Who was Hannah?
If only more people knew the kindness, courage, and restraint of this woman in the Bible. No story in the Bible is there to fill up pages. Everything in the Bible is for us to get encouragement and/or learn something. Hanna’s story is no different.
Hannah was married to Elkanah. Elkanah had two wives at the time. (Not a God thing). But the in that day and age many did have more than one…culture thing.
Well, Elkanah’s two wives were very different. Hannah was a kind woman who longed for a child. His other wife Peninnah wasn’t such a nice and caring woman. She was a jealous vindictive person who loved to pick on Hannah for not having a child while she did.
Hannah was very sorrowful. She was kind and she was faithful. The one thing she didn’t do was give up. She longed for a child but couldn’t seem to get pregnant. In their culture to be married and not have a child some thought that was a disgrace.
Hannah was also known for her sacrifice. How many people upon waiting and waiting for a child would give that child up? She dedicated her son Samuel to the Lord as she promised the Lord she would do…took him to the temple and he would serve the Lord the rest of His life. Hannah was one of the most recognizable women in all of scripture regarding her strength, her prayers, and her commitment to God if she was allowed to have a child.
Oh, how Hannah wanted to be a mother. Hannah went to the temple to cry out to God for a son. God was listening (He always listens) She prayed and prayed to God in the most fervent of prayers. God brings about things in the perfect time and the perfect order. He looks at people’s heart. But there is more to Hannah’s story…the timing. God is never late to anything. We might not understand God’s timing but God always knows the perfect time to do whatever He chooses to do.
Hannah knew how to respond with grace, or not respond at all. Can we say the same for most things in our own life? Probably not. Sometimes we know the right thing to say…yet we don’t say it. At other times, we know what we should not say yet say it. Well, Hannah, held great restraint with her words. For a long time her husband’s other wife picked on her constantly. That can get to anyone. As much as Penninnah picked on Hannah instead of responding to her tormentor, she kept her mouth shut. Boy…could we do that. Bad enough our husband had a second wife…but this wife Penninnah had no class that is for sure. She said mean and hateful things pretty often to hurt Hannah.
During one of the family’s annual trips to the tabernacle, Hannah had enough of the ridicule. (Try putting yourself in her shoes for a moment) However, Hannah didn’t lash out at Peninnah, but she knew it was time to do something. We have all come to the time in our life over many different matters where we needed to do something…Most people lash out when this happens…but not Hannah. She left the dinner table and went straight to God with her plea. She went to the tabernacle instead of lashing out. She went directly to a place she could talk to God about here pain and sorrow.
However, Hannah was soon tested again in a different way. Here she was in the tabernacle praying her heart out and Eli the priest thought she was drunk for her mouth was moving but no words were said out loud. (In their culture and time a lot of harlots were hanging around the tabernacle and he most likely thought her to be one too) .
Can you imagine you going to church and having your pastor accuse you of being drunk just because you were praying and wanted God to intercede on your behalf. Well, we might have lashed out and said something mean being accused of this…but not Hannah. Instead Hannah chose her words…and demonstrated grace and humility.
Her character was tested when Eli accused her of being drunk. And once again Hannah demonstrated grace and humility through her words. “Do not regard your servant as a worthless woman, for all along I have been speaking out of my great anxiety and vexation” (1 Samuel 1:16 ) Hannah actually describes herself as Eli’s servant, she acknowledged his position of authority. When she could have easily mouthed back at him, she chose to display proper respect. She was a good woman with good morals and respect.
Eli the priest must have liked what Hannah said to him for Eli asked God to bless Hannah with a child. As Hannah was explaining to Eli the priest what she was praying about Eli had a soft heart. He then reassured her of God’s objective to answer her prayer for a son. But that was just the first time Eli went to God on Hannah’s behalf.
Hannah’s prayers were from the heart…and Eli was right in saying that God would answer her prayer. But the story didn’t end when Hannah gave birth to Samuel. Each year Eli blessed Elkanah and Hannah again, asking God to give them more children because of her sacrifice. God was blessing Hannah for her prayers from the heart and for her great sacrifice. We, as humans, don’t understand taking your child to t temple/church and leaving your child there…but we don’t live in that century or in that culture. We sure don’t understand the hurt in this woman living in that culture and not being able to provide a child for your husband.
“Before they returned home, Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife and say, ‘May the Lord give you other children to take the place of this one she gave to the Lord’” (1 Samuel 2:20 NLT).
God didn’t just honor Eli’s blessing the first time. God continued to answer the prayers for Hannah. She had three more sons and two daughters while Samuel “grew up in the presence of the Lord” Can we imagine how deeply she must have felt in leaving her son in the tabernacle that day. Yet, she kept her word and so did God. She was greatly blessed and so was Samuel the very child she let in the tabernacle that day.
In the Bible there are other stories of woman who suffered through infertility. Three of the women in the Bible who were sorrowful they could not conceive were Sarah, Rebekah, and Rachel. Remember…God’s timing is everything. The other three doubt or concern. Her mentioned here didn’t show the faith that Hannah showed. Sarah laughed at the angel’s proclamation that God would give her a child. (Genesis 18:12 NIV) Rebekah questioned, “If all is well, why am I like this?” as her twins struggled in the womb. (Genesis 25:22 NKJV) Rachel gave the responsibility to her husband. (Genesis 30:1 NIV) But Hannah trusted God without humble fear of the Lord was just one more quality of her godly character. God blessed each of them with a child/ren, but Hannah was the one who showed the right morals in her heart and the respect that was needed.
Hannah dedicated Samuel back to the Lord, she fulfilled her commitment. How hard this must have been for her as a mom! Would any of us been this faithful, kept our commitment in this matter, and thank God for His blessing of giving us that child?
Well, because of Hannah’s great love and commitment, God blessed her. God blessed her son Samuel who grew up with Eli in the tabernacle, and God used Samuel in great ways.
Hannah was the real deal. May we all be more like Hannah!