Summary: Today I have come to defend one of these “mean girls” and show that her actions were meant for good and not evil.
Intro: This narrative is one of those that we all know; in fact it is so well known it is has become identified with the theme of prayer and baby dedication. Elkanah and Hannah’s story carry a very familiar situation similar to the Patriarch Abraham and Sarah. Both were married to their true loves but they were not able to produce any heirs.
Socially these women were considered failures, it’s not like it is today where we measure success by material things. These women had “stuff” they had the wealth and prominence that most people today would covet to have. Their barrenness was a social embarrassment for their husband’s. Children were a true measure of a man’s wealth and were important to society’s economic structure; David would say in Ps 127, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them. They were a source of labor for the family, and it was their duty to care for their parents in their old age. According to tradition if a couple had been married for ten years without producing an heir the husband could take an additional wife to fulfill the commandment to be fruitful and multiply; such as Sarah offering her handmaid Hagar to Abraham Ge 16:3 And Sarai Abram’s wife took Hagar her maid the Egyptian, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife.
Both these wives would soon fall victim to the other spouse when they produced heirs and they could not. This rivalry as it was could now been seen between Sarah and Hagar, Hannah and Peninnah. Hagar and Peninnah belonged to the second wives club. You could add Leah to that club as well even though she was Jacobs’s first wife she was second place to Rachel his true love. These three women would be the third wheel; threes company this was not.
If you read any commentaries or listen to any sermons on these three women they are never talked about in a positive light. They are given the title of bullies or by today’s standards they are “mean girls”. They are accused of being jealous, manipulative, and mean spirited. Today I have come to defend one of these “mean girls” and show that her actions were meant for good and not evil.
I. I’m sure you are asking yourself why I would defend someone that is clearly an aggressor and adversary to one that is Godly.
A. When Elkanah gave out portions he gave to Peninnah (Jewel, ruby, precious, valuable) his wife, and to all her sons and her daughters, portions: But unto Hannah (Grace-favor) he gave a worthy portion; for he loved Hannah: some may say it was a Double portion. Elkanah had come to the conclusion that it didn’t matter if Hannah ever bore him any children because Peninnah was very fruitful.
1. So Elkanah was adjusted to the situation and so was Hannah, Hannah was satisfied with the circumstances because she knew she was the favored wife, she had Elkanah’s attention, and affection.
2. Everything was fine: they had an arrangement; they had it all figured out (anybody ever been there?) You thought you had everything figured out, you had all your ducks in a row, it wasn’t perfect but you knew you could make it serve your purposes. Then out of nowhere something happened that messed everything up.
B. Peninnah starts to provoke Hannah over her barrenness; her words are harsh and are like arrows that stick in Hannah’s heart. At first they just seem to bounce off and have no effect, but Peninnah does not let up, and eventually it becomes clear the arrows have hit their mark. Now we see that Hannah is now disturbed over the fact that she is barren and has not borne any children to Elkanah.
1. Elkanah tries to pull her back, and get her to settle back down and just enjoy what they have. He would say Am I not better to thee than 10 sons? But Hannah has been awakened no longer looking through a glass, darkly she has become uncomfortable and dissatisfied and discontent with things as they are. Now discontent and discomfort and frustration change into a desire and a craving and expectation and a need for more.
2. Hannah begins to realize: there’s more than this, I was created for more than this. Now she looks past Elkanah, all the love, all the favor, all the material blessings cannot satisfy her, they cannot open her womb, they cannot meet her need. She has set her affection on things above, not on things on the earth.
C. I come to tell you there is a cry from the spirit of every true believer for a life that is higher than money or popularity or worldly success, higher than religion. Inside the womb of every true child of God is a cry for the miraculous, for signs and wonders and miracles, a cry from their spiritual womb for the manifestation of the power of God, to be fruitful, to birth souls into the kingdom. A cry to be more than conquerors …a cry that says the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force … to have power to heal sicknesses, and to cast out devils: to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: