1 SAMUEL 1:1-11
PRINCETON CHRISTIAN CHURCH
18 JUNE 2023
If you have, or are going to, give your Father a gift on this Father’s Day did you find the perfect gift? Well, if you gave your Mother a gift on Mother’s Day, it should be easy for you to find the perfect gift for your Father. In fact, it can be the exact same give you gave to your Mother.
In the Bible, God gave us the Ten Commandments. Those Ten Commandments instruct us on how we should live. They tell us how we should act toward God, and how we should act toward one another.
And what do we find between the commands to “remember the Sabbath” and “thou shalt not murder?” God gave us the fifth commandment: “Honor your father and mother.”
Honor means to regard with great respect, to esteem, or give recognition. The fact that God even added “honor your father” to the Ten Commandments should show us how important it is.
There are lots of things you can give your Dad on Father’s Day, but what is the most important gift? The best gift we can give our dad on Father’s Day is to honor him. That’s what we want to do here today.
But let’s face it. And you Dads here today – you know this. This won’t come as any surprise to anyone. Father’s Day isn’t quite as big a deal as Mother’s Day, is it?
Traditionally, though not so much these days, on Mother’s Day there is a higher attendance at church, mothers often have corsages, and people gather at Mom’s house, or the family takes Mom out to eat after church.
All this to pay honor to the hands that rocked the cradle. But on Father’s Day, the church is not as full, emotions are not as high, and businesses don’t profit nearly as much.
Back before cell phones became a huge part of our lives, Southwestern Bell reported that Mother’s Day is the busiest telephone day of the year. But Father’s Day was a bigger money-maker for them because there are more collect calls on Father’s Day than on any other day of the year. Today most people don’t even know what a collect call is.
But it’s not easy being a dad. It seems like dads spend the first couple years of their children’s life encouraging them to walk and talk, and the rest of their life telling them to sit down and be quiet.
Here is an interesting note: In Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary the word “father” comes right before the word “fatigued.”
Unfortunately, we do live in a culture that has really minimized the role of fathers in the family. If you watch television, the father character is often portrayed as a bumbling buffoon. There is even a name for it; media analysts refer to it as Homer Simpson Syndrome. Shows like the Simpsons have turned fathers and fatherhood in general into laughingstocks. We’ve come a long way from Father Knows Best and the Andy Griffith Show. But these portrayals couldn’t be further from the truth.
You may not see it, especially when they’re young, but a father is more influential in the development of a child’s life than any other factor. And the older your kids get the more they appreciate their dads.
Mark Twain once said, “When I was a boy of 14 my father was so ignorant, I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man learned in 7 years.”
Father’s Day is a time to celebrate the huge contribution made to family life by our dads. A special moment of the year to say thanks for all the sacrifices made, for the hard work, for the long hours of parenthood freely given but rarely acknowledged.
On Mother’s Day, we might hear a sermon focused on a godly mother named Hannah. Hannah, if you remember, became the mother of Samuel, who was the last of the great judges of Israel and the first of the great Old Testament prophets. He became a great leader and a great man of God thanks to the prayers and influence of his mother. But Hannah, of course, was not a single mom. The other half of the parenting team was a man named Elkanah.
The book of Samuel begins in the days when judges still ruled Israel, possibly during the closing years of Samson’s life. The Bible doesn’t give us a long introduction; rather the opening verses simply say, “There was a certain man from Ramathaim, a Zuphite from the hill country of Ephraim, whose name was Elkanah… He had two wives; one was called Hannah and the other Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah had none.” (1 Samuel 1:1-2 NIV)
The passage focuses on Hannah, and her prayer, and her promise to dedicate her child to the Lord and raise him in God’s house.
But let’s focus now on Elkanah. We are not told a lot about Elkanah, but his story highlights two powerful lessons that fathers of every generation can benefit from. The first lesson is that a godly father must love his wife.
GODLY FATHERS LOVE THEIR WIVES
As head coach at UCLA, John Wooden won ten NCAA championships in a 12-year period. In his memoirs, A Lifetime of Reflections On and Off the Court, he writes, “The best thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother.” I think he’s right.
It is obvious that your kids need and deserve your love from their father. But, if you’re married, your wife comes first. This is tough for some people to hear. Now, there are times when a child’s immediate needs might come first, but ultimately the marriage bond has to take first priority.
Your marriage comes first. Then your kids. When it’s the other way around, terrible things happen. When kids are the center of your universe, they grow up thinking they are the center of the universe.
But kids who grow up watching their dad model and express true love for their mom will learn the right way to love and be loved.
The Bible instructs, “Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself for it” (Ephesians 5:25). That’s what Elkanah did. He loved Hannah very much and he showed it. Of course, there are numerous ways to show your wife that you love her, but we can condense it down to two ways — works and words.
That’s how Elkanah showed his love. At dinner time, the Bible says, “But to Hannah, he gave a double portion because he loved her” (1 Samuel 1:5 NIV). It was such a small, but significant act. Elkanah loved his wife and tried to show it in simple acts of service.
And we, as Dads, can do the same for our wives. Do the dishes for her or do them together. Don’t leave your underwear on the bathroom floor. Take her on a date or buy her flowers every once in a while. Show your love through your works.
Elkanah also showed love through his words.
