Shelby G. Floyd
What a beautiful day to come and worship God. We are so thankful that God has been good to all of us this week and that we are now ready to study the word of God. Gene Boomer did an excellent job teaching the adult class today and we are thankful that we have capable men who can present the truth of God. We are thankful to all of you who take the time to come out each Sunday morning to study the word of God together.
I received a letter this week from Ree Stevenson. She expressed how much she missed being with all of us here at Heartland. She is enjoying living with her son in Brown County. And she sent back her contribution check to support the church here at Heartland. This demonstrates the kind of members and their commitment they have to the Heartland congregation.
Today I have chosen to speak to you on the subject of “Exalting and Honoring Godly Mothers.” This is a good subject to talk about because we have a lot of mothers in this congregation– young, middle-aged, and older. And all mothers need to be encouraged concerning the great work that God gave them to do.
We all love and revere our mothers. Many good things have been said about mothers by notable people down through the ages:
“A good mother is worth 100 schoolmasters.” – George Herbert
“Great men are just the lengthening shadows of a great mother.”
“All that I am or hope to be, I owed to my angel mother.” – Abraham Lincoln
“I owe it all to you mother.” – President James A. Garfield, who was a member of the Church of Christ and personal attorney for the great restoration leader, Alexander Campbell.
And let us not forget the great apostle Paul who said to the members of the church at Ephesus, “… Honor your father and your mother.”
A LITTLE PARABLE FOR MOTHERS
I want to illustrate our love for our mothers by relating a little parable about mothers and their children. As I was preparing this lesson, I was thinking about Sarah N. Floyd, my late wife, and the kind of mother she had been to our children. So many people say to me, “You have some great and amazing children!” And I am thankful that my friends can say that. And I am thankful that Sarah, their mother was influential in bringing that about to a great degree!. The influence of a great mother will endure throughout time and eternity! Now let us relate to you this little parable about great mothers.
The young mother set her foot on the path of life. Is the way long she asked. And she heard the guide say, “yes, and the way is hard. And you will be old before you reach the end of it. But the end will be better than the beginning.”
But the young mother was happy, and she would not believe that anything could be better than these years. So, she played with her children, and gathered flowers for them along the way, and bathed with them in the clear streams; and the sun shone on them, and life was good, and the young mother cried, “nothing will ever be lovelier than this.”
Then night came, and storms, and the path was dark, and the children all shook with fear and cold, and the mother drew them close and covered them with her mantle, and the children cried, “oh mother, we are not afraid, for you are near, and no harm can come.” And the mother said, “this is better than the brightness of day, for I have taught my children courage.”
And the morning came, and there was a hill ahead, and the children climbed and grew weary, but at all times she said to the children, “a little patience and we will be there.” So the children climbed, and when they reached the top, they said, “we could not have done it without you, mother.” And the mother, when she laid down that night, looked up at the stars and said, “This is a better day than the last, for my children have learned fortitude in the face of hardness. Yesterday, I gave them courage. Today, I have given them strength.”
And the next day came strange clouds which darkened the earth – clouds of war and hate and evil, and the children groped and stumbled, and the mother said, “Look up. Lift your eyes to the light.” And the children looked and saw above the clouds an everlasting glory and it guided them, and brought them beyond the darkness. And that night the mother said, “this is the best day of all, for I’ve shown my children God.”
And the days went on, and the weeks, and the months, and the years, and the mother grew old, and she was little and bent. But her children were tall and strong, and walked with courage. And when the way was hard, they helped their mother. And when the way was rough, they lifted her, for she was light as a feather, and at last they came to a hill, and beyond the hill they could see a shiny road and golden gates flung wide open!
And the mother said, “I have reached the end of my journey, and now I know the end is better than the beginning, for my children can walk alone and their children after them.”
And the children said, “You will always walk with us, mother, even when you have gone through the gates.”
And they stood and watched her as she went all alone, and the gates closed over. And they said, “We cannot see her, but she is with us still. A mother like ours is more than a memory. She is a living presence.”—Temple Bailey
All mothers should want to be a mother like this woman. I know you do, and we pray that all mothers will be a mother like the mother you have just heard.
ELKANAH HAD TWO WIVES
But now I want talk to you about the kind of mother that we read about in the book of 1 Samuel, chapters 1 and 2. There was a man by the name of Elkanah, and he was an Ephraimite. He had two wives, and their names were Hannah and Peninnah. And Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children.
