1 Samuel 1:27
1 Samuel 1:19-28. (RAMAH and SHILOH)
(References - 1 Chronicles 29:29, "the seer;" Psalm 99:9; Jeremiah 15:1; Acts 3:24; Acts 13:20; Hebrews 12:32; Apoc. Ecclus. 46:13-20.) Consolation and hope were from the first associated with the birth of children (Genesis 3:15; Genesis 4:1, 25; Genesis 5:29; Genesis 21:6). More than ordinary joy (John 16:24) was felt at the birth of Samuel by his mother, because of the peculiar circumstances connected therewith, and the expectations entertained by her of the good which he might effect for Israel. Often as she looked upon her God-given infant she would think, "What manner of child shall this be?" (Luke 1:66), and ask, "How shall we order the child, and how shall we do unto him?" (Judges 13:12). Nor did she fail to do her utmost towards the fulfilment of her exalted hopes. The child was -

I. REGARDED AS A DIVINE GIFT (Psalm 127:4). Every little infant bears the impress of the "Father of spirits" (James 3:9).

"Trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home." The gift of a fresh, new, mysterious human life, with its vast capabilities, is a great gift, and demands grateful acknowledgment of the Divine goodness; but it is not an absolute gift; it is rather a trust which involves serious responsibilities on the part of those into whose hands it is placed. God says in effect, "Take this child," etc. (Exodus 2:9).

II. DESIGNATED BY AN APPROPRIATE NAME (ver. 20). Samuel = heard of God. "The mother names, the father assents, God approves, and time confirms the nomination" (Hunter). Like other personal names in the Bible, it was full of significance; being a grateful memorial of the goodness and faithfulness of God in the past, and a constant incentive to faith and prayer in the future. "Our very names should mind us of our duty." The name "Samuel" was uttered by the Lord as mindful of his history, and recognising his special relation to himself (1 Samuel 3:10). The name of a child is not an unimportant matter, and it should be given with due consideration. When parents give their children names borne by excellent men, they should train them to follow in the footsteps of such men.

III. NURTURED WITH MOTHERLY TENDERNESS (vers. 22-25). His mother was herself his nurse (ver. 23), not intrusting him to others, and not neglecting him, whereby many young lives are sacrificed; but thoughtfully, carefully, and constantly ministering to his physical needs, praying over him, and directing his thoughts, with the earliest dawn of reason, toward the Lord of hosts. That she might the more perfectly fulfil her trust, she remained at home, and went not up to Shiloh until he was weaned. Her absence from the sanctuary was justifiable, her worship at home was acceptable, and the service which she rendered to her child was a service rendered to God and to his people. "A mother's teachings have a marvellous vitality in them; there is a strange living power in that good seed which is sown by a mother's hand in her child's heart in the early dawn of the child's being, when they two are alone together, and the mother's soul gushes forth on her child, and the child listens to his mother as a God; and there is a deathless potency in a mother's prayers and tears for those whom she has borne which only God can estimate" (W.L. Alexander). "Who is best taught? He that is taught of his mother" ('Talmud').

IV. PRAYED OVER WITH FATHERLY SOLICITUDE. Elkanah consented to the vow of his wife (Numbers 30:6, 7), and appears to have made it his own (ver. 21). He was zealous for its performance, and whilst he agreed with her in the desire of its postponement for a brief period, he expressed the wish in prayer, "Only the Lord establish his word" (ver. 23). "Word, that is, may he fulfil what he designs with him, and has promised by his birth (vers. 11, 20). The words refer, therefore, to the boy's destination to the service of God; which the Eternal has in fact acknowledged by the partial fulfilment of the mothers wish" (Bunsen). HIS PRAYER indicates, with respect to the Divine word -

1. Confidence in its truth. He believed

(1) that it was his word which had been uttered by the high priest (ver. 17);

(2) that its Divine origin and faithfulness had been in part confirmed by his own act (ver. 20); and

(3) that it would be completely established by his bringing about the end designed.

2. Desire of its fulfilment.

(1) As a matter of great importance.

(2) Deeply felt. "Only."

(3) Through the continued and gracious operation of God. "The Lord establish his word."

3. Obedience to its requirements. In order to its establishment, cooperation on their part was -

(1) Necessary. God's purposes and promises are fulfilled in connection with human endeavour, and not independently of it.

(2) Obligatory. It had been solemnly promised by them, and was a condition of the bestowment of the Divine blessing.

(3) Fully resolved upon. "His father used to open his breast when he was asleep and kiss it in prayer over him, as it is said of Origen's father, that the Holy Ghost would take possession thereof" ('Life of Sir Thomas Browne').

V. CONDUCTED TO THE HOUSE OF THE LORD. As soon as he was weaned (the first step of separate, independent life) "she took him up with her" (ver. 24), and "they brought the child to Eli" (ver. 25). Children are in their right place in the temple (Matthew 21:15, 16), and their praises are acceptable to the Lord. Even infants (sucklings) belong to the kingdom of heaven, and are capable of being blessed by him (Matthew 19:13). Therefore the "little ones" should be brought unto him (Matthew 18:14).

VI. DEDICATED TO A LIFE-LONG SERVICE (vers. 25-28), i.e. a continual (and not a limited or periodical) service at the sanctuary as a Levite, and an entire (and not a partial) service as a Nazarite. It was done

(1) with a burnt offering,

(2) accompanied by a thankful acknowledgment of the goodness of God in answer to prayer offered on the same spot several years previously, and

(3) in a full surrender of the child. "My child shall be entirely and absolutely thy servant. I give up all my maternal rights. I desire to be his mother only in so far as that he shall owe his existence to me; after that I give him up to thee" (Chrysostom). "For this child I prayed, and the Lord hath granted me my request which I asked of him; therefore I also make him one asked of the Lord all the days that he liveth; he is asked of the Lord" (Keil). So the vow was performed. And in the spirit of this dedication all parents should give back to God "the children which he hath given them."

