This morning I am going to conclude my short, two-part series on parenting by looking at what it means to be a godly mother. As I mentioned last week, the reason that I want to cover these areas in Scripture is because our church covenant says, “We will strive to bring up our children and any under our care in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” Therefore, if we are going to do that, then we must know what it is that we are to be and do.
I covered this for fathers last week, and I felt like I pretty much exhausted what it means to be a godly parent by looking at Deuteronomy 6:4-9. However, this week I want us to see a picture of a godly mother by looking at one who was a mother in the Scripture. I want us to look this week at 1 Samuel chapter one, and look at Samuel’s mother, Hannah. There are a couple of reasons that I want to look at Hannah. The first reason is that this morning is a dedication service for Robbie and Kim’s son, Samuel Joseph, and their story (as many of you know) fits in well with the story of that of Hannah—so much so that their son shares the same name as Hannah’s child, Samuel. The second reason is simply that her model is a fantastic one. For me, looking at her model has opened many avenues in my mind for what a godly mother should be about. Therefore, let me point out a few of those this morning that can serve as a model for you, mothers, as to what a godly mother should be and do.
1) A godly mother prays for her children.
I think Hannah serves as a perfect example for this. In verses 1-8 we learn that she is unable to have a child, and in verses 9-10 we read her response to that situation. It says, “Then Hannah rose after eating and drinking in Shiloh. Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat by the doorpost of the temple of the Lord. And she, greatly distressed, prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly.” And verse 11 tells us that she asked God for a son.
Now, I know that she prayed for her son-to-be, and the text does not necessarily say that she prayed for her son after she got him. However, if you look in chapter 2, verse 1 it tells us that Hannah’s reaction after bringing her son to the temple was that she began to pray. Therefore, I think it very certain that as Hannah labored in prayer for her son to be born, so she labored in prayer for her son after he was born.
And believing that prayer is God’s channel through which he bestows his grace on us, I believe that this is among the greatest things a mother can do for her children. Mothers, pray for your children. I have no doubt that I am what I am because of the grace of God, and I have no doubt that one channel through which his grace has been poured out on me is through the prayers of my mom. I know she prays for me.
Mothers, there is only so much you can do to ensure that your children live to the glory of God. But you can always continue to pray for them. I remember what a joy it was for me to grow up knowing that my parents were a safeguard in my seeking of God. What I mean is that they would encourage me to pray and seek the Lord on matters, but the whole time they were praying as well. Therefore, when I came to Mom and Dad and told them I felt like I was supposed to go to Union, they said they had known for a while and just confirmed what I thought God was saying. When I told my parents that I thought I was supposed to marry Lili, they told me that they had felt that was God’s will for a while. About eight weeks before Lili and I got married, my mother-in-law pulled us aside on day, crying, and said, “Lee, the first time I saw you at Englewood on a Sunday night, I told someone that you were going to be my son-in-law.” God shows people who labor in prayer for their children things like that. That’s why 1 Corinthians 14:1 tells us to make love our aim and desire spiritual gifts. Don’t worry about if you will be able to do a similar thing for your children, just strive to love them in prayer even as my wife’s mother and my mother have.
Do you know how valuable it is for Lili and me to have mothers that we know have prayed for us since we were born? It is invaluable in my life. Charles Spurgeon said that he was able to preach with power because his people prayed for him. I believe that one reason I have lived with a desire toward holiness in my life is in the prayers of my mother. Mothers, for the sake of your children and the glory of your Lord, labor in prayer for your children, even as Hannah—before and after they are born.
2) A godly mother dedicates her child to the Lord.
By this I do not mean simply that she brings her child to the front of the church for a time like we will have today. I mean she gets at the heart of what Robbie and Kim are saying by their actions today. A godly mother tells God that this child is a gift from him and, therefore, she gives him back to be used of God.
Listen to the way Hannah prays in verse 11: “O Lord of hosts, if you will indeed look on the affliction of your maidservant and remember me, and not forget your maidservant, but will give your maidservant a son, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and a razor shall never come on his head.” And she holds true to her promise as we hear her desire repeated after Samuel is born. Elkanah, her husband, goes up to the temple, but Hannah is not yet ready to go and says, “I will not go up until the child is weaned; then I will bring him, that he may appear before the Lord and stay there forever.” Then in verse 28 she says, “I have … dedicated him to the Lord; as long as he lives he is dedicated to the Lord.” She gave her son completely to the Lord.
