Education, Pleasing to the Lord
Education, Pleasing to the Lord
The following article by Rev. Gerrit Vos appeared in the Sep. 15, 1950 edition of the Standard Bearer.
“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 lent to the Lord. And he worshipped the Lord there.” I Sam. 1:27, 28
No, the beginning of godly education of the child Samuel was not with Hannah. I think that we strike here at the outstanding weakness of Christian education today. We begin in history and not with God in eternity.
If we should follow the prevailing trend of our day we would begin with yearning, longing, supplicating Hannah. Oh, she did so desire a man child!
But all such begin is fundamentally pelagian.
Attend to Hannah’s prayer in the second chapter: “The Lord killeth, and maketh alive: He bringeth low, and lifteth up”! And also the 35th verse, where the Lord is speaking: “And I will raise Me up a faithful priest.”
No, we must not begin with Hannah. We must not begin with history where men and women are praying, longing, working and sweating to bring education for their children.
We must begin with God.
We wrote above this meditation: Education, pleasing to the Lord!
Well, nothing pleases God but His own work.
Behind all godly education stands God’s eternal counsel.
That is so with regard to all things. How much more to the things that stand in direct connection with the Christ of God. We read of that Christ that the Lords’ good pleasure shall prosper at His hand!
The living Christ is behind all Christian education worthy the name.
So also here in the history of Hannah and Samuel.
Hannah received grace in the eyes of the Lord.
And because of that wondrous grace, she longs and yearns and prays for a son.
And then we hear of education that pleased the Lord.
Education that is godly!
What wondrous boon from the Lord!
Samuel’s godly education finds its never-begun-beginning in the wakes of eternity before the world was.
Samuel in all his glory is a beautiful thought of God.
And to bring that eternal thought to realization God will set His marvelous deeds in action.
Hannah is operated upon by Word and Spirit.
And she began to long and to pray to God.
We find here on her knees before the face of God in Shiloh.
The fat man, Eli, is watching her. He beholds moving lips but no words. But Hannah “was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the Lord, and wept sore.”
How must we explain the bitterness and the sore weeping? This woman had an adversary. Elkanah, her husband, had a second wife. And she was a bad one. She plagued Hannah continually. Later, much later, in her glad song she will refer to this bad woman, and she will call Peninnah her adversary, her Satan. We read of that woman that she would provoke her sore, for to make her fret. You see, that bad woman had many children, but God had shut up the womb of poor Hannah.
Can you see the reason for her weeping and great travail before the face of the Lord?
But God had sent that spirit of supplication and of prayer. All true prayer is a gift of God. Make no mistake: all, absolutely all, prayer that originates with man is abomination to the Lord. He only exults in the prayers which He originates in the depths of the hearts of His children.
So also here: God listens to poor Hannah, as she weeps bitterly: Oh God! give Thou me a son, and I promise Thee that as long as he shall have being on This sorry earth, he shall be returned unto Thee!
Thus she prayed, and she prayed often.
A petition and a promise to God!
If I may beget the son of my petition, Lord, I will give him back to Thee in godly education: Shiloh shall be his school!
And the Lord heard. Hallelujah! He always hears the prayers which He inspires. They are His own work, and He will crown those works. I think of the beautiful and biblical thought: Strengthen that which Thou hast wrought!
Yes, He heard.
Hannah bare a son and she called his name Samuel: the petitioned of the Lord!
Names are important. Note how the history of godly education began on earth. In harmony with the eternal plan and thought: Samuel, the mother bears the wonderful name of Hannah, which means: grace!
Grace begets Samuel! Who would not sing?!
Covenant mothers! There is your name!
Yes, Hannah is a wonderful type of covenant mothers of all the ages. They pray for their children even before they beget them. All the heavenly citizens which shall inhabit the new kingdom are products of the grace of God. Hannah, Anna the prophetess, Johanna: it is all grace, grace of God.
Oh, the mothers, the Christian mothers, mothers who are bearers of the grace of God, they are so important in the chain of salvation. God thinks so. Note that he prepared David, the man after His own heart, in the generations that came before: Ruth, the Moabitess. There must be a sweet singer of psalms in the time appointed. Behold, its preparation: the sweet maiden Ruth, in the fields of Bethlehem-Efratha!
Hannah’s name is grace, and she also found grace in the eyes of the Lord.
And she begat her son, and called his name Samuel.
Her subsequent action is in harmony with the former yearning and prayer. God hears her prayer, and now she will do her part in the covenant: she will educate him in the fear of the Lord.
Hannah knows the Lord, and therefore she also knows the calling that came to her: this child must be returned unto Him that gave him.
He must have Education, pleasing to the Lord!
How differently does the wicked world and the sinful flesh act.
They say: here is the given: passion, the woman, and the will of man! And the result is: we beget us a child or we refuse to beget us a child. It lies with us! the triumphant (?) cry of the boldness of sin!
And as to godly education? The world will never want it for their children. These children are theirs, and they will do as they wish with regard to them. They will give them away, they will return them and lend them, but it is unto sin and the world. And they will build their Babylons of worldly education! And they are imposing places.
But Hannah, i.e., grace of God, does differently.
They will return them to the Lord. And that returning action will last “as long as he liveth”. When Hannah breathed her last breath, it was the prayer: Lord, be merciful to my seed for Thy name’s sake! God’s people always pray for their children. They know that they belong unto God.
Hannah does differently.