VII. FOLLOWED BY PARENTAL PRAYERS AND THANKSGIVINGS. "He (Elkanah) worshipped the Lord there" (ver. 28). "And Hannah prayed, and said, My heart rejoiceth in the Lord." (1 Samuel 2:1). "And Elkanah went to Ramah to his house" (1 Samuel 2:11). The sacrifice made in learning the child behind was great, but it was attended, through Divine grace, with great joy. The more any one gives to God, the more God gives back to him in spiritual blessing. Hannah felt little anxiety or fear for the safety of her child, for she believed that he would "keep the feet of his saints" (1 Samuel 2:9). What holy influences ever rest on children whose parents pray for them "without ceasing!" and what multitudes have by such means been eternally saved! - D.

"The boy was vowed
Unto the temple service. By the hand
She led him, and her silent soul, the while,
Oft as the dewy laughter of his eye
Met her sweet serious glance, rejoiced to think
That aught so pure, so beautiful, was hers,
To bring before her God.

I give thee to thy God - the God that gave thee,
A wellspring of deep gladness to my heart!
And precious as thou art,
And pure as dew of Hermon, he shall have thee,
My own, my beautiful, my undefiled!
And thou shalt be his child.

Therefore, farewell! - I go, my soul may fail me,
As the stag panteth for the water brooks,
Yearning for thy sweet looks. -
But thou, my firstborn, droop not, nor bewail me!
Thou in the Shadow of the Rock shalt dwell,
The Rock of Strength. - Farewell!"

(Mrs. Hemans)

For this child I prayed; and the Lord hath given me my petition.
"The Hand of God in History" might be the appropriate title of many of the hooks of Scripture, for the sacred records largely illustrate the agency of God in the affairs of men. As an engineer adjusts all the parts of his machine to accomplish one result, and by a touch of his hand can direct their motion; so has God arranged the events of time, harmonised their diversities, and gathered into unity their manifold influences. Great events have often been originated by most trivial causes, and great men have been developed in most unlikely ways. The stain left on paper by the bark in which Lawrence Foster had rudely cut his name, led to the invention of printing — a power of mightiest influence on the world. The fall of an apple in the garden of Sir Isaac Newton suggested to that great philosopher the law of gravitation, till then unknown, but which is now recognised as the security of creation. To the Ishmaelite merchants, and to the captain of Pharaoh's guard, it was an ordinary affair of commerce to buy or sell a slave, yet from the Hebrew boy, the subject of their traffic, what marvellous events transpired, of vast importance to the temporal welfare of a nation, and to the Church, in whose memory Joseph is forever embalmed! That child, at the mercy of the Nile and its crocodiles, found so timeously by Pharaoh's daughter, was to attain a greater eminence than the king who fostered him, and to become the first historian and lawgiver of the world. In Israel of old it would excite no wonder that a wedded wife longed to be a mother; for, by the promise of Jehovah, the woman's seed was to be the great Deliverer. Nor would it seem unbecoming that a godly wife should cry to God for offspring; yet that simple Hannah on her knees became the link of a chain in the revival of piety and patriotism in the Promised Land. Though by no means without light, the Church of Israel had been favoured with no direct prophecy since the death of Joshua. Religion during the long interval had its ebbings and flowings — less and less marked, and had evidently declined. There was a lack of patriotism in the decline of piety; for among the Hebrews, religious and patriotic sentiments were essentially conjoined, and mutually stimulative. The ritual of the chosen people had become formal, and their worship often idolatrous. True worshippers were isolated during this dark age of the Church of Israel. Though they kept the candle of the Lord from going out, they did not arrest the national degeneracy. To keep religion lively, it is not enough for individual souls to wait upon the Lord. Activity is one of the most salutary means of spiritual health. Unless we become the means of reviving others, they will deaden us. Like bodies in nature, where the heat of one either warms the other or is cooler by the contact, so a living piety raises the standard of others, and a languid devotion is lowered to the level of the contiguous death. The true worshipper was not called upon to absent himself, or separate, though ministers of the sanctuary were unworthy. The priesthood then was by descent of blood, not by piety. In the New Testament dispensation it is otherwise. There has been occasional necessity for protesting and seceding from the professing Church. When Christianity was established, the Church seceded from the Jewish Temple; when it was reformed, it was by a protest against the errors of the Papacy; and when it has been purified still further, there have been secessions from Establishments for conscience sake. But Elkanah was obedient to the divine call when he went to Shiloh. He honoured the ordinances that were appointed by God, and waited at the place where Jehovah had put his name, and where he met his people. Let us now turn to Samuel's mother. Hannah was a pious and prayerful woman. Year after year, at the solemn feasts, did Peninnah reproach the sensitive Hannah. With intense earnestness of soul did she cry to God and wrestle at the throne of grace, though not a word escaped her lips. Hannah went home without her sadness, and buoyant with the expectation of answered prayer. Faith triumphed over nature, and in this earnest realised the blessing. Nor was her faith misplaced or unrewarded. She saw the Divine gift in the child of her affection, and received a lesson of gratitude and dependence in his every smile and tear. Hannah's piety did not cool when her wish was gratified. She regarded her child as a sacred deposit to be returned to God. She had asked him from Heaven; and, ere he saw the light, she had written many prayers on his behalf in the book of God's remembrance.

