Hello my fellow Proverbs 31 women in Progress!
Today I’ll share with you the story of a woman in the Bible who really moved me to the core. Her name is Hannah, mother of prophet/judge Samuel.
Let’s begin to examine her story!
Meaning: grace, favor
Lived during the Biblical Times (times of Judges)
Family: Elkanah (husband), Penninah (co-wive), several stepchildren by Elkanah and Penninah, Samuel (son), five other children
Her qualities: faithful to God, loving and kind-hearted
Her sadness: not being able to give a child to her husband
There was a man from Ephraim called Elkanah. He had two wives called Hannah and Penninah. Elkanah loved Hannah, who was childless, more than Penninah who had borne him several children. Hannah’s infertility became really burdensome to her, as her co-wive Penninah always attacked her on her inability to have children.
Every year, Elkanah went to Shiloh with all his family to make his offerings to the Lord. He distributed portions of meat to all his family, but he gave a double portion to Hannah because he loved her very much.
Once again, Penninah attacked her on her infertility, as she kept doing year after year. On such occasions, Hannah would weep and not take any food. Her husband always told her that he loved her and said:
Hannah, why are you weeping? And why are you taking no food? Why is your heart troubled? Am I not more to you than ten sons? (1 Samuel 1:8).
Then, Hannah stood up and got away of the guest room to pray, weeping bitterly and being frustrated and depressed. She made a vow to the Lord in her prayer and said:
O Lord of armies, if you will truly take note of the sorrow of your servant, not turning away from me but keeping me in mind, and will give me a man-child, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and his hair will never be cut (1 Samuel 1:11).
Eli watches a prayerful Hannah
She kept praying and weeping, but no sound came out of her lips. Eli, the High Priest, observed her for a while and thought that she was drunk. He started to reprimand her on the effects of alcohol, but she told him that she wasn’t drunk and that she was just opening her heart before the Lord. Then the High Priest blessed her and told her:
Go in peace: and may the God of Israel give you an answer to the prayer you have made to him (1 Samuel 1:17).
After her prayer, Hannah felt comforted and wasn’t grieving anymore. She went back to the guest room and had some food.
The Lord remembered Hannah’s prayer request, and the time came when Hannah became pregnant. She gave birth to a son that she called Samuel, because as she said, “I made a prayer to the Lord for him” (1 Samuel 1:20). She explained her vow to her husband later; and he told her to do what was right.
Hannah brings Samuel to Shiloh
When she weaned Samuel, Hannah brought him to Shiloh and told the High Priest that she was the woman praying some years ago; and that she made a vow to the Lord that Samuel would be dedicated to the service of the Lord. Then, Hannah was inspired by the Holy Spirit and prayed (1 Samuel 2, 1-10):
My heart is glad in the Lord, my horn is lifted up in the Lord: my mouth is open wide over my haters; because my joy is in your salvation.
No other is holy as the Lord, for there is no other God but you: there is no Rock like our God.
Say no more words of pride; let not uncontrolled sayings come out of your mouths: for the Lord is a God of knowledge, by him acts are judged.
The bows of the men of war are broken, and the feeble are clothed with strength.
Those who were full are offering themselves as servants for bread; those who were in need are at rest; truly, she who had no children has become the mother of seven; and she who had a family is wasted with sorrow.
The Lord is the giver of death and life: sending men down to the underworld and lifting them up.
The Lord gives wealth and takes a man’s goods from him: crushing men down and again lifting them up;
Lifting the poor out of the dust, and him who is in need out of the lowest place, to give them their place among rulers, and for their heritage the seat of glory: for the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s and he has made them the base of the world.
He will keep the feet of his holy ones, but the evil-doers will come to their end in the dark night, for by strength no man will overcome.
Those who make war against the Lord will be broken; against them he will send his thunder from heaven: the Lord will be judge of the ends of the earth, he will give strength to his king, lifting up the horn of him on whom the holy oil has been put.
Every year, she would come to Shiloh and bring him a little robe that she made herself – too cute!
The High Priest then blessed Hannah and Elkanah:
May the Lord give you offspring by this woman in exchange for the child you have given to the Lord (1 Samuel 2:20).
Following this blessing, Hannah and Elkanah finally had five more children: three sons and two daughters. As for Samuel, he was the last judge of Israel and helped to establish the monarchy in Israel by anointing Saul first; and then David. Isn’t that wonderful?
– Hannah’s prayer is very close to Mary’s, the mother of Jesus, (Luke 1, 46-55); sometimes called the Magnificat. You can really tell that God never changes!
– Some scholars say that “Samuel” would rather mean that God heard Hannah’s prayers, instead of “I have asked the Lord about him”. Same difference, don’t you think?
What we can learn from Hannah
Hannah is the perfect example of how we, as Christians, should behave when we encounter difficulties in our lives. Rather than lamenting and being frustrated – which is perfectly human – , we must turn our eyes upon the Lord and tell him everything.
Believe me, the Lord is in control of everything. I don’t know where you are in your life now and what you are going through, I just know that the Lord sees everything and He will answer you, according to what’s best for you. Just pray Him and stay positive, no matter what! His time may not be yours, but He will surely answer you.
Also, Hannah’s story reminds us of the importance of respecting the vows we make before the Lord. When Hannah respected her vow, the Lord blessed her abundantly and gave her more children, whereas she was barren at the beginning of the story! This should be an encouragement for all of us. If we are faithful to God, He will never forget us and will bless us beyond our expectations.
What do you think about Hannah’s life lessons? Please share your point of view!