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Reminiscences

The occasion of these reminiscences is a conference some years ago, when the subject for consideration was that of " Giving unto the Lord." The plan for study was that each speaker should, in turn, give illustrations of " Giving unto the Lord " from the Pentateuch, from the times of the Judges in Israel, from the times of the kings, and from the Prophets and the Psalms. Later these historical, practical illustrations were emphasized from the teaching of the Lord Jesus and His apostles, in the New Testament.

We cull one of these illustrations from the casket of memory, brought back by the Blessed Holy Spirit to one's remembrance, sweet as ever and as powerful in its application. The story is that of Hannah, recorded in 1 Samuel 1.

The skies were clouded for Israel, the people of God. " In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes (Judges 21. 25); and further, "The word of the LORD was rare in those days; there was no open (frequent, or widely spread) vision" (1 Samuel 3.1, R.V.M.). We know that "where there is no vision the people perish" (Proverbs 29.18, A.v.). The old priest, Eli, who should have kept before the people the instructions of God, was dim of vision, "his eyes were set, that he could not see " (1 Samuel 4.15). Against such a background the story of Hannah shines brightly. Thus, often in the history of God's people, the faithfulness of the individual rises above the failure of the many and holds aloft the torch of truth and devotion thereto.

Year by year, Hannah was consistently faithful to God in her worship and sacrifice in the house of God which at that time was at Shiloh. But she had one paramount desire, to give to the LORD that which she most desired for herself. The gift that she would give back to Jehovah was denied her, for she was childless. Added to this sorrow of inability to give, was the provocation of her rival, Peninnah, the other wife of Elkanah. And thus, "in bitterness of soul," Hannah "prayed unto the LORD, and wept sore" (1 Samuel 1.10).

How wrong of those, Peninnah-like, who, having that which they might devote to the Lord, keep it back, and further provoke those who have not! There is an echo of such an attitude in the early days of the church of God, in Corinth, where the apostle Paul rebukes those, who, having houses to eat and drink in despised the church of God, and put them to shame that had not (1 Corinthians 11.22).

But Hannah asked liberally, that she might give generously. "She vowed a vow, and said, 0 LORD of hosts, if Thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of Thine handmaid and... wilt give unto Thine handmaid a man child, then 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). What a "woman of worth" (i.e. "a virtuous woman," cp. Proverbs 31.10) was Hannah! She foresaw what the people of God needed in her day a man of God, a man separated unto the LORD who would carry out, unflinchingly but in love, the commandments' of Jehovah. The LORD granted to Hannah her request, and "she called his name Samuel, saying, Because I have asked him of the LORD "(1 Samuel 1.20).

How instructive for Samuel were those few years in which she nourished her son! Timothy-like, Samuel would learn line upon line at his mother's knee. And the maternal yearning of Hannah's heart would grow no less as the time came to lend him back to the LORD. Yet she forgot not her vow, for the time came when she granted him back to the LORD for as long as he should live. Following such giving, it is recorded, And they worshipped the LORD there" (1 Samuel 1.28, R.V.M.).

How like the "magnificat" of Mary, recorded in Luke 1.46-55, is the prayer of Hannah! (1 Samuel 2.1-10). In the latter, amidst many other precious sayings, we read the first recorded mention of the Messiah, in "the LORD shall ... exalt the horn of His Anointed (1 Samuel 2.10), thus foretelling the future coming of the Christ of God. In the former we read of the precious blessings that would accompany His first advent into this world of sorrow.

Both these wonderful women gave their most-coveted possession to the LORD. How much of the sword piercing her own heart did Mary suffer we may never know. But immeasurable are the blessings and joys that have flown out to mankind from Immanuel, God's gift through Mary. Hannah, also, received, in rich measure from the LORD, in return for her loan back to Him. (See 1 Samuel 2.21). Year by year as the child Samuel grew before the LORD, Hannah continued to show her care for her son, in providing for him "a little robe." As he donned it, memories of the care of a godly mother must have cheered the hours of loneliness as Samuel lay down to sleep in the temple of the LORD. It was there, however, he was to hear the LORD calling him by name, and entrusting him with a momentous message for Eli and for Israel.

From the gift of a godly mother, there was granted to Israel a wise

judge (1 Samuel 7. 15), a persistent intercessor on their behalf (1 Samuel 7. 9, 8.6, 12.23, 15.11 and Jeremiah 15.1), a great prophet (Acts 13.20), who, at his death, was a much-lamented man (1 Samuel 25.1).

Where shall we start with our giving or what shall be given, our money, our talents, or our time ? It is for each to decide, but outstandingly there was brought before the Corinthian church, the commendable example of those in the churches of God in Macedonia, how that, in much proof of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality. For according to their power ... yea and beyond their power, they gave of their own accord, ... but first they gave their own selves to the Lord" (2 Corinthians 8.1-5).

Let each man do according as he hath purposed in his heart; not grudgingly, or of necessity, for God loveth a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9.7).