THE CHILD WE LEND TO THE LORD
Dr. W. A. Criswell
1 Samuel 1:28
5-10-87 8:15 a.m.
We welcome you who share this hour on radio. You are now part of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. This is Mother’s Day and the sermon is entitled The Child We Lend to the Lord. It is a message out of the first three chapters of the First Book of Samuel.
The story begins in a sad and sorrowful note. In this first chapter alone, there are five verses that describe the heartache and the heartbreak of a – mother later – of a wife named Hannah. The husband Elkanah had two wives, Peninnah and Hannah. And Peninnah had several children, and Hannah was barren. And it was looked upon in that day as an evidence of the anger of God, that her womb was closed up and she was barren.
Five verses, I say, describe her sorrow. In verse 6, "Her adversary," that would be Peninnah:
provoked her sore, for to make her fret, because the Lord had shut up her womb.
– verse 7 –
And as Elkanah went up to worship, year by year, when she went up to the house of the Lord, Peninnah provoked her; therefore Hannah wept and did not eat.
– look at it again in verse 15 –
And Hannah answered Eli and said, "My lord, I am a woman of a sorrowful spirit: I have poured out my soul before the Lord.
– look again at verse 16 –
Count not thine handmaid for a daughter of Belial: for out of the abundance of my hurt and grief have I prayed, have I spoken unto the Lord.
It is a sad, sad beginning.
I cannot help but comment on polygamy in the Bible. It’s one of the strangest things that you could ever read, be sensitive to. All through those millennia of the beginning of the story of our race, polygamy was universal. But one of the strangest things in the Bible, polygamy is always presented in colors and in words of dire details. That’s one of the strangest things.
Abraham with Sarai and Hagar, out of that polygamist relationship came finally the entire Muslim/Islamic world. And what do you do and where do you turn? David and the tragedy of his multiplied wives in their household.
Solomon, one of the strangest things in the story of Solomon, beginning so marvelously well, "And God said In your dedicated service to the Lord I will lengthen your days [1 Kings 3:14], and I will strengthen your reign" [1 Kings 9:5]. But in his polygamist harem, the Bible says nothing about the length of his reign and nothing about the length of his days. He was cut off because of his polygamist relationships. Isn’t that a strange thing? And of course, our Lord said, "In the beginning, God made one man for one woman" [Matthew 19:5].
So the story begins in tears and sadness and sorrow. Peninnah is daily and momentarily addressing words of scorn and rebuke to Hannah. She is barren. Next, look at the wonderful blessing and strength that came out of the faith of this godly woman. She vowed a vow and said:
O Lord of hosts, if You will look upon the affliction, and remember me,
and give me a manchild, I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come upon his head
[1 Samuel 1:11]
He’s to be a life-long Nazarite; there are only three of them in the Bible. Often you’ll come across a man who would take a temporary Nazarite vow and not cut his hair. But there are only three of them in the Bible that were lifelong, lifetime Nazarites. One was Samson, one was this child God gave to Hannah, Samuel, and the other one was John the Baptist.
The length of their hair was a sign of their complete dedication to God. Don’t you wish today, these long-hair nitwits that run around like screwballs; don’t you wish that was a sign of their dedication to the Lord? Don’t you? Instead, it’s a dedication to inanity. Anyway, if you’ve got long hair, why, that’s all right. I’m just talking.
So she makes that vow before the Lord. And God answers in a marvelous way. "I am the woman that stood here before the Lord, praying." Isn’t that a glorious description of a woman? "I am the woman that stood here praying. For this child I prayed; and the Lord hath given me my petition" [1 Samuel 1:26-27]. And she slew a bullock, and brought the child to Eli [1 Samuel 1:25].
I want to make an aside here. She offered the child unto God in a blood sacrifice. That was a picture, of course, in the old covenant of the sacrifice of our blessed Lord, under whose blood all of us live in forgiveness and the redemption of our sins. Now my aside: ten thousand times am I asked, "Pastor, when the child dies, is the child saved? Does the child go to heaven?" The answer is plain in the Bible. All of us, born into this world, are born under the blood of Christ, in His atoning grace and forgiveness. "As in Adam, all die," 1 Corinthians 15:22, "As in Adam, all die, so in Christ are all made alive." We are born under the blood.
I do not suffer for the sins of my father. I’m not damned because of his transgressions or my mothers or my forefathers. I am born under the blood of Christ. All die in Adam; all are made alive in Christ; all of us under the blood.
What happens is, I sin. Then what do I do with my sins? The whole Book of Ezekiel elaborates on the fact that the child is not accountable, is not judged before God, because of the sins of his father. But what do I do with my sins? Then I have reached the age of accountability and I am judged for my sins. That’s why the child, reaching the age of accountability and standing before God, is judged. Not because of his father’s sins or his mother’s sins or the forefather’s sins, but he’s judged for his sins. Therefore the child, reaching the age of accountability, must repent and accept the Lord as His Savior and come in open confession before Jesus, asking the Lord to forgive him of his sins.
