How Shall We Order the Child
Scripture reading-: Judges 13.
The Sunday School teacher for a short time once in the week is the custodian of the little children committed to his care. The special purpose of his work is the sowing of gospel seeds in their young hearts. In this chapter, we have the earnest prayer of the custodian of a very particular child. This prayer, therefore, may prove of great value to all who have a care for young souls and lives.
Let us notice:
By Whom Prayer Was Made:
Manoah was of the tribe of Dan, and he lived in the town of Zorah. The signification of these three names Manoah, Zorah, and Dan, may give us a picture of not only what this man was, but what every Sunday School teacher ought to be.
Zorah means a nest of hornets. In this name you can almost hear the hum and feel the sting of the hornets, Z-O-R-A-H. It reminds us of the sting of sin from which all have suffered. “All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23).
Manoah signifies “rest.” This reminds us of the words of our blessed Lord Jesus as He turned from the religious self-righteous people of Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum to the poor and sinful, saying, “Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28).
The idea conveyed by the name Dan suggests the thought of judging. This is something that all Christians need to practise—judging, not others, but themselves. It is not only essential that Sunday School teachers should be saved and enjoying rest in Christ, but it also is necessary that they examine themselves before the Lord, reckoning themselves dead indeed unto sin. All should know in a measure at least the blessedness of Gal. 2:20, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, Who loved me, and gave Himself for me” (Gal. 2:20). Success in any department of Christian service lies in the constant recognition of these great spiritual truths.
To Whom Prayer Was Made:
We have in this chapter what is called a theophany, a temporary appearance of God during Old Testament times in some visible form. In answer to the question of Manoah the heavenly Visitor said, “Why askest thou thus after My name, seeing it is secret (marginal reading, wonderful)?” Wonderful! Is not this one of the titles of our Lord Jesus? “His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (Isa. 9:6). Here in Judges 13, we see Him to be as good as His name, for again we read in the margin, “The Lord Who worketh wondrously” (V. 19, margin).
“They say He is wonderful; they say He is wonderful,
The sun and the moon and the stars above
All say, He is wonderful.
“I know He is wonderful; I know He is wonderful.
He saves, and He keeps, and He satisfies.
I know He is wonderful.”
This is the One to Whom Manoah made his request, and this is the very One to Whom we also may pray. “O Thou that hearest prayer unto Thee shall all flesh come.” “Ask and ye shall receive that your joy may be full” (John 16:24).
This short but earnest prayer of the man who felt the grave responsibility of caring for and teaching this child, embraces, among other things:
The child: Manoah prayed about the child that was entrusted to him. Do we pray for the children entrusted to us? Do we pray for that boy who annoys? Do you pray for that girl who is so mischievous? Do you pray for them individually? Be sure and pray for them when they are sick and when they are in trouble. Pray for their souls, for their salvation. PRAY, Pray, pray.
The teacher: He prayed, “How shall we?” Yes, we need to pray for the children, but we need also to pray for ourselves, the teachers, for the child’s needs are our needs. What encouragement we have in the Word of God. “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and up-braideth not; and it shall be given him” (Jas. 1:5).
The instruction: “How shall we order the child?” The word rendered “order” in this passage is quite comprehensive. It sometimes means to charge, to fashion or form, to judge, to measure, etc. We might fill in this great request thus: How shall we charge his mind, form his character, judge his conduct, and measure his progress? Manoah needed everything; moreover, he felt his deep need, and presented it to the Lord. There are times when you feel your need in your class to be very very great, but you can make it known to the Lord, and out of His infinite supply He can meet it. “Whatsoever ye shall ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son” (John 14:13). He is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that you ask or think.
Why The Prayer Was Made:
First, because of the decline in morals: “And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the Lord” (V. 1). In the opening part of this chapter, we see the dreadful degeneracy in the nation. They had turned their back upon God, and had plunged into idolatry once more. It was in a scene of idolatry, sin, and iniquity that Manoah prayed for help for the child. We do live in days of moral decline. In religious life there is modernism to combat; in international life there is communism to face. In social life things are very demoralized, and in many families the children are throwing off parental restraint. Thousands of young boys and girls each year forsake their homes to live as prodigals in the larger centres of this continent.
In second place, because of spiritual life: “No razor shall come on his head: for the child shall be a Nazarite unto God” (V. 5). One cannot but notice, in the reading of this chapter, that God puts the spiritual life of young Samson before everything else. The birth of the child was not the goal to be attained. There was his life afterwards, Godward and manward, to be governed. In Sunday School work when we have won a soul to Christ, our work is not ended, for in most cases the teacher is the first one to whom the young soul will go with its difficulties and problems. Consequently, the teacher, better than any others, is in a position to help mould the young Christian’s character and testimony. May the Lord make each teacher who reads this paper, not only a soul-winner, but also a guide and guardiar of Christian youth.
Thirdly, because of future possibilities: “He shall begin to deliver Israel” (V. 5). What possibilities lie latent in a child!
An aged servant of the Lord who was very much discouraged went early one evening into the vestry to pray before the night service. While he was there alone, one of the deacons came to inform him that the congregation requested his resignation at once. “Because,” said the deacon, “there has been no result to your preaching during the last year. The only convert is just a little boy.”
At the close of the service that night the aged preacher went again into the vestry to weep and to pray. His work was fruitless, his service done, his preaching days were over. Into the silence of that holy scene a little boy walked, and reverently waited until the aged gentleman a-rose from his knees. “Sir,” said he, “Do you think that if I study hard, and try to do the will of God, that when I grow up, I can be a missionary?” That boy did live for God, and that one convert of that year studied hard, went to Africa, won souls to Christ, and glorified God in a long and fruitful life. That boy was Robert Moffat.
The Lord alone knows the mighty powers for good that are hidden in the immature lives and hearts of the children in our Sunday School classes. Let us win them for Christ; let us lead them on in the ways that are pleasing to the Lord. In the coming day, we shall rejoice together with them over service accomplished in and through them.