The Child We Lend to the Lord
May 10th, 1987 @ 10:50 AM
LENDING THE CHILD TO JESUS
Dr. W. A. Criswell
1 Samuel 1-3
5-10-87 10:50 a.m.
Once again, welcome, the multitudes of you who share this hour on radio and on television. You are a part of our dear First Baptist Church in Dallas, and this is the pastor bringing the message entitled The Child Loaned to the Lord; Lending the Child to Jesus. It is an exposition of the first three chapters of the Book of 1 Samuel.
The story beings in sadness and in sorrow, unspeakably so. You know it is a strange thing in the Bible, for millennia—I do not know how many—for thousands of years, the human family knew nothing other than the institution of polygamy. It is found throughout the years and the years of the Old Testament. Yet it is a strange thing; wherever polygamy is found in the Bible, it is always accompanied by indescribable sorrow and heartache. There is no exception to that.
When Abraham was led into a polygamist experience [Genesis 16:1-16], out of that has come, not only bitterness for him, not only bitterness for Hagar, not only bitterness for Ishmael, but think of the whole Muslim/Mohammedan/Islamic world today. Think of it in the life of David; was ever a man plunged into more heartache or sorrow than the household, polygamist household of David?
Think of it in the life of Solomon. God addressed him and gave him the finest reign and wisdom of any man who ever lived. And the Lord said to him, “In this gift of heaven, it carries also length of days and a prosperous reign” [1 Kings 3:14, 9:5]. One of the strangest things in the Bible; God never mentions his reign in length, and God never mentions his days in length. He became polygamist [1 Kings 11:3] and God shut them off, cut them off. You don’t know how long Solomon reigned. You don’t know how long he lived; abbreviated. Isn’t that a strange thing in God’s Word?
And here it is again. Elkanah has two wives. One named Peninnah and one named Hannah [1 Samuel 1:1-2]. Peninnah has children, a sign to them of the favor and blessing of heaven. Hannah is barren, a confirmation to them that she is rejected of God. And as such, Hannah is plunged into indescribable grief. In this first chapter of Samuel—one, two, three, four, five—five verses in the beginning of the story are depicting her indescribable sorrow:
- Verse 6: [Peninnah] provoked her, for to make her fret, because the Lord had shut up her womb [1 Samuel 1:6].
- Look at verse 7—And as Elkanah went up to worship, when she went up with him, Peninnah provoked her; therefore she wept, and did not eat [1 Samuel 1:7].
- Here again in verse 10—And she was in bitterness of soul, and
Prayed unto the Lord, and wept sore [1 Samuel 1:10].
- Look again at verse 15—Hannah told Eli, “I am a woman of a sorrowful spirit: I poured out my soul before the Lord” [1 Samuel 1:15].
- Look at verse 16—Do not think of me as a daughter of Belial:
out of the abundance of my complaint and grief have I spoken hitherto [1 Samuel 1:16].
A woman of a crushed and broken spirit, that’s the way the story begins. But out of it, out of the bitterness and brokenheartedness of her life, came blessing and strength because of her infinite faith and confidence in God. She prays before the Lord:
And vows a vow and says, “O Lord of hosts, if You will look upon the affliction of Thine handmaid, and remember me, and give me a man child, I will give him unto the Lord all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come upon his head.
[1 Samuel 1:11]
He is to be a Nazarite, a dedicated Nazarite. In the Scriptures there are many temporal Nazarites. For awhile a man would take a vow and leave his hair uncut. But in the Bible, there are only three life-long Nazarites, men who were completely dedicated to God. One was Sampson, who betrayed his wondrous calling [Judges 13:5, 7, 24]. The second one is this little lad that God’s going to give to Hannah, Samuel [1 Samuel 1:11, 27-28]. And the third one is John the Baptist [Luke 1:15, 7:33]. Those three men in the Bible are life-long Nazarites, their beard and their hair uncut [Numbers 6:5].
Don’t you wish today that these nuts and screwballs and nitwits that run around with long hair were dedicated to the Lord? Wouldn’t that be a wonderful thing? Wouldn’t that be a wonderful sight? Oh dear! “I will give him to You,” says this sweet mother, “as a Nazarite, holy dedicated to God. And the sign will be his hair, all of his life, will be unshorn” [1 Samuel 1:11].
