Throughout God’s Word we experience the power of God allowing His people to be vessels for change. Often in regard to this we think of David who became king, or of God’s prophets, such as Elijah or Elisha… but what about the women of the Word? Did God use them to bring about change?
Join us as we follow the story of Hannah, a woman who sought the Lord and brought change not only to her and her husband’s lives, but to the generations to come!
Hannah, A Woman of Prayer and Faith
Of all the women written of in God’s Word, few likely faced the level of continual verbal abuse and emotional wounding that Hannah did.
Rahab likely faced ridicule due to her being believed by many to be a prostitute before she came to know the one true God.
Mary, called Magdalene, certainly was not a woman who went through life without ridicule, even after Yeshua freed her from seven demons.
Yet Hannah experienced ridicule nearly every single day. Because her ‘rival’—as the Word says—was her husband’s other wife, Peninnah, and she sought to make Hannah’s life miserable…
And the way Peninnah did this was to provoke Hannah. To go on about how she—Peninnah—had many children and how the Lord had given Hannah none. This was essentially poking at the wound in Hannah of not having any children—a desire of her heart—and reminding Hannah of the reproach of being barren.
Yes, Hannah had the great gift of having a husband, Elkanah, who loved her and gave her a double portion despite her inability to give him children. Yet, no matter how loving he was. No matter what he gave her or how much he told her that it did not matter that she had no children… she was still heartbroken. She was still living in a home where she was continually reminded and ridiculed about her barrenness by one who had many children through her own husband…
Now this abuse went on for many years, even when they went annually to the House of the Lord…
“So it was, year by year, when she went up to the house of the Lord, that she provoked her; therefore she wept and did not eat.”—1 Samuel 1:7
And each time they went to the House of the Lord, Peninnah gave extra effort to provoking Hannah. Doing so until Hannah would weep and not eat.
This not only brought despair to Hannah, but wounded her husband Elkanah too. For he hated to see his wife weeping and failing to care for herself…
“Then Elkanah her husband said to 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
However, on one particular trip to the House of the Lord, Hannah had enough.
Not of her husband who loved her.
Nor of the woman who provoked her.
No, she had simply had enough of the situation she was in… of her barrenness and longing.
Yet instead of returning abuse on her rival or fuming in anger… she went and prayed. In anguish, in tears. In passion, and in longing. She prayed.
She went near the doorpost of the House of the Lord and travailed. Seeking the Lord. Knowing that He could provide her a son. And offering that son to the Lord for His service.
She was so passionate… So determined and sincere… that she was willing to give the promise back to God if He would but grant her request.
She was so passionate… So determined and sincere… that her heart spoke, though her lips, moving, made not a sound. And Eli the priest, who sat near the doorposts watching her, thought that she was drunk…
But even this did not deter Hannah, who said, “No, my lord, I am a woman of sorrowful spirit. I have drunk neither wine nor intoxicating drink, but have poured out my soul before the Lord. Do not consider your maidservant a wicked woman, for out of the abundance of my complaint and grief I have spoken until now” (1 Samuel 1:15-16).
And Eli, realizing that she was indeed not drunk and speaking the truth, told her to go in peace… and the Lord would grant her petition!
And Hannah went away happy and ate, for she trusted that the Lord would fulfill her petition AND DID NOT DOUBT HIM.
We do not know what her rival thought—nor the thoughts of Elkanah, her husband—when Hannah returned with joy. But what we do know is that Hannah’s life was never the same… because the Lord remembered her, and she remembered Him.
“…and the Lord remembered her.”—1 Samuel 1:19
“No one is holy like the Lord, for there is none besides You, nor is there any rock like our God.”—1 Samuel 2:2
The day after Hannah had travailed in prayer before the Lord they went and worshipped God before returning home. And Hannah soon was blessed with a son whom she named, Samuel.
“So it came to pass in the process of time that Hannah conceived and bore a son, and called his name Samuel, saying, ‘Because I have asked for him from the Lord.’”—1 Samuel 1:20
Yet, Hannah did not forget her promise to the Lord. When the time came for them to again go to the House of the Lord—likely no more than a few months after Samuel was born—Hannah chose not to go with her husband. Not because she was unprepared or unwilling to do what she had promised God, but because the child had yet to be weaned.
“Now the man Elkanah and all his house went up to offer to the Lord the yearly sacrifice and his vow. But Hannah did not go up, for she said to her husband, ‘Not until the child is weaned; then I will take him, that he may appear before the Lord and remain there forever.’”—1 Samuel 1:21-22
Hannah’s husband, Elkanah, agreed with her. Trusting that it was not only right to give his son to the Lord, but also that she should wait until the boy was weaned…
And when the boy was newly weaned, Hannah took a sacrifice for the Lord—three bulls, an ephod of flour, and a skin of wine—and brought her son Samuel to the Tabernacle in Shiloh so that he could serve the Lord there as she had promised.
Speaking to Eli, Hannah said, “O my lord! As your soul lives, my lord, I am the woman who stood by you here, praying to the Lord. 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 lent to the Lord” (1 Samuel 1:26-28). Then they worshiped God… “And Hannah prayed and said:
‘My heart rejoices in the Lord;
my horn is exalted in the Lord.
I smile at my enemies,
because I rejoice in Your salvation.
‘No one is holy like the Lord,
for there is none besides You,
nor is there any rock like our God.
‘Talk no more so very proudly;
let no arrogance come from your mouth,
for the Lord is the God of knowledge;
and by Him actions are weighed.
‘The bows of the mighty men are broken,
and those who stumbled are girded with strength.
Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread,
and the hungry have ceased to hunger.
even the barren has borne seven,
and she who has many children has become feeble.
‘The Lord kills and makes alive;
He brings down to the grave and brings up.
The Lord makes poor and makes rich;
He brings low and lifts up.
He raises the poor from the dust
and lifts the beggar from the ash heap,
to set them among princes
and make them inherit the throne of glory.
‘For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s,
and He has set the world upon them.
He will guard the feet of His saints,
but the wicked shall be silent in darkness.
‘For by strength no man shall prevail.
The adversaries of the Lord shall be broken in pieces;
from heaven He will thunder against them.
The Lord will judge the ends of the earth.
‘He will give strength to His king,
and exalt the horn of His anointed.’”—1 Samuel 2:1-10
But this was not the end of Hannah’s story. Not only did she continue yearly to go to the House of the Lord to honor Him and bring her son Samuel a new robe, but God blessed her and gave her three more sons and two daughters!
Her faith in God and her unwavering obedience to Him—and to the promise she made Him—caused her to go from a barren woman who faced life-long ridicule, to one who was blessed, honored, and favored of God.
And her son Samuel went on to become one of the most well-known biblical prophets and leaders in Israel, guiding the people in the ways of God from the ending time of the judges to the time of the kings—Saul and David.
Thus, Hannah was blessed in her life. Her husband was blessed through her. The people were blessed through her son. And we are blessed through her testimony. A testimony that prayer, faith, and obedience speak to the heart of God. That when we seek Him, He listens, and He answers…
That we who seek the Lord no longer need be called barren, but instead called favored!