Many of us want to be sure that we are surrounded by people who have our best interests at heart. There are times that we have to evaluate those in our circle and determine if there are changes that need to be made. I think that I would like to have women like Esther, Ruth, Mary, and Hannah in my circle.
Hannah – She was the wife of Elkanah and became the mother of Samuel. She had a lot a of patience in my opinion. She prayed and prayed for a child and became even more fervent in her prayer as time went on. After hearing her petition, the prophet Eli thought he was hearing the rantings of a drunken person. This was mostly due to the fact that he wasn’t exactly doing what he was suppose to do as a man of God, and he couldn’t properly perceive it. Once Hannah explained that she was crying out to God for something, Eli blessed her and prayed that God would grant her petition. He did, and finally granted her her first born son Samuel. She returned him to God and brought him to be raised at the temple so that he would become a man of God. There was nothing wrong with her other than her barrenness. She was troubled by it because of his husband’s second wife, Peninnah, who was very mean to her.
Childless, Hannah was not prayerless. Barren, she still believed, and her pain found a refuge in prayer. In God’s house, she besought the Creator “to raise her into the empire of motherhood,” and to interfere with the law of nature on her behalf. How moving is the episode of Hannah pouring out her soul before God in His house and vowing that if He would give her a son, then she would give him back to God for His exclusive use! She bargained with God, and kept her bargain. She took her particular sorrow to God, and prayed, not that Peninnah’s joy might be less, but that He would take away the cause of her own anguish. She gave herself to prayer, and in the presence of God her sorrow burst its bonds. Yet even in God’s house at Shiloh she did not find at first the sympathy and understanding she sought. Think, for a moment, about some of the features of her heartfelt cry!
First of all, her prayer was of a peculiar kind. It was a supplication without external speech. Her lips moved but there was no sound. Her prayer was internal, and as she spoke thus to herself she created the impression that she was drunk with wine. She had learned that prayer is the Christian’s native breath, “unuttered or expressed.” While she never said a prayer, “she breathed a wish in her soul and sent it up unspoken right to the throne of God. It is a unique experience for the age of the Judges; it was something they had nothing seen before. The old priest Eli, not meaning to be unkind when he saw Hannah’s lips moving and her whole being caught up in the fervency of her supplication and yet heard no words being expressed, somewhat felt that Hannah was drunk and upbraided her for coming into God’s house in such a condition. How his hasty, ill-founded conclusions added gall to the sorrow of her heart.
Hannah protested her innocence and declared that she had never taken strong drink, and then poured out her soul to Eli who, discerning that her desire for a child was intense and her spirit, sacrificial, for she wanted nothing for herself alone, assured her that her inarticulate prayer had been heard. “Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant thee thy petition that thou hast asked of him.” Down she went to her house content for she believed. She was no longer forlorn, sorrowful, heart-hungry, but joyous and buoyant. God granted her wish, and the yearned-for child arrived and she called his name Samuel, which means, “asked of the Lord.”
She was fervent, devout in her belief, faithful and kept her word. Who wouldn’t want friends like that? She knew how to respond with grace or not to respond at all.
Hannah’s story also teaches us that God can use human weakness to accomplish great things. Samuel, Hannah’s son, grew up to be a great man of God – the final judge and the prophet who anointed the first two kings of Israel. But why was Hannah’s story necessary? Why not just start with Samuel in the tabernacle or at the start of his judgeship? Why not simply let him be born to a God-fearing couple and send an angel to tell them to dedicate their son to God? In short, why involve Hannah’s grief? Because God is glorified in Hannah’s story. Her weakness, her trust in God as she turned to Him, the fervency of her desire, and her faithfulness in bringing Samuel to God as promised are all evidences of God working in Hannah’s life. Her tears were ordained to be part of the glorious story of what God was doing in Israel’s history.
Every person experiences desires that will not be quenched and circumstances that cause grief. Many times, we simply do not understand these things. But in the life of Hannah we see that God knows our story from beginning to end, that everything has a purpose, and that trust in Him is never misplaced.