Hello and thank you for clicking on whatever link led you here today. If you’re new to my blog, besides fitness tips and recipes, I post about faith and femininity as well. I’ve been exploring women in the Bible over the last couple of weeks and I’ve spoken about Eve and Rebekah and today, I wanna talk about a special woman named Hannah.
I started reading about Hannah purely unintentionally. I was actually about to study the story of David which begins towards the end of 1 Samuel and I decided to just go ahead and study the whole book of 1 Samuel. In 1 Samuel 1, we read about the story of Hannah.
Now, like I did with the story of Eve, I’ll go over Hannah’s story and the lessons I picked up, in a chronological order of the verses that narrate her story.
In 1 Samuel 1:1-4, the bible gives us an overview of Hannah’s family situation. She was married to a man named Elkanah. The bible says in verse 2, that “Elkanah had two wives, one named Hannah, the other named Peninah. Peninah had children but Hannah had none”. Now with the order at which the wives are mentioned, I am driven to understand that Hannah was Elkanah’s first wife and Peninah was the second.
Every year, Elkanah would go with his family to Shiloh to offer sacrifices to God and as was the custom, he would give Peninah some portions of the sacrifice, as well as all her sons and daughters. The bible says in verse 6 that He would give a portion to Hannah because he loved her, even though “the Lord had kept her from bearing children”. Now, I’m also led to believe that in their custom, the man would only give some portions to his wife if she had children and in this case, he only gave to Hannah because he loved her.
In verse 6, the bible says “Because the Lord had made her unable to have children, her rival Peninah tormented her endlessly to make her feel miserable”. Let’s focus on two things in this verse. Firstly, God kept Hannah from having children. Her misfortune was caused by God and not the devil. Sometimes we believe that every bad thing in our lives is the devil tormenting us but sometimes, it is God preparing us to have an experience of how incredible He is and it is God giving us a lesson on exercising our faith and trusting in Him.
(Some other times, it could be you causing your own misfortune through bad decisions made.)
Secondly, Peninah was tormenting Hannah to make her feel miserable. This is a woman who had sons and daughters and yet she was still determined to make Hannah feel miserable, because she had what Hannah did not have. I believe she was jealous of the love Elkanah had for Hannah. Seeing as Hannah was the first wife, I would not be surprised if he only married Peninah because Hannah could not have children. No wonder, she was so bitter and determined to make Hannah feel miserable. The bible doesn’t give us this context but this is what I imagine the source of her bitterness to be, I could be wrong.
We are told in verse 7 that year after year, the same thing would happen. They would go up to Shiloh and Peninah would make Hannah so miserable to the point that she would cry and refuse to eat.
Until one day, Hannah had something to eat and drink in Shiloh while Eli was sitting on a chair by the door of the temple and she got up and went into the temple. In verse 10, the bible says “Though she was resentful, she prayed to the Lord while she cried”. Sometimes we feel like we need to be well put together when we come before God but God knows your heart and He knows your pain, so He isn’t expecting you to come before Him with a full face beat and clean clothes. Your tears would not deafen His ears to your prayers.
She made a vow to God, that if he gave her a boy, she would give Him back to God. Verse 13 says “She was praying silently and her voice could not be heard, only her lips were moving and so Eli thought she was drunk”. This verse shows me how people’s expectations of what prayer should look like are no different now than they were back then. They want you to shout loud and throw your hands up high in order for everyone to believe that you are praying but God isn’t looking for a performance, He is looking for a sincere heart, so it doesn’t matter if your prayers are given silently or loudly, God still hears.
Now this is where I finally got to understand Hannah’s willingness to give her son back to the Lord. At first I couldn’t fathom how you would pray for a child for so many years and then decide to give Him back to God when your prayers are answered. In verses 14 to 16, Eli scolds Hannah based on his assumption of her being drunk (because he saw her eating and drinking while he was sat by the door of the temple) and she says to Him amongst many other words “… I’m not drunk. I’m depressed. I’m pouring my heart out to the Lord… I was praying like this because I’ve been troubled and tormented”.
Eli judged a woman without knowing her backstory, simply because her mode of prayer did not look like the norm and he felt so sure about the situation, simply because he saw her eating and drinking. He did not even know that this woman has not been eating because she has been depressed and today that she is eating, we should even be happy. How many of us do this ? I know I do. Just because someone does something a little differently, we assume that they must be weird or insane. Her answer shows us that her prayer to God for this child was mainly because she was tired of being tormented by Peninah probably even more than she was frustrated with her barrenness. She just wanted that woman to shut up and stop troubling her. This is why she didn’t mind giving him back to God, as long as she can prove that she is indeed capable of having a child, then Peninah would stop tormenting her.
Eli then blessed her and said, “Go in peace and may the God of Israel grant your request”.
When they returned home, Elkanah made love to his wife Hannah and the bible says that God remembered her and gave her a child. She named him Samuel meaning “God Hears” but her story doesn’t end at the beginning of her blessing.
Hannah remembered her vow to God, just as God remembered her and when she had weaned Samuel, she took him back to Shiloh to Eli in order for him to grow up and serve in the house of God. Fast forward to 1 Samuel 2:18 - 21, the bible tells us of how Elkanah and Hannah would go up to Shiloh like they always did every year, Hannah would make a robe for her son Samuel and Eli would bless Hannah and say “May the Lord give you children in place of the one which you gave to the Lord”. And God gave Hannah three more sons and two daughters.
The woman who was troubled and tormented because God had prevented her from having children became a mother of 6. Because she honoured her vow to God, God blessed her five times over.
Sometimes when we are in a very tight position, we make all these promises to God and when He answers our prayers, our promises suddenly look impossible to fulfil. But God has given us an example of when we trust, obey and honour Him.
I want you to take away three things from this :
Sometimes our battles are caused by God. He puts us in a training ground to exercise our trust and faith in Him and because He has seen the bigger picture. We have to trust that He knows what He is doing. While Hannah was being tormented, I doubt she would have ever thought that one day she would be a mother of 6.
Don’t ever be afraid to go to God in prayer in whatever situation you are in. He doesn’t expect you to always be okay but instead He wants you to trust Him enough to come to Him with everything. He is not like man that would judge you and your situation. He loves you so much that He is always there for you.
When God answers your prayers, don’t forget about Him. Remember to remain close to Him and remember to say thank you. Remember to honour Him with your life and also remember that if you find that you failed to honour Him, He is willing to forgive you and put you back on track. He is always ready to welcome you with open arms.
God Bless You Always.