|Into The Heart Of A Godly Mother 1 Samuel 2:110|
Today on Mother’s Day, I would like to pay tribute to one of our Lord’s greatest gifts – A godly mother. From the get-go allow me to say that I do not wish to offend any childless women who may desire children but have been unable to have her own. Nor do I wish to heap guilt or condemnation on the mothers who, for whatever reason, did not raise their children in a godly environment. Yet sensitivity to this subject must not move us to neglect the teaching of God’s word regarding this subject. For the health of the family and the health of the church, it is imperative that we discuss the issues of biblical parenting. It is my intention for young ladies without children to begin their parenting on the right foot, for those with children to implement this instruction and for those beyond the years of childrearing to assist the younger women, as commanded in Titus 2, through both the successes and failures they committed in the past.
It has been said, “There is no greater place of ministry, position or power than that of being a mother” (Phil Whisenhunt, Good News Broadcaster, 5/71, p. 20). I am sure comments like that are intimidating for new mothers, but as their faith matures and they fellowship with other godly ladies, they are increasingly exposed to words like the “priority” of a mother and the awesome “responsibility” of raising children for God and the “role” of training and disciplining their little ones.
I am convinced that mothers can have the greatest impact on the Kingdom of God. Consider Timothy, the man used mightily by God. The Bible pays tribute to his mother, who taught him the Scriptures at a young age (2 Tim. 3:15). The Bible acknowledges that he learned to emulate the sincere faith that first dwelt within this blessed woman named Eunice (2 Tim. 1:5). Or consider King Lemuel who wrote the famous Proverbs 31. The chapter begins with these words: “The oracle which his mother taught him.” No doubt his mother greatly influenced him as he went on to describe the qualities of a virtuous woman. From her heart to his heart to our hearts as we read Holy Scripture. We are all blessed by the impact of this godly mother.
In the same way we can credit thousands of godly mothers, who made it their priority through prayer, knowledge, skill and hard work to raise godly children that one day could continue their legacy. Children impacted by devout women, hearts filled with the Word of God, equipped and sent out to influence another generation for Christ. Our Lord uses godly mothers, and modeling the role of a godly mother is the example we find this morning in Hannah.
Two weeks ago (in chapter 1) we learned how Hannah sought the Lord as her refuge of hope and joy, and then when blessed with a child, dedicated that child (literally!) to the Lord all the days of his life. Last week (in chapter 2) we learned how the influence of Hannah helped shape her son to walk in the ways of the Lord in sharp contrast to the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas.
The past two weeks we witnessed her godly actions; this week we will witness her godly words. We will examine her prayer commonly known as “Hannah’s Song” that is found in the middle of the two accounts we have already studied. While the theme of this prayer, like any true prayer, is God Himself, I would like to reveal the greatness of God as seen through the heart of a godly mother and the many “hats” a godly mother wears.
1. MOMTHE CHILD OF GOD
First and foremost, the greatest way a mother can impact the heart of her children is through the example of a fervent, personal relationship with the Lord herself. Children can smell hypocrisy from miles away. “Do as I say and not as I do” parents tend to produce either religious hypocrites just like themselves or children quick to abandon the Christian faith the second they are removed from their parent’s constraints. Our actions speak louder than our words. We must be willing to demonstrate through our own actions what we desire to see in our children. Mothers, your greatest instructor is a personal life on fire for the Lord, marked by sacrifice and dedication. We cannot impart what we do not possess. And we cannot expect our kids to prioritize something we do not prioritize ourselves.
Listen to the way Hannah praised the Lord in verse 1. Her words are the overflow of a heart that trusted and rejoiced in God. She did not simply know about God, she knew God and it was experienced in the intimacy of their relationship. Listen to her words. Notice the repeated use of the personal pronouns “My” and “I.” “My heart exults in the Lord; my horn is exalted in the Lord, mymouth speaks boldly against my enemies, because Irejoice in Your salvation” (emphasis added).
