Christian Articles Archive

The Fruit of a Grandfather's Prayers

by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson

"You're as crooked as your cheating sons, old man," the red- faced traveler bellowed.

"Don't talk to him like that!" a neighbor broke in. "He's God's prophet."

"He can prophesy all he wants," the traveler shot back, "but that doesn't change the facts. His sons cheated my mother out of her property. A few shekels to grease their palms and they turned a widow out in the street. Some judges! Like father, like sons, I always say."

Samuel bit his lip and managed to keep quiet, but the wound deep within him tore open afresh. In his prime Samuel had been on the road constantly, the most active prophet, the most honest judge Israel had ever seen. Now he was old, unable to brave the highways and hike the rugged hills of Palestine. What had he done wrong? Joel and Abijah had always been difficult boys. Maybe if he hadn't been away from home so much, Samuel thought, they would have turned out better.

Finally, Samuel had decided his sons needed responsibility to mature them. So he appointed them judges in the desert town of Beersheba.[1] Perhaps they'd succeed him yet. Fat chance now. This angry traveler wasn't the first to bring a bitter report, nor would he be the last.

The one bright spot was his grandson Heman, Joel's boy. In the summers when Heman came to visit, the house and hills would ring with the lad's young voice singing joyful melodies to the Lord. How his grandfather prayed for him!

Samuel died. His sons still perverted justice. But seeds of prayer, long watered by a grandfather's tears, sprouted and pushed up to the sky. The boy Heman began to assume a prophetic mantle, not as a judge but as a singer, a choir director.

Heman was handpicked by King David--the "sweet psalmist of Israel"--to minister in song at the tabernacle, in an atmosphere alive with trumpets and cymbals and singing.[2] "This isn't a job," he would tell his wife, "this is my joy!" As he would lift his rich tenor voice in praise, the gift of prophecy which had marked his grandfather's ministry would pour forth in the words of his songs. He became known as "the king's seer," a prophet in his own right.[3]

Grandfather's prayers touched the next generation, too. When Solomon built the new temple, Heman's children--all fourteen sons-- served under Heman in "the ministry of prophesying, accompanied by harps, lyres and cymbals."[4] Such prophecy set to music gave birth to the Psalms.

Old Samuel's heart had ached. Yet the very pain had driven him to pray for his wayward sons and their families. It wouldn't let him quit. And God heard him. Though the old prophet didn't live to hear the "Heman Family Singers", he would have been proud. This joyous temple choir was the fruit of a grandfather's prayers.


1. 1 Samuel 8:1-5.
2. 1 Chronicles 6:32; 16:41-42.
3. 1 Chronicles 25:5.
4. 1 Chronicles 25:1-3 (NIV).

Copyright © 2024, Ralph F. Wilson. <> All rights reserved. A single copy of this article is free. Do not put this on a website. See legal, copyright, and reprint information.

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