Faith of Women Series: Hannah

Wilhelm_Wachtel_-_Hannah_at_prayer

Back in April, I did a post on Hannah. It mostly highlighted her prayer in a dark time in her life. This post will be more on what motivated her to pray like she did. Hannah must have been an incredible woman.

Many things show Hannah’s faith. To begin, Hannah is that she was married to a man who broke biblical law and married two wives. What made it worse is that the other wife had children and she did not. She would have been subject to an open shame. Not only was her husband, Elkanah, living contrary to the Bible, she also had to endure infertility. As if polygamy wasn’t enough to endure. All along she maintained her faith in who God was despite the lack in her husband or that of her circumstances.

Hannah was the fourth woman mentioned in biblical history to suffer through infertility. Before Hannah, three other women endured the despair of not being able to conceive. Sarah was the first, followed by Rebekah and then Rachel. What makes Hannah stand apart, however, is that she accepted God’s promise with unwavering faith. The other three did not. Sarah laughed at the angel’s proclamation that God would give her a child. (Genesis 18:12 NIV) Rebekah questioned, “If all is well, why am I like this?” as her twins struggled in the womb. (Genesis 25:22 NKJV) Rachel gave the responsibility to her husband. (Genesis 30:1 NIV) But Hannah trusted God without any doubt. Her reverent fear of the Lord was just one of many of her godly qualities.

You can read her story in 1 Samuel chapter one. To summarize, her husband and her go up to Shiloh year after year to make sacrifices to the Lord. Each time she falls before the Lord in earnest heart-felt prayer. She longs for a child. At the annual sacrifice at the major shrine of Shiloh, Hannah’s predicament is intensified by her husband’s allocation of sacrificial portions, one to each of his wives and children: the value of the women is demonstrably enhanced by their child-bearing capacities. Though he gives a generous portion to Hannah, this gesture still emphasizes the fact that she has born no children and thus does not comfort her. When she weeps and does not eat, Elkanah tries to assuage her misery with a series of “Why” questions, concluding with “Am I not more to you than ten sons?” (1:8). If I were her my response would be, “I’m obviously not enough for you so how could you ask me that?” Obviously, she is of far greater restraint and faith than myself.

During this unfolding of events, Eli the priest comes to Hannah and blesses her (twice actually) and God answers her prayers and grants her a child. That child is none other than Samuel the prophet. In my opinion, the greatest of the Old Testament prophets. But this isn’t about him. It’s about his mom. Many people would stop here. But Hannah’s faith drove her to fulfill her side of the prayer. She had promised to dedicate her child to the Lord for His service. And that’s exactly what she did. This mama took her baby boy and left him in the service of God, only to see him year after year when she would travel to Shiloh. That would take immeasurable amounts of faith. Out of her faithfulness, God ends up granting her five more children. FIVE! What a story. What a woman of God. Here is her prayer:

Then Hannah prayed and said:

“My heart rejoices in the Lord;
    in the Lord my horn[a] is lifted high.
My mouth boasts over my enemies,
    for I delight in your deliverance.

“There is no one holy like the Lord;
    there is no one besides you;
    there is no Rock like our God.

“Do not keep talking so proudly
    or let your mouth speak such arrogance,
for the Lord is a God who knows,
    and by him deeds are weighed.

“The bows of the warriors are broken,
    but those who stumbled are armed with strength.
Those who were full hire themselves out for food,
    but those who were hungry are hungry no more.
She who was barren has borne seven children,
    but she who has had many sons pines away.

“The Lord brings death and makes alive;
    he brings down to the grave and raises up.
The Lord sends poverty and wealth;
    he humbles and he exalts.
He raises the poor from the dust
    and lifts the needy from the ash heap;
he seats them with princes
    and has them inherit a throne of honor.

“For the foundations of the earth are the Lord’s;
    on them he has set the world.
He will guard the feet of his faithful servants,
    but the wicked will be silenced in the place of darkness.

“It is not by strength that one prevails;
those who oppose the Lord will be broken.
The Most High will thunder from heaven;
    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 NIV

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