Hannah personally tasted the Lord’s goodness. In our brief study we have witnessed both the sorrow and the blessings she experienced. Yet out of these experiences came not a pity-party for the sorrows or an idolatrous love for the blessings, but rather a passionate desire to glorify God. As she personally witnessed the hand of God in her life, her understanding and love for the Lord increased and overflowed in praise. What a wonderful testimony of how the heart of a godly woman thinks and then responds.
A child who is influenced by a mother like this is trained not to seek significance in the inconsequential shallowness of self-fulfillment, personal happiness, materialism or other’s approval. He or she will learn that the overarching purpose of life is God’s glory and that all of life is sacred because it is lived in His presence.
2. MOMTHE THEOLOGIAN
While a personal love for the Lord must be at the heart of every mother’s instruction, all her affection for God must be based on sound theology, our second point. We do our children much harm when our faith and our teaching are contrary to God’s character, as He has revealed Himself in the Bible.
I can still remember the days when we began teaching our children at a young age to pray. Their prayers were from the heart of a child. They were sincere, innocent and full of faith. But I can always remember Julie listening very attentively to their words and correcting them with great gentleness and patience when their concept of God was inaccurate.
Hannah was a woman of sound theology. Far from a flimsy, inaccurate, easily refutable, “pie-in-the sky” mentality, Hannah, in verse 2 gave three reasons why her faith was so strong. Her confidence in God flowed from a correct understanding of God’s character. These three assertions are pillars that we must impress upon our children.
First, she said, “There is no one holy like the Lord.” God is set-apart from His creation. There is nothing wicked in His character. His eyes are too pure to look upon evil. He is not complacent in the face of sin. This is why we do our children a great disservice when we, like Eli, fail to discipline them for their sin. For only a correct understanding of God’s holiness and their subsequent inability to achieve that standard is the impetus to show them their need for a Savior.
Second she said, “Indeed, there is no one besides You.” In following the First Commandment, Hannah had no other gods before the true God (Ex. 20:3). She knew that no one was more powerful or more concerned with her feelings. She knew that God always blesses His people with good, even when life goes contrary to the way we would have scripted it. Hannah said it with her words and she also demonstrated it with her actions – that neither husband (Elkanah) nor son (Samuel) nor clergy (Eli) took the first place in her life that belonged to God.
Similar to “Hannah’s Song,” “Moses’ Song” in Exodus 15 also makes the same confident assertions: “Who is like You among the gods, O Lord? Who is like You, majestic in holiness, awesome in praises, working wonders” (Ex. 15:11)?
Third, Hannah said, “Nor is there any rock like our God.” God is the same. He does not change based upon His feelings, the circumstances or the latest discussions of man. He is the rock, the One in whom we can find security and protection, stability and strength, in the torrential storms called life.
Notice the exclusive nature of all three assertions in verse 2. To Hannah, God was without comparison. No doubt this attitude affected all her decisions and made a memorable impact on young Samuel.
Mom was a theologian. She understood sound theology. And she imparted that sound theology to her children. Susan Hunt in Biblical Womanhood in the Home, remarked, “Our (children) will be the products of their theology. Their knowledgeor lack of knowledgeof who God is and what He has done for them will show up in every attitude, action and relationship. Their worldview will be determined by their belief system” (p. 150).
3. MOMTHE EXHORTER
Godly mothers, based upon their own walk with the Lord and understanding of His character, have a desire and a responsibility to instruct and correct. This is implied from the teaching in Proverbs, “Do not forsake the teaching of your mother” (Pr. 6:20; 1:8). And this is the third point on our sermon outline.
When Hannah dedicated Samuel to the Lord all the days of His life, she set before every mother an example of biblical parenting. Hannah knew that Samuel was from God. He belonged to Him and one day would return to Him. But in the meantime, a stewardship was entrusted to her care. While Samuel was under her supervision, it was her primary responsibility through word and example, through tenderness and love, to raise a child that understood, loved and feared the Lord. She wanted to give to God’s service the one whom He entrusted to her care equipped to serve his King.
