Hannah was in a polygamist marriage, meaning she shared her husband (this was a normal custom of her time). Hannah and Peninnah were both married to Elkanah, but only Peninnah had given him children.
I’m happy we no longer live in an era where a woman’s value is placed on her ability to conceive – talk about pressure!
Now Elkanah never looked down or spited Hannah for not having any children, as his love for her was far greater than she knew or even understood.
‘Why be downhearted just because you have no children? You have me – isn’t that better than having ten sons?’ (1 Samuel 1:8)
Every year the family would whip out the camper van and set off on their travels to the Tabernacle and offer up a sacrifice. Out of jealously Peninnah would spend the whole journey taunting Hannah for her inability to bare children. Peninnah wanted nothing more than to have the affections of her husbands’ heart, but when she didn’t get it (despite her many children) she chose to attack Hannah’s insecurities instead.
Hannah never once met her torment with hate or foul language, she remained patient and stayed silent. Reminds me of that saying you would hear from a parent or teacher when you were young- ‘if you haven’t got anything nice to say don’t say anything at all’.
One year the torment got so hard to bear, that after dinner she went to pray and took all her burdens to God.
What is often referred to as playground bullying will continue to happen at many stages of our lives. Be that in the workplace or even within your family setting.
Harsh words should only be met with prayer – it isn’t our job to condemn but to show love, grace and patience.
Praying in deep anguish she cried out (or actually cried in as she couldn’t get any words out) to the father. ‘Answer my prayer and give me a son, then I will give him back to you. He will be yours for his entire lifetime’- Wow, what a promise to make!
Even when Eli questioned her character, Hannah showed humility and grace – which can’t have been easy through all the tears. After explaining that she wasn’t in fact drunk, Eli went on to bless her ‘go in peace! May the God of Israel grant the request you have asked of him’. Not only did Eli back up Hannah’s prayer for a son (that he would one day go on the raise in the presence of the Lord). He also blessed her with peace, something she hadn’t known for a very long time.
Don’t miss the blessing that surrounds your promise.
Sometime later Hannah finally fell pregnant and gave birth to a son she named Samuel. Once he was old enough, she took him back to the Tabernacle where she had made her promise. There she prayed a prayer of praise and left her son with Eli to be brought up in the presence of the Lord.
Each year Hannah and the family would go back to the Tabernacle for the yearly sacrifice. There she would visit her son and Eli would continue to bless her saying ‘may the lord give you other children to take the place of this one you gave to the Lord’. Hannah and Elkanah went on to have three more sons and two daughters.
Through reading and studying this passage, the word I keep being drawn back to is patience. Patience in the suffering but also in the blessing.
Hannah had to be patient in the promise – sometimes knowing you’re going to get something can be just as hard as not knowing because the wait can seem unbearable.
Even after she’d had her long-awaited son and given him back to the lord as she’d promised, she would have to continue to wait a whole year for the chance to see him again – patience!
In my own life patience is something I must remind myself of daily. I’m a planner- or at least I thought I was. Failing to plan is planning to fail- right? Wrong! Failing to pray is planning to fail! My 2-year plan quickly turned into a 5-year plan and it’s the best thing that ever happened to me.
Understanding that Gods timing will always be perfect, and although we may not see a clear path to the promise we have on our heart, he is right there in front of you with fog lights to get you through that morning mist.
What are the things in your life you’re struggling to have patience with right now? Write them down and pray over them.
For me, it’s finding the finances to afford to buy our first house. Knowing that it’s okay to take what can seem like a step back and move back in with parents, while we save was initially a hard pill to swallow and definitely not in MY plan. But I know GOD’S plan will propel us further than we thought we could go, so in obedience to HIS will, we have patience.
2 Corinthians 6:6 says ‘we prove ourselves by our purity, our understanding, our patience, our kindness, by the holy spirit within us, and by our sincere love’.