1. This family scene speaks to all Christian parents. In the diary of a mother who lived in a secluded spot of Long Island, America, was inscribed this record some forty years ago: "This morning I rose very early to pray for my children, and especially that my sons may be ministers and missionaries of Jesus Christ." Her life corresponded with her piety, and her influence upon her children was blessed. Her prayers on their behalf were abundantly answered. Her eight children were all trained up for God. Her five sons became ministers and missionaries of Jesus Christ. The others are well known in the American Church. The Rev. Henry Ward Beecher is another of these fruits of a mother's prayers. Begin the dedication and Christian training of your children early, and continue them with earnest prayer, confiding faith, and hopeful perseverance. "Hold the little hands in prayer, teach the weak knees their kneeling. Let him see thee speaking to thy God; he will not forget it afterward. When old and grey he will feelingly remember a mother's tender piety; and the touching recollection of her prayers shall arrest the strong man in his sin." Train their imitative powers — so strong in childhood — to copy a good example seen in your own daily life. Watch the first growth of grace with eagerness as intense as the first step, or the earliest articulation of a father or a mother's name.

2. This family scene speaks to sons and daughters. It shows the blessed estate of children who have been dedicated to the Lord by parental prayer, and whose careful training has been the improvement of that privilege. Such is the testimony of an American statesman, who was exposed to much spiritual danger at the period of the French Revolution in the eighteenth century when a strong tide of unbelief rolled over the civilised world: "I believe I should have been swept away by the flood of French infidelity if it had not been for one thing — the remembrance of the time when my sainted mother used to make me kneel by her side, taking my little hands in hers, and cause me to repeat the Lord's Prayer." Nor is the case of John Randolph a solitary example. It is the blessing promised to all praying and believing mothers.

3. This family scene speaks to those who remember with bitterness their neglect of youthful opportunities, and their sad misimprovement of a mother's fondest wishes, and a father's solid counsels.

(R. Steele.)

Nor are we to marvel that the Book of God should concern itself here and elsewhere with matters that are sometimes the occasion of silly smiles in the unreverent, or meet only with profane disregard in the shallow. Rather, let us in our hearts and homes thank God for a Book that, coming from Him, so hallows our human affections, deals so reverently and tenderly with a woman's disappointments and a man's affection, and also with his pity for her sadness, as that it opens the history of the first, and in some things the greatest of the prophetical order, with the story of Hannah's grief and Elkanah's effort at consolation. The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ does not laugh any human hope or grief to scorn. Now, this earnestness, this very agony of deep desire in Hannah, is an instance of God's forerunning grace; the grace that blesses us even before we see the light of this world; that blesses us in our ancestry, in our homes and kindred, in our father and mother — the grace that sanctifies us by a mother's piety, and by the prayers offered to God before she knows a mother's joy. God's best men and women have been from mothers' prayers and vows, and from fathers' solemn consecration. Blessed unspeakably is, or ought to be, that life of man or woman, boy or girl, that has been heralded into the world not only by pain, but also by prayer, and its advent into these "lower parts of the earth" prefaced by the hand of father or mother laying hold upon God. God's forerunning, preparing grace is not the cold supervision of an Almighty One who deals with human tears or joys only as incidents in the outworking of His inscrutable will; but it is the loving, gentle touch of a Father who takes a woman's tearful longings, or a man's joys and hopes; and by the longing and the hope, by the tears and joys of father and mother, prepares greatly consecrated men and saintly women of God. So was it with Samuel the asked and heard of God. Thus was it with Jeremiah and Timothy and , and that other early teacher of the Church of whom it is told that often, when he slept the sleep of babyhood, his devoted father would bend over him and reverently kiss the little breast that by consecration of father and mother had become the temple of the Holy Ghost. In her grief she was a reproach to the feast of tabernacles, at which all were to be happy. Her grief was no nobler than ours is ofttimes, but just as human; and like ours, too, in this — that a strain of fretfulness ran through it. Yet there is in Hannah's grief one feature that more than redeems it from commonness. After years of repining she has at last dared to share her trouble with the God of Israel, and pour it forth as into the bosom of the Lord of Hosts. That is now a blessedness in her bitterness. She has, at length, gone where alone it is well to weep, grieve, regret, or be bitter; to the mercy seat. For it is safe and blessed to pour out life's bitterness only where you can pray: and that is not to the sympathy of men and women, but to the heart of God, at the feet of Jesus, before the Ark of the Covenant. There we may weep, grieve, mourn, and pray about anything. What do we pray for? Is it possession or consecration? Is it selfishly to hold earth's blessings and heaven's gifts on earth, and with them minister as much as we can to our own satisfaction and delight, or, behind and deeper than our own longings and cravings for self, have we a wish to truly serve the Lord with His own blessings, and "gladly give up all to Him to whom our more than all is due?" Oh! pray not for mere possession; pray that the more you have of anything, the more you may be able to consecrate to God; and pray, too, that you may not have anything without devotion of it to God. If you long for life here, and there is no reason why you should not, let it be that you may the longer live to Christ's praise. If you ask for this world's good, let it be that you may devote the more to Jesus. If you long for the love and light of this world, for the home lights that may be denied you, for the lamps of love to shine about you that have never yet been kindled for you, let it be that with fuller heart and wider reach of affection you may the more reveal and illustrate the love that passeth knowledge. If you seek for pardon, let it be under the quick impulse of love to Christ, and in order to glorify His cross. The high priest's words might have fallen on this distressed soul like a blast of frosty winter over the blossoms of the early spring time. How often tender hearts run risk from the ignorant hardness of others; who, perhaps, mean well enough, but are regardless of "wringing or breaking a heart." Nay, the more tender the heart's experience is, the more it hazards from intercourse with men at such times. God alone, Christ alone can be trusted for the right understanding, the gentle treatment of our griefs and wants and prayers. Many a time — God grant unwittingly — they wound where the Lord would heal, or heal but slightly when the Lord would wholly save. We are not fit to take care of one another; "who is sufficient for these things?" I have known of souls alienated from life and full consecration by the ill-judged or lightly-weighed utterance of a minister of Christ, who has thought as wisely when he has spoken to heart's experience as Eli did when he looked at Hannah, and told her to cease from her drunkenness. She had prayed, therefore she might go in peace. She had poured out her heart to the Lord, why should she, then, be sad any more? She had made her cares the Lord's, she had cast her burden upon the Lord, and might now be at rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him. Nor should we ever be other than calm after prayer, even though the answer be for a while ungranted. An ungranted petition is no warrant for not abiding calmly after we have tried to make our cares God's; for either He will, at the best time, give us what we ask, or at the proper time give us something better than our prayers. Thus it came about that Samuel was "asked of the Lord," as in later days he was known as the "heard of the Lord."

