Summary: Why every mother has a right to see her God given dreams come through and how God works it out.
It has become a tradition in our church on Mother’s Day to look into the life of a mother we see in the Bible. Today we will be considering the mother of Samuel, Hannah primarily.
When the book of 1 Samuel opens up, we see this mother as a woman in need. She was a woman of child bearing age and was married to a man who wanted children-yet was unable to conceive. It was eating her up.
Who could blame her? She lived in a society where motherhood had become the definition of a woman. Even though we do not think that way anymore, it is still correct to say that motherhood brings the ultimate sense of fulfillment to a woman. I remember reading an interview with Betty Friedan, who founded the National Organization for Women (NOW)towards the end of her life. The interviewer praised her for all her achievements and asked her if she had any regrets. Her reply was surprising. "I regret that I never had a child," she said.
In the ancient Israel, it was considered a curse to be barren. In fact, one of the promises of the Palestinian covenant was that there would be no barren women among the Israelites (Duet. 7:14). But we know from the bible itself that historically, there were barren women in Israel. But God answered their prayers and gave them children.
2. TURNING POINT
We see Hannah waiting for a while to see if she can get her answers naturally. She prayed, she cried, she complained etc. for no avail. The turning point in her life came when she acknowledged that her answers can come only from God. So on one of her trips to Shiloh for festivals, she decided to go all out in prayer.
Desperate needs always motivate people to do desperate things. Such a person cannot be held back by protocols and social norms. Mothers in this country are well known for that. Many of the things that are making a difference in our society today came because of the incessant efforts of mothers who lost their children to drunk driving, gun violence etc. and decided nobody else will have to go through what they had to endure. Our congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy came into politics as a result of her son being gunned down in the infamous LIRR shooting rampage.
Hannah stood by the veil of the tabernacle and started praying. Her lips were quivering with emotions. I can guess where the prayer started: "Lord God, You are the one who made a covenant with Israel and said there will be no barren among us. So what happened to me Lord? Where is my blessing? Am I not part of that covenant?" Then she proceeded to make an oath before God that if God would give her a son, she would give him back to God. She did not want to keep that child. She just wanted to see God fulfilling the covenant in her life so that her enemy would not rejoice in her plight.
We have read the response of the high priest Eli to her heart-felt prayers. It is a calssic example of the inability of even people in ministry to understand the pain of others. I want to encourage you today to take courage and pour out your heart before God, just as Hannah did, even at the cost of someone misunderstanding you. Let me tell you why. 1 Samuel 1:18 says the her face was no longer sad. Years of sadness etched across her face was wiped out by the tears that she shed that day! If you also can achieve the same, isn’t it worth taking the risk of being misunderstood?
God was faithful and answered her petitions and blessed her with Samuel as her first born.
3. PREPARING SAMUEL FOR A LIFE TIME OF MINISTRY.
The rest of the story is even more incredible. In our key text for today, we see Hannah bringing Samuel back to the tabernacle as she promised. She did that after Samuel was ’weaned’(of breat feeding). Being born in an Eastern culture I can tell you that it meant Samuel was baout five years old.
Remember the five year olds in our congregation. Can we picture any of them in a tabernacle, given over the priest to engage in ministry? Of course not. We consider them as babies and treat them as babies. But Samuel was different.
Look at that passage again. We see that Samuel came to the temple wearing a little linen ephod. The white linen cloak was the dress code for the priests. Samuel came ready to minister!
What a job Hannah did! She told Samuel ever since his infancy that he was an answer to her prayers and that even though she loved him more than her own life, she would have to give him back to God. Imagine a child knowing what his life purpose is and accepting it wholeheatedly at the tender age of five! At the age when we as parents are struggling to leave little Johny alone in the kintergarten class for half a day, here comes Samuel with his little linen claok asking ’how can I help?’