Elkanah would take his two wives and go up to Shiloh to the house of the Lord to sacrifice each year. Eli was the priest who was in charge of the house of the Lord. He had two sons by the name of Hophni and Phineas who were also priests in the house of the Lord. When they got to Shiloh, Elkanah would give his wife Peninnah, her daughters and her sons portions to sacrifice to the Lord. But to his wife Hannah, he would give a double portion for her to sacrifice to the Lord. The Bible says, “Elkanah loved Hannah, but the Lord had closed her womb.” (1 Samuel 1:6).
So the Bible says that Elkanah had two wives and he loved Hannah, but it does not say how he felt toward Peninnah. We read in Matthew of those who questioned Jesus as to whether it was right to divorce one’s wife and marry another. We know this was allowed in the Old Testament, in order to regulate and treat women the right way who were rejected by their husbands. They often were mistreated, and the law of Moses made arrangement for them to be treated the right way when they were rejected. Basically in conclusion, Jesus said from the beginning it was God’s intention for one man and one woman to be married for life except for fornication or death (Matthew 19:1-12).
Therefore God’s plan from the beginning was for one man and one woman to be married for life unless separated by death. We read in the Old Testament history of David and Solomon and others who had many wives. And for example, David had many wives, and yet he ended up committing adultery with another man’s wife and having him murdered in order to cover up his own sin. So God’s plan is best. Marry the wife of your youth and stay with her until you are separated by death. That is God’s plan as outlined in New Testament teaching.
Some women cannot have children. We all have known women who could not have any children and we would also observe how it affected their disposition and their outlook on life in a negative way. Of course that can be overcome to some extent by adopting a child as your own, which is a beautiful act of love.
And in our present case, Hannah had not been able to have any children. And Hannah was mistreated by the other wife, Peninnah. She was mistreated because she was without any children. Hannah was the victim of circumstances in a corrupt age. “Elkanah had two wives: the name of one was Hannah in the name of the other Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children. And her rival also provoked her severely, to make her miserable, because the Lord had closed her womb” (1 Samuel 1:2, 6). Do you see the problem Elkanah had in having more than one wife? Today men will have the same problem if they have a wife and a girlfriend on the side! Better to stick with the wife of your youth, which was God’s plan from the beginning (Matthew 19:4-6, 8-9).
Hannah was a very patient woman. So it was, year by year, when she went up to the house of the Lord, that Peninnah provoked her; therefore she wept and did not eat. (1 Samuel 1:7). Elkanah loved Hannah deeply and tried to be better to her “than ten sons” (1 Samuel 1:5-8). Such love is very strengthening to the one who is loved in this way. Hannah’s faith in Jehovah was strong and comforting. But still, when she went to the house of Jehovah “she wept, and she did not eat” (1 Samuel 1:7). Then Elkanah her husband said to her, “Hannah, why do you weep? Why do you not eat? And why is your heart grieved? Am I not better to you than ten sons?” (1 Samuel 1:8). Therefore Elkanah does not understand why his wife will not eat, because he is very good to her, and he treats her with his love in many ways. He said this in order to comfort her because the other mother mistreated her.
Young mothers do you know what is the best thing to do when you cannot have children? You need to go to God in prayer. My wife was asked to pray for a young lady who had problems having a child. She was asked, “pray for me.” So the best thing to do is to go to God in prayer and ask others to pray for you also. And that is what Hannah did. She went to God in prayer to ask him for a child—a son. Hannah’s response to her affliction by going to God in prayer demonstrates how strong her faith was in the Lord. She went to the right source for help.
Therefore we have the words to Hannah’s prayer, “So Hannah arose after they had finished eating and drinking in Shiloh. Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat by the doorpost of the tabernacle of the Lord. 10 And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed to the Lord and wept in anguish” (1 Samuel 1:9-10). She was very serious in her prayer because she made a vow to the Lord: “Then she made a vow and said, “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 male child, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and no razor shall come upon his head” (1 Samuel 1:11).
Eli the priest was sitting by the doorpost while Hannah was praying to the Lord. Eli noticed that while Hannah was praying her lips were moving but there was no sound coming out of her mouth. She was praying a silent prayer down in her heart. This demonstrates that God will hear our prayers from our hearts as well as from our lips.