(G. B. Ryley.)

1. It was heard prayer.

2. It was based on a new name for God. She appealed to Jehovah under a new title, "Jehovah of Hosts," as though it were nothing to Him to summon into existence an infant spirit, whom she might call child.

3. It was definite prayer. "Give unto thine handmaid a man-child." "For this child I prayed." So many of our prayers miscarry because they are aimed at no special goal.

4. It was prayer without reserve. "I have poured out my soul before the Lord."

5. It was persevering prayer. "It came to pass, as she continued praying before the Lord."

6. It was prayer that received its coveted boon.

7. The workings of sorrow. In this prayer we can trace the harvest sown in years of suffering. Only one who had greatly suffered could have poured out such a prayer.

(F. B. Meyer, B. A.)

Hannah emptied her heart of its sorrow, and had it filled with peace. She could eat her meat with a merry heart, and was no more sad. Nor did she forget praise after prayer. She rose up in the morning early, and worshipped before the Lord. Little grace can pray; but only great grace can praise. Any child can ask for what it wants, or cry out when he is in pain; but it is not every child that has a heart to be grateful for kindness received; or that will even be at the pains to say, Thank you for it, though told day after day that he ought. Children of God! do you not plead guilty here? Where is the same earnestness in praising that there was in praying? When have you been so thankful for the mercy received, as you thought, when you were begging for it, you would be, if you might but have it? Oh that our hearts may be better tuned for that happy place where every breath is praises The prayers of Hannah were nigh unto the Lord continually: he remembered her, and gave her a son; and that she might never forget how she had obtained him, she called him Samuel, that is, Asked of God; so that every time she heard or uttered the name of the dear child, she might remember her prayer answering God, and be stirred up to renewed praise. What is this grateful woman preparing as an offering for her God? No less than the much loved child she has received from him! "Hannah said, I will not go up until the child be weaned, and then I will bring him, that he may appear before the Lord and there abide forever." And is this the way, Hannah, in which you mean to enjoy the much longed for treasure? O woman, great is thy faith! great is thy wisdom! Yes, it is just in proportion as we reader back unto the Lord that which he hath given us, and place it at his disposal, and under his care, that we enjoy it. You know when anyone wants to make the most of his money, he puts it into the bank. Now, if you want to make the most of a mercy or a comfort, place it in the Lord's hands, and be welt assured that you shall receive your own with usury. Earthly banks may fail and disappoint, but you will never meet with one who has been a loser by putting into the Lord's bank. I mean by devoting any thing to Him, as Hannah devoted her darling child. He promises you a hundred fold even in this present life, and you know he is always as good as his word. And now, while Hannah was weaning her infant, she had the yet more difficult task of weaning her own heart: you may be sure that every day tended to endear him more to her; and you will expect that her resolution at last failed her; but Hannah knew where her great strength lay, and she found the truth of her own sweet song, "He will keep the feet of His saints." As soon as ever she had weaned the child, she set out on her first and last journey with him, taking offerings and sacrifices for the temple service, and especially, the calves of the lips, even praise unto her God. "He worshipped the Lord there." How very beautiful is this acknowledgment to the praise of a prayer answering God! Ah! how many an answer is unheeded by us when we ought to be inscribing upon it in letters of glowing gratitude, "For this mercy I prayed; and the Lord hath given me my petition which I asked of him." Nay, my children, were our eyes properly opened to discern between good and evil, we might inscribe on many a thing with which we are inclined to quarrel, "For this I prayed."

(Helen Plumptre.)

1. Intercessory prayer for your children is necessary, as an evidence of the earnestness of feeling and purpose with which you have entered upon your office.

2. Earnest intercessory prayer will eminently contribute to prepare and qualify the mind for more effectually dealing with the children. Successful teaching, in so far at least as the cultivation of the religious element of character is concerned, depends, I am convinced, much more upon moral than intellectual qualifications.

3. Prayer for the children will infuse strength, promptitude, and energy to your mind, amid the manifold difficulties and discouragements of your office.

4. And, lastly, earnest intercessory prayer will bring the blessing of God down upon your children.

(H. Richard.)

