How Our High (or Low) View of God Impacts Our Children

We don’t have to read more than a chapter or two of the Bible to meet characters we love to emulate—and characters we don’t. On its hallowed pages, we discover heroes of the faith and enemies of God, shining examples of courage and stunning displays of cowardice. Some walk with their eyes on God. Others walk with their eyes on themselves.

The first few chapters of 1 Samuel contain one such narrative. There, we read about two people who claimed to serve God. One had a high view of God, and the other had a low view. 

Allow me to introduce Hannah and Eli.


By ancient world standards, Hannah was a nobody. Her husband, Elkanah, loved her, which was some consolation. But for reasons known only to God, she was barren. In a culture that measured worth by how many heirs a woman produced, Hannah was worthless. As her empty arms ached with longing, sorrow consumed her heart.

Instead of turning her back on the God of her fathers, Hannah took her broken heart to the Lord. She bowed her head and surrendered to Him the son she didn’t have.

Making a vow, she pleaded, “LORD of Armies, if you will take notice of your servant’s affliction, remember and not forget me, and give your servant a son, I will give him to the LORD all the days of his life, and his hair will never be cut.” (1 Samuel 1:11)


By the standards of tribal Israel, Eli was a somebody. He had descended from the priestly line of Aaron and served as the high priest in the tabernacle of God. In the time of the judges, no one held more cultural and religious power than he did.

Instead of leading the Israelites, including his sons, to revere and respect God, Eli misspent his opportunity. He embraced a low view of God and elevated his love for his sons above his love for God. 

Words and Actions Reveal Our View of God

Hannah loved God and held him in the highest regard. Eli said he loved God, but he loved others, especially his wicked sons, more. How do we know? By their words and their actions. 

Luke 6:45 tells us a person’s “mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart,” and boy, were their hearts full. Matthew 15:19 tells us what’s in our heart also comes out in our actions. “For from the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, sexual immoralities, thefts, false testimonies, slander.” 

Hannah and Eli’s actions followed their hearts. And they went in two very different directions. 

Hannah Held a High View of God

Although grieving her circumstances and struggling to trust, Hannah recognized where to go for help—to God Almighty. When God, in His wisdom and mercy, answered her prayer for a son, she showed that her faith wasn’t conditional. She kept her vow and dedicated baby Samuel to God’s service. 

As soon as she weaned him, probably between the ages of three and five, she brought him to the tabernacle to live and serve under Eli, the priest. Imagine what it was like for her to surrender her tiny boy to the Lord in faith and trust.

Her expressions of joyful worship highlight her high view of God. Her words reveal what she believed:

1. Surrendering her precious child to God’s service was a privilege, not a loss or an obligation. 

“I prayed for this child, and the LORD has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to the LORD. For his whole life he will be given over to the LORD.” (1 Samuel 1:27–28 NIV)

2. Salvation comes from God and brings joy. 

My heart rejoices in the LORD;
my horn is lifted up by the LORD.
My mouth boasts over my enemies,
because I rejoice in your salvation. (1 Samuel 2:1)

3. God is holy and worthy of reverence.

There is no one holy like the LORD.
There is no one besides you!
And there is no rock like our God. (1 Samuel 2:2)

4. God is the source of true wisdom.

Do not boast so proudly,
or let arrogant words come out of your mouth,
for the LORD is a God of knowledge,
and actions are weighed by him. (1 Samuel 2:3)

5. God opens and closes the womb.

Those who are full hire themselves out for food,
but those who are starving hunger no more.
The woman who is childless gives birth to seven,
but the woman with many sons pines away. (1 Samuel 2:5)

6. God, not man, has the rightful power of life and death.

The LORD brings death and gives life;
he sends some down to Sheol, and he raises others up. (1 Samuel 2:6)

7. God created the world.

For the foundations of the earth are the LORD’s;
he has set the world on them. (1 Samuel 2:8)

8. God protects His children.

He guards the steps of his faithful ones,
but the wicked perish in darkness,
for a person does not prevail by his own strength. (1 Samuel 2:9)

Eli Held a Low View of God

The first chapters of 1 Samuel document Eli the priest’s words and actions. Tragically, they reveal his low view of God and what he believed:

1. Worship is something we take lightly, if at all.

Sincere prayer was so unusual under Eli’s leadership that he didn’t even recognize what a praying woman looked like.