The world may esteem parents who produce slick politicians, notable athletes or dignified professionals, but in God’s eyes, successful parents are those who direct their children to God, (and I add) regardless of how their children might respond to that directive.
In his work, Duties of Parents, J.C. Ryle, commented, “This is the thought that should be uppermost on your mind in all you do for your children. In every step you take about them, in every plan, and scheme, and arrangement that concerns them, do not leave out that mighty question, ‘How will this affect their souls?’”
Last week we learned that Eli cared more for his sons’ approval than God’s approval upon them. He honored his sons above God (2:29). This gutless compassion that feared offending his children, despised God’s holiness and over time, proved itself most unloving. Grave consequences came upon both him and his two sons. A loving parent desires a child’s greatest good and a child’s greatest good is to honor the Lord. Remember God’s words from last week from verse 30? “For those who honor Me I will honor, and those who despise Me will be lightly esteemed.
What will be the result of having everything the world offers without Jesus Christ? As John Bunyan once said, one hour in hell will burn up all the enjoyment of those who have disregarded God and found joy in the pleasures of this world. Charles Bridges, over one hundred years ago, commented, “Far better that (children) should cry under healthful correction, than that parents should afterwards cry under the bitter fruit to themselves and children, of neglected discipline.” Are we more concerned with our children being happy or being holy and even happier? Are we willing to instruct and correct them accordingly? Hannah was!
Listen to the way she exhorted in verse 3: “Boast no more so very proudly, do not let arrogance come out of your mouth; for the Lord is a God of knowledge, and with Him actions are weighed.”
Along the lines of verse 3, do our children boast only in the Lord? It is a sure way to rid them of pride as pride and boasting in another never go together. Does arrogance come out of their mouths? Arrogance is the fruit of God-rejection. That is why love is not arrogant (1 Cor. 13:4). Do our children understand that God knows and sees all? Do they realize they can fool mom, but they cannot fool God because with Him every action, moreover every motive, is weighed on His scales of justice? Are we willing to help our children? Then we must correct and exhort. How loving is it to allow the judgment of God to rest upon them, to see their life wasted in God’s sight, because we are lazy or more concerned about their worldly comfort? Hannah would not, like Eli, place the honor of our children above the honor of our Lord.
4. MOMTHE WOMAN OF FAITH
Lastly, point number 4, Hannah was a woman of faith.
Hannah had the faith to look beyond her circumstances to find her trust in the God who controls all circumstances. She believed that God could accomplish remarkably beyond anything she ever asked or thought. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills and controls the actions of every individual on the planet. She knew that God cared about her, and if it were according to His wise will and in her best interest, change would come about. For God delights to work in situations where His might is best seen against the backdrop of human weakness. No situation is too difficult for Him to accomplish. No predicament too complex for Him to overturn.
As I read verses 4-10, listen to how God is able to confound human wisdom and bring possible out of the impossible. Listen to the way He overturns sorrowful situations for the good of those who trust Him. Listen to the contrasts marked by the word, “but.” Listen to the way our Lord could be considered, “The Great Reverser!”
“The bows of the mighty are shattered, but the feeble gird on strength. Those who were full hire themselves out for bread, but those who were hungry cease to hunger. Even the barren gives birth to seven, but she who has many children languishes. The Lord kills and makes alive; He brings down to Sheol and raises up. The Lord makes poor and rich; He brings low, He also exalts. He raises the poor from the dust, He lifts the needy from the ash heap to make them sit with nobles, and inherit a seat of honor; for the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s, and He set the world on them. He keeps the feet of His godly ones, but the wicked ones are silenced in darkness; for not by might shall a man prevail. Those who contend with the Lord will be shattered; against them He will thunder in the heavens, the Lord will judge the ends of the earth; and He will give strength to His king, and will exalt the horn of His anointed” (2:4-10).
And this is the God we have seen and will see as we work our way through 1 Samuel. From Hannah to the death of Saul, there is a proclamation that the Lord reverses the natural order of life to exalt His people from the hand of evil, to “keep the feet of His godly ones,” as they place their trust in Him.
