For This Boy I Prayed
When we consider the kinds of mothers that are celebrated on days like today, we might not think of those who gave their children up for adoption. However, one of the best examples of loving, godly motherhood did just about the equivalent of that. She even did so after a great deal of prayer for a child. Her name is Hannah.
When we consider what qualities reflect our modern values of motherhood, they are hard to identify in Hannah. She was the second wife of a priest in Ephraim and was treated terribly by her rival, specifically because for a long time she had no children at all. (I Samuel 1:1-6) So deep was her sadness about her situation that when she prayed to God, she was assumed to be a drunk. (I Samuel 1:7-18) Despite all this, Hannah showed a great faithfulness toward God and is known as a great example of a godly mother.
Hannah developed her own relationship with God through prayer. (I Samuel 1:11; 2:1-10) One quality that cannot be ignored in godly motherhood is a genuine faith evidenced by a healthy prayer life. Our children see our actions as well as hearing our direction to begin developing values. If we say that prayer is important, but never show that to our children, they will see our hypocrisy. Hannah’s prayers are not only genuine, but are a demonstration of her knowledge of scripture. This may be part of why Samuel was also famously dedicated to prayer. (I Samuel 7:7-8; 12:19-24)
Hannah promised to dedicate her son to God, and followed through. (I Samuel 1:26-28) It is easy to promise something before you get what you want, and then fail to keep that promise, but Hannah showed that her vow was not empty. Samuel was not only to be dedicated to God by living with Eli the priest, but was also to be a Nazarite from birth. (I Samuel 1:11, cf. Numbers 6:5; Judges 13:5; Luke 1:15?) This would require a great deal of training for the boy, and would make him an outsider his whole life. Yet this radical devotion to the things of God is a major characteristic of the prophet in all the accounts we have of him.
Hannah prepared her son to be obedient and attentive to authority. This is not explicitly stated in scripture, but is seen in how Hannah prepared her son to serve the priest. She did not take Samuel to live with Eli until he was 2-5 years old (I Samuel 1:21-24), but even then, that is a young age to send to live with an older man. Eli was not known for his amazing parenting skills, so statements about Samuel’s good behavior would naturally be a reflection on his mother. (I Samuel 2:26)
God’s values concerning effective motherhood may look different than what our culture celebrates. Will we work to cultivate what God values? Will we work to celebrate these things in godly mothers?