Hannah means Grace.
Hannah is found in 1 Samuel 1:2-2:21.
- Elkanah had two wives; the name of the one was Hannah, and the name of the other Peninnah: and Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children.
In the biblical narrative, Hannah is one of two wives of Elkanah. The other, Peninnah, had given birth to Elkanah’s children, but Hannah remained childless. Nevertheless, Elkanah preferred Hannah. Hannah’s status as primary wife and her barrenness recall Sarah, Rebecca in Genesis 17 and Genesis 25 respectively.
Every year, Elkanah would offer a sacrifice at the Shiloh sanctuary, and give Penninah, and her children a portion but he gave Hannah a double portion “because he loved her, and the LORD had closed her womb” (1 Samuel 1:5). One day Hannah went up to the temple, and prayed with great weeping (I Samuel 1:10), while Eli the High Priest was sitting on a chair near the doorpost.
Eli thought she was drunk and questioned her. When she explained herself, he blessed her and sent her home. Hannah conceived and bore a son, and named him Samuel, literally Heard by God, “since she had asked the Lord for him” (1 Samuel 1:20). She raised him until he was weaned and brought him to the temple along with a sacrifice.
In her prayer, she asked God for a son and in return, she vowed to give the son back to God for the service of God. She promised he would remain a Nazarite all the days of his life.
Hannah is also considered to be a prophetess: in her song of thanksgiving (1 Samuel 2:1-10).
Eli announced another blessing on Hannah, and she conceived 3 more sons and 2 daughters, making six in total.
What do women learn from Hannah’s story?
1. Life will give you lemons.
Hanna was a childless woman and she was in distress. Her husband had two wives and the other wife was blessed with children. What was like to be a childless woman in those days? Awful. Children meant something. Womanhood was including an ability to bore children. You can see that Hannah was in anguish. As though that was not enough she had to live with the other woman who had children and was mocking her.
2. Men do not understand our problems, but God does.
We saw here that Hannah’s husband loved his wife even though she was barren. But God loved her even more. It wouldn’t be helpful if Hannah’s husband treated her poorly. The Bible tells us that her husband loved her and wanted to do everything he could to make her happy but Hannah was not happy. She wanted a child of her own. Her husband was not able to give her a child for her womb was closed. It was in God’s hands.
Her husband (knowing he can’t do much to help), asked Hannah “can’t you be happy with just me instead of ten sons?” He was perfectly ok with her not having children. He loved her regardless but it was different on Hannah’s side, she loved him too but she wanted to be a mother.
3. All of our problems will be solved if we cast them to the Lord
We read Hannah went with her husband to Shiloh for prayers and sacrifice year after year. We also read her husband offered double portion for her. We also learn that she didn’t eat. She was at her low of the lowest moment in her life.
One day she got back on her senses. That day was different from every other day. She got off her self-pity. The scripture says she prayed profusely. She poured her heart to the Lord, in faith. We read that even the priest–Eli thought she was drunk. She said no “I’m not drunk sir, you are looking at a woman who is deeply troubled. I was pouring my heart to the Lord.” The priest said to her “May God grant you what you have asked”
4. God answers our prayers
He did for Hannah, He’ll do for you and me today. Matthew 7:7 states “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” The day after Hannah prayed, the scripture says that day she ate the food contrary to other times where she didn’t eat. And her face was no longer downcast. I wonder where was all that new confidence came from. She ate, she put on a happy smiley face. Remember, she was not pregnant yet but everything changed after she prayed. That’s faith. That’s how His mercy flows to us.
We learned, early next morning they arose and worshiped before the Lord and then went back to their home at Ramah. Elkanah made love to his wife Hannah, and the Lord remembered her. So in the course of time, Hannah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel saying “because I asked the Lord for him”. (1 Samuel 1:19)
5. Keep promises you made to God or anyone
Don’t ever make a promise you cannot keep. To promise a human is one thing, to promise God is another. God is faithful and he wants you to be faithful.
Hannah promised God if he grants her a son, she will give back to him so he can serve the Lord all days of his life. Here is the thing: She wanted a child so bad. She was so desperate that she had to put such a promise. It was her last ditch to see if anything can happen to her at that point.
Imagine yourself after waiting for so long to have a child or to have something so important to you, you only receive it to give it up? This could be the hardest thing to do. Abraham demonstrates the same scenario. He waited all his life for Isaac only to be asked to give back to God as a sacrifice! He didn’t sacrifice his promised son because God provides for Himself. Abraham and Hannah’s stories display how faith works. We read after the son was weaned she sure took him to serve the Lord as she promised.
6. God gives more than we ask
Hannah not only gave birth to Samuel. Her womb became fertile. She bore three more sons and two daughters. Samuel had five siblings. What a blessing!
Let us trust the Lord in everything in our lives because He is able to do exceedingly abundantly, above all we ask or think. Amen
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