Hannah appears in the Bible during the last days of the judges of Israel when “there was no king in Israel and everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25). Even though Elkanah, Hannah’s husband, was a godly man, he followed the common practice of polygamy. Unfortunately, Hannah was barren. This was the ultimate curse for a married woman then.
Hannah’s sadness— 1 Samuel 1:1–7
Hannah had been married to Elkanah for a number of years and had not borne him any children, while Peninnah, Elkanah’s other wife, had children constantly and yet harassed Hannah for her barrenness.
Hannah’s supplication— 1 Samuel 1:9–18
Hannah was childless but she wasn’t without prayer. Before God, she wept, prayed, and vowed that if God gave her a son, she would give him back to the Lord. Eli, the priest, assured Hannah that her prayer had been heard. With great joy, Hannah returned home with a renewed trust in God.
Hannah’s son— 1 Samuel 1:19–28
Before the next year’s trip to the house of the Lord, Hannah gave birth to a son. When the child was weaned, Hannah brought little Samuel, her only child, to the priest Eli and left him there.
Hannah’s song— 1 Samuel 2:1–10
Standing with her son before Eli, Hannah uttered a song of thanksgiving. While her earlier prayer came from bitterness, this prayer of praise came from joy and gratitude to God. The contents of her prayer form the basis of the “Magnificat” offered up by Mary, the mother of Jesus, to the same covenant-keeping God (Luke 1:46– 55).
Hannah’s sacrifice— 1 Samuel 2:11
More than anything, Hannah wanted a son, and when God gave her one, she fulfilled her vow to give Samuel back to the Lord. Her sacrifice was rewarded by God with the births of five more children. Samuel grew up to reflect his mother’s godliness and became a man of prayer and intercession for God’s people all his days.
What has Hannah taught us?
- Pray about life’s sorrows. Hannah’s suffering compelled her to turn to God in prayer. Problems do that for us too. Praying passes your burdens from your shoulders onto the strong shoulders of the Lord. Cast “all your care upon Him, for He cares for you” (1 Pet. 5:7).
- Follow through on your promises. Hannah could have made many excuses for not giving up her only child. But Hannah followed through on her promise to God to dedicate Samuel to God’s service. Make good on your promises, whether they are made to God or to anyone else.
Hannah perfectly illustrates how unpleasant circumstances can produce a beautiful outcome.
Lord, thank You for Hannah’s example of a mother after God’s own heart. I pray that my child will follow You for a lifetime. I want to start today to be a mom like Hannah— a mom who prays, instructs, and dedicates my children to You for Your purposes. Help Yourself to my children’s lives! Amen.
Do you long to nurture a meaningful prayer life? For all the ordinary and extraordinary situations you face each day comes a collection of 100 prayers from bestselling author Elizabeth George. Short devotions follow each prayer to help you navigate your relationships with your family, friends, and the world around you.
Does my suffering compel me to turn to God in prayer?
Make good on your promises.