“There was a certain man of Ramathaim-zophim of the hill country of Ephraim whose name was Elkanah the son of Jeroham, son of Elihu, son of Tohu, son of Zuph, an Ephrathite. He 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.
Now this man used to go up year by year from his city to worship and to sacrifice to the LORD of hosts at Shiloh, where the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were priests of the LORD. On the day when Elkanah sacrificed, he would give portions to Peninnah his wife and to all her sons and daughters. But to Hannah he gave a double portion, because he loved her, though the LORD had closed her womb. And her rival used to provoke her grievously to irritate her, because the LORD had closed her womb.
So it went on year by year. As often as she went up to the house of the LORD, she used to provoke her. Therefore Hannah wept and would not eat. And Elkanah, her husband, said to her, ‘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?’
After they had eaten and drunk in Shiloh, Hannah rose. Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat beside the doorpost of the temple of the LORD. She was deeply distressed and prayed to the LORD and wept bitterly. And she vowed a vow and said, ‘O LORD of hosts, if you will indeed look on the affliction of your servant and remember me and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a son, then I will give him to the LORD all the days of his life, and no razor shall touch his head.’
As she continued praying before the LORD, Eli observed her mouth. Hannah was speaking in her heart; only her lips moved, and her voice was not heard. Therefore Eli took her to be a drunken woman. And Eli said to her, ‘How long will you go on being drunk? Put your wine away from you. But Hannah answered, ‘No, my lord, I am a woman troubled in spirit. I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have been pouring out my soul before the LORD. Do not regard your servant as a worthless woman, for all along I have been speaking out of my great anxiety and vexation.’ Then Eli answered, ‘Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant your petition that you have made to him.’ And she said, ‘Let your servant find favor in your eyes.’ Then the woman went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad.
They rose early in the morning and worshiped before the LORD; then they went back to their house at Ramah. And Elkanah knew Hannah his wife, and the LORD remembered her. And in due time Hannah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Samuel, for she said,’“I have asked for him from the LORD.’
The man Elkanah and all his house went up to offer to the LORD the yearly sacrifice and to pay his vow. But Hannah did not go up, for she said to her husband, ‘As soon as the child is weaned, I will bring him, so that he may appear in the presence of the LORD and dwell there forever.’ Elkanah her husband said to her, ‘Do what seems best to you; wait until you have weaned him; only, may the LORD establish his word.’ So the woman remained and nursed her son until she weaned him. And when she had weaned him, she took him up with her, along with a three-year-old bull, an ephah of flour, and a skin of wine, and she brought him to the house of the LORD at Shiloh. And the child was young. Then they slaughtered the bull, and they brought the child to Eli.
And she said, ‘Oh, my lord! As you live, my lord, I am the woman who was standing here in your presence, praying to the LORD. 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.’
And he worshiped the LORD there.”
Here we are introduced to the family of Elkanah. He has two wives, Penninah and Hannah. While Peninnah had children, we are told the Lord had closed Hannah’s womb. We see that while Penninah provoked Hannah because she was unable to have children, Elkinah loved her, and took care of her. But Hannah desired a son, and she confided in the Lord, and made her request known.
Hannah poured out her soul to the Lord. We read in verse 10, “She was deeply distressed and prayed to the LORD and wept bitterly.” Then in verses 15 and 16, “But Hannah answered, ‘No, my lord, I am a woman troubled in spirit. I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have been pouring out my soul before the LORD. Do not regard your servant as a worthless woman, for all along I have been speaking out of my great anxiety and vexation.’” Hannah desired a son and is deeply distressed because she has been unable to have one, so she goes to God in prayer. She is praying so passionately that Eli actually thinks that she is drunk. Is this our reaction when we encounter trials and heartache?
We are told in 1 Peter 5:6-7, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” This is what Hannah does, she humbles herself and goes to the Lord in her distress. Not only does she go to Him, but she is passionate and genuine in her prayer. It seems that often times we go to God in prayer, and we give Him a very surface level request, and then we leave it at that. How passionate must she have been for Eli to think she was drunk? I know for me at least, I very rarely get that passionate when speaking to God. But why? If we truly humbled ourselves, and handed it all over to Him, we would find ourselves praying like Hannah more often.
Hannah made a petition to the Lord. We read in verse 11, “And she vowed a vow and said, ‘O LORD of hosts, if you will indeed look on the affliction of your servant and remember me and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a son, then I will give him to the LORD all the days of his life, and no razor shall touch his head.’” Hannah trusted in God enough to make this petition to Him. She promises to give back to the Lord the son that she so desperately wants. But we know she didn’t only say this out of desperation. Verses 27-28, “‘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’”.
Hannah made a petition to the Lord, and she followed through. How often do we follow through whenever we’ve asked God for something we wanted? Sometimes, we tell God we will use something for His glory if He grants our request, and then in the excitement of getting what we wanted, we neglect to follow through. It’s important for us to remember that we need to use how God has blessed us for His glory, not our own.
Not only did Hannah fulfill her vow, but she praised the Lord. We read Hannah’s prayer in the beginning of chapter 2,
“And Hannah prayed and said, ’My heart exults in the LORD;
my horn is exalted in the LORD. My mouth derides my enemies,
because I rejoice in your salvation. ‘There is none holy like the LORD:
for there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God.
Talk no more so very proudly, let not arrogance come from your mouth;
for the LORD is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed.
The bows of the mighty are broken, but the feeble bind on strength.
Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread,
but those who were hungry have ceased to hunger.
The barren has borne seven, but she who has many children is forlorn.
The LORD kills and brings to life; he brings down to Sheol and raises up.
The LORD makes poor and makes rich; he brings low and he exalts.
He raises up the poor from the dust; he lifts the needy from the ash heap
to make them sit with princes and inherit a seat of honor.
For the pillars of the earth are the LORD’s, and on them he has set the world.
‘He will guard the feet of his faithful ones, but the wicked shall be cut off in darkness,
for not by might shall a man prevail. The adversaries of the LORD shall be broken to pieces;
against them he will thunder in heaven. The LORD will judge the ends of the earth;
he will give strength to his king and exalt the horn of his anointed.’”
Hannah went back and praised God for His goodness. She says her heart rejoices in the Lord. Do we rejoice in the Lord? And do we go back and praise God for all that He has blessed us with? It speaks volumes about where Hannah’s heart was when she went back and praised the Lord.
Hannah trusted in the Lord. She humbled herself and went to God in her time of distress and sorrow. She made a petition to the Lord, and when He granted her request, she followed through and gave her son to the Lord. She then praised God for blessing her and rejoiced in Him. Are we Hannah? Do we find comfort in the Lord? Do we use what God has blessed us with to glorify Him? Do we rejoice in the Lord and in the salvation we have through Him? Studying this has made me think a lot about the passion my prayer life is often lacking. It’s made me realize how often I fail to thank God for what He has blessed me with. I pray that this has done the same for you, and that we all strive to have a faith like Hannah’s.
By Makaley Waide