-Godliness and Patience-
Hannah had an unblemished character. Godliness prevailed in her heart, as well as trust, patience and self-sacrifice. She was married to a priest who lived in a Levite town among the tribe of Ephraim, (Cities were set apart in each area of the land for the tribe of Levites, the priesthood tribe, for they did not inherit any land).
Her husband belonged to one of the most honourable families of the priesthood. Although a godly man himself, he practiced the common custom of the day, if a wife could not have a child a man could take a second wife. In the middle of domestic trouble she needed God greatly, for His Grace to bear her troubles. She cried day and night unto The Lord for a child to make her complete as a Jewish Woman.
Hannah, being the first wife, because she was barren, unable to conceive children, most probably urged him into taking another wife. The second wife bore her husband many children and it grieved Hannah because the other woman ridiculed and taunted her for being childless.
It was not an easy task to live with a nasty woman in the same home, and sharing her husband with a women who constantly teased her. Her agony and pain grew intense as the years went by. Although she had the comfort of a loving husband, she persisted in asking The Lord God, The Giver of Life to intervene.
In Old Testament times, a childless woman was thought to be a failure and a reason for divorce, but her husband loved her and stayed married to her. Children were a part of the economic structure. They were a source of labour and it was the children's duty to look after the parents in their old age.
Hannah was so discouraged that she became physically sick and unable to eat. This was a tremendous burden for her. Her heart was not bitter or hardened, but allowed herself to stay open to God and Hannah prayed to God for her own child. She poured out all her grief and sorrow to Him constantly.
One year at Shiloh, where the Tent of Meeting was constructed (The Tent that went through the wilderness with Moses and their forefathers). She again lifted her burdens to God in prayer, making her request known to God, silently. Her prayer was internal, of the heart. She wanted God to move in her life and change the situation, about being childless. She wisely left the judgement up to God.
Observing her actions, Eli, The Highpriest thought she was drunk with her distressing cries, even though she was not making a sound, and he approached her. Hannah protested for she was not intoxicated with wine, and she told the Highpriest her prayer to God and of her sorrows. He told her that he was sure that God had heard the sincere pleas.
She returned home, no longer feeling forlorn and downcast. She was joyful and contented. She learnt that being honest with God, and leaving her problem with Him helped change her attitude.
Hannah (approximately 1106 B.C.) dedicated her child to The Lord before it was conceived or born. She made a commitment to God that if He would give her a son, in thankfulness, she would give him back to God, to serve Him all of his lifetime.
She vowed that he would be a Nazarite for life. Those who took that vow never cut their hair. It was a special vow to be set apart for special service to God. God granted her request and Samuel, the prophet-priest was born. More than anything, Hannah wanted a child, and true to her promise, she gave him back to God.
When Samuel was weaned at the age of 3, he was taken to Shiloh, to the residence of Eli , the Highpriest. The boy lived with him as The Lord's helper. Samuel was to live his life for God as long as he lived.
Hannah gave up to God what she truly wanted, her son. She acknowledge that Samuel's life was a gift from God and she was returning him to God. God Himslef gave His Only Begotten Son to us, so he knew what sacrifice Hannah had made. With her hearts desire fulfilled, Hannah's prayer at the dedication of her son is filled with adulation and thanksgiving. She was so grateful God. She acknowledged that God is The Author and Giver of Life.
She burst into song and speaks her praises to God for His goodness. She prophesies the events to come concerning Israel and her son. Her prayer was prophetic in the anticipation of the kingship of Israel through her son, and ultimately the expectation is fulfilled in Jesus Christ. The prayer has similar links to the song that magnified God, when Mary learnt that she was going to be the mother of Jesus.
I Samuel Chapter 2, 1-10 is recorded
2:1 This was Hannah's prayer: "How I rejoice in the Lord! How he has blessed me! Now I have an answer for my enemies, For the Lord has solved my problem. How I rejoice!
2 No one is as holy as the Lord! There is no other God, Nor any Rock like our God.
3 Quit acting so proud and arrogant! The Lord knows what you have done, And he will judge your deeds.
4 Those who were mighty are mighty no more! Those who were weak are now strong.
5 Those who were well are now starving; Those who were starving are fed. The barren woman now has seven children; She with many children has no more!
6 The Lord kills, The Lord gives life. |
7 Some he causes to be poor And others to be rich. He cuts one down And lifts another up. 8 He lifts the poor from the dust-- Yes, from a pile of ashes-- And treats them as princes Sitting in the seats of honor. For all the earth is the Lord's And he has set the world in order. 9 He will protect his godly ones, But the wicked shall be silenced in darkness. No one shall succeed by strength alone.
10 Those who fight against the Lord shall be broken; He thunders against them from heaven. He judges throughout the earth. He gives mighty strength to his King, And gives great glory to his anointed one."
The joy of Hannah is answered prayer. Her heart rejoiced in The Lord, not in Samuel. She acknowledged the Giver before the gift. Her prayer shows the confidence in God's ultimate control over events, His Care and His Strength. Every year she would visit her son, and take him a new linen jacket to wear, exactly the same as Eli's jacket. Her persistence and patience was rewarded for she bore 5 more children.
Hannah saw God as solid as a rock, the one who watches what we do, how He is Sovereign in the affairs of people and is the Supreme Judge who administers justice. She learnt that what people receive is on loan from God. She was a worshipper, and intercessor. She struggled with self-worth. She was an honourable person.
In likeness to his mother, Samuel also was man of travailing intercessory prayer. He became one of Israel's greatest priests and prophets, also he was the priest who anointed Saul and David as kings of Israel. Samuel became Israel's greatest hope in a time of great needs
In looking at Hannah's life, we learn to guard our tongue, for it is a cruel weapon to use on others; to give our burdens to God, teaching about intercession; how not to judge or come to quick conclusions as Eli had judged Hannah. People are always misinterpreting the motives of others. There is a way to defend our human rights, which is done in a godly and mild way, of a dignified manner.
Asking God's help opens the way to miracles and blessings as Hannah had discovered. God is concerned for the oppressed and the afflicted. God hears and answers prayer.
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