What a succession of transmutations these verses present! The bitterness of a woman's grief is transmuted into earnest, believing, importunate prayer; this prayer returns to her in a precious gift: this gift, so earnestly sought, causes in its receiver a deep sense of gratitude; this gratitude leads to the willing consecration of the divine gift to its Giver; this sacrifice of Hannah's darling son is transformed into an unspeakable national blessing. Out of a woman's sorrow comes a nation's reformation and salvation. All the great works of God for man begin in man; in some one heart which He visits with trials and comforts, with conflicts and victories. And He will use the commonest means along with the most sacred to bring to pass His purpose. Hannah was in that state of mind which turns everything into fuel to feed its own consuming passion. That there may have been something of self-will, perhaps of discontent and envy, in her feelings, we may not be able to deny. For, in point of fact, you never, or very rarely, do obtain from our poor humanity a desire which is absolutely pure, without mixture of selfishness of some sort. And God, who is rich in mercy, forgives the sin, and accepts the desire as the germ of a higher life. If the strength of holy desire disturbs sin, and sin defiles the stream of our prayers and services, yet it is only by the continual flow of our better feelings that we attain to a greater purity; the stream cleanses itself by movement, whereas stagnation is increase of pollution. Hannah, then, was discontented with life as it was, how far with a holy, how far with an unholy, discontent we cannot say. She was burdened and miserable. And in such a state of mind she might have become chronically depressed, dissatisfied, wretched. She might have turned from God, and shut herself in upon herself. She might have allowed her grief to corrode her heart, and poison all her life. Instead of this, it was transmuted into prayer. Concentrated, continuous, importunate prayer, in which the suppliant was quite oblivious of all observers — such was the way in which she pleaded her case before the Lord. And, in a similar manner, God wishes us all to transmute and transform the evils and sorrows of life into prayer. The worst thing we can do is to be silent about them toward Him, though it will, perhaps, be the best to be so toward men. And, even if we are sometimes so confused that we know not how to frame a petition, then let us simply go to God, and talk to Him about it, as we might talk to our dearest friend. It will give us some measure of relief to know that it is shared by Another, and He the wisest and the best; it will bring the mind into that partial repose which comes from leaning, if only in a small degree, upon faithful love. Turn trouble, disappointment, bereavement. anxiety — aye, even sin — into prayer. These are like the dark, hard, rough ore, which is put by the smelter into the fire, and from which comes a bright stream of precious metal. Turn your sorrows into prayer, and prayer will transmute them into gold. Hannah's prayer was transmuted into a gift, the very gift she had prayed for. "For this child I prayed; and the Lord hath given me my petition which I asked of Him." She might have loved the child had she not prayed so specially for him; but she loved him all the better for prayer and for the answer that he was to it. "For this child I prayed." Thus the prayers of God's people often take concrete form, and stand round about them as unmistakable evidences of His remembrance of them and interference for them. "For this home I prayed," one can say. "For this situation, this business, I prayed," another can say. "For this mission, its establishment, its maintenance, its usefulness, I prayed," a third can say. "For this poor man, for this unhappy woman, that I might get food, shelter, aid for them, I prayed," a fourth can say. "For this man's conversion I prayed," a fifth can say. Yes; God hears and answers prayer. The fervent wish sent up to Him, like Hannah's prayer, without vocal words, comes back in rich visible gifts, as the invisible vapours are drawn up by the nun, and return in fertilising showers. The transmutation was again repeated when the answer to prayer was changed into gratitude. It is possible to pray when we are in great trouble, and to be answered, and then forget God who helped us. Complaining comes easier to human nature than thanksgiving. And, unlike Miriam's song, it was not an outburst caused by excited feeling which spent itself in words, but a sign of a permanent condition of mind. The gift never became more to her than the Giver, never shut God out from her consciousness, never tempted her to act and think as if now she could do without Him. This was a distinct and great advance in her spiritual life. The sense of need was good, so was prayer for help, but the unfailing thankfulness of her heart was better still. She had come out to walk with God in the sunshine. And now we coma to observe how gratitude rose to the still higher level of sacrifice. "For this child I prayed; and the Lord hath given me my petition which I asked of Him: Therefore, also I have lent him to the Lord; as long as he liveth he shall be long to the Lord. And he worshipped the Lord there." She did not forget her vow as so many do. The one and only child whom she had gained by a great wrestling, the jewel of her heart, she surrendered. Hannah is greatest and is nearest to God in sacrifice. Her spirit is now exquisitely pure; her loyalty to God is absolute. Here is a vital difference between a soul which is truly devout and one which only calls upon God in trouble for the sake of what he can get. God so comes into the first as that the gift he seeks makes him loving, trustful, self-forgetful; he passes beyond it into a quiet acquiescence in the perfect will of the Father; he comes to God with such fulness of faith that, like Abraham, he would surrender even the coveted gift again. It is sacrifice, and yet not sacrifice; for there is no wrench of the heart, no struggle of the will. Hannah was happier after she had left her darling at Shiloh. And now, finally, let us observe how this sacrifice of her motherly heart, this voluntary and happy surrender to God of His best gift, was transformed into a national blessing. Hannah's consecrated child became the judge and saviour of his people. But how much wider was that service than ever he or his praying mother had imagined! They thought of him as a life-long attendant in the tabernacle, where he would be sheltered from the noise and battle of life; but God designed him for a man of action, for a judge and ruler of His people You never know what honour God may put upon your sacrifice. He sees more value in it than you do. The poor widow who gave her mite, gave, all unknown to herself, a lesson in true sacrifice and in loving trust in God to all the world When Moffat's mother entreated him to give his heart to God she never thought that God would enter that heart with such love and zeal for the salvation of the heathen, and would crown her boy with such distinguished usefulness.

(J. P. Gledstone.)