After Hannah finished her prayer, Eli accused her of drinking wine and being drunk: But Hannah answered and said, “No, my lord, I am a woman of sorrowful spirit. I have drunk neither wine nor intoxicating drink, but have poured out my soul before the Lord. 16 Do not consider your maidservant a wicked woman, for out of the abundance of my complaint and grief I have spoken until now.”(1 Samuel 1:15-16).
Therefore, as Hannah left the house of the Lord, Eli the priest wished them well. He said to Hannah, “Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant your petition which you have asked of him.” She replied to Eli, “let your maidservant find favor in your sight.”
HANNAH GIVES SAMUEL TO THE LORD
Therefore Elkanah and Hannah departed from Shiloh and went back to their home in Ramah. Elkanah had relations with his wife. The Lord remembered Hannah and in the process of time she conceived and gave birth to a son and named him Samuel. His name means, “Because I have asked for him from the Lord.”
When it was time to go up to Shiloh to the house of the Lord to worship, Hannah made it known to Elkanah, that she would not go up until the child was weaned. Today a mother will wean her child when the child is about a year old. I did some research to find out how old children were when they were weaned in the Old Testament times in the days of Samuel. Remember back then, when a child would get sick they did not have a doctor to take the child to like we do today. From my research it seems that little children back then were not weaned until they were two or three years old. And some indicated that they might be even five or six years old before they would be weaned. And there was a good reason for this. As long as the mother nursed the child, the child would receive antibodies that strengthened the child against sickness and disease. This indicates that the Lord created the mothers with this special ability to strengthen the child to be healthy and not die in infancy. Therefore if the infant survived childhood there was a very good chance the child would live to be an older person. Therefore I want you to fix it in your mind that Hannah did not take Samuel up to Shiloh to the house of the Lord to be with Eli, until he was three or four, maybe even five or six years old. Therefore perhaps this is what was meant when Hannah said, “Not until the child is weaned; then I will take him, that he may appear before the Lord and remain there forever” (1 Samuel 1:22).
Therefore, when the child was weaned, they slaughtered a bull, and brought the child to Eli. And Hannah said, “Oh my Lord! As your soul lives, my Lord, I am the woman who stood by you here, praying to the Lord. For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition which I asked of him. Therefore I also have lent him to the Lord; as long as he lives he shall be lent to the Lord” (1 Samuel 1:25-28). Therefore Elkanah and Hannah worshipped the Lord and returned back to their home.
The Lord will always reward those who faithfully serve him and obey his word. This is true in the case of Hannah, who unselfishly gave her only son to serve the Lord. Eli, who was in charge of the house of the Lord, then pronounced a blessing on Hannah. And then God carried through by blessing Hannah with several children in lieu of the son she had given to the Lord:
And Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife, and say, “The Lord give you descendants from this woman for the loan that was given to the Lord.” Then they would go to their own home.
21 And the Lord visited Hannah, so that she conceived and bore three sons and two daughters. Meanwhile the child Samuel grew before the Lord (1 Samuel 2:20-21).
Like Hannah, when God blesses your life with little children, resolve to give them to the Lord by raising them up in the faith, encouraging them to respect the word of God, to be good citizens, to obey the gospel plan of salvation, and to be faithful all the days of their life.
SAMUEL A FAITHFUL SERVANT OF THE LORD
The fruit of an unselfish life may be seen by considering the unwavering devotion of Samuel to his God. We take note of his untiring labor on Israel’s behalf and faithfulness to Jehovah. Let us also remember that Samuel is the only preacher that ever preached from the grave. Let me explain. King Saul was the first king of Israel, and he began his reign in a good way. But it was not long until he got lifted up with pride and disobeyed the command of Almighty God. King Saul received a command from God to utterly destroy the Amalekites. The command was to completely destroy their livestock and king Agag. King Saul won a great victory over the Amalekites, but he did not destroy the livestock and he did not destroy Agag the king, but saved him alive. He disobeyed the voice of the Lord. And as a result, God rejected him from being king over Israel. And he raised up David to be the next king of Israel in the place of Saul. And Saul went crazy. From that day forward he was a man with a troubled mind. He literally lost his mind.
