Summary: This is a Mothers’ Day sermon using Samuel’s Mother Hannah and John and Charles Wesley’s Mother Susannah as godly examples for Christian Mothers today.
Hannah and Susannah, Two Saintly Moms
Since my teenage years, when I first heard it on Mothers’ Day as a quartet number in my home Church, I have appreciated the Hymn “God, Give Us Christian Homes” by the great Baptist hymn writer B. B. McKinney. The prayer in the third stanza is this petition:
God, give us Christian homes!
Home where the mother, in queenly quest,
Strives to show others Thy ways is best,
Homes where the Lord is an honored guest;
God, give us Christian homes;
God, give us Christian homes!
I trust that is the prayer of each one of us on this Mothers’ Day 2006. Two saintly moms who remain prime examples not only for Mothers today but for parents of either gender are Hannah, the Mother of Samuel, who was the last Judge and first Prophet in the Old Testament, and Susannah Wesley, the Mother of John and Charles Wesley, the founders of the worldwide Methodist Movement. Truly they were Mothers who “in queenly quest” showed others that the Lord’s way is best. They remain role models for us as parents today to emulate.
I have long admired Hannah as an outstanding example of a godly Mother. Hannah was a woman of prayer. She knew the One to whom to turn in times of distress. The story of Hannah reminds me of the earlier story of the struggle between Leah and Rachel, the wives of Jacob.
Just as Jacob loved Rachel, so Elkanah loved Hannah, as we see clearly in I Samuel 1:4-5, “On the day when Elkanah sacrificed, he would give portions to his wife Peninnah and her sons and daughters, but to Hannah he gave a double portion, because he loved her, though the LORD had closed her womb.” Like Rachel before her, Hannah was barren, and in Israel, a thousand years before the birth of Jesus, barrenness brought real stigma to a woman. It was seen as a curse from God according to such passages as Genesis 16:2, “. . . And Sarai said to Abram, ‘You see that the LORD has prevented me from bearing children; go in to my slave-girl; it may be that I shall obtain children by her.’ And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai.”
The elderly Elizabeth too endured the suffering of such stigma, for we read in Luke 1:24-25, “After those days his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she remained in seclusion. She said, ‘This is what the Lord has done for me when he looked favorably on me and took away the disgrace I have endured among my people.’” In Old and New Testament times a barren woman was seen by society as being cursed by God because of some great sin. Barrenness brought disgrace, reproach, and misery to a woman.
Reminiscent of the sibling rivalry between Leah and Rachel in bearing Jacob children, Hannah’s rival Peninnah taunts her: “Her rival used to provoke her severely, to irritate her, because the LORD had closed her womb.” Elkanah sought to console Hannah with his love and testimony, “Hannah, why do you weep? Why do you not eat? Why is your heart sad? Am I not more to you than ten sons?” Hannah still had no peace.
Deeply distressed and weeping bitterly, Hannah turns in prayer to the God of grace and humbly prays, “O LORD of hosts, if only you will look on the misery of your servant, and remember me, and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a male child, then I will set him before you as a Nazirite until the day of his death. He shall drink neither wine nor intoxicants, and no razor shall touch his head (I Samuel 1:11).” In her prayer Hannah dedicated her son, who as yet had not been conceived, to serving the LORD all the days of his life.