January 26, 2012 by greenhouse04
As part of my journey toward understanding adoption better, I have turned to God’s Word to discover what He says about adoption, children, parents, and families. Here is the first installment in a series of posts about specific passages having to do with these topics. These thoughts are taken from my journal, so the writing may not be very polished.
1 Samuel 2:1-10
(emphasis on verse 5, ESV)
And Hannah prayed and said, “My heart exults in the LORD; my strength is exalted in the LORD. My mouth derides my enemies, because I rejoice in your salvation.
“There is none holy like the LORD; there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God.
Talk no more so very proudly, let not arrogance come from your mouth; for the LORD is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed.
The bows of the mighty are broken, but the feeble bind on strength.
Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread, but those who were hungry have ceased to hunger. The barren has borne seven, but she who has many children is forlorn.
The LORD kills and brings to life; he brings down to Sheol and raises up.
The LORD makes poor and makes rich; he brings low and he exalts.
He raises up the poor from the dust; he lifts the needy from the ash heap to make them sit with princes and inherit a seat of honor. For the pillars of the earth are the LORD’s, and on them he has set the world.
He will guard the feet of his faithful ones, but the wicked shall be cut off in darkness, for not by might shall a man prevail.
The adversaries of the LORD shall be broken to pieces; against them he will thunder in heaven. The LORD will judge the ends of the earth; he will give strength to his king and exalt the power of his anointed.”
This is Hannah’s prayer of praise, after the Lord granted her request and let her conceive a son, and as she gave that son to the priest to serve the Lord.
Hannah was barren and pled bitterly with the Lord to give her a son. She promised that if He did, she would dedicate the boy to His service once he was weaned – meaning, she would leave him at the temple at a very early age and then only see him once a year. Once she finally, miraculously, had a son, she did not forget this vow, but difficult as it must have been, carried it out. Her trust and foremost devotion is in and to the Lord, not her son. Her prayer reflects this, proclaiming that she exults in the Lord – He is her strength and salvation, the One who lifts us up and casts us down.
Verse 5 is not literal – that every barren woman who trusts in God will bear seven children (Hannah herself had six, and at this point could not have known she would have any more besides Samuel), but it is saying that God is capable of bringing more fulfillment and blessing to the life of a barren woman than to a woman with many children. In fact, He could make it seem like the one with many children actually has none, perhaps because they die or forsake her or are a curse to her. But the one who truly trusts in the Lord and who finds all they need in Him will experience His fulfillment and blessings in ways nothing on earth – children, family, wealth, health – can. Hannah demonstrated that she truly believed this by willingly giving up her only son (at the time) to someone else to raise in service to God. He would grow up away from her, and once grown, would not be there to support her.
(emphasis verse 9, ESV)
Praise the LORD! Praise, O servants of the LORD, praise the name of the LORD!
Blessed be the name of the LORD from this time forth and forevermore!
From the rising of the sun to its setting, the name of the LORD is to be praised!
The LORD is high above all nations, and his glory above the heavens!
Who is like the LORD our God, who is seated on high,
who looks far down on the heavens and the earth?
He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap,
to make them sit with princes, with the princes of his people.
He gives the barren woman a home, making her the joyous mother of children. Praise the LORD!
This psalm says that a barren woman is lowly, is poor and needy, someone who needs to be raised from the dust and ash heap. As much as I don’t like it, that’s me all right. Perhaps I should allow my barrenness to break my pride a little, to humble me. I sure need more humility.
Anyway, this psalm is saying “who is like the Lord our God?” It begins with a call for His servants to praise the Lord forever, extolling the Name of the Lord as worthy to be praised. Why? Because He is high above all nations, even above the heavens, and no one is like Him. He is so high above us that He has to look far down to us – but look down He does. He is high, but He is also merciful and intimately involved with His servants. He raises up the poor and needy, blessing and exalting them, even blessing the barren woman with a home and children.
It doesn’t say that He gives the barren woman biological children (“opens her womb”), so I suppose this could mean adopted or spiritual children, and a physical or spiritual home. But He lifts the barren woman up from her ash heap of grief and shame, exalting and blessing her, bringing her joy. And for this the name of the Lord IS to be praised!
Psalm 127 (ESV)
A Song of Ascents. Of Solomon. Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.
It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.
Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth.
Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.
Psalm 128 (ESV)
A Song of Ascents. Blessed is everyone who fears the LORD, who walks in his ways!
You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands; you shall be blessed, and it shall be well with you.
Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children will be like olive shoots around your table.
Behold, thus shall the man be blessed who fears the LORD.
The LORD bless you from Zion! May you see the prosperity of Jerusalem all the days of your life!
May you see your children’s children! Peace be upon Israel!
These psalms have the well-known verse that children are a heritage from the Lord, etc. However, Psalm 127 begins by saying that unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. It doesn’t matter how many children you manage to produce, unless the Lord is involved, they will not be a blessing. In order for them to be arrows, you must care for and hone them. You also must do the work of filling your quiver with them – and for some this is harder to do than for others. But it says that blessed is the man who fills his quiver! So we can assume that this includes those who try hard and fill the quiver with adopted children.
These psalms show that God loves families and loves to bless them, but the families who follow the Lord are the only ones truly blessed.
Lord, I want our family to be truly blessed by You, regardless of the challenges we face. I want these children that we have filled our quiver with to truly be a blessing and to not put us to shame, but to make us proud. May they be like olive shoots around our table!