The desire of Jewish women to be the mothers of families was connected with religious feeling: children were regarded as a blessing from the Lord, and the withholding of them was considered a token of the Divine displeasure. That this was the fact, we might bring many instances from the Old Testament to prove. Rachel, on the birth of her firstborn, said, "God hath taken away my reproach." Here, then, she felt her only resource was prayer; "she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the Lord, and wept sore." This sort of supplication never fails: "thus saith the Lord, I have heard thy prayer; I have seen thy gears." Tears and prayers! happy is it for the mourner when these are united. Tears are barren in themselves; they express sorrow, but not humiliation — not faith. We have only to remark, further, the humility, with which she offered her most precious treasure to the Lord: she brought a large additional offering of her substance, and immediately before the presentation of her son to Eli she caused a bullock to be slain as a burnt offering. This was the Jewish sin offering, foreshadowing the blood of the Atonement: in her case,. it clearly proved that she was deeply conscious there was nothing meritorious in her surrender of her son; that, as a sinful mother offering a sinful child, she had a favour to seek, rather than one to offer; and that she only hoped for acceptance, either for herself or her child, through the blood of the atonement.

1. With regard to THE OCCASIONS OF PRAYER. "Is any among you afflicted? let him pray; I called upon the Lord in trouble, and the Lord heard me at large." Far be it from me to imply that the time of trouble is the only time for prayer. But, whether or not they can understand the reason of God's dealings with them, let me impress upon their minds that the time of trouble is the special time for prayer; let them, in this respect, mark Hannah's example. There is a temptation to flee from God in trouble; the disinclination to prayer is, in many cases, never greater than then; the natural inclination is to wrap up the heart in the sullenness of its own grief — to seek a morbid pleasure in excluding everything that tends to comfort. I would take this opportunity of saying a word upon a subject, perhaps too little thought of; I mean, the suitability of God's house for private prayer.

2. Let us say a word about ITS CONDITIONS. Hannah vowed a vow unto the Lord, "if Thou wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the Lord all the days of his life." What we desire you to gather from this is, that we must never ask for anything which we cannot, or will not devote to the service of God. Lot us examine the case of Hannah as a fair example. She wished for a son: the wish was natural; but was it safe? was she not wishing for an object of affection, that would too probably, if granted, prove an idol? We cannot deny the likelihood: see, then, how in making the request she recognised and provided against the danger; Give me a son, O Lord; and I will give him back to Thee: I dare not trust myself to ask the unqualified gift; my present feelings tell me how dangerous it would be. Now all prayer, in order to be acceptable to God or profitable to ourselves, must be associated with this kind of condition. In asking for spiritual grace, the condition cannot be separated from the prayer; we only ask for greater ability to devote ourselves to God, and to "glorify him in our body and in our spirit which are God's."

3. And, lastly, we are taught a lesson respecting THE ANSWER OF PRAYER. With the answer to prayer will always come the temptation to forget the vow that accompanied it. I need not tell you that there may be a wide difference between a gift and a blessing. Children are gifts, but sometimes no blessings; look at Hophni and Phinehas, the wicked sons of Eli. Wealth is a gift; intellectual and physical power, friends, good health and spirits are all gifts, but very often no blessings: we cannot but desire them; we are permitted and encouraged to ask them; but, if we get them, let us remember the condition: the condition and the blessing are bound together; without the one, there is no acceptable prayer; without the other, there is no profitable answer. Everything that relates to our happiness depends upon God's favour; unless we have this, we may have all our natural desires gratified, but leanness withal in our souls. Let us, then, seek this first, and all things else shall be added unto us. And, above all, in seasons of affliction do not let us suppose that everything depends upon a change of circumstances; do not let us resolve not to be happy, until something is given, or something is withdrawn: but let us, in humble trust, put our case in God's hands.

(T. E. Hankinson, M. A.)

The birth of a child is one of the most important events that ever takes place in our world. But for the frequency of the occurrence, it would be deemed little less than a miracle of nature and providence. The birth of an infant is a far greater event than the production of the sun. That infant is possessed of reason, conscience, and immortality. It is true these principles are not yet developed, but they are in embryo, and the oak is contained in the acorn, and the day in the dawn. There is also a relative, as well as a personal importance attached to the birth of a child; for who knows what that child may become, what good or evil he may occasion, what misery or happiness he may produce? The birth of Samuel was attended with circumstances peculiarly important and interesting. Hannah had prayed to be remembered, and "the Lord remembered her, and she conceived." And can she forget Him who has thus graciously remembered her?

1. The very name shall perpetuate the memory of the mercy. "And she called his name Samuel, saying, Because I have asked him of the Lord." Thus she could never pronounce the name without recalling the occasion.

2. She undertakes the early care of him in person. When, therefore, Elkanah and his family went up as usual to Shiloh, she determined to remain at home for this very purpose. In this state the utmost attention, and kindness, and tenderness, were her well-deserved due; and it is pleasing to see the exemplariness of her husband in his disposition and behaviour towards her. Though all the males were required to repair to Shiloh thrice in the year, the obligation did not extend to females. God requires mercy and not sacrifice, and dispenses with public institutions when we are obeying private and domestic calls. Hannah cheerfully bore the loss of Shiloh's privileges, in order to discharge a home obligation. Here, we have an opportunity to say a few words with regard to a common, and, we fear, increasing evil: I mean the abandonment of maternal nursing. Surely, nothing can be a more ungrateful return, than to treat with neglect and disdain the provision which the goodness and kindness of God have obviously made for the performance of this duty. Hannah not only nurses her own child, but dedicates him to the Lord. We see that the Lord will cause earnest persevering prayer, in due time, to yield matter for praise. We see that the answers of prayers ought to be observed and noticed. We should also remark that it is our duty, not only to observe, but to own and confess such returns of mercy, for the glory of God, and for the sake of others, that they also may be encouraged to trust and pray.

