And she said, Let thine handmaid find grace in thy sight. So the woman went her way, and did eat, and her countenance was no more sad. — 1 Samuel 1:18
During World War II, a dreaded message came to my mother-in-law — her son was missing in action! Later they would learn he was actually a prisoner of war. My father-in-law immediately thought the very worst — George would never come home! The family remembers, however, that their mother did not despair. She and her older sister prayed and read the Bible, finding God’s great comfort in Psalm 18, especially verses 27-30. She didn’t talk about the situation a lot, but quietly went about her duties, tending the family and keeping an attitude of prayer.
After fourteen months under terrible prison conditions, her son, along with other captured pilots, returned to their loved ones. She gave God the glory for his return. From the time they were born, she was rearing her children with prayers and a hope that they would serve God and lead honorable lives. Her prayers followed them, and their children, all the days of her life. She reminded me of Hannah, who poured out her soul before the Lord, then went her way, and her countenance was no more sad.
Each year when Elkanah made the trip to Shiloh to worship and offer sacrifices, Hannah would have to endure antagonizing remarks from Peninnah (Elkanah’s other wife) about her inability to conceive a child (verse 6). She longed to have children of her own, so the pain in watching Elkanah with the children of his other wife must have been felt deeply. Through it all, she remembered that she was the “handmaid” or servant of the Lord.
Hannah poured out her heart to God before she voiced her petition to Eli, the priest. When she dedicated her unborn son to God, she was consecrating her own heart and motherly instincts as well. She was trusting God without compromise for Samuel’s future. After all, conditions at the Tabernacle had deteriorated due to Eli’s refusal to deal with his immoral sons, Hophni and Phinehas. As an honest follower of God, Hannah knew that she needed to pay the vow she had made to God.
Hannah is mentioned again in chapter 2 but then we hear of her no more. Although she has just a brief appearance in Scripture, one thing is sure — she kept her promise to God and the whole land of Israel was blessed through the leadership of her son, Samuel. Today we can benefit from her example of doing what we know we need to do, even though we may have to sacrifice.
Eli, the High Priest who saw Hannah praying for a son, also served as a judge during his tenure. However, at this time in his life, Eli was not obeying the Levitical standards as closely as when he assumed his role of priest.
Hannah shared her husband, Elkanah, with his other wife, Peninnah. Jewish law did not forbid polygamy, but it was not part of God’s original plan; His plan was one woman, married to one man, for a lifetime. Elkanah was faithful in taking his family to the “house of the Lord,” which may also be referred to as “the temple,” God’s “habitation,” or “the tabernacle of the congregation.”
Under the Mosaic Law, any person making a vow was bound by God to perform what he or she had uttered. Only under very specific circumstances could a vow be disallowed, as in the case of a husband (or father if a woman was unmarried) disallowing his wife’s vow. In the day that he heard about it, if the husband held his peace, the vow remained in effect and the wife had to perform what was promised. If the husband chose to disallow the vow, the wife was released from it and the Lord would forgive her. (See Numbers 30:2-13.)
It is unclear if or when Elkanah learned of his wife Hannah’s vow to give Samuel “unto the Lord all the days of his life.” However, verses 22 and 23 indicate that he did not resist Hannah when she told him of her desire for Samuel to “abide forever” in the house of the Lord. Considering that Samuel would be his firstborn son of a wife he loved, this shows consecration on his part as well as Hannah’s.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
I. The judgeship of Samuel
A. The birth and parentage of Samuel
1. The ancestry of Samuel (1:1)
2. The barrenness of Hannah (1:2-8)
3. The prayer of Hannah (1:9-18)
a. The vow (1:9-11)
b. The blessing of Eli (1:12-18)
4. The birth of Samuel (1:19-20)
5. The dedication of Samuel (1:21-28)
Adversity often allows us to see our great need of God’s grace and strength. As we determine to allow God to work in our lives, and faithfully bring our petitions before Him, there will come a deep-settled peace and assurance that He will hear and answer.