SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSONS
Commentary by Walter Albritton
1 Samuel 1:1—; Luke 1:46-55
Key Verses: For this child I prayed; and the Lord has granted me the petition that I made to him. Therefore I have lent him to the Lord; as long as he lives, he is given to the Lord. And he worshipped the Lord there. -- 1 Samuel 1:27-28
There are remarkable similarities in the birth stories of Samuel and Jesus. We may learn much from serious study of these accounts.
The mothers of both men had strong faith in God. Samuel was born as an answer to Hannah’s prayer for a son whom she could dedicate to God. Mary accepted the birth of Jesus as an act of God, humbly assuming her role as a “handmaid of the Lord.”
Both women exalted and glorified God in their prayers. Mary embraced the word of the angel Gabriel that “with God nothing will be impossible” (Luke ). Hannah prayed, “My heart exults in the Lord; and my strength is exalted in my God” (1 Samuel 2:1). Mary’s prayer was similar: “My soul magnified the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden” (Luke -48).
Hannah’s example of unselfishness is extraordinary. Her act of devotion, in giving up her son so that he could serve the Lord, should make us blush when we think of our own reluctance to dedicate our gifts to the Lord. Though it had to be very painful to do so, Hannah kept her promise to the Lord. Would to God that we might take our vows to the Lord as seriously as Hannah did!
centuries, Hannah and Mary have been models of faithfulness to God. They
continue to provide thoughtful women with a beautiful example of how to live as
a faithful servant of God. It is a sad commentary on our time that women like
In dedicating their sons to God, Hannah and Mary became partners with God. Each woman gave birth to a son who would fulfill God’s purpose for his life. Both women provided early spiritual nourishment for sons who would “grow strong” in the Spirit of the Lord. What a blessing it is for a child to be born in the home of a mother who worships the living God!
I think about my own mother and thank God for her godly influence in my life. Many times she told me of her joy in my birth and that continually she thanked the Lord for me. She loved God and I never doubted that. When I was an infant, she and my father took me to church. Except for rare Sundays when the crops were at risk, and my Father had to work, Sunday worship was a routine experience for our family.
Mother taught me to treasure the Bible as the Word of God. She wept with joy when I, at age 10, was baptized and confirmed as a believer and new member of the Dexter Avenue United Methodist Church in Montgomery. Later when I announced that I felt called of God to become a minister, her encouragement was plentiful and she never wavered in her support of my decision. Indeed, she repeatedly told me how proud she was that I had become a minister. Faith in God was not difficult for me, for I was nourished in faith as her child. Like Hannah and Mary, in her own way she modeled faithfulness to God in our home.
Our home was 15 miles away from Wetumpka, where I went to school. It was not easy to live in the country and see to it that your children attended church activities, but Mother made the sacrifice necessary to provide these opportunities for my siblings and me. Each of the five of us grew up to realize finally, with gratitude, the personal sacrifices she made for us when we were children.
I think about my wife and rejoice in her example of faithfulness as a mother. My sons and I will go to our graves grateful for the multitude of sacrifices she made for our family when the boys were young. While I was busy with the life of a pastor or an evangelist, and away from home too much, Dean put her own interests aside and devoted her life to meeting the needs of her husband and her children. She embraced this as her ministry “unto the Lord.” How blessed we have been because of her humble spirit of service!
Human nature being what it is, our sons did not recognize their mother’s degree of sacrifice until they had children of their own. Thankfully, each son has increased his mother’s joy by expressing gratitude for the steady love and support she provided each one during childhood. As adults they realized also her godly influence in their lives.
Like Hannah, my wife did not know how God would use the sons she dedicated to him. Hannah had no idea that God would use Samuel to reform the nation. Now that our sons have families of their own, we have the joy of giving thanks for the ways he is using our sons and their wives in the service of Christ. There is surely no greater joy than to see God at work in your own children, and to know that honoring Christ is a high priority in each son’s heart. Thanks be to God!
Hannah and Mary showed us how to become partners with God by dedicating their sons, God’s gifts to them, to the service of the Lord. God gives us all many gifts in addition to our children. In humbly dedicating all our gifts to God, we become coworkers with God in the ever-expanding work of our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Glory! + + + (Walter may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)