Hannah was at the end of herself. She was married to Elkanah – so was Peninnah. What? Yes, you read that right. Elkanah had TWO wives. And, to make matters worse, Peninnah was able to have children and had several, yet Hannah was barren.
In 800 B.C. if you did not give your husband children – you were considered deficient. Not only did Hannah feel useless, Peninnah provoked her to misery and made her feel worse than she already felt.
Elkanah loved Hannah and always gave her a double portion of blessing. He did not make her feel less-than.
Peninnah was relentless, The Word says…
So it was, year by year, when she [Hannah] went up to the house of the Lord, that she [Peninnah] provoked her, therefore she [Hannah] wept and did not eat. 1 Samuel 1.7
Have you ever been so sad and broken that you could not eat? I have been and I ended up being a 98 pound gaunt young woman.
Elkanah and his two wives were in Shiloh for their annual visit to the tabernacle of the LORD in order to worship and sacrifice. Elkanah was distraught for Hannah and inquired of her,
Hannah, why do you weep? Why do you not eat? And why is your heart grieved? Am I not better to you than ten sons? 1 Samuel 1.8
Hannah pushed her chair back and arose after the meal and went to the door of the tabernacle where the priest Eli sat. She was in bitterness of soul and cried and prayed to the LORD…
O LORD of hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your maidservant and remember me, and not forget Your maidservant, but will give Your maidservant a male child, then I will give him to the LORD all the days of his life, and no razor shall come upon his head.
Eli the priest was watching Hannah
Hannah was crying her heart out to the LORD – she was weeping and praying to herself yet she was moving her lips. Eli saw her and accused her of being drunk!
Hannah assured the priest that she was not drinking wine but was in anguish before her LORD. She told him that she was a woman with a sorrowful spirit. She pleaded with Eli to not think of her as a wicked woman and asked him to understand that until this very time she had never given voice to her grief.
Eli blessed Hannah
Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant your petition which you have asked of Him.
Hannah replied, “Let your maidservant find favor in your sight.”
So, Hannah left the tabernacle, had something to eat, and her face was no longer sad. 1 Samuel 1.18
The next day, Elkanah and his two wives left Shiloh and went back to their home in Ramah.
Samuel is born
Almost a year later, Hannah gave birth to a son and named him Samuel, which means, because I have asked for him from the Lord.
Hannah did not go to Shiloh that year because she stayed home to care for her baby – she told Elkanah that she would not go back to the tabernacle until Samuel was weaned.
The day came when Samuel was ready to go to Shiloh with his mother, Hannah, and his father, Elkanah. They brought the child to Eli the priest. And, Hannah declared…
For this child I prayed, and the LORD has granted me my petition which I asked of Him…therefore I also have lent him to the LORD; as long as he lives he shall be granted to the LORD.” 1 Samuel 1.27-28
Elkanah and Hannah returned to their home in Ramah but Samuel ministered to the LORD before Eli the priest.
Is one for all women to model. She was a woman of prayer – when everything was bleak and hopeless, she prayed to her God and He heard her. The year Hannah brought her son Samuel to the house of the LORD, she prayed the most beautiful prayer of thanksgiving and gratitude. You can read her prayer here.
Another encouraging trait of Hannah’s was she kept her vows to the Lord. Vows are important promises and when we make them? We need to follow-up and keep them. I made a vow to the Lord in 1984 and I have kept it to this day. Have you ever made such a vow?
When you make a vow to God, do not delay to pay it; for He has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you have vowed — better not to vow than to vow and not pay. Ecclesiastes 5.4-5
The entire story of Hannah and “little” Samuel can be found in 1 Samuel chapters 1 and 2.