There was a certain man from Ramathaim, a Zuphite from the hill country of Ephraim, whose name was Elkanah son of Jeroham, the son of Elihu, the son of Tohu, the son of Zuph, an Ephraimite. 2 He had two wives; one was called Hannah and the other Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah had none. (1 Samuel 1:1-2)
So begins the story that shows the extraordinary love of a mother and the wonderful provision of God. Before she experienced motherhood, Hannah was childless. “And because the LORD had closed her womb, her rival kept provoking her in order to irritate her. This went on year after year” (vs. 6,7). As each year they went to the temple at Shiloh to offer sacrifices to God she wept and would not eat. Her husband Elkanah would ask, “Don’t I mean more to you than ten sons?” (v. 8).
God has placed in the heart of a woman the desire for motherhood, and while Hannah loved her husband, and he showed how much he loved her, she had a great void, that only a son could fill.
A VOW MADE TO THE LORD
Then Hannah decided to shed the bitterness of her soul to the Lord. Weeping she vowed and promised God that if he gave her a son, she would dedicate him to the Lord all the days of his life.
Her prayer was long and silent, only her lips moved. She prayed in her heart, and the priest Eli thought she was drunk. But no, Hannah was just shedding her soul before the Lord. Having done that, she was sad no more.
THE IMPORTANCE OF FULFILLING VOWS
Many times we make promises to God, and when things happen that we prayed for, we forget to fulfill vows made. Not so Hannah. So that she would never forget that her son was an answer to his prayer, she named him Samuel, saying, “Because I asked the LORD for him” (v. 20).
As a mother I can imagine the thoughts that went through Hannah’s mind when she looked at her little one. Every time she called his name, she remembered her prayer to God and the promise she had given to return him to the Lord. When she had weaned him, she brought him to the house of the Lord at Shiloh and fulfilled her vow to God.
The Bible gives us an important detail, that he was young (v.24). This remarkable mother delivered her young child in the care of Eli the priest, saying: “As surely as you live, my lord, I am the woman who stood here beside you praying to the LORD. I prayed for this child, and the LORD has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to the LORD. For his whole life he will be given over to the LORD” (vs. 26-28). Hannah left her little boy in the temple!
In 1 Samuel 2:1-11 we have Hannah’s beautiful prayer, showing the joy she felt when giving this offering: her firstborn. As she was barren, she had no hope of having another child, but she gladly gave her “Sammy” to God.
“But Samuel was ministering before the LORD—a boy wearing a linen ephod. Each year his mother made him a little robe and took it to him when she went up with her husband to offer the annual sacrifice” (2:18,19). How much love Hannah must have put into making the little robes for her child!
God had mercy on this sincere and selfless woman, and in his love he gave her three more sons and two daughters. “And the boy Samuel continued to grow in stature and in favor with the LORD and with men” (2:26).
A TRUE PROPHET OF GOD
In chapter three we have the well-known story when God called Samuel and spoke to him in the silence of the night. Maybe he was a teenager when he responded to God’s call, “Speak, for your servant is listening” (3:10).
“The LORD was with Samuel as he grew up, and he let none of his words fall to the ground. And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba recognized that Samuel was attested as a prophet of the LORD” (3:19,20).
I said earlier that this is an extraordinary story of a mother’s love. Any mother knows the anguish you feel if you have to part with one of your children. Hannah, joyfully, gave this most precious child to God’s service. I’m sure she was distressed in leaving her little one. On the other hand, how would little Samuel have felt? Possibly many times his mother had told him about her promise to God and that he was a child dedicated to God.
TEN THOUSAND SOULS FOR SAMUEL
Let me tell you a short story of another Samuel, the son of Rees and Elizabeth Howell. Mr. Howell was known for his great ministry of intercession. The Howells for a time were missionaries to Africa. Maybe one of the most painful sacrifices in their life was the offering of their son Samuel for revival in Africa. Due to circumstances in those times (before the Second World War) it was not advisable for them to take their son Samuel with them. An uncle and aunt offered to raise the boy.
The Howells had been tested in many ways as to their total surrender to God, but this was the hardest. Mrs. Howells had to prove in her life what she had sung so many times, “But we never can prove the delights of His love, until all on the altar we lay.” In praying together, the Lord showed Howells the reward. He said to them, “For everything you give up for me, there is the hundredfold; and on this you can claim 10,000 souls in Africa.”
During the six years the Howells spent in Africa there was revival upon revival as they traveled from mission station to mission station and the promise of 10,000 souls was fulfilled. Sometimes he had to speak through three interpreters, because there were so many tribes. Howells would lay hands on hundreds under the Spirit’s power and they would come free to salvation. Then he would look at his hands, see how ordinary they were, and wonder where the power came from. But he knew! He had paid a high price, but nothing we can ever sacrifice can be measured with Calvary.
The ultimate sacrifice for Rees and Elizabeth Howells was their son Samuel. God rewarded them with 10,000 souls. What was Hannah’s reward? Her son Samuel was a prophet of the Lord!
Yesterday a friend reminded me of God as Jehovah-Jireh, the God who provides. Hannah’s great desire was to have a child. God heard her prayer. He was her Jehova-Jireh!
Whatever your need is, trust Jehovah-Jireh.
Within a month I‘ll be making a trip to visit my father. Because I’m using my American mileage it’s going to be more complicated, so I’ve put this slogan for the trip: Jehovah-Jireh. I’ve bought a notebook to keep a journal of the great things God will do on this trip, and the title is: Jehovah-Jireh. I’m excited to see what I’ll fill it with. A lot will make its way to this blog!
ANOTHER BOY IN GOD’S HOUSE
My story for the week is about Saul, a boy that lived in God’s House in Huancayo, Peru. His mother was the janitor. One day he craved bar-B-Q chicken very badly, but his mother had no means of providing it for him. Guess what? Our Father in heaven saw this little boy and honred his desire.
Some friends showed up at the door with chicken right out of the Bar-B-Q. Saul couldn’t believe his eyes when he saw and smelled what they had brought. That became a life-long lesson for him on God’s love and care.
If Hannah would have lived in our time I’m sure she would have been on Facebook “showing off” every new little robe she fixed for Samuel and every year after visiting him at the temple in Shiloh she would have posted new pictures. Don’t you think?
I can’t help myself. I’ve got to “show off” my grandchildren and the school pictures they’ve just taken. Lana-girl is missing since she was sick that day, but they’ll have a make-up date. The girl in the middle is Sarah, who just started in Pre-K. David is proud of his Mohawk. Brianna has a new hair-cut.
May Jehova-Jireh comfort you this day, in every way you need!