Explore the Bible
June 5, 2016
1 Samuel 1:10-18, 26-28
Hannah’s story is amazingly similar to other biblical stories about barren women who gave birth late in life. We think of Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, Samson’s mother (unnamed), and Elizabeth in the New Testament. As her story begins, we feel the pulsating anguish of Hannah’s empty arms. As it ends, we rejoice that the deepest desire of her heart was fulfilled and that her life became a testimony of overwhelming faithfulness.
Her story is an example of our human dilemma. Struggles, often devastating ones, truly come to us, often with no logical reason. Inability to have children, having children and then seeing them struggle with birth defects, or losing children to death are some of our struggles! The anguish is beyond description. We do suffer, and the hurt is at times almost unbearable. We admire Hannah for her honest grieving. She was greatly distressed, prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly.
Hannah was seeking an answer, and she went to the right place. Her perseverance displayed her faith. She trusted God to give her an answer. Her prayer was fervent, effectual and mystical – so much so that Eli the prophet thought her to be drunk. She defended herself against Eli’s false accusation, assuring him that she was not a worthless woman and that her prayer was real. “Eli answered. ‘Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him” (1 Sam. 1:17, NIV). But the greater joy is that not only did Eli hear deeply Hannah’s pleas but also God heard and answered. In “due time,” a son was born and was named Samuel (“God has heard”). After the boy was weaned, Hannah obediently and faithfully made her way to Eli and presented Samuel to God just as she had promised.
Hannah’s song that begins chapter two expressed her heart: “My heart rejoices in the Lord … for I delight in your deliverance” (1 Sam. 2:1, NIV). One can hardly deny the similarity to Mary’s Magnificat. Perhaps the greatest honor we can give to God is to live joyfully, knowing at all times that we are never separated from the love of God.