Hannah is a really excellent example of what every wife and mother should want to be like.
In 1 Samuel 1, she was barren. Her husband Elkanah loved her, but at that point in time many men would marry more wives in order to spread the line of the Israelites, so he married another who was able to have children. This was never something that was glorified (having more wives).
As a wife who loves her husband I can’t even imagine the idea of sharing my husband sexually at all with someone else. It must have been very difficult on her which usually stress causes one to have a hard time bearing children as well. Her relationship with Elkanah’s 2nd wife Peninnah was terrible. Because Peninnah had the ability to have children, she shoved it in Hannah’s face daily.
Instead of being outraged or deciding to fight with Peninnah, Hannah decided to take her problems to the Lord. I know I want to be able to take everything immediately to Jesus. Hannah’s my new female Biblical hero (Esther was always my favorite, which my mother prayed I’d have her spirit even). Hannah would weep, fast, and pray to God regarding everything. I have known of husbands who react poorly to their wives’ cries, but her husband was really concerned for her. Remember that if a woman was barren in that time and culture, she was thought of as useless or having some sort of sin that caused her to be barren. Elkenah loved her so much that he would give double what he had to Hannah (even though the wife with the most children is supposed to receive the bigger portions) . Elkanah said, “Hannah, why do you weep? And why do you not eat? And why is your heart sad? Am I not more to you than ten sons?”- 1 Samuel 1:8
A husband who shows compassion and love and wants to get to know his wife, is a beautiful example for how a husband should be to his wife! He didn’t mind that she couldn’t have children and thought perhaps he could mean as much to her as her having ten sons!
Hannah loved the Lord so much and she would try to understand Him and would often go to Shiloh (pictured on the left) to pray at the House of the Lord when the priest Eli would make his rounds from village to village. Eli saw that she would be moving her lips while in prayer but not say anything aloud. He thought she was a drunk, but she was praying so much that she would pray in her mind while mouthing the words without vocalizing it. She would weep and weep while doing this. It was completely a tender and sweet moment (though distressful) shared with and to God.
She made a vow to God after asking Him to remember her, His servant. She asked that He give her a son in which she would give back to the Lord so that He could live His entire life for Him. Eli was impressed with Hannah and told her that she should go in peace and that he was hopeful that her petition to God would be fulfilled (vs. 17). She felt a weight lift from her and she started eating regularly and became more joyful. After a day of worship, Elkanah united in body with his wife and the scriptures say that in that moment “God remembered her”. He listened and answered and saw that she truly was a faithful servant of God. How amazing. She named her son Samuel which means “I have asked for him from the Lord”.
Hannah’s story doesn’t end there. Remember the vow she gave to the Lord? She didn’t forget about it after having her child. She took care of Samuel and once he was weaned she had a talk with Elkanah. Hannah wanted to make sure that Samuel could serve God forever in His presence. Elkanah listened and told her to “do what she thought was best” so that her vow with God would be fulfilled. Once Samuel was weaned, while still pretty young, she prepared a sacrifice to the Lord and then brought Samuel to Eli. She told Eli, “For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition that I made to him. Therefore I have lent him to the Lord. As long as he lives, he is lent to the Lord.” -1 Samuel 1:27-28
Eli was very impressed with Hannah and although he was probably in a bit of shock to be given Samuel to raise up, he sensed God’s Spirit. Eli’s two sons were evil and were priests who bribed others and used horrible tactics for their own gain. It was a new start for Eli, even though he was pretty old. Hannah’s son Samuel was in fact an amazing prophet of the Lord who did serve God all his days.
And what of Hannah? Although it was probably extremely hard for her to give her son away, she did visit him often, and in Samuel’s time of growing up, she gave birth to 3 more sons and 2 daughters! The Lord blessed her and Elkanah. How much glory do you think went to God as she watched her children grow and saw Samuel sincerely loving God. I am pretty certain her relationship with God continued to grow too! That is the type of person I want to be: Faithful, prayerful, relational, and committed to following through in all said to God.
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.” -1 Thessalonians 5:16-22
I kept thinking about this passage while typing this up. I have a hard time rejoicing always. I think about how Hannah was talking to God in her head and realize I do that pretty regularly, but not always, and I believe this means that, for instance, when you see the rain falling, you should be thankful that God gave the rain to help plants grow and to sustain animals and people on the earth. This is a way to pray without ceasing, to look at what He does and see what He’s blessed you with and to be thankful no matter how hard it is that God is there. Do not be so bitter that you push God aside and drown Him out. Make sure that you do everything for God’s glory, and that you talk to Him through the things you do. It will bring you closer to God. I am working on this as well. This is how I believe Hannah lived and I admire such a woman and long to be of that same mold. I get easily frustrated and have been writing down a list of things each day of what God has blessed me with and it has helped me rejoice more in Him.