So here in the story of the Old Testament, she offered the sacrifice of a bullock before the Lord, a picture of the covering of our sins in the blood of the Lord Jesus. Then she gave the lad completely to the Lord. "Therefore have I lent him unto the Lord; all the days of his life" [1 Samuel 1:28]. All the days of his life, he shall be loaned unto the Lord.
Like Jochebed, in the second chapter of the Book of Exodus, taking the little child she named Moses and laid him on the bosom of the Nile, just trusting God to take care of the little child, giving him away. Then in the providence of God, when Pharaoh’s daughter found him and took him up and had compassion, she [is] called in; in the providence of God, she was called to nurse the child, and then after nursing the child, gave the child back into the arms of Pharaoh’s daughter [Exodus 2:1-10].
That’s what sweet Hannah did with little Samuel: she gave him to the Lord, completely. He was so little; I can see her stand, trembling, reluctant to let go of his hand. Yet she was wise, earth-ties to sever. She chose not now, but the forever. God give us mothers who will, joy to see their sons remembered through eternity. She gave him to the Lord, completely.
But her dedication of the child did not mean her abandonment of the lad. Every year, every year his mother made him a little coat and brought it to him from year to year, when she came up with her husband to offer yearly sacrifice [1 Samuel 2:19]. Could anything be sweeter than that? Remembering the child, loving the youngster, praying for the little boy, and coming to see him when she appeared before the Lord in worship. All of those things inevitably shaped the life of the little lad.
Like the apostle Paul wrote to Timothy, "The unfeigned faith that is in thee, that was first in thy grandmother Lois, and in thy mother Eunice; and now I know is in thee" [2 Timothy 1:5]. Dear God, how children are shaped by the loving care and prayerful remembrance of a godly mother.
I took a piece of plastic clay
And idly fashioned it one day –
And as my fingers pressed it, still
It moved and yielded to my will.
I came again when days were past
The bit of clay was hard at last.
The form I gave it, still it bore,
And I could change it nevermore!
I took a piece of living clay,
And gently formed it day by day,
And molded with my power and art
A young child’s soft and yielding heart.
I came again when years were gone:
It was a man I looked upon.
He still that early impress wore,
But I could change him never more.
[adapted from "I Took a Piece of Plastic Clay," author unknown]
Praying for the lad, speaking words of love and encouragement to the boy, and he grew up in the love and beautiful remembrance of that godly mother. And finally, God called him:
And the Lord called Samuel: and he answered, Here am I.
And Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him, and did let none of his words fall to the ground.
And all Israel from Dan even to Beersheba knew that Samuel was established to be a prophet of the Lord.
And the Lord appeared again in Shiloh: for the Lord revealed Himself to Samuel in Shiloh by the word of the Lord.
[1 Samuel 3:4, 19-21]
God has a purpose for every child; every child, a heavenly purpose. And when the mother, in her loving embrace and prayerful intercession, guides that little child to the Lord, the purpose of God for the child is achieved. It’s when we interdict, and substitute, and misguide, and misdirect that the child misses the great purpose in life for which God created him and made him. How vital it is that the mother win the child and bring that child to the Lord.
The soul of a child is the sweetest flower
That grows in the garden of God.
It climbs from weakness to knowledge and power
To the very sky from the clay and the sad.
To beauty and sweetness it grows under care,
But neglected ’tis ragged and wild;
‘Tis a plant that is tender and wondrously rare,
The sweet wistful soul of a child.
Be tender, O Mother, and give it its share
Of nurture, of warmth and of light;
And let it not lack for painstaking care
To protect it from frost and the blight.
For the day will come when the bud will be bloom,
To the ways of the world beguiled.
Let us win him to Christ while yet there is room
In the sensitive soul of a child.
["The Soul of a Child" by George Bailey]
There could be no more heavenly assignment than for the parents in the home to guide the child into the loving arms and tender embrace of our blessed and precious Lord Jesus. Aren’t you glad somebody did that for you? And I’m so glad, so glad; my mother did that for me.
And that is our appeal to you this day. A child to come into the fellowship of the love and embrace of our Lord Jesus, to come in saving faith and commitment to our Lord Jesus; a mother and a father to come into the fellowship of God’s sweet family here in the church; or to answer a call of God in your heart, in this moment, make that decision now. And when we stand to sing, on the first note of the first stanza, "Pastor, I’m answering God’s call for me." And down a stairway or down an aisle, "Here I am, pastor. I’m on the way." A thousand times welcome, while we stand and while we sing.