For This Child I Prayed by Elspeth Young

For This Child I Prayed


{ Hannah & Samuel }
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And [Hannah] vowed a vow, and said, O Lord of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the Lord all the days of his life...

and Elkanah knew Hannah his wife; and the Lord remembered her.

Wherefore it came to pass, when the time was come about after Hannah had conceived, that she bare a son, and called his name Samuel, saying, Because I have asked him of the Lord...

And when she had weaned him, she took him up with her...

and brought the child to Eli.

And she said, O my lord, as thy soul liveth, my lord, I am the woman that stood by thee here, praying unto the Lord. 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.

1 Samuel 1:11, 19-20, 24-28

The story behind For This Child I Prayed

This painting celebrates the joy of motherhood, depicting Hannah in the life-renewing role of nurturer.

Grieved because she was childless, Hannah had gone to the Lord with her petition for a child, promising that she would give the child to the Lord to be His servant.  This request is blessed by the High Priest, Eli, and Hannah brings forth a child a names him Samuel.  Hannah only keeps young Samuel until the time he is weaned (according to one Biblical Commentary, likely, in this case, the age of three (Keil and Delitzsch, 26).  In the few years between the infant's birth and his presentation at the Tabernacle, Hannah cares for him and plants seeds of faith and devotion through her nurturing influence.  Her testimony of the Savior, as evidenced in her beautiful prayer recorded in 1 Samuel 2, shows her understanding of and trust in the "rock" of Israel (see 2 Samuel 2:2).  Her care for Samuel, throughout his early years is apparent from the "little coat" she made him "from year to year, when she came up with her husband to offer the yearly sacrifice" (1 Samuel 2:19).  When she prays to the Lord, Hannah declares, "My heart rejoiceth in the Lord, mine horn is exalted in the Lord...because I rejoice in thy salvation..."  The happiness seen in Hannah's expression is a reflection of the joy she feels because of the blessings of the Lord.  Like Rachel, the "Lord remembered her" and she is blessed with the righteous desire of her heart for a child.  In addition to granting Hannah's request, the Lord, through Eli, promises more children to Hannah and her husband, showing us that, indeed, the Lord "crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies..." (see Psalms 103:4).

Symbolism in For This Child I Prayed

The Book of First Chronicles chapter 23 states that the Levites were "to wait on the sons of Aaron for the service of the house of the Lord, in the courts, and in the chambers, and in the purifying of all holy things, and the work of the service of the house of God" (verse 28).  Joshua 18:7 also makes it clear that the "inheritance" of the Levites was the "priesthood of the Lord".  Elkanah, the father of the prophet Samuel, was a Levite (see 1 Chronicles 6:16-28), therefore, Samuel could serve with Eli at the Tabernacle.  Because of their work or "inheritance" of Priesthood obligations and duties, the Lord instructs Moses to give the Levites forty-eight cities for their dwellings.  Hence, Hannah and Samuel are depicted in such a dwelling with a stone building visible behind the figures.  The dwelling here also symbolizes Hannah's words in her beautiful prayer of thanksgiving in 1 Samuel 2:  "There is none holy as the Lord: for there is none beside thee: neither is there any rock like our God."  Her words of praise echo the words of the Lord given to the Prophet Enoch when He declares: "I am Messiah, the King of Zion, the Rock of Heaven, which is broad as eternity; whoso cometh in at the gate and climbeth up by me shall never fall; wherefore, blessed are they of whom I have spoken, for they shall come forth with songs of everlasting joy." (See Moses 7:53, as well as the Savior's words in the Sermon on the Mount, which describe the "wise man, which built his house upon a rock...and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock" -- see Matt 7:25.  Therefore, the stone edifice behind Hannah and her child symbolizes the way in which they are built "upon the the rock of [their] Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God" (see Helaman 5:12).

The fabric directly behind Hannah on the left side of the painting recalls many artists' renderings of Old Testament prophets, who are commonly shown in striped clothing.  It is meant, therefore, to symbolize Samuel's prophetic mission and the Priesthood power given to the tribe of Levi (see 1 Chronicles 23).

Samuel wears a white tunic trimmed in gold.  This represents the "linen ephod" he would later wear while he "ministered before the Lord, being a child" (1 Samuel 2:18).  The scriptural account also tells us that Hannah "made [Samuel] a little coat" (1 Samuel 2:19) as he grew year by year, also symbolized here.  Whatever Samuel's clothing may have actually looked like, here the artist renders the details of a carefully and lovingly crafted garment symbolizing the central importance of purity in the life of both mother and child.  This was a special child, requested of the Lord, and his clothing symbolizes what one Bible Dictionary refers to as his "faith, patience, integrity, and self-sacrifice" (BD Samuel)

Hannah also wears white, symbolic of her faith and purity.  The brightly colored wrap she wears warmly enfolds herself, and visually touches the child as well, symbolizing the influence of a righteous mother in the life of her child.
© By Elspeth Young, All Rights Reserved. You may not print, copy, or reproduce this artwork or make derivative works from it without the prior written consent of the copyright holder. For permissions, please review our FAQ page.



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Illustration: For This Child I Prayed

By Al R. Young
High-resolution digital copies are available from the Studios for use as illustrations.  Use the serial number—appearing below the thumbnail—in requesting permission from the Studios (see links at the bottom of this page for detail).


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