Summary: We sometimes overlook one of the greatest mothers of all time: Hannah.
Introduction: If recognition were given to the greatest mothers of all time, surely Hannah would be among them. This in spite of the fact that she did something that seems very shocking on the surface: she left her toddler to be raised by others. How can this be the sign of a great mother? Let’s look at the story in I Samuel, Chapter 1.
I. Elkanah had two wives, something which almost always spells trouble in the Old Testament. God allowed polygamy, but never recommended it. He designed marriage to be between one man and one woman. Note that Hannah and Peninnah are called “rivals” in the text.
II. Hannah could not have children. This was considered a curse in ancient times. The fulfillment of a woman was to have children.
III. Hannah did not lose her faith in God despite her trouble. Even though she considered that God had closed her womb, she still sought his blessing and prayed to him for a son. She still made the annual trip to Shiloh to worship. Because of this faith, God heard her prayer.
IV. Hannah was willing to fulfill her vow, even though it was difficult. She gave up her young son and only saw him once a year. Who among us would not have sought an escape clause, a “let’s be reasonable” arrangement whereby we could go back on our promise? [It should be noted that I Samuel 2:22 tells us that there were women who served in the temple. Young Samuel was not left in the hands of a bunch of old priests!]
V. We learn two important lessons from what Hannah did:
1) Every child is a gift from God. She knew that Samuel had been given to her by God. Our children are no less a gift, even if they arrived in a less dramatic fashion.
2) Every child should be given back to God. Not that we should take our babies and leave them at the church building. But that we should dedicate our children to God and recognize that our main task as parents is to foment the relationship between our children and God.
VI. There is something else in this story. Eli has gone down in history as one of the worst parents that ever lived. Why did Samuel turn out well?
1) Early training. Studies have shown that children begin forming moral values at a very young age. Whether we realize it or not, we are teaching our children about God from the day they are born. How well are we teaching them.
2) The example of believing parents. Samuel’s parents taught him that God was over all. Eli taught his sons that they were over all. He knew that they showed no respect for God, yet he did not rebuke them.
VII. Eli’s sons died in disgrace. Samuel went down as one of the greatest men in history. One reason for that is that he had one of the greatest mothers in history.
Conclusion: We can give our children everything, but if we don’t give them to God, we haven’t given them anything. They can be educated, rich and successful, but if they aren’t God’s, we are failures as parents.