May 8, 2016   I Samuel 1   Hannah 


       Joe McKeever said I was pushing my 8-year-old granddaughter Abby in the swing in her front yard, our favorite place.    She and her twin Erin had been learning about childbirth from their mother.    Abby did not like what she was learning. “I’m not going to have children, Grandpa,” she said. “It hurts too bad.”     My first thought was to say, “If your mother felt that way, you would not be here and if your great-grandmothers felt that way, none of us would be here.”  But what I said was, “You’re right.    It does hurt.   But the pain goes away, and you’re left with this beautiful child, and you decide that it was worth it.”   She looked me square in the eyes and said, “You’re a man. What do you know?”

    Ruth Bell Graham:   “Had I Been Joseph’s Mother”    Had I been Joseph’s mother I’d have prayed protection from his brothers.  “God, keep him safe. He is so young, so different from the others.”  Mercifully, she never knew there would be slavery and prison, too.    Had I been Moses’ mother I’d have wept to keep my little son.    Had I not kept him for her nursing him the while, was he not mine?—and she but Pharaoh’s daughter?     Had I been Daniel’s mother I should have pled “Give Victory!—this Babylonian horde godless and cruel—don’t let him be a captive—better dead, Almighty Lord.”       “Had I been Mary, Oh, had I been she, I would have cried as never mother cried, “Anything, O God, anything...—but crucified.”   With such prayers my finite wisdom would assail Infinite Wisdom.    God, how fortunate Infinite Wisdom should prevail.

   How have you prayed for your kids?    I have read that Korean mothers pray that their children would be pastors – they have an eye on eternity while American mothers pray their kids will become doctors, lawyers, CPA’s and etc with their eye on money and now.    I read a Christian leader laments that parents were stopping their child from expressing their faith.   The anointing of God and the power of God would be on their kids who would preach in school and of course there would be retaliation for preaching Jesus and the parents would stop them.   The wisest thing a parent can do is to dedicate their child to God and pray for them.   Hannah is a good example of that.   Let’s be reminded today parents that God sent his son to the cross.  God allowed his son to die.  Jesus was committed to ministry. 

   We see in this passage that Elkanah had 2 wives.  The first one mentioned is Hannah and perhaps she was married first and the second was Peninnah.  Perhaps Elkanah married the second time to carry on the family name.  Bigamy was not banned or prohibited by Jewish law.  Deuteronomy 21:1 states if a man has 2 wives. God’s original plan was one man and one woman and we might wonder why Elkanah did not trust and wait on the Lord if he married Peninnah to have children. 

   The greatest things that God does are often born out of pain.  Think then of the cross and the pain that God suffered for our salvation.  Hannah had a special child, in fact, the future of the nation of Israel was in her prayers.   Little did she know how important her prayers were.  The nation of Israel and the priest hood were in a terrible spot at this point in time. That special child needed to be bathed in prayer. 

     Well Hannah’s name means grace but it seems there is no grace here.  She is barren.  That was a terrible thing in those days.  For a woman to be barren was almost like being a leper.   Imagine the whispers of people as she went to town.  God’s curse is on her.  Remember in John 9 when the disciples asked did this man sin or his parents because he was born blind?    It is not her husband’s fault because Peninnah is producing children.  Probably some may have said hey woman what is up with you?  Chuck Swindoll wrote that childlessness was next to adultery.  The adulterous woman in the Old Testament was stoned.  Verse 5even tells us that the Lord had closed her womb.  There is no doubt that God loved her.  There is no doubt that she loved God but she is barren.  She must have questioned herself over and over again.  Why has God not allowed me to have children?   What have I done?   What is wrong with me?  I am second class.  I am defective.  I am not normal.  Why did God make me at all?   What is the purpose of my life? 

   When you are down and struggling the devil likes to come along and kick you.  The world likes to beat upon you.  She has another issue and that is Elkanah’s other wife Peninnah and we pick up on that in verse 6 & 7.   Because the Lord had closed Hannah’s womb, her rival kept provoking her in order to irritate her.  Peninnah it is believed had 6 kids and Hannah has zero.   It looks like Peninnah is the godly woman blessed of God and Hannah is cursed by God.    

    Worship seems to be a central part of Hannah and her husband’s relationship and that is very important part of family life.   They worshipped God together.    Whenever Hannah went up to the house of the Lord, her rival provoked her till she wept and would not eat.   Hannah had a rival and it was Peninnah.  Talk about a dysfunctional home.  Perhaps Elkanah loved Hannah more than Peninnah.   Every time she went to the house of the Lord she was provoked.  It was not once in awhile but every time she went.   Did she mock Hannah’s God the true God or Hannah’s walk with God?  We do not know.  Every time she went to church she was harassed.  Every time she went to church she was hit.  It was not once in awhile but every time. She was harassed so bad that she would cry and not eat.  Some saints suffer every time they go to church.  Many people quit coming because of persecution but Hannah did not quit.  It is pretty hard to connect with God when you carry that much pain.  Hannah’s barrenness seems to draw tender compassion from Elkanah.   Hannah’s husband Elkanah loved Hannah deeply and tried to make it up to Hannah because she was childless which I am sure frustrated Peninnah his other wife so this is a lose, lose situation.  Hannah’s life had trouble in it but her marriage seems solid.   Her husband loved her and she loved him.   The love between a husband and wife is a very important key to a solid family.   It has been said the most important thing a couple can leave their children is that the couple loved each other.   Children want to know that mommy and daddy love each other.   They look for that and that registers to them.