No, Samuel would be a sorry fit in a public school. That will never do. And so he goes to Shiloh.
And Shiloh is the house of God.
How superbly fitting! Samuel in Shiloh!
Oh, I know that Hophni and Phinehas are there and they are a bad lot. But it did not deter Hannah. There was no other House of God at that time in history, otherwise Hannah would have sent him there. It was all there was. In spite of the wickedness of Hophni and Phinehas, and in spite of the carnality of Eli, God dwelled in Shiloh. And Hannah knew it.
And so she made him a little coat, and she did so from year to year. And he went to the Christian school at Shiloh.
I thought on these things when I saw the vast parade of children passing my window on their way to the Christian school which had just opened its doors. Our Hannah’s also think of the little coats, from year to year. And there they went: trim and fresh and young. They were on their way to Shiloh.
Education, pleasing to the Lord!
But it is so long ago. What is the meaning for us?
It is this: Shiloh is first in your heart. In your heart is the home of God. And you are sending your children every day to the Christian school in your heart. That is, you return the children God gave you unto Him in your heart first of all. Peter would say much later: Sanctify the Lord God in your heart! And that means that your heart is made the Lord’s sanctuary. So that all in that heart is dedicated to the Lord. You and all your heart’s life is bowing down before the Lord’s throne, and that throne is established in your heart.
Mothers! You know that you bear your children in your heart day and night! Well then, you give those children to God in your heart first of all. And second, you give them to God in your home. The atmosphere of your home is the atmosphere of Shiloh, the House of God. And third, you return your children unto God in Shiloh, and that is the Church of God. They go to church on Sunday, whether they want to or not. You establish habits for them. You prepare their little coat from year to year and you take them to Shiloh. You do not ask: My darling, would you like to go to church with Mother? Oh no! You say: Children, prepare yourselves, put on your little coats, and follow me to Shiloh.
And in all such doing, Hannah works out the government of Elkanah. He is the head of the family, and his wife, Hannah, is his right hand.
And, fourth, you send the little Samuels to Shiloh, and that is the catechism. And you will know if they know their lessons. And you acquaint them with the proper atmosphere in Shiloh, and train them to answer to that atmosphere in perfect behavior in the house of God. And, fifth, you send them to Shiloh, and that is the Christian school. And Shiloh for us is the Protestant Reformed school if there is one in your neighborhood. And if there is no Protestant Reformed school in your neighborhood, you will try with your husband Elkanah to get one. You will join the Gideon bands to obtain one. But in the meantime you will not send your little Samuels to the public school. Oh no! God forbid! They are the petitioned of the Lord! Their background is the beautiful thoughts of eternal covenant Jehovah. They belong to Him, and therefore, they go to Shiloh, and that is the Christian school.
In fine, you and your husband Elkanah say all the days of the life of your children: Lord, here are Thy children! We have petitioned them of Thee, and Thou gavest them to us, and now we return them to Thee! Use them, O our God! use them in Thy blessed service at Shiloh!
And what is the fruit?
Well, for Samuel that he became a mighty man of the Lord. The text says that he worshipped the Lord there. Oh, let us always have the proper atmosphere for our children so that they may be able to worship the Lord there. Yes, Samuel became a mighty man of God. He became prophet, priest and judge of Israel.
The singer of Psalm 99 is bidden to chant of him: Samuel among them that call upon My name!
He must have been a mighty man of prayer. When things went bad with Israel, and the prophet Jeremiah would intercede, God said: “Though Moses and Samuel stood before Me, yet My mind could not be toward this people.” It shows that Samuel was a mighty man of God, and a mighty man of prayer. Do you hot see the preparation of all this might in the sobbing, weeping, yearning and supplicating Hannah? Do you not see the preparation of mighty Samuel in his God-fearing mother?
O what a calling we have as fathers and mothers!
Fruit? For Israel he became a great blessing. He’ led them in the battle against their bitter enemies and they had the victory. And one of his last acts was the anointing of the good King David.
The name of Samuel was blessed in Israel.
That we then may bring up children that will be a blessing to the church! May God give it!
I would have you sit down with your Bible and read her song of chapter 2. It will be worth your while.
She began to sing. And her song is beautiful. It gives all the praise to Jehovah. And that is comely.
When Hannah was used by God to bear God-fearing children, and when she saw them at Shiloh, that is, in heaven with God, she was satisfied. She had, heaven in her heart, and if that prevails, you are going to sing.
A last glimpse of Samuel.
He was but a little lad, and very obedient. He took his place in the Christian school at Shiloh, and I would, as a last word, show you the great benefits of Christian Instruction, worthy the name.
He laid himself down in the place appointed, and the Lord began to call him: Samuel, Samuel!
He went to Eli, thinking that this teacher had called him. But this Christian School teacher sent him back to his place. This happened again and again.
At last the teacher perceived that the Lord had called the lad. And so he said to Samuel: Go, lie down, and it shall be, if He call thee, that thou shalt say, Speak, Lord: for Thy servant heareth!
Now I would ask you to take, away the historical cloak which clothes this incident, and see the wonderful worth of Christian education: they teach the child how to answer the Lord when He calleth!
And what an answer!
It is exactly the answer we would have our children utter before the face of our God. Speak, Lord, Thy servant heareth, or, Thy handmaiden heareth!
When our children are taught to do this, we are happy with Hannah. And we, the Christian parents, are ready to sing the song of Hannah.
And we say with her: “My heart rejoiceth in the Lord!”