Summary: God had an ultimate purpose for the barrenness of biblical women such as Hannah in the Old Testament and Elizabeth in the New Testament.
Usually when we think about Hannah, no doubt we think about her prayer for a son. Today, let’s go deeper into the story and see that Hannah’s barrenness served a purpose.
When we speak of women being barren in the Bible, it is usually in reference to a woman being childless. However, the word “barrenness” means being unproductive, as well as being unfruitful. There were several women in the Bible who were barren in the womb and even though they didn’t have children at first, they eventually did have children. Such women include Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, Hannah in the Old Testament and Elizabeth in New Testament. God worked their barrenness for His greatest good.
We know the background of the story about Hannah who was married to Elkanah. While Hannah was barren, the other wife, Peninnah was the one having all the children. For this, Peninnah taunted and teased Hannah until Hannah couldn’t take it any longer.
So when the family went to Shiloh once a year, Hannah’s husband would feel sorry for her and would give her more meat than anyone else. However, this did not ease Hannah’s aching heart and her sorrowful spirit. While at Shiloh, Hannah prayed through her shame. She prayed through her disgrace. She prayed through her aching heart and sorrowful spirit. She prayed so fervently that the priest thought she was drunk because while she was praying her mouth moved, but no sound come out.
When the priest realized what Hannah was doing, he blessed her, Hannah went her way and worshiped God even before her son was born. We should do the same. We are tremendously blessed when begin to thank God even before the manifestation has taken place.
When we worship God, it is a down payment on that thing we have been praying for.
There are several things that deserve special attention in Hannah’s story:
Notice that Hannah never lashed out at Peninnah, the other wife. What she did is what we should do. She prayed to God who could handle her situation.
Notice that Hannah prayed not a generic prayer. She did not pray for material things. She did not pray a “Bless Me Prayer.” She did not pray for a child. Instead, she prayed a specific prayer that God would give her a son.
Often we beat around the bush for what we want. While God can sort out our requests, He wants us to pray for the exact thing we want. Hannah did just that.
Notice that Hannah went so far as to say she would dedicate her son to the temple. Hannah was willing to give the first fruit of her womb, and God blessed Hannah’s barrenness to the point of giving her three additional sons after Samuel and two daughters. Here we have a woman who was barren when we first meet her, but God brought purpose to her barrenness. God had a purpose for Hannah’s barrenness. And certainly He has a purpose for your barrenness as well.
When Hannah was praying for a son, she was responding to a purpose God had already placed within her. God has placed a purpose in each one of us, and nothing we do will ever satisfy us until the purpose is fulfilled. Hannah wanted a son not for herself, but Hannah knew within her heart of hearts that her son would be instrumental in doing work for God.
Hannah wanted a baby for a higher purpose. Hannah’s purpose was tied to her son’s purpose. Her son’s purpose was tied to the purpose of so many others because at the time Israel was also barren.
Hannah’s desire to have a son was to bring about God’s ultimate’s plan. God needed someone special He could work though to bring forth a prophet. God allowed Hannah to be temporarily barren so He could bring a greater blessing to Israel when the time was right.
You might be going through a period of temporarily barrenness right now. Know that God is in charge of your barrenness. Know that God is working things out for your greatest good, His greatest good and the greatest good of those around you.
Samuel was dedicated to the temple as Hannah had promised. After he was weaned around the age of 3, Hannah took him to the temple to live with Eli at Shiloh where it all started. Samuel became a prophet, priest and judge. Samuel was the one who looked for Saul, the first king of Israel. He was the one who anointed David whose lineage continued through Jesus Christ.
Part of Hannah’s story is in all of us. For you see, we are all barren or have been barren in some area of our lives. Since “barrenness” is the absence of fruit, if you are not bearing fruit, then you are barren.