And the Lord had mercy upon that sweet, wonderful mother and gave her the desire of her soul. And she was the mother now of a little boy [1 Samuel 1:20]. And she came to the house of the Lord and said to old Eli the priest, “Oh my lord, as thy soul liveth, my lord, I am the woman that stood by thee here, praying” [1 Samuel 1:26]. Isn’t that a magnificent thing that a woman would be here praying? Wouldn’t that be great for any woman to be able to say to her husband, “I am the woman that stands by you praying.” Or for a woman to say that to her son and daughter, just say it anywhere, “I am the woman that stands by you praying.” “For this child I prayed; and the Lord hath given me my petition which I asked of Him” [1 Samuel 1:26-27]. And she offered there a bullock [1 Samuel 1:25], a sacrifice, poured out the blood of the offering before the Lord.
Now an aside: all of those blood offerings of the Old Testament, all of them, were figures and symbols, precursoring the atoning blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. The blood of bulls and of goats could never wash our sins away [Hebrews 10:4]. They were signs and symbols and ceremonial prefigurations of the atoning grace of our Lord in Christ, in the crimson of whose blood our sins are washed away [1 John 1:7; Revelation 1:5]. So when Hannah brings the lad to the Lord, she offers a sacrifice of blood, the cleansing of the blood [1 Samuel 1:24-25].
I am asked all the sixty years I’ve been a pastor, “How is it with little babies if they die? Are they saved? Do little babies go to heaven? Do they find entrance and grace in the presence of the Lord? Little children don’t know anything about Jesus, too young to experience conversion, are they saved?” The answer in the Bible is very plain. In 1 Corinthians 15:22, for example, the apostle will say, “As in Adam all die,” all die. We, all of us, the universal judgment of death: As in Adam, we all die, so in Christ we all are made alive.
No man will ever perish, be judged, condemned, cast into damnation because of the sin of Adam, or because of the sins of his father or the sins of his mother or the sins of his forefathers. The Book of Ezekiel expatiates upon that at great length. “The son shall not bear the iniquities of the father” [Ezekiel 18:20].
When I stand at the judgment bar of Almighty God, I will not be condemned or judged because of my father’s iniquity or my mother’s transgressions. As in Adam, we all die, so in Christ are we all made alive, our sins, all of those past, all of the sins of our forefathers are all washed away [1 Corinthians 15:22].
But what of my sin? When I stand before God, what of my sins, my transgressions? Not my father’s, not Adam’s, not my forefather’s, but my sins? What happens to me because I have sinned? And that’s why a child must be saved. The child, when he reaches the age of accountability and the child is conscious of transgression, the child, in order to be saved must be lead to repentance and acceptance of the Lord, for his sin, pictured here in the offering of blood [1 Samuel 1:24-25], when Hannah, this godly mother, brought her son before the Lord. She gave him completely away. She said, “I have lent him to the Lord; as long as he shall be lent to the Lord, as long as he liveth. And he worshipped the Lord there in Shiloh” [1 Samuel 1:28], completely given to the Lord.
Jochebed did that, the mother of Moses. When the child was born under the interdiction of the pharaoh that every male child of an Israelite had to be slain [Exodus 1:16, 22], the beauty of the child, as well as the mother’s love, sought somehow an interlude, a protection. And she commended the little thing to the bosom of the Nile River, just trusting that the kindness of God would take care of the little baby. And when the child was found by Pharaoh’s daughter, and in the kindness of the goodness of God, she [Jochebed] was invited to be the nurse. When the little child was weaned, she gave the child completely into the arms of Pharaoh’s daughter [Exodus 2:1-10]. These mother’s, dear me, to what limits of sacrifice are they capable? She gave that child completely away [Exodus 2:10].
Hannah did that. She gave the lad into the care and keeping of Eli and the priests who ministered before the Lord in the tabernacle at Shiloh [1 Samuel 1:23-28]. He was so little, I can see her stand, trembling, reluctant to let go 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 the lad to the Lord, completely [1 Samuel 1:28].
