by Deborah Horscroft
Hannah was the favourite wife of an Ephraimite called Elkanah. Hannah shared the same fate as many famous women of the Old Testament, in that she was unable to do what the culture deemed most important, and that was to have children. Elkanah’s other wife, Peninnah had produced children and took every available opportunity to rub Hannah’s nose in her “failing”. When the times of sacrifice and celebration came, Hannah became so depressed she could not eat.
In her anguish, Hannah poured her heart out to God. She lived in evil and chaotic times where the faithful were few. She wanted a son, not just for her own sake, but to serve God. She made a vow that would be unthinkable for most mothers. She would give up her son to God’s service, for his whole life.
Evidence of the moral and religious deterioration of the time is seen in Eli the priest’s reaction to Hannah crying and pleading before the Lord. He assumed she was drunk. Certainly Eli’s own sons had been behaving abominably in the temple, taking the offerings that belonged to God by force and treating the serving women in the temple as prostitutes, with no regard for the Lord.
1 Samuel 3:1 tells us that in those days there were few visions and it was rare to hear from God, yet Hannah knew when she fell pregnant that she had received an answer from the Lord. Her prayer of pleading became a prayer of praise.
Hannah rejoiced in a God who has power over life and death, who loves justice and is a refuge for the humble. Similar prayers of praise are recorded by King David (2 Samuel 22) and Mary (Luke 1:46-55).
Hannah’s prayer was prophetic, looking forward to the reign of God’s anointed king, David, and ultimately of the Messiah. (Messiah and Christ are the Hebrew and Greek words for “the anointed”.)
If you read through 1 and 2 Samuel you can follow the leadership of Hannah’s son Samuel, culminating in the anointing of David.