The topic of parenting is cornering me on all sides: I’m in the beginning stages of writing a book with the working title Mom Guilt: Breaking Free from the Silent Struggles of Motherhood; Highpoint’s first parenting conference is around the corner (check out 7000days.org); and I also find myself in 1 Samuel where, within just a few chapters, both the highs and lows of parenting are experienced. (Even if you aren’t a parent, I urge you to track with me. I think it’ll be worth your 3 minutes, and the principle applies to every season of your life.)
In the beginning of 1 Samuel, a mom by the name of Hannah literally gave her child over to be raised for God’s purposes. And how does the story unfold? Samuel grows up as a godly man… but when it comes time for him to raise his own children, the results are not so picturesque.
Don’t we all do our best to raise children who love the Lord with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength? I’m sure Samuel had the same desire. Yet in his later years, when Samuel calls his sons to take over as judges to Israel, we’re met with the sobering reality…
Yet his sons did not walk in his ways but turned aside after gain. They took bribes and perverted justice. (1 Samuel 8:3)
My heart sank as I read this. Hannah did the best she could and I bet Samuel would say the same. Yet the contrast in the results was startling. And the ripple effect of the sons’ bad choices was that Israel demands that Samuel give them a king like all the other nations. In their mind, the whole judge thing wasn’t working and they wanted to be like other countries who were ruled by a king instead.
Scripture doesn’t say this, but I imagine in the humanity of Samuel he had to have thought things like: “If only my boys had followed the Lord, Israel wouldn’t be asking for a king. What should I have done differently?”; “Was I too busy being a judge that this is my fault?”
I’ve been this parent. I’ve rejoiced with the good, but also beat myself up over the bad. Ever been there? If so, you’ll notice the self-beating lasts ten times longer than the celebration, right?
But check out 1 Samuel 8:6-9, and be reminded of how merciful our Father is. Samuel brings his heavy heart and concern for Israel to the Lord. (Take note from Samuel: this is the first step to any situation.) God does two things…
- He gives Samuel His perspective…
“… for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them.”
- He gives Samuel specific direction…
“Now then, obey their voice; only you shall solemnly warn them and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them.”
I don’t know about you, but this breathes hope into those dark places of my doubt. God helped Samuel see that Israel’s attitude problem wasn’t about Samuel or his sons. And then he told Samuel what to do.
This isn’t to free us as parents from owning our role in shaping our children. I’ve certainly prayed and asked God to free my children from any mother wounds that I’ve unintentionally inflicted. But I think every single person would be better if they had God’s perspective instead of assuming the worst. When we have God’s perspective, we can then receive what our next step should be.
I’m grateful that the God of Samuel is our God. If you’re struggling, I urge you to be like Samuel:
- Take your burden to God.
- Ask Him for His perspective.
- Follow His specific lead.