Summary: As we continue our series on the prayers in the bible we come to Hannah. Hannah is a pivotal person when it comes to the area of prayer. On Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) her story is read as one of the most important passages of the day. Let's see why.
INTRODUCTION: Today we'll be talking about a wonderful woman of faith; her name is Hannah. For the Jewish people Hannah is a pivotal person when it comes to the area of prayer. On Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) her story is read as one of the most important passages of the day. Today we'll be looking at her story so we can gain an understanding about this remarkable woman and see what we take away from it.
1) I'm not drunk; I'm praying!
The book of 1st Samuel starts by giving the background that led up to his birth. There was a man named Elkanah who had two wives, Hannah and Peninnah. Peninnah was able to produce children but Hannah was not. The not-so-nice Peninnah would provoke and irritate Hannah over it. I'm sure it was painful for Hannah to endure-having to watch the dynamic of loving children surrounding Peninnah and Elkanah and Hannah over there by herself.
1:7 says that this went on for years and it specifically mentions Peninnah as Hannah's rival who aggravated her until she wept and wouldn't eat. Elkanah felt bad for her and would give her special blessings to show that he still loved her. He tried to cheer her up but it didn't work.
Hannah was a sad and depressed woman. She couldn't give her husband any children and she no doubt felt rejected by God. So it didn't matter if her husband loved her if she thought God had rejected her she was going to remain inconsolable.
We can be like that. If we feel God has rejected us then it doesn't matter who loves us because it can't make up for God's rejection. Maybe we won't even believe that other people really do love us if we don't think God loves us. So that's the key-when we understand that despite what we've done or despite the circumstances of our lives that God loves us and hasn't rejected us we will be able to accept love from others.
1st Samuel 1:9-16, "Once when they had finished eating and drinking in Shiloh, Hannah stood up. Now Eli the priest was sitting on a chair by the doorpost of the LORD'S temple. In bitterness of soul Hannah wept much and prayed to the LORD. And she made a vow, saying, “O LORD Almighty, if you will only look upon your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the LORD for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head.”
As she kept on praying to the LORD, Eli observed her mouth. Hannah was praying in her heart, and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard. Eli thought she was drunk and said to her, “How long will you keep on getting drunk? Get rid of your wine.” “Not so, my lord,” Hannah replied, “I am a woman who is deeply troubled. I have not been drinking wine or beer; I was pouring out my soul to the LORD. Do not take your servant for a wicked woman; I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief.”
Hannah wanted a son very badly. Have you ever wanted something so badly the intensity was marked in your prayers? I can picture Hannah praying something like, "God, it's been so long and Peninnah keeps on provoking me time after time. Listen, I can't take this anymore. If you give me a son I promise I'll bring him to the temple so he can serve your cause full time. I won't even keep him to myself...I'll give him back to you. Just please honor my desperate plea."
Hannah's prayer was so intense and emotional that Eli thought she was drunk! I like how Hannah addresses the Lord here-Lord Almighty. She believed in God's ability to open her womb. She calls upon the one who has all power to be mindful of her and bless her with the privilege of childbirth.
But then she follows that up with something extraordinary. She makes a vow to give him back! By saying "give him to the Lord" and "no razor will ever be used on his head" she is committing him to be set apart with the Nazirite vow. You can read about that in Num. 6 but it meant a special devotion to the Lord above the norm. And we'll see later that this means he would be brought to the temple to live and serve all the days of his life.
This is the vow she is making. Can you imagine doing that? All the years of anguish and heartache due to not having a child and you decide that within your earnest prayer to have what you've longed for you promise the Lord that if he comes through you will sacrifice him to the temple service. It almost doesn't make sense, does it? Yet that's what we see Hannah doing.