King Saul had banished all mediums or witches from Israel. But he disguised himself and inquired to find a medium for him to consult. Then they brought a woman that we call the witch of Endor. He asked her to raise someone from the dead. She asked him who she should raise up from the dead. And he said bring up Samuel. Therefore she brought up Samuel from the dead and he preached to King Saul about his failure to obey the Lord. He also told him that David would be the next king of Israel. You ask, where is Hades? I do not know! It is simply the place were all departed spirits go after death. They go there to await the day of resurrection and eternal judgment. Therefore, Samuel was the only preacher that ever preached from the grave.
And Samuel preaches to us today about the influence of a godly mother. His mother and father had raised him to serve the Lord. Remember when Hannah took Samuel to the house of the Lord, Samuel heard the voice of the Lord several times and each time he replied, “Speak, for your servant hears.” Someone has said, “as the twig is bent so the tree will grow!” This simply means, the way the child is bent, is the way the child will grow. “A child has no trouble hearing the voice of God when one is conceived in prayer and reared in the house of God.” Samuel also preaches a happy state of God’s people in time of adversity when they live their lives above reproach and walk with God. Therefore, Samuel dealt was Saul according to the will of God.
HANNAH TEACHES MOTHERS FOUR LESSONS
Hannah was a great teacher to all mothers. She taught at least four lessons to mothers today and down through the years. The first lesson is seasons of earnest prayer by godly mothers will avail much more than years of complaining. We all have to deal with whatever happens to us during our lifetime. Some people are positive while others are negative and spend all their time carping and complaining. It is better to get down on our knees and to go to the Lord in prayer. That is what Hannah did and God blessed her and her affliction. And this is what the Bible teaches us to do. James taught that we overcome our suffering in this life by going to God in prayer: “Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray” (James 5:13). He also said, “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:16). Therefore all mothers should spend a lot of time in prayer to the Lord for her children and family. So the first lesson that Hannah instructs all mothers is “go to the Lord in prayer—for his help” and he is more than willing to bless everyone.
The second lesson that Hannah gives mothers is that there is something constructive godly women can do about a wicked world. We must admit that we do live in a wicked world today. The newscasters tell us all the wickedness that is going on 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The apostle Peter says that God’s eyes are over the righteous, but his face is against those who do evil: “For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayers; but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil” (1 Peter 3:12). Brothers and sisters, we can do more to change this wicked world by going to God in prayer than spending so much of our time complaining how bad the world has become. God controls the universe, and we need to ask him to bring about some righteous results in a wicked world.
The third lesson that Hannah gives mothers is that parents can and do shape the character of their children. Jesus once asked this question, “Do men gather grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles” (Matthew 7:16)? Therefore, mothers and fathers do not raise a young thornbush or thistle! That would mean big trouble for your family and society. The influence of a godly home is wonderful in time and eternity.
Hannah’s final lesson to you mothers is to bring up your child in the knowledge, love and service of God. This will be a mother’s noblest work in this life. As an example consider the training of Jesus by his mother and father, Mary and Joseph. All we need to do is to open up the gospel according to Luke and we can read about what kind of parents they were to their son Jesus and his brothers and sisters:
“And the child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon him. Then he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them, but his mother kept all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.” (Luke 2:40, 51-52).
Jesus was given a balanced life of growth – intellectual, physical, spiritual, and, social growth! We need to tell the world about this balanced life of growth for our children. The apostle Paul sums it all up in his letter to the Ephesians: “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother, which is the first commandment with promise: that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.” And you, father, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:1-4).
I close this lesson by reminding all of you that in the beginning God created Adam and Eve. Mother Eve disobeyed God, plucked the forbidden fruit, and persuaded her husband to eat of it also. As a result death reigned over the earth, both physical and spiritual death. But another mother was influential in bringing a Savior into the world. The Virgin Mary gave birth to the beautiful child Jesus. So Paul advises the young preacher Timothy, “Nevertheless she will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control” (1 Timothy 2:15 NKJV). Therefore, a young mother made it possible for all of us to be saved eternally, by her childbearing of the Christ child into the world!*
Copyright © 2022 Shelby G. Floyd, All Rights Reserved
Shelby G. Floyd delivered "Exalting Godly Mothers" Sunday morning, October 9, 2022, at the Heartland Church of Christ, 1693 West Main Street, Greenwood, Indiana 46142.
**The family of Sarah N. Floyd, March, 2022