(W. Jay.)

By the influence of her prayers, her training, her example, the Christian mother may expect to bring a blessing upon her child which shall control his life and lead to his salvation. The proof of this is to be found in the following considerations:

I. THE TIE OF NATURE MAKES THE INFLUENCE OF A PIOUS MOTHER ALMOST IRRESISTIBLE. A mother's love is the first blessing which greets the newborn heir of immortality. Deeper and more lasting even than a father's love, the mother's yearning and compassionate affection realises the description of the apostle. "It believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things." With such a natural tie to hold her child, the pious mother wields a mighty influence. Her life, if it be well adorned with Christian graces, becomes a shining demonstration of the truth of God. Prayer from her lips is music; the Bible is her book. as well as God's. All that is winning in the promises becomes more winning as she utters them. This is his influence and power. Many a pious mother does not realise it. On such a basis of deep natural affection does the mother's nurture stand. The child is plastic to her touch. His heart is in her hand if she is faithful to her trust. Oh, what encouragement is this for her to train her children in the nurture of the Lord!

II. BUT WE SHOULD FURTHER NOTICE THAT THE AFFECTION OF A MOTHER FOR HER CHILD MAKES HER PRAYERS IN HIS BEHALF ESPECIALLY EFFECTUAL. What depths of meaning, what revelation of the earnestness of human intercession, lies in these words of Hannah, which might be the utterance of multitudes! — "For this child I prayed" Upon all other subjects prayer may be restrained when it has been long time unanswered, but for her children's sake she will stand and knock until the gate of hope and life is opened, or until she dies.

III. AND THIS LEADS US TO THE POINT THAT THE EVIDENCE DERIVED FROM THE PAST EXPERIENCE OF PIOUS, PRAYING MOTHERS CONFIRMS THIS PROSPECT OF SUCCESS AS THE RESULT OF FAITHFULNESS. Take another fact. In a certain theological seminary several young men who were preparing for the Christian ministry were interested to discover what proportion of their number had praying mothers. The result of this inquiry proved that, out of one hundred and twenty present, more than one hundred had been blessed by a mother's prayers and directed by a mother's counsel to the Saviour. Such evidence might be greatly multiplied. The grace of God brings salvation as the reward of a mother's faithful labours for her children of what amazing importance is it that parents and all who have to do with children should realise their trust, and fulfil it in the fear of God! When the sculptor Bacon was erecting the monument to Lord Chatham in Westminster Abbey, an observer said to him, "Take care what you are doing, for you are working for eternity." In a far higher sense should it be said ofttimes to those who train the young — Take care how you act toward the children, for you work for eternity." Receive them in the name of Christ, to take them unto Him, in never-wearying prayer.

(R. R. Booth, D. D.)

Monday Club Sermons.
The most ancient and most sacred institution in the world is the family. Older than the church or the state, it is the foundation of them both. It is, to be sure, not the ideal of the home or the family; for it is under the curse and subject to the evils of polygamy. Some of the purest souls the world has ever seen have shone the brighter because they were surrounded only by vice and crime. The lily, lifting up its white face to the sun upon the bosom of the lake, sends its roots down into the oozing mud, and by its own power transmutes that foulness into this fragrant beauty. So Manoah's wife, and Ruth and Hannah, shine like pearls upon the surface of the cruelty and crime of the darkest period of the Old Testament story.

I. THE PRAYING MOTHER AT HOME: — The husband goes up to the Tabernacle at Shiloh. The wife stays at home with the baby. This was a division of duty recognised by the law. Let us learn a lesson of the sacredness of secular and special duties. Nay, let us rather say, of all duty; for duty is what is due from us, and He to whom it is due is God. The home is as sacred as the temple if it be recognised as the place of duty. We shall not serve God by neglecting its work or claims for what may seem to us the more spiritual service of the sanctuary. We may learn, too, that duty is not to be measured by its publicity or conspicuousness. That is most sacred and important, often, which is most, alone. They were building a stone church not long ago in one of our large cities. It was a beautiful spring day, and one who was interested in its progress was surprised to find only three men at work upon it. He spoke to the foreman, with at least a suggestion of complaint in his voice, and asked how it was that there was so small a force at work on such a day. "There are twenty-five men at work upon this building, sir," was the answer, "but twenty-two of them are working in the yard. The best stones are always polished out of sight." Let not the mother, then, undervalue her throne because it is not on the highway. The father may influence society and the state directly. Let us not think the mother's influence is less because her hand is not so evidently seen upon the helm. But, chiefly from this home life of Hannah, away from the Temple and the yearly sacrifice, may be learned the sanctification of home duties by prayer and holy motive. It is not so much what we do, as what we do it for, on which the value of our service, and its dignity, depend. Hannah stayed at home that she might prepare a worthy offering for the Lord. To fill a new young life with noble thoughts, with lofty and unselfish aims, with a sense of the blessed fatherhood of God — this is work high enough and holy enough for anyone to do.

II. THE PRAYING MOTHER AT THE TABERNACLE. For at length the quiet, happy days at home are passed. The baby boy has come to his third year. And yet the mother's heart is glad and rejoices in the Lord — glad to make the sacrifice, which it is yet no less a sacrifice to make. A joyless sacrifice is none. That which we give to God unwillingly, and only because we must, is no gift at all. She realised the privilege of sacrifice. Let us never weigh our sacrifices lest we make more than the law demands, but rather let us bring our gifts with them. The praying mother of our story recognised God's faithfulness to His word and His answer to her prayer. She had come to Him before in sorrow as she comes now in holy joy. And she gives God the glory Who maketh poor and maketh rich, Who bringeth low and lifteth up. But all that the praying mother can do, and all the ways in which the devout father can help, will avail not at all, unless the child fulfils his part.

