First Day of School

by Rev. Terence Groth

0908scripture.jpgEarly every fall a milestone event takes place all across America: Mothers send their children off to the first day of school. For some pupils this is a partial day in preschool or kindergarten. For others, it is a full day as a first-grader. For still others, it is the first day of life as a young adult, beginning college many miles from home.

This event can be traumatic, and it is always a faith venture for both parent and child. The story of Hannah and Samuel from the Old Testament reminds us that in this activity God is at work, caring for His children and accomplishing His good purposes.

Parents and children can be encouraged that God has been acting in their lives to bring His blessings long before the first day of school. For what did Hannah pray, and how did God answer her prayer? Read 1 Sam. 1:11, 20.

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As difficult as it must have been, Hannah kept her promise and dedicated her young son to God to be His life-long servant. She commended Samuel into the care of the priest Eli at the tabernacle. But first, Hannah had three or more years during which she nursed Samuel at home, and introduced him to his God. Hannah’s prayer on the day of her dedication of Samuel at the tabernacle shows her to be a mother of deep faith and well-formulated theology. What does her prayer (1 Sam. 2:1–10) express about the following topics?

God (vv. 2, 3b):

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Creation (v. 8c):

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Providence (vv. 8a, b, 9):

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Death and resurrection (v. 6):

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Judgment (v. 10b):

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Messiah/anointed (v. 10c.):

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Through Hannah’s nurturing of Samuel and his training with Eli, God worked a growing faith-life in young Samuel. How is that expressed in the following passages?

1 Sam. 1:28:

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1 Sam. 2:26:

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1 Sam. 3:19–21:

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Samuel grew into the leader and prophet whom God used powerfully to rescue Israel from her enemies (1 Sam. 7:2–17) and to select and anoint Israel’s first kings, Saul (1 Sam. 10:20–25) and David (1 Sam. 16:1–13). The latter became the ancestor whose descendant, Jesus of Nazareth, was the ultimate fulfillment of Hannah’s prayer. In fact, Jesus’ mother may well have modeled her prayer of praise for her son after Hannah’s (cf. Luke 1:46–55).

Like Samuel, Jesus “grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men” (Luke 2:52 NIV). Like Samuel, Jesus rescued God’s people from their enemies—this time, the ultimate enemies of death and the devil (Col. 2:15; Heb. 2:14–15; 1 John 3:8). But far greater than those Samuel anointed as kings, Jesus was anointed by His Father to rule over heaven and earth. He rules eternally over all who trust in the forgiveness He won as He reigned from the cross (Col. 1:15–20).

What a mighty chain of saving events God set in motion as He moved Hannah to bring her little son for his first of many days in God’s school! What blessings will God work through all the Samuels whose mothers bring them for their first day of school this year? The school bell calls us to prayer and joyful expectation!

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contemporary world from a Lutheran Christian perspective.

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