Lessons From the Story of Hannah and Samuel by Myra Kahn Adams for Town Hall
Thanks for joining us. Today we study a heartwarming Old Testament (Hebrew Bible) story about Hannah, who could not conceive a child when people thought having a “barren womb” meant that God did not favor you. Consequently, women plagued by that problem were disparaged.
Meanwhile Hannah’s husband Elkanah, had another wife named Peninnah who bore children. Scripture describes the contentious relationship between Hannah and “her rival” Peninnah:
“Because the Lord had closed Hannah’s womb, her rival kept provoking her in order to irritate her. This went on year after year. Whenever Hannah went up to the house of the Lord, her rival provoked her till she wept and would not eat” (1 Samuel 1:6-7).
But Hannah was a pro-active woman of great faith and unwilling to accept her fate. Thus, after much weeping — and like all determined women — she got down to business and made a deal. Only Hannah’s “deal” was with God:
“And she made a vow, saying, ‘Lord Almighty, if you will only look on 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’ ” (1 Samuel 1:11).
Hannah’s fervent prayers caught the attention of Eli, the temple priest, who 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 are you going to stay drunk? Put away your wine’ ” (1 Samuel 1:12-14).
However, Eli’s false and stern accusation did not intimidate our faith-filled Hannah on her Godly mission. Instead, she defended herself:
“ ‘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.’ Eli answered, ‘Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him’ She said, ‘May your servant find favor in your eyes’ ” (1 Samuel 1:15-18).