Summary: Hannah prayed out of her barrenness and God brought forth fruitfulness

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Did you know that there will be more phone calls made today than any other day of the year, with the exception of Christmas and New Year. Why? Did you know that they reckon car washes were more used yesterday than any other Saturday this year – Why? You just have to look in the card shops and the advertisements all around us – this is Mother’s Day. All of us have a mother. We wouldn’t be here without them. For many today is a day of joy and love but you know for some, even within our family here at Holy Trinity, it is a day of pain, sadness and one which they cannot wait to end. I know I have been there myself. I use to hate being the minister at the front giving out mother’s day cards knowing that we had awoken that morning and there was no mother’s day card in our home. So this morning I want to speak to us all, not just those who are mothers but also to those whose hearts are breaking because they are not, or because their children are estranged, or because you have lost a child in the past. Today is a day of mixed feelings for many. Turn with me to 1 SAMUEL 1 and let us together look at Hannah, a great example of the mixed feelings of today.


Let us look at the first 8 verses of this chapter before we look in more detail at our reading this morning. From the first 8 verses we learn that a man named Elkanah (literally ‘God has created [a son’]) and that he had two wives – Hannah and Pinennah. We read that Pinennah had children but that Hannah was barren (v2). We read that he was a godly man, when the culture around him was far from godly. Each year, following the commandment of the Law, Elkanah took his whole family to Shiloh to the Tabernacle (the ark of God) to worship and offer sacrifices to God. Elkanah gave his family portions of the sacrificed meat to eat in celebration and to Hannah he gave a ‘double portion’ because he loved her. The literal translation of ‘double portion’ is ‘to show your face.’ It was a means of showing honour to the person and this was the desire of Elkanah – to show honour to Hannah (verses 4-5). But I want you to listen very carefully to what I am about to read now – read verse 6. Did you notice it? It was God who had closed up Hannah’s womb. There is no escaping those words and to be honest with you this morning there is no real explaining away those words. Scripture teaches us that the Lord God is in control – listen to these words of Job 2.10 and Ecclesiastes 7.14. God’s sovereign will is sometimes beyond our comprehension and beyond explanation. It is a hard lesson to learn and accept that sometimes our problems are sent by the Lord God. The result of Hannah’s barenness is that Pinennah torments her, the literal translation is ‘thunders against.’ You know sometimes in our difficulties other people literally ‘thunder against’ us. They use the opportunity to hurt us further and to trample us further down. Sometimes, especially in situations like Hannah, people are unaware of the pain they are causing with their words. Simple questions like ‘How long have you been married and no children yet’ and the like can cause immense pain in a heart. Pinennah was deliberate in her taunting of Hannah. Then along comes Elkanah in verse 8 and he does what almost every husband does when he sees his wife in pain – he tries to rationalise and solve. He fails to listen to the pain of her heart. In fact when you take the literal translation of his words you will see how insensitive he is; ‘Why is your heart resentful? Am I not better than 10 sons?’ ‘Baby you have got me what more could you want?’ He is trying to solve the situation when he should be trying to understand the situation. Hannah found no solace in Elkanah’s well meaning but inadequate sympathy. I am tempted to ask for a show of hands from husbands who have been there, done that and bought the flowers afterwards, but I won’t. This is the situation in which we encounter Hannah – socially disgraced, emotionally depressed and spiritually disturbed. Many of you women have been there. Many of you men have been there too. It is a common place for men and women of God to find themselves. Socially disgraced, emotionally depressed and spiritually disturbed. This morning let us learn from what Hannah did when she found herself in such a position.

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