Lessons From Little Samuel

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Hannah sat by the window, looking wistfully into the open field before her. It was the time of the family’s yearly feast at Shiloh. Their little encampment overlooked the Temple where they had come to offer their sacrifice.

A group of children lost in their play, shouted excitedly as they ran about the place. A bunch of toddlers watched the others, nestling close to their mothers, and fascinated by the colourful dolls and playthings.

She sighed, for right before her was a dream she believed would never come true – for though to all appearances her life was complete, she didn’t have a child.

Amongst the group was Peninah, laughing and talking with her friends from town. As the sun went down, the crowd began to disperse, Peninah gathered her little boys and girls as they walked towards the house. As the children ran joyfully across the room, she turned to Hannah, with a smirk on her face. Taunting her sore had begun to offer wicked pleasure, for Peninah knew that Hannah longed to have a child of her own, but never could.

“Why are you weeping?” Elkanah’s voice was full of compassion, “Why are you not eating? Why is your heart grieved? Am I not better to you than ten sons?” Love true, but unable to bring peace between his two wives.

At the time of the sacrifice, Elkanah would give Hannah a greater portion than to Peninah and her children – but none of his gestures and sincere affection could bring happiness, for the Lord had stopped Hannah’s womb.

Hannah wept sore as she prayed that night in the temple. In bitterness of soul she mumbled her prayer, too broken for words. In that moment, divinely appointed, she vowed, “O Lord of hosts, if you will indeed look upon my affliction and give your handmaid a son, I will give him unto you all the days of his life,” and according to the custom of her people added, “and there shall no razor come upon his head,” for the child was to be a Nazarene, set apart for God.

Watching this tender moment was Eli, the priest of the temple. Unaware of the sorrow within, and unaccustomed to such expression of one’s petitions, he supposed her to be drunk, for only her lips moved and he heard no sound.

“How long will you be drunk? Put away your wine from you,” he gently reprimanded.

“No, my Lord,” Hannah replied, “I am a woman of a sorrowful spirit. I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but have poured out my complaint before the Lord. Don’t mistake your handmaid for a daughter of wickedness, for out of the abundance of grief in my heart have I spoken so.”

The old priest, seeing through the brokenness and the faith that shone, spoke, “Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant you the petition that you have asked of Him.”

“Let your handmaid find grace in your sight.” She arose to go, did eat and her face was no more sad.

At the appointed time, the son of promise came – precious as any child, but set apart and ordained to be God’s voice to the nation. A child who grew up in the holy temple, hearing God speak, prophesying of things to come, anointing kings – and whose words God did not let fall to the ground.

Such is a beautiful story of how God’s grace, reaching into our deepest pain can bring forth the most fruitful season. God can turn your lowest place into a season of triumph. Waiting is difficult, but His best blessings are often received after a season of holding fast to the promise. His grace is the answer to all you need.

Your children are never too young to be taught about the Lord. They are never too young to serve the Lord. Speak the Scriptures over your baby, for the Word is powerful and will birth in them God’s promises that will come to fruition in the coming years.

Teach your children stories from the Bible as they grow up, and inculcate in them passion for the things of God. God may have called that one to be a prophet to the nations. As the Scriptures say, “out of the mouth of babes and sucklings, God has ordained praise.” Should the niche they are to fulfill be in the world outside, they will stand gracefully as olive trees of God’s planting, signs of His goodness for all to see.

In the face of trouble, pain and delays, always remember that God, who loves you dearly, is watching over you. He understands the heartache and loss. He will not only comfort, but will restore and compensate beyond anything your heart has longed for. His reward is always worth the wait.