Hannah was praying silently, and though her lips were moving, her voice could not be heard. Eli thought she was drunk. (1 Samuel 1:13)

2. The Goal of parenting is happy children.

Scripture doesn’t record every decision Eli made as he parented his sons, but we can tell something was amiss. Did he try to be their friend instead of their parent? Or fear he’d lose their love if he corrected them? Did he wink at their childish disobedience, allowing greater and greater sins as they matured?

Eli’s sons were wicked men; they did not respect the LORD. (1 Samuel 2:12).

3. Giving to God comes second, only after we’ve met our needs and satisfied our wants.

Instead of honoring God with the best portions of the offering, Eli allowed his sons to take the best for themselves. To satisfy their lusts.They gave God the leftovers—if there were any.

So the servants’ sin was very severe in the presence of the LORD, because the men treated the LORD’s offering with contempt. (1 Samuel 2:17).

4. God doesn’t care how we behave as long as we go to church.

In Old Testament vernacular, Eli’s boys cut their teeth on the tabernacle poles. Eli made sure they were “in worship” every day. But he failed to make sure they didn’t seduce the women or fleece the flock. At least his boys were serving in the temple. Bonus points if they wore a clean robe. Eli’s low view of God led him to allow his sons to serve in the tabernacle despite their gross immorality.

Now Eli was very old. He heard about everything his sons were doing to all Israel and how they were sleeping with the women who served at the entrance to the tent of meeting. (1 Samuel 2:22)

5. Maintain peace at all costs, even if we risk offending God and others.

Eli’s low view of God led him to ignore his sons’ wicked behavior until it got so bad the congregation complained. When the evidence of their heinous sin became impossible to hide, Eli spoke up, but his correction came too late. His misplaced values led him to neglect God’s honor and the ultimate well-being of his sons. 

He said to them, “Why are you doing these things? I have heard about your evil actions from all these people.” (1 Samuel 2:23)

High View or Low, We Reap What We Sow

We Christian parents have no guarantee that if we raise our children in church, they’ll love and serve God forever. Regardless, He calls us to steward the children He gives us and nurture them in the faith. We must love God first and desire to please Him more than we love our children and desire to please them. But fear not. As we honor God, He will lead us to care well for our children. 

Do we, like Hannah, have a high view of God? 

Do we trust Him enough to surrender our children to God, rejoice in our salvation, and treat God as holy and worthy of reverence? Do we see God as the source of all wisdom, trust Him to open and close our wombs, and acknowledge His authority over life and in death? Do we believe He created the world and will care for His children?

Hannah trusted God to care for her boy Samuel, and her trust wasn’t misplaced. In an environment of gross immorality and utter disregard for God, Samuel’s heart remained pure. God cared for, protected, and used him all the days of his life.

Do our words and actions, like Hannah’s, support these beliefs?

Or do we, like Eli, hold a low view of God?

Do we take worship lightly and seek to make our children happy instead of holy? Do we give to God and His work only after we’ve satisfied all our needs and wants? Do we act in ways that dishonor God while hiding behind our church attendance? Do we ignore our children’s sinful behavior in order to maintain peace? 

God blessed Hannah in ways that reverberate into eternity. 

“‘Then I will raise up a faithful priest for myself. He will do whatever is in my heart and mind. I will establish a lasting dynasty for him, and he will walk before my anointed one for all time.’” (1 Samuel 2:35)

God judged Eli for eternity too. He revoked His anointing on his family line and decreed that none would live into old age. 

“‘Look, the days are coming when I will cut off your strength and the strength of your forefather’s family, so that none in your family will reach old age.’” (1 Samuel 2:31)

A high view of God leads us to speak and act as though what He says is true. A low view leads us to speak and act as though what we say is true.

Which will we choose? 

May we say with Hannah, 

There is no one holy like the LORD.
There is no one besides you!
And there is no rock like our God. (1 Samuel 2:2)

Author’s note: For more information on how to know if you have a high or low view of God, check out Jean Wilund’s insightful article, “Is Your View of God as High as You Think?

Revive Our Hearts exists to help women thrive in Christ during every season of life. That’s why all this month we’re encouraging you to fix your eyes on eternity. In 50 Days of Heaven: Reflections That Bring Eternity to Light, Randy Alcorn does just that in fifty inspiring and thought-provoking meditations that will forever change the way you think about the spectacular new heaven and new earth that awaits us, where Jesus will be the cosmic center and joy will be the air we breathe―a universe free from pain and suffering, filled with unending beauty and adventure. Request your copy today when you make a donation of any amount to Revive Our Hearts

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