The story of Hannah is a story of a barren, burdened, broken, woman whose days were lived in humiliation and shame. In the Old Testament times a woman who could not give her husband a son was disgrace to him and considered cursed. However, God had a plan for Hannah!
Hannah was most probably the first wife of Elkanah. It was the custom during that time for a man to take a second wife if the first had not been able to bear a son. This may have been the case with Elkanah and Peninnah.
Hannah was a godly woman, given her knowledge of God. We see the intimacy she had with her God in the song of thanksgiving that she prays in chapter 2 of I Samuel. BUT she is burdened down with a desire for a child. She is broken over her circumstances. Scripture tells us that the “Lord closed her womb”. I Samuel 1:5,6 NASB
Living under the same roof is another woman who has several children, by her husband, who is taunting her day and night. Peninnah is not a nice lady. She is mean-spirited and a picture of how satan torments us. He finds a weak spot and begins to slash away at the wound. Scripture says, “her rival, however, would provoke her bitterly to irritate her.”
Making matters worse the family has to travel to Shiloh to worship and sacrifice. Year after year Hannah would have to endure the provocation until she could bear it no more. She leaves the celebration dinner and runs to the temple.
“Grief overtakes her and even Elkanah who loves her deeply is unable to comfort her. She runs to her God to petition him and makes a vow that she will give her son to the service of the Lord all the days of his life.
“Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat by the doorstop of the temple of the Lord.” (I Samuel 1:9 NASB) Hebrews 10:11 says, “And every priest stands daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins.” Priests serving in the temple never sit down. Eli was neglecting his duties. It was a very dark time in the history of Israel. The book of Judges records that every man did what was right in his own eyes. Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phineas, were wicked and rebellious sons who took every advantage of the access to the people, the temple, and to the sacrifices. So much so that God desired to kill them. Eli rebuked them but never stopped their disgraceful behaviors.
When Hannah runs to the temple to pray, Eli scolds her for what he thought was “too much wine.” Like us, Eli jumps to quickly and makes a mistaken conclusion. Perhaps it is that he had not seen anyone pouring their heart out to God. The people were in such a back-slidden condition that abominations were allowed on the temple ground. So Hannah’s cry to God was an unusual scene.
Hannah defends herself and explains that she is oppressed in spirit and is pouring her soul out to the Lord. Eli sees her distress and proceeds to bless her. “Go in peace; and may the God of Israel grant your petition that you have asked of Him.” I Samuel 1:17
Hannah is encouraged and her countenance is lifted. She goes home, submitting to God’s plan and then to her husband. “And it came about in due time, after Hannah had conceived, that she gave birth to a son.” (I Samuel 1:20 NASB) By God’s grace, she receives the son she asked of God. She names him Samuel which means “ask of God” or “God has heard”. In Hebrew studies, one scholar translates it as “God’s offspring”. Samuel is often referred to as a picture of Christ because he became a prophet, a priest, and a king to Israel.
Lessons from Hannah’s story:
- God sees!! The potter NEVER leaves the clay. He watches over his own to perform His plans for us. Even in the most grievous storms, he is close.
- The enemy ALWAYS goes for the weakest spot in our flesh.
- Others around seldom understand our grief. Eli thought Hannah was drunk.
- Submission brings freedom and blessing.
Lessons from Hannah’s actions:
- She endured. It is never mentioned that she said a word back to her enemy.
- She approached God rather than others.
- She allowed herself time to grieve and weep over the situation and still she trusted God.
- She quickly stood up to correct Eli’s wrong impression; bravely she confronted one in authority.
- She allowed her faith to be encouraged at the word the Lord spoke through the blessing from Eli.
- She followed through on her vow to God.
Later after a son is born to her, she writes a song of thanksgiving and praise to her God. Hannah’s song was taught down through the history of the Jewish people. We know this because it is recorded in the inspired Word of God but also because Mary must have studied it and used some of Hannah’s prayer in the song of thanksgiving at the announcement given to her of a son that was to be born to her.
Hannah’s story is one of revival.
She was barren. We are completely empty and barren in our sinful state. We can produce nothing without God.
She was burdened. We are burdened down in our sin. We carry a weight of guilt and shame that is only removed through the sacrificial blood of our Savior.
She was broken over her situation. We have to come to a time of brokenness over our sin that acknowledges our helplessness and brings us to repentance.
She was blessed. God wants to redeem the time for each of his children. He wants us to come to him in repentance and receive grace. Grace, Grace, Marvelous grace of our loving Lord.
She gave thanks to God. A life lived in praise and thanksgiving frees us from the enemy and brings glory to the only true God who made us in His image.
Today I encourage you to read through Hannah’s story in I Samuel 1 & 2. Read the Song of Thanksgiving. It’s the story of God’s grace in a life lived righteously before Him. Then go to Luke 1:46-55 and read Mary’s song.
Be encourage dear treaders!
P.S. Did I mention that Hannah’s name means Grace!!! God’s grace still amazes me.