Hannah always had a mother’s heart even before she became a mother. When she went to the House of God, her heart was breaking because she hadn’t been able to have a child. The fervor with which she prayed caused Eli to think she had been drinking. When he confronted her about it she told him she hadn’t been drinking. Her problem was the deep desire for a child. Eli promised her a child. She made a powerful commitment to God when Eli promised her a son. She promised to dedicate this boy to God all the days of his life.
When Samuel was born she began moving him in the direction of her commitment. As soon as she weaned Samuel she took him down to the house of God, to Eli the priest and judge. She left him in the house of God for him to be brought as a man of God. His life was dedicated to God. As a small boy he began his journey with God. Eli the priest would bring him up to be one of the most godly, faithful and dedicated servants of God ever to live. It seems strange that the very man who did such a pitiful job in bringing up his own sons would do such a great job in bringing up Samuel.
This story of life demonstrates the tension between inheritance and training. There will always be questions about which has the greatest affect on a child’s development. Samuel was too young to have had much training from Hannah or his dad. He obviously inherited something from them that would make him a great product for the training that Eli would provide. Eli’s own sons inherited something from him and their mother that turned the same kind of training in a negative direction.
Samuel would quickly pick up on the instructions and be a great servant in the house of God from very early times. But Eli’s own sons who had been trained from birth about work in the house of God missed the teaching entirely. They were abusing the offerings that the people brought and were involved in immoral relationships in the house of God. Eli heard of the things they were doing and knew they were wrong but did nothing to restrain the wrong being done.
Its no wonder that God called Samuel to become the judge and priest in the place of Eli while he was still a very young. Samuel went from that call to become one of the most godly, faithful men of character and faith ever to live.
Perhaps the lesson for us is that the direction, the bent we give a child from the earliest days will likely have a great amount to do with the direction of their whole life. It also demonstrates that even though one fails with one child doesn’t mean that they will fail with another. The nature of the child has much to do the affect the training.
When Samuel was an old man and the people were asking for a king like the nations around them, Samuel said to the people, if you know of any sin, wickedness or dishonesty in me then witness against me. If I have taken anything from another that didn’t belong to me, witness against me. No one made a charge against him.
The greatest thing a parent can do is commit their child to God from the beginning. Then if we follow the commitment with constant training in the right way, it brings a dedicated life of faith.