And she vowed a vow, and said, O LORD of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the LORD all the days of his life… (1 Samuel 1:11)
It was that time of year again, time to go up to Shiloh to offer the yearly sacrifice to the Lord. Hannah wished she could enjoy this special and sacred time more, but every year it reminded her of what she didn’t have—a child.
Peninnah, her husband’s other wife, always chose this time of year to be especially cruel in her treatment of Hannah. She never missed an opportunity to ridicule Hannah for being barren, but during the yearly sacrifice, when their husband always gave Hannah a better portion than he gave to her and her children, Peninnah would be downright heartless towards Hannah.
Finally, Hannah had reached a breaking point; she was weeping so hard that she couldn’t even eat. Her husband tried to comfort her but to no avail. It wasn’t his fault; he was always very kind and loving to her. Yet, what Hannah wanted more than anything was a child, a son.
After their meal that day, Hannah left the table and went to the temple to pray.
And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the LORD, and wept sore. (1 Samuel 1:10)
As she wept and prayed, Hannah vowed a vow to the Lord. She vowed that if God would but give her a son, then she would give him back to the Lord to serve Him all his life. While she was praying, Eli the priest confronted her because he believed she was drunk. Hannah explained her situation:
And Hannah answered and said, No, my lord, I am a woman of a sorrowful spirit: I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but have poured out my soul before the LORD. Count not thine handmaid for a daughter of Belial: for out of the abundance of my complaint and grief have I spoken hitherto. (1 Samuel 1:15-16)
Once he understood, Eli blessed Hannah and prayed that God would grant her petition. (verse 17)
And they rose up in the morning early, and worshipped before the LORD, and returned, and came to their house to Ramah: and Elkanah knew Hannah his wife; and the LORD remembered her. (1 Samuel 1:19)
The sweetest phrase in this verse is truly “…and the Lord remembered her.” It was the Lord who had shut Hannah’s womb in the first place (see verses 5 and 6), yet He was not doing it be mean or cruel but to fulfill Hannah’s desires in His timing.
Hannah conceived and bore a son that she named Samuel, which means “asked of God.” God had honored Hannah’s request, and in turn, she kept her vow. Once the child was weaned, she took him to the temple in Shiloh. Samuel would remain there and serve the Lord for the rest of his life; he became one of God’s great prophets.
When the time came, Hannah brought young Samuel to Eli the priest:
And they slew a bullock, and brought the child to Eli. And she said, Oh my lord, as thy soul liveth, my lord, I am the woman that stood by thee here, praying unto the LORD. For this child I prayed; and the LORD hath given me my petition which I asked of him: Therefore also I have lent him to the LORD; as long as he liveth he shall be lent to the LORD. And he worshipped the LORD there. (1 Samuel 1 26-28)
For this child I prayed…
We can almost hear Hannah’s gratitude to the Lord as we read this verse. As hard as it must have been for her to leave little Samuel there at the temple, knowing she’d only see him once a year (2:18-19), Hannah still fulfilled her vow with joy in her heart. God had heard and answered her prayer!
And Hannah prayed, and said, My heart rejoiceth in the LORD, mine horn is exalted in the LORD: my mouth is enlarged over mine enemies; because I rejoice in thy salvation. There is none holy as the LORD: for there is none beside thee: neither is there any rock like our God. (1 Samuel 2:1-2)
God blessed Hannah and gave her more children besides Samuel (2:21). He blessed her because of her faith and her desire for her child to serve Him. God gave her more children because she kept the vow that she had made to Him. Although the Bible does not tell us, we can have little doubt that Hannah raised all her children to serve the Lord Who had been so gracious to her.
Perhaps today, you are a mother. Maybe you have one child or several; maybe it was easy for you to conceive or perhaps very difficult. Possibly you are a woman who is praying to conceive, or perhaps you are past that time of life and were never able to bear children. Regardless of your situation, God has a plan for your life. God desires you to put Him first in your life. If you are a mother, God desires you to teach your children to serve Him.
Psalm 127:3 says, “Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.” Your children are a gift from God. Are you putting God’s gifts to good use? Are you striving daily to be a godly example to your children? Do your children understand, from your teaching, that they need to serve God with their lives? Have you, like Hannah, lent your children back to the Lord?
If you are still waiting and praying for a child of your own, are you seeking daily to be the godly woman your children would need you to be? Is your greatest desire for your future children that they would devote their lives to the Lord?
Are you a woman who was never able to bear children of her own? Look around you; surely, there are children in your life who could benefit from the example of a godly woman. Strive to be that great influence on them. You can still be a “spiritual mother” to many.
As we approach Mother’s Day, study the first two chapters of 1 Samuel. Desire to be godly and faithful like Hannah. If you had/have a mother like that, cherish her and be thankful. May this verse be the desire of every woman who is blessed with the title “Mother”:
Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her. (Proverbs 31:28)
To read more of what the Bible says about childrearing, please click here.
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