A ridiculed woman named Hannah is exalted over a mouthy thorn in the flesh. A young boy named Samuel is exalted over the religious power of his day. A false god named Dagon, who is credited with the defeat of the Israelites is made low before the Ark of God. An outnumbered and unorganized Israeli army defeats the Philistine powerhouse. A man named Saul, though insignificant and fearful is exalted to king of Israel. The son of Saul, Jonathan, is exalted over his father in battle, wisdom, and the eyes of the people because of Saul's confidence in natural strength. Saul, though the king of Israel due to his pride is made low by the humble prophet Samuel. A young boy named David, though youngest of his siblings is exalted to the position of king. And David, while only a shepherd boy, is exalted over the mighty Goliath and then the might of Saul.
Mothers, have our hearts been trained to see the hand of God? Do you believe that God controls and judges the world? Do you have the faith to believe that a life given to God is the most worthy investment? For your own success and sanity as a mother, you must! Through your actions, have you taught your children the truths of Psalm 9:10? “And those who know Your name will put their trust in You, for You, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You.”
We have set today aside to celebrate motherhood. For mothers, due to the time they spend with their children, have the greatest potential to bring forth the greatest influence. The contact they make during those short impressionable years can produce a heart forever disposed to a Godward orientation. And those children can impact a world for Christ and pass your legacy on to the next generation.
Consider the following notable examples:
C.H. Spurgeon, one of the greatest preachers who ever lived once said, “I cannot tell how much I owe to the prayers of my good mother… I remember her once praying, ‘Now Lord, if my children go on in sin it will not be from ignorance that they perish, and my soul must bear swift witness against them at the day of judgment if they lay not hold on Christ and claim Him as their personal Savior?’”
Dr. G. Campbell Morgan, widely respected pastor and author, had four sons who were all preachers. Someone once came into the house when all the family was present. One of his sons was asked the question: “Howard, who is the greatest preacher in your family?” Howard had a great admiration for his father, yet looked straight across him and then without a moment’s hesitation, answered, “Mother.”
Susannah Wesley spent one hour each day praying for her 17 children. In addition, she took each child aside for a full hour every week to discuss spiritual matters. No wonder two of her sons, Charles and John, were used of God to bring blessing to all of England and much of America.
Today we saw Hannah’s heart when she praised the Lord for her son. Think about Jochebed’s influence on her baby, Moses. In Luke 2, the Bible recorded the song of another woman named Mary when she too was blessed with a son she named Jesus. No doubt her influence will always be remembered. These were godly women honoring God and using the time many moms just seek to “survive” to enjoy and bring forth children who honor the Lord as well.
Not a task for the fainthearted or the weak. It is an enormous responsibility, so enormous that mothers who wish to succeed must turn to God for the strength and grace they need.
In Feminine Appeal, Carolyn Mahaney said, “Though the mission is grave and vast, God’s grace is greater. He kindly reminds us in His Word: “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9). So if today you missed opportunities to show a tender love, or if you neglected to pray for your children, or if you were impatient with them, and even if you lost your smile and feel like a complete failure as a mothertake heart! God’s grace is sufficient for you. Look to the cross where Christ died. There He purchased forgiveness for our sins and power to grow in godliness. Not one of us is equal to this task of mothering, but He will help us in our weaknesses. God will provide all the grace we need to love our children tenderly” (p. 62).
Maybe God has designed mothering to be such a work of grace so that moms will be sure to impart the concept of grace to their children, the understanding that God’s love and approval is free and unmerited. And the only hope we have to live for His glory is through accepting the free gift of Jesus Christ.
Today we say thank you for our moms for their theology, their love for God, their spiritual insight and their faith. And may we remember that much of this happens in the day-to-day living in the midst of middle-of-the-night-conversations, rides to soccer practice, serving breakfast and handing out paper towels when the inevitable cry comes, “Uh oh. I spilled.”
We are thankful that God has created mothers to be the givers and nurturers of life. So may all of us honor all the godly women in our lives today, not only with words of praise, but with lives that reflect the impact of their holy influence!