During the meal, Elkanah asks, “Why aren’t you eating? Why be downhearted just because you have no children? You have me—isn’t that better than having ten sons?” (1 Samuel 1:8 NLT).
Can’t you just see the dopey smile on his face when he says this? He saw his wife was hurting and he used words to encourage her and show his love. That’s what we ought to do too.
We can identify five types of conversation that make up the fabric of our relationships: small talk, serious talk, self-talk, soul talk, and sweet talk.
Few marriages fail when these five types of communication are practiced between husbands and wives. Of course, sometimes what you don’t say is just as important as what you do say.
A Christian comedian, Tim Hawkins, wrote a song about this titled “Things You Don’t Say to Your Wife:
Would you stop talking ‘cause I am watching the game.
I planned a hunting trip next week on your birthday,
Go make some dinner while I watch this fishing show.
I taped it over our wedding video.
Your cooking is ok but not as good as my Mother’s.
Husbands need to be like Elkanah. Love our wives, the Mother of our children with our words and our works.
Now, Elkanah did make one glaring mistake – one that today we would see as not allowed. He married two women! Some things should go without saying. Every single time we read about a man with multiple wives in the Bible, it always ends in tears. And the wives probably suffer too. It was wrong back then and it is wrong today.
Human nature hasn’t changed. Men, even though we live in a largely monogamous society, your wife needs to know that she is the only woman in the world for you! She shouldn’t have to compete with memories of ex-girlfriends or images on a computer or anything else. She needs to be the only woman in your life.
In his book, If I Could Do It All Again, John Dresser shares 8 things that he would do differently if he could go through his years of being a father all over again. Can you guess what the first item on his list is? “First of all,” he writes, “if I could do it all over again, I would love my wife more, because by loving my children’s mother more, I would create an environment of security in our home. Our love would be something they could see, something they would never have to worry about.”
We don’t want to look back later in life wishing we could do it all over again. Godly fathers love their wives.
GODLY FATHERS ALSO LOVE TO WORSHIP
A Godly father makes God an intimate friend of his family. A Godly father will be sure that his children hear him speak the name of Jesus freely and openly – and frequently. A Godly father communicates to his children that God is involved in all their family decisions. A Godly father wants them to see and hear him pray and read God’s Word and search for His direction and leadership.
Elkanah was that kind of father. The Bible says, “Each year Elkanah would travel to Shiloh to worship and sacrifice to the Lord of Heaven’s Armies at the Tabernacle” (1 Samuel 1:3 NLT).
Each year, there were three special religious festivals held at the Tabernacle. Even though they had to travel about 12.5 miles on foot, through the blistering desert, Elkanah never missed one.
And after spending the whole weekend worshiping in God’s house, the Bible adds, “The entire family got up early the next morning and went to worship the Lord once more. Then they returned home to Ramah” (1 Samuel 1:19 NLT). Elkanah had to get in one more worship service before they headed home. One more sacrifice. One more prayer. If worship was so important to Elkanah, don’t you know he was worshipping at home, too? He and Hannah were people of prayer and praise.
That’s what every child needs in their father.
I read about a young boy who showed up late for Sunday School. His teacher asked why he was running behind and the boy replied, “I was supposed to be going fishing, but my dad told me I needed to go to church instead.” The teacher was very impressed and asked the boy if his dad had explained to him why it was more important to go to church than to go fishing. The boy hung his head and replied, “Yeah. Dad said he didn’t have enough bait for both of us.” Unfortunately, that sounds like some fathers.
But that’s not the kind of father we’re called to be. Dad's, God has called Dad's to be the spiritual leader of the family—to be his representative in the household.
I read another true story about a little girl who was having trouble sleeping during a thunderstorm. The thunder clapped. She screamed, jumped out of bed, and rushed to her daddy’s bedside. He put his arms around her and explained that she didn’t need to fear. God would take care of her because He loved her very much. “I know God loves me,” she replied. “But right now, Daddy, I want someone with skin on.”
Someone has said., “A child is not likely to find a father in God unless he finds something of God in his father.”
Dads, if you love God and love to worship him, your kids will have a better chance of loving God and worshipping Him. But if you don’t, they won’t.
Statistics tell us that in families where mom is a regular churchgoer, but dad isn’t, only 37% of the kids will attend church even sporadically when they grow up. On the other hand, in households where dad attends church regularly, 78% of the kids will still attend church when they grow up. And in families where dad attends church, but mom doesn’t, it actually goes up to 84% because your children see how important God is to you. And they want to follow in your footsteps.
It is important that Dads are Godly fathers so that our children can find a father in God.
Do you know what these groups have in common?
90% of homeless and runaway children,
71% of high school dropouts,
75% of youth in drug abuse centers,
85% of all youth in prison
The one thing they all have in common is that they come from fatherless homes. The numbers show that children with involved fathers have higher self-esteem, better grade point averages, and they grow up to be the most compassionate adults. Dads, we are vital. The role we play can make a difference, changing a child’s world. God has given us the ability to completely rewrite the future.
So, thank you. Thank you for stepping up. Thank you for being a man of God, a role model, and a mentor. Thank you for saying, “I’m proud of you.” Thank you for taking us fishing and teaching us how to throw a football. For always having our backs and providing for us. Thank you for loving your wife and loving to worship.
If you grew up without a father or much of one, then Father’s Day may just be another fatherless day to you. But if that’s the case, I want to encourage you that you have a Father in God.