    Hannah’s name means grace and she certainly represents grace and godliness in her suffering.    We could believe that at times that she despairs of ever being a mother but she continues to go to the house of the Lord.  Hannah struggled for years.  We like quick answers today.  We like quick meals today.  We watch a TV show and it is usually solved in an hour or if a movie in 1 to 2 hours.  We go to church on Sunday and by next Sunday we want our answer but spiritual things do not work like that.  Maria Durso writes there is usually a lot of gory before the glory. 

   Many of us can relate to Hannah today.  It may not be over having a family or having a child but some issue that we have struggled with or are struggling with.  Perhaps the struggle has been for years.    We could believe that Hannah hung onto hope.  We could believe that she waited for the fullness of time God’s time.  We could believe that Hannah believed that her pain and tears were seen by the Almighty.  Isaiah 40:31 those that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.  If you wait you renew.  Some folks will not wait. Some folks give up.  Hannah stayed faithful to the Lord.  The Lord has an appointed time and it is tough to wait for it.   Habakkuk 2:3 for the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false.  Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.

    In I Samuel 1:9 we read       it seems that one day she stood up.  I think she did something out of the ordinary.   I think one day she had enough and said it is enough.   Hannah prayed Lord give me a child and I will give him back to you.    Out of bitterness of her soul she prayed and God often does His greatest work through the greatest trials.   God did his greatest work for us on the cross.   Praying for a child is a big request and the size of your God, determines the size of your prayer request.   The size of your prayer request, determines the size of your answers.

   Enough is enough and Hannah takes it to God.   Hannah experienced deep fervent prayer because of the bitterness of her soul.  God was the one that Hannah pleaded her case to.    She took it to the almighty.  There comes a time when there is no other place to go.  She prayed O God look on my misery and remember me.   Wow!  That is an honest prayer and it is not praying Lord everything is fine when things are not fine.   Not everything is fine in this world.   It seems that her frustration drove her to God and not to nagging and complaining.   She turned to God and not away from God as many do.  She touched the heart of God.   

   Eli is the key priest at this time and he is sitting on a chair at the door post of the temple. Perhaps he not doing his job but I think at this point in his age he is retired.  It is really not the temple it is the tabernacle.   The temple has not been built yet and Israel does not have a king yet.   Eli saw her praying so Hannah is near the door post of the temple.    Her lips were moving.   In her pain she was quivering and Eli thought she was drunk.  Some believe that he should have known better but he didn’t.    There was a lot of wrong stuff happening around the temple and he misread her.   People need encouragement and many times they do not get it even in church.  They get criticism.  Christians can shoot their wounded.   Actions speak louder than words. 

    Anyway she has a little chat with Eli and tells him she is praying out of the bitterness of her soul.  It is deep fervent prayer.     I think Eli had some impact on Hannah’s prayer for a child.   He said to Hannah may God grant your request.  I love verse 18 which says she went her way and ate and her face was no longer down cast.  Perhaps she knew that she connected with God.  May prayers have been answered.  God has heard my cry.  This battle is over and it is all behind me. 

   When we read about Hannah we see that Israel is in need of a good spiritual leadership.   Hannah was the woman that God used to shape the leader that would fill that void.   Her suffering and her agony was the answer for Israel.   God answered her prayers.  In Exodus 3 we read the Lord said I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt.  I have heard them crying out.  So I have come down to rescue them.    She asks God for a son and God responds.  .  Elkanah said to her am I not better than 10 sons.  What did he know but it points out that she wanted a boy.   God did abundantly above all that she could ask or think.   He is that kind of God but often we have to wait for the answers.    Hannah’s son Samuel was the last of the judges and he was also a priest.   Samuel is a towering figure in Israel.  I Samuel 3:19 The Lord was with Samuel as he grew up and he let none of his words fall to the ground.  What a joy and blessing he was to her all her life.  He is a man of God.  I wonder how Peninnah's children turned out.   They saw their mother ridicule Hannah.  That is not a good way to raise your children. 

    God gave Hannah a lot more than she ask for.  Samuel was a judge, he was a prophet, and he was a priest.  He was a great leader in Israel.  He anoints Saul and David as king.   After Hannah has Samuel she prays a prayer of dedication and rejoicing in chapter 2 which is very similar to Mary’s song in Luke 1.   Chapter 2 tells us she had 3 sons and 2 daughters.  God blessed her abundantly.  Her pain her suffering her tears were not ignored.  God sees everything.

     Hannah gave up her son.  We see a life of dedication and service to the Lord.  She lived a life of sacrifice.  Persistent and passionate prayer seems to be characteristic of her life and I think she prayed for Samuel all the days of her life.    And Samuel seems to follow in her steps.   When Israel asked for a king and Samuel is rejected Samuel says God forbid that I should sin by ceasing to pray for you.   What a high concept of prayer.   We see deep pain in this passage and great blessings. We see sacrifice on Hannah’s part.  Mothers sacrifice.   We see God does his greatest work in our deepest suffering.  The greatest suffering of course is Jesus on the cross.  What a great cost for our salvation.  Mothers may you be blessed today and refreshed.