And let me tell some of you young mothers with little children that such a thing is harder than it sounds. It may seem like not a big deal, but a day will come when God will call that child (even as he did Samuel), and you will know that he must obey God even beyond what you would feel comfortable with because you have given him to God.
I can say such a thing because I remember vividly my mothers tears when I called them into my room after a long time in prayer the summer before I was to turn sixteen. The reason that I had called them in is because God was showing me that he was calling me into his ministry. And I was scared to death. And, in some sense, when you’re fifteen and you tell your parents that you feel like God is calling you into ministry, you are looking for them to give you a reason why you should just forget it for a while and enjoy high school.
So I called them in and told them, and they started to cry. They had done the same thing when I had first professed Jesus as Lord in my life, so I knew that this was not necessarily bad, but I did not know why they were crying. So I asked them.
I remember to this day my mom saying a few things, but one of them stood out to me. She said, “Your dad and I gave you to God when you were given to us by him, and now he is taking you for himself.” And it was hard for her. It was hard to watch her sixteen year-old son stand before the whole church one Wednesday night and choke up, sweat, be extremely nervous, and stumble through what I thought was going to be a decent sermon and ended up hurting my pride. A mom wants to protect her child from anything too hard, or risky, or humiliating. But giving your son to God means exactly that. I will bring tears to you as you see God disciplining, molding, shaping, and refining him through suffering. However, I praise God that I had a mom who when she gave me to God really meant it. For me it has meant that from the time I was little, I have been looking for how God would work in me. My mom gave me a treasure in giving me to the one in whose presence is fullness of joy. I urge you mothers to determine now that you give your children back to the one from whose hands they came to you.
3) She leads her children in worship of God by treasuring God in her own worship.
Verses 24-28 tell us that she took Samuel up to the temple after he had been weaned from her, and then chapter two tells us that Hannah worshiped the Lord. The first ten verses of chapter 2 are some of the most worshipful verses in Scripture. Hannah is thanking, praising, extolling, and worshipping God in great joy. She led her child in worship of God by worshipping God herself.
This is a model for teaching everything. How did Christ teach service to the disciples? He washed their feet. How do you teach someone to have deep affectionate worship for God? You worship God with deep affection. You cannot make a man love his wife, but I definitely believe you can model it to such a joyous extent before him that he will begin to long to love his wife in the same way.
Therefore, a godly mother leads her children to worship by worshipping the Lord with her life. This event in the first ten verses of chapter two is not a special thing for Hannah. When she wanted a son—she prayed. When she gets her son—she gives him to God in worship. I believe her son could see something in her a life that could be described as a constant worship of God. That’s what a godly mother is to model for her children. You lead your children to love and delight in God simply by making your own life about that.
4) A godly mother provides for her children.
I wanted to simply mention this because I want us to know that loving God and loving your neighbor is practical. Verse 19 of chapter 2 tells us that even while Samuel was at the temple that Hannah would come and bring him a little robe that she made for him. Mothers, be there and provide for your children.
There is something that this will build into your child’s heart. I grew up with a mom that provided for me with much care. And even now when I think of serving another person, I look to my mom. When I understand that God wants to be glorified and yet simultaneously wants to serve us, I am not left in confusion. For I know how much my mom’s service to me has brought her my praise and given glory to God. So, along with prayer, dedication, and worship; provide for your children and you will show them how even God did not come to be served, but to serve.
5) A godly mother’s children are her crown of exultation.
I get the term crown of exultation from Paul writing to the Thessalonians in 1 Thessalonians 2:19. The idea there is that Paul is telling them that when the Lord returns, his praise will be the Lord seeing those whom he has raised in the faith.
In the same way, a godly mother’s children should be her praise before the Lord. I take this simply as an inference from the story that we read today. I mean Hannah is not spoken of in comparison to her son. But I believe that she would say that she does not need to hear any praise because seeing her son, she is seeing her crown of praise.
However, there is also direct biblical merit for this in Proverbs. Proverbs 31, speaking of a godly wife and mother, says, “Her children rise up and bless her” and “Let her works praise her in the gates” (vv. 28 and 31).
A godly mother finds her joy in watching her children pray, worship, and delight in the Lord; knowing that she has sought and prayed for them and for them to see those things in her.
I pray that God would raise up many mothers (and grandmothers and great-grandmothers) just like this in order that God may raise up many laborers under their care, ultimately, in order that they might glorify him above all things. May his grace be with us. Amen.