READING FIRST SAMUEL chapter provides the context for the eternally relatable story of Hannah.
“Early the next morning they arose and worshipped the LORD and then went back to their home… and the LORD remembered her.”
— 1st Samuel 1:19a NIV Teen Study Bible
I imagine that by the standards of ancient Hebrew life, Hannah could’ve been considered cursed by God. If not fully cursed, then certainly not blessed. She was unable to bear children, an invalidation to one of the most fundamental purposes of womanhood for most. It’s a fair assumption that most husbands who found out their wives were barren in ancient times would’ve either resented or divorced them.
However, in this account, we find that Hannah had quite a compassionate, loving, if not perhaps slightly oblivious husband, Elkanah. Always a snare for harmony in the polygenist’s home, there was bad blood between Elkanah’s two wives. Their relationship is described as that of rivals (1:6), one of whom consistently provokes the other, at least once to the point of tears in Gods house. One can only guess where Elkanah was when this happened and what intervention he tried or avoided providing.
Though desperately pained by her circumstances and desire for a child, she activated her faith. While weeping bitterly, she entreated the LORD to remember her and grant her a son. If done, she vowed to sacrifice the life of her only offspring and dedicate him to God in the form of a Nazirite oath and lifelong service in the temple (1:10-11).
They were a faithfully practicing religious family. Nonetheless, temple attendance alone did not prevent jealousy, cruelty, and possibly indifference from spoiling the atmosphere. It did, however, provide an opportunity for spiritual growth and hope. A cry came out of a dysfunctional situation to God, who heard and answered; “… a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.”
“Then she went her way and ate something, and her face was no longer downcast.”
— Psalm 51 1:17b NIV Teen Study Bible
Our hearts can be encouraged in the midst of seemingly unfair circumstances and difficult relationships by remembering Hannah’s trust in God and her suffering.
1st Samuel 1:18b NIV Teen Study Bible
Vince is a valued member of The Virtual Way community and has generously contributed this article to our blog.