itself in insecurity, anger, distrust, etc. It takes the love of a husband to offset those burdens she carries, but he himself needs to understand what love is and does. Second, a woman wants to give love also. In the case of Hannah, she gave herself to her husband, she loved him. But the love she had for her husband, however great it was, was a love that is not necessarily the same as the love a mother has toward her child. Hannah wanted to have children and share with them her love, as she did with her husband.
Circumstances in life have a great way of drawing one closer to the Lord than what one previously thought was possible. Sometimes we experience travails in life that are not the result of our own doings; sometimes we experience affliction in life that is very much the reason because of our own failings. In both cases, knowing what to do when the travail/affliction comes is crucial to own life progresses from that point.
Hannah was childless and, as far as the Record is concerned, she did not know why. She did know, however, to whom she could turn for a solution to her present problem. Such an important point that many overlook it. It is not overlooked because one is callous, but it is overlooked because it is but a “small” point in the story. That’s just it! It is not small, but very important.
In a different context, the Lord encouraged and gave exhortation to the people of Israel after they returned from Babylonian captivity. Note what the Lord said, “For who hath despised the day of small things?” (Zechariah 4:10, KJV). I really like the way that reads, but we must note the passage has specific application to the rebuilding of the Temple. At that time, some made comparison with the Temple Solomon built (destroyed by Babylon) and then compared it with the Temple the people of Zechariah’s day built; the people wept (Haggai 2:1-5). Though small in comparison, it was quite important.
Hannah’s prayer, though perhaps perceived as a small part of the story, is quite important to the whole of the story.
To the Lord she went in prayer; she poured out her heart and the High Priest Eli took note of Hannah praying and, after an initial correction by her to him, encouraged her in her prayer. Hannah found comfort in the Lord (cf. 1 Samuel 30:6) and she returned home to tend to the matters of ordinary life. What a great lesson here also. Life goes on, and we need to address those ordinary matters of life, even if they are extraordinary. Life does not stop because of my or your heartache, and neither did it stop for her. Hannah appealed to God and to the Lord she turned over her burden (cf. 1 Peter 5:6-7).
The Lord heard Hannah’s prayer and, more than that, He answered her prayer. How easy it would have been with all the joy a loving mother can possibly experience to change her mind after having received God’s gift of a child. “The Lord will understand,” someone might say. Yes, He would understand, but that is not the same as saying that He would be pleased with the change of mind after a previous vow (1 Samuel 1:9-11). This is what makes Hannah stand out; she did not change her mind.
About three years later, after all the nurturing, nursing and bonding that took place – to Shiloh (where the Tabernacle was located) she and her family went. Having arrived, she kept her vow. To Eli she handed her child over, dedicating him to the Lord’s service. Imagine the heartache and tears shed over that, and the many days following!
We don’t read anymore of Hannah, but we read of the greatness of her son, God’s prophet, Samuel. The story of Hannah is but a small (short) story, but the legacy of her virtue is her mark in human history. RT