But dedication did not mean abandonment. Oh, how she treasured the lad, prayed for him, loved him. And moreover, his mother made a little coat and brought it to him from year to year when she came up with her husband to offer the yearly sacrifice, pouring into that lad all of the love and care and intercessory remembrance of a mother’s deepest soul and most precious heart [1 Samuel 2:19].
Ah, how the life of a child is framed by those tender remembrances when the child is young and malleable. What happens to me now hardly has any effect upon me. But oh dear! Those things that came to me in childhood, how they shaped the very fiber of my being.
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 bore,
For I could change it nevermore!
I took a piece of living clay,
And gently formed it day by day,
And molded it with 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 the early impress wore,
And I could change that man no more.
[adapted from “I Took a Piece of Plastic Clay,” author unknown]
What we do in the destiny of that child has a repercussion into the forever and ever. The man will be a summation of all of those impressions of his young life. He’s a monument to somebody who molds him and shapes him and makes him. O God, what a heavy and everlasting assignment God has given to these fathers and mothers who guide the destiny of their children in the home.
One other in the life of Samuel: as the days passed and the little lad began to grow, the Lord spoke to him. The Lord called him. In the third chapter, “The Lord called Samuel: and he answered, Here am I” [1 Samuel 3:4]. And in the last verses:
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 preacher of the Lord—a prophet of God.
And the Lord appeared again in Shiloh: for the Lord revealed Himself to Samuel in Shiloh by the word of the Lord.
[1 Samuel 3:19-21]
Every one of these children has a place in the purpose of Almighty God. That little Dana who stood here and sang; God called her by name before she was born, knew all about her, and shaped her just for His purpose, and calling, and life, and service, and ministry. All of our children are like that. There is a reason for their being. God has a purpose for each one of them, and it is holy and heavenly when the child can be guided into that raison d’être, that “reason for being.” How marvelous it is and how wonderful it is to see that child brought into the will and purpose of God, to serve the Lord all the days of his life.
The soul of a child is the loveliest flower
That grows in the garden of God.
It climbs from weakness to knowledge and to power
To the very sky from the clay and the sod.
To beauty and sweetness it grows under care,
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 the child not lack for painstaking care
To protect it from frost and blight.
For the day will soon come when the bud will be bloom,
To the ways of the world beguiled.
Let us win that child to the Lord while yet there is room
In the sensitive soul of the child.
[“The Soul of a Child,” George Bailey]
No thing comparable, not in human experience or human life, no thing even approaching the beauty, and the gladness, and the meaning, and the significance, and the eternal repercussion of bringing the child to the Lord. Like Hannah bringing little Samuel to old Eli the priest, introducing the lad to the God of Israel [1 Samuel 1:24-28], bringing our children to the blessed Jesus, there to be taught in the ways of the Lord: that they be strong in Him; faithful in the faith; loving in the pilgrim way; someday, ready to meet our Lord in heaven.
And that is our appeal to you this morning. A family you, to come into the fellowship of God’s dear church, to rear your children in the love and nurture of the Lord [Ephesians 6:4]. A child this morning, to accept Jesus as Savior; just one somebody you, answering the appeal of the Holy Spirit of God in your heart, in a moment when we sing our hymn of appeal, on the first note of that first stanza, answer with your life. “Pastor, this is God’s day for me, and here I stand.” Let’s pray and then when that decision is made, make it God-ward and heavenward and Christ-ward. You’ll never regret it.
Our Lord in heaven, these are moments, momentous, everlastingly significant. We face no greater decision in life than when we face, “What shall we do with this child?” and, “What shall I do with Jesus?” and, “What shall I do in building my house and my home?” O God, that we might walk with Thee, close to Thee, that we might rear our children in the nurture and love of the Lord [Ephesians 6:4]; that they might know no other thing than to love God all the days of their lives. Our Lord, we live in a tragic day, the disintegration of our national life, of our domestic life, our home life, the tearing apart of our families, dear God, what shall the judgment be? May we build strong homes and families, beginning here this moment, now, and may this be a day of commitment and salvation [2 Corinthians 6:2]. Hear our prayer, dear Lord, and grant us a gracious response. In Thy saving and keeping name, amen.
In this moment when we sing our hymn, to give your heart to the Lord [Romans 10:9-10], or to bring your family into the circle of our dear church, as God shall press the appeal to your heart, come, and welcome, while we stand and while we sing.