WOMEN CHARACTERS OF THE BIBLE (1) - HANNAH
The righteous are never forsaken. Provided their confidence in the Almighty God remains unshaken their desires are granted. This was vividly illustrated in the story of Hannah whose sorrow and reproach was replaced with boundless joy and honour by the Lord. And so in continuation of the serial on “Women Characters of the Bible” (vide issues Nos. 7 and 8) Hannah is our choice in this issue.
Hannah was one of the two wives of Elkanah. The name of his other wife was Peninnah. Though Hannah was barren she was the favourite of their husband. But Peninnah had children. – 1 Samuel 1:1-2
By reason of Elkanah’s love for Hannah he always made her portion better than that of Peninnah at the time of offering year by year. And because Hannah had no child she was reproached and provoked so much that she wept and refused to eat. Then Elkanah said to her: “Hannah, why weepest thou? And why eatest thou not? And why is thy heart grieved? Am not I better to thee than ten sons?” – 1 Samuel 1:4-8
Hannah knew and believed that it was God Almighty who could give her the desire of her heart and make her happy. She needed a child. So she went into the temple, and in the bitterness of her soul prayed soberly to the Lord. She vowed and said: “…O Lord of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of Thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget. Thine handmaid, but wilt give unto Thine hand maid a man child, then I will give him unto the Lord all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come upon his head.” -1 Samuel 1:9-11
As she continued to pray silently in her heart, Eli the priest who sat beside the doorpost of the temple observed that her lips moved but her voice was not heard. He thought she was drunk, and said to her: “How long wilt thou be drunken? Put away thy wine from thee.” But Hannah answered: “No, my lord, I am a woman of a sorrowful spirit: I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but have poured out my soul before the Lord. Count not thine hand maid for a daughter of Belial: for out of the abundance of my complaint and grief have I spoken hitherto.” – 1 Samuel 1: 12-16
The priest, no doubt, was impressed by the godly attitude and intelligent answer of Hannah. Despite the fact that she was rebuked for what she was not guilty of she showed a humble spirit and wisdom. Eli, the priest, then asked her to go in peace and prayed that God should grant her request. (1 Samuel 1:17) Hannah had faith in God as was manifest in her devotion. After she had prayed and received the blessing of the priest she went home and did eat, and her countenance was no longer sad. In God’s due time Hannah’s prayer was answered. She conceived and bore a son whom she called Samuel meaning, “Asked of God”. – 1Samuel 1:19-20
After she had weaned the child she brought him with offerings to Eli, the priest, and reminded him that she was the woman who stood in the temple praying in his presence. She said further: “For this child I prayed; and the Lord hath given me my petition which I ask of Him: therefore also I have lent him to the Lord.” – 1 Samuel 1:24-28
So it was that Hannah fulfilled her now by giving her child Samuel to God as devoted. Samuel grew and became one of the great prophets of God in the days of old.
It was to the credit of Hannah that in her hour of need and temptation she did not resort to idols, witches or wizards for aid as nominal faithless worshippers do but rather turned to the Most High in prayer and was steadfast in her faith. The life of holiness which Samuel led was clear evidence that he was really as gift from God Almighty to his parents.
Impatience and lack of faith are responsible for the backsliding of many women who profess to be Christians today. It pays to fear God and to wait on Him. (Psalm 37:4-7) There is much to learn from the experience of Hannah. She proved to be a godly and faithful woman, and her heart’s desire was granted by the Lord. Yes, Jesus Christ said: “And all things, what so ever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.” –Matthew 21:22