Summary: (Mother's Day sermon, but not limited to that day.) Hannah is famous as the mother who gave away her child. But she never stopped being a mother to him. Hannah gifted her son Samuel with a heart for prayer, praise, and service.
1 Samuel 1:1-28; 2:1-2, 18-21, 26
In my research this week, I was able to uncover some words from mothers of very important people in history:
COLUMBUS'S MOTHER: I don't care what you've discovered, Christopher. You could have written.
MICHELANGELO'S MOTHER: Mike, can't you paint on walls like other children? Do you have any idea how hard it is to get that stuff off the ceiling?
NAPOLEON'S MOTHER: All right, Napoleon. If you aren't hiding your report card inside your jacket, then take your hand out of there and prove it.
GOLDILOCKS'S MOTHER: I've got a bill here for a broken chair from the Bear family. Do you know anything about this, Goldie?
ALBERT EINSTEIN'S MOTHER: But, Albert, it's your senior picture. Can't you do something about your hair? Styling gel, mousse, something...?
THOMAS EDISON'S MOTHER: Of course I'm proud you invented the electric light bulb, Thomas. Now turn off that light and get to bed!
HUMPTY DUMPTY'S MOTHER: Humpty, If I've told you once, I've told you a thousand times not to sit on that wall. But would you listen to me? No!
Today let’s look at the mother of another famous person. This mother literally gave her son away. What kind of mother does that? Actually, Hannah is one of the great heroes of the Old Testament, and she plays a similar role to a woman in the New Testament. Just before the birth of Jesus, the elderly Elizabeth miraculously gave birth to John the Baptist, the prophet who prepared the way for the coming King of kings. Likewise, in today’s story, the barren Hannah miraculously gave birth to Samuel, the great prophet who would appoint the first and second kings of Israel.
Even though Hannah gave her son away, she never stopped being a mother to him. Hannah brought gifts every year to Samuel. But even more than the special clothing items she made, Hannah imparted to Samuel gifts of character. She gave him a heart for prayer, a heart for praise, and a heart for service. Consider each of these. First, Hannah gave Samuel ...
1. A heart for prayer. Before Samuel, Hannah was barren. She could not have children. And for a young married Jewish woman, this was the worst. Even though her husband was kind to her, Hannah carried an emptiness that Elkanah could not fill. Oh, how Peninah, the other wife, ridiculed her. Talk about bullies! In today’s scripture Hannah was so upset that she left the feast and went to the Tabernacle to pray alone. She prayed a promise to God: “If you give me a son, I’ll give him back to you.” Verse 13 says, “Hannah was praying in her heart.” In fact, she was praying so fervently that the local priest, Eli, thought she was drunk. Hannah explained that she had not had any wine, but that she was desperate for God. Eli told her, “God will answer your prayer,” and she left there, walking by faith with her chin high, believing that God would indeed come through for her.
The Ryrie Study Bible notes, “Hannah left behind her grief, not when her circumstances changed—they hadn’t—but after she poured out her soul to the Lord. Because of her grief, she connected with the Lord on a level she had never known.” Please don’t doubt that some of your greatest accomplishments may come from times when you are absolutely desperate for God. Charles Stanley quips, “Fight all your battles on your knees and you win every time.”
Hannah conceived her baby not long after. No doubt Hannah often told her precious son the story of his miraculous birth, evidence that God hears our prayers. And when Samuel was around three years old, the weaning age back then, Hannah brought him to stay with the elderly priest Eli. Sometime later, the young lad, Samuel, maybe 4 or 5 now, was trying to sleep one night, but kept hearing a voice in the night. He kept thinking it was Eli speaking to him. But finally Eli said, “Next time you hear the voice, say, ‘Yes, Lord, here I am your servant.’ And then listen carefully to what he says.” That was when Samuel discovered a God who communicates through prayer. (1 Samuel 3)
Samuel had been raised by a mother who took God seriously, so he developed a strong prayer life like his mom. As the little boy grew, the end of chapter 3 tells us, “The Lord continued to appear at Shiloh, and there he revealed himself to Samuel through his word” (1 Samuel 3:21). As Samuel prayed and read God’s word, God showed up! A few chapters later, we see all of Israel threatened with mass destruction by the Philistine Army. They begged Samuel the man to pray for the nation. So he did. 1 Samuel 7:9 says, “He cried out to the Lord on Israel’s behalf, and the Lord answered him.”