(Monday Club Sermons.)

We notice the fact of the answer to prayer. The answer was prompt, clear, explicit. It is an important question, Why are some prayers answered and not others? Some prayers are not answered because the spirit of them is bad. "Ye ask but receive not because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts." What is asked merely to gratify a selfish feel. ins is asked amiss. It is not holy prayer; it does not fit in with the sacred purposes of life; it is not asked to make us better, or enable us to serve God better, or make our life more useful to our fellows; but simply to increase our pleasure, to make our surroundings more agreeable. Some prayers are not answered because what is asked would be hurtful; the prayer is answered in spirit though denied in form. Some prayers are not answered at the time, because a discipline of patience is needed for those who offer them; they have to be taught the grace of waiting patiently for the Lord. But whatever be the reasons for the apparent silence of God, we may rest assured that hearing prayer is the law of His kingdom. Old Testament and New alike bear witness to this.

(W. G. Blaikie, D. D.)

Society will go to pieces if the love of children cannot be maintained. And the love of children will not be maintained if we are to prefer cheapness to the happy responsibility of rearing them. God has given us many things which were never intended "to pay," but contrariwise to tax both nerve and purse, time and patience. Among many of the things that fail to conform to commercial standards He has made lingering old age and lingering disease more than a possibility in the case of many. Now, how many families there are which cannot afford this! And if nothing is for human advantage which cannot return a two-and-a-half percentage, lingering death, among the poor, is of all things the least defensible and endurable. So thought the people of India up to a very recent date, if they do not think so now. They used to take the old people down to the Ganges, and when the tide came in, or when the alligators came up, the domestic problem of reducing expenditure was soon solved. And in Sparta, whose people attained to a civilised horror of unremunerative offspring long before our forefathers could construct a pair of shoes, the girl children were often killed as soon as they were born. Now, that was an unblushing policy; it was human life carried on upon a strictly cash basis. But Christianity is freely taught amongst ourselves, with happy results evident on every hand. The weak are cared for and cured, the old are honoured and sheltered, and children are treated as a heavy but sacred charge from the Almighty. It is a ghastly thing to see some people express pity for the loving pair who can count many curly heads on the snow-white pillows in the children's rooms. Hannah, Samuel's mother, had no such thought about children. She prayed for her child. You may hear it said, perhaps, "But all children are not Samuels;" to which it is a sufficient reply to say that, all mothers are not Hannahs. If there were more Hannahs there would be more Samuels. For children reflect the entire nature of their parents. What was it which under. lay Hannah's prayer? It was a desire, the noblest which can animate a mortal, to live for another. She wanted to train a soul for God. They who watched over our bodily growth and our education were often tried in the process. They spared no time, pains, or money in their power. And despite of all that is said by spurious philanthropists, it may be safely said that our fathers were the better for the strain to which our training subjected them. Hannah prayed that she might have such a work to fill her heart. Hannah herself had already found God, the chief gift mortals can receive, and as a gift next in value to that, she asked Him to put under her care a spirit bearing His image, that upon it, as His visible, helpless representative, she might lavish both a motherly and a religious love. And she was right. They who can ridicule such a relation as she aspired to, and afterwards filled, are to be pitied for the blindness and emptiness of their scorn They wish to improve human life, and so they begin by trying to improve the laws of God. Thinking they can trace poverty and crime to the Christian family system, under which children are treated as a blessing, they discourage it as a bad speculation, an ill-paying concern. The Infidel Millennium is to be a millennium of small families, or none. Probably the latter would be the upshot. There would be just the same logic for that as for the other result. It is not the dear children, be they many or few, that cause vice and poverty. It is the parents, who should be dear parents, and are not. I need not remind you of the noble lives that have grown up in our country districts, and elsewhere, in homes where eight or nine hungry mouths have had to be filled out of twelve or fourteen shillings a week. Of course, if half the wages had gone in tobacco or drink, the lads and lasses would have been costly enough. It is certain that children prevent, in particular families, far more poverty than they cause. When a family has struggled through the years which precede the early youth of the children, the tide begins to turn. The regular income of the home becomes greater and more secure, in most cases, especially whore parents do not mind putting their children to the noblest of all ordinary callings, some constructive trade. Hannah's philosophy transcends them all! They who live for their children, and not for cheapness, will find life both cheaper and sweeter than they who, to compass a visionary social progress, advocate the improvement of everything except personal character. The true interests of society require no unnatural and mean devices. We need not dread the growing hosts of humanity. They are not locusts — they produce more than they consume, if they live honest lives. It is a diminishing population that a virtuous nation has to fear.

(J. H. Hollowell.)

In the life of Nollekens, the great sculptor, the following incident occurs concerning Gainsborough, the artist. Visiting him at his studio, Nollekens found him listening to a Colonel Hamilton, who was playing superbly on the violin. "Go on, go on," cried Gainsborough, with excited enthusiasm, as the Colonel appeared to have finished. Then, in a burst of entreaty, he added, "Go on, and I will give you the picture of the boy at the style, which you have so often wished to purchase." As Hamilton continued to play the tears stood in the painter's eyes, and at the end a coach was called, in which the fortunate Colonel placed the painting he had so long coveted, and so easily acquired: and he drove away with it. Gainsborough could not resist nor refuse anything to the charm of music. What music was to the artist the true faith of a penitent and loving soul, be it reverently said is to our Lord Jesus Christ, and to it He says: "Be it unto thee even as thou wilt."

(H. O. Mackey.)

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