The Pen of Inspiration – A Lesson for Mothers

For forty years the children of Israel were constantly harassed [by the Philistines], and at times completely subjugated, by this cruel and warlike nation. They had mingled with these idolaters, uniting with them in commerce, in pleasure, and even in worship, until they seemed to be identified with them in spirit and interest. Then these professed friends became their bitterest enemies, and sought by every means to accomplish their destruction. . . .

Manoah’s Wife

At this time the Lord appeared to the wife of Manoah, an Israelite of the tribe of Dan, and told her that she should have a son. He gave her special instruction concerning her own habits, and also for the treatment of her child. “Beware, I pray thee,” he said, “and drink not wine nor strong drink, and eat not any unclean thing.” [Judges 13:4.] He also directed that no razor should come on the head of the child; for he was to be consecrated to God as a Nazarite from his birth, and through him the Lord would begin to deliver Israel from the Philistines.

The woman sought her husband, and after describing the heavenly messenger she repeated his words. Then, fearful lest they should make some mistake in the important work committed to them, the husband prayed earnestly, “Let the man of God which Thou didst send come again unto us, and teach us what we shall do unto the child that shall be born.” [Verse 8.]

In answer to this petition the angel again appeared, and Manoah’s anxious inquiry was, “How shall we order the child, and how shall we do unto him?” [Verse 12.] The previous instruction was repeated,¾“Of all that I said unto the woman let her beware. She may not eat of anything that cometh of the vine, neither let her drink wine or strong drink, nor eat any unclean thing; all that I commanded her let her observe.” [Verses 13, 14.]

Let Her Beware

The words spoken to the wife of Manoah contain a truth that the mothers of today would do well to study. In speaking to this one mother, the Lord spoke to all the anxious, sorrowing mothers of that time, and to all the mothers of succeeding generations. Yes, every mother may understand her duty. She may know that the character of her children will depend vastly more upon her habits before their birth and her personal efforts after their birth, than upon external advantages or disadvantages.

“Let her beware,” the angel said. Let her stand prepared to resist temptation. Her appetites and passions are to be controlled by principle. Of every mother it may be said, “Let her beware.” There is something for her to shun, something for her to work against, if she fulfils God’s purpose for her in giving her a child. If before the birth of her child she is unstable, if she is selfish, peevish, and exacting, the disposition of her child will bear the marks of her wrong course. Thus many children have received as a birthright almost unconquerable tendencies to evil.

But if she unswervingly adheres to the right, if she is kind, gentle, and unselfish, she will give her child these traits of character.

Very explicit was the command prohibiting the use of wine by the mother. Every drop of strong drink taken by her to gratify appetite endangers the physical, mental, and moral health of her offspring, and is a direct sin against her Creator. The command forbidding the use of strong drink was made by the One who made man, and who knows what is for his best good. Dare any one regard it with indifference?

The Only Hope

Unwise advisers will urge upon the mother the gratification of every wish and impulse as essential to the well-being of her offspring. Such advice is false and mischievous. By the command of God Himself the mother is placed under the most solemn obligation to exercise self-control. Whose voice shall we heed¾the voice of divine wisdom, or the voice of human superstition?

The mother who is a fit teacher for her children must, before their birth, form habits of self-denial and self-control; for she transmits to them her own qualities, her own strong or weak traits of character. The enemy of souls understands this matter much better than do many parents. He will bring temptation upon the mother, knowing that if she does not resist him, he can through her affect her child. The mother’s only hope is in God. She may flee to Him for grace and strength. She will not seek help in vain. He will enable her to transmit to her offspring qualities that will help them to gain success in this life and to win eternal life.

Fathers as well as mothers are involved in this responsibility, and they too should seek earnestly for divine grace, that their influence may be such as God can approve. The inquiry of every father and mother should be, “What shall we do unto the child that shall be born?” By many the effect of prenatal influence has been lightly regarded; but the instruction sent from heaven to those Hebrew parents, and twice repeated in the most explicit and solemn manner, shows how the matter is looked upon by the Creator.

Careful Training

It was not enough that the child who was to deliver Israel should receive a good legacy from his parents. This must be followed by careful training. From infancy he was to be trained to habits of strict temperance. From his birth he was to be a Nazarite. Thus he was placed under a perpetual prohibition against the use of wine and strong drink.

So today lessons of temperance, self-denial, and self-control are to be taught to children from babyhood. It should be the constant effort of every mother to conform her habits to God’s will, that she may work in harmony with Him in the training of her children. Let mothers place themselves in right relation to their Creator, that by His grace they may build round their children a bulwark against intemperance. If they would but follow the course God has outlined for them, they would see their children reaching a high standard in moral and intellectual attainments, see them becoming a blessing to society and an honor to their Creator.

If mothers studied the Scriptures more and the magazines of fashion less, if they realized that their course affects the destiny of hundreds and perhaps of thousands, how different would be the condition of society. The cause of reform is suffering for want of men and women of integrity and steadfastness, men and women whose lives are an illustration of the self-denial and self-control that bar the way against intemperance.

Can we look upon the unbelief, the intemperance, the crime, that seem to be deluging the earth, without feeling our souls stirred to their very depths? Infidelity is rearing its proud head, saying, “There is no God.” Intemperance marches boldly through the land, carrying with it degradation, desolation, and death. Ere long the cry of men and nations that have forsaken God, and have been forsaken by God, will rend the heavens. What can hinder the crime, what stay the woe, that is filling the world? The evil might have been prevented, had past generations been trained to fear, love, and obey God. Let us now do what we can to bring about the change that needs to be made. Explicit instruction has been given in the Word of God. Let these principles be carried out by the mother with the co-operation and support of the father. Let children be trained from infancy to habits of self-control. Let them be taught that the object of life is to bring blessing to one another and honor to God.

Fathers and mothers, labor earnestly and faithfully, trusting in God for wisdom. Let your aim be the highest good of your children and then require obedience. Keep yourselves constantly under the control of the Spirit of God. Then indeed may we hope to see our sons “as plants grown up in their youth,” and our daughters “as corner stones, polished after the similitude of a palace.” [Psalm 144:12.]

The Signs of the Times, February 26, 1902; March 5, 1902.