Hannah: A Promise Kept

KEY VERSE: “For this child I prayed; and the LORD hath given me my petition which I ask of him. Therefore also I have lent him to the LORD.” —I Samuel 1:27,28

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: I Samuel 1:9-11, 19, 20, 24-28; 2:1, 2

HANNAH was the mother of Samuel, a judge of Israel. Hannah, who was the wife of Elkanah, had been childless. She was very distressed about this, and went with her husband to Shiloh, to the house of the Lord, and according to the account, “She wept, and did not eat.” (I Sam. 1:4-7) Hannah’s husband loved her very much and said, “Why weepest thou? Am I not better to thee than ten sons?” (vs. 8) But Hannah could not be comforted, and she went to the house of the God of Israel. Eli, who was the high priest, was seated by a post in the Temple and observed when Hannah came into the Temple “and prayed, … and wept sore. And she vowed a vow, and said, O Lord of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the Lord all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come upon his head.”—vss. 10,11

Eli noticed from his vantage point the tenseness of Hannah while she was so earnestly praying, and he supposed that she was intoxicated. He said to her, “How long wilt thou be drunken? Put away thine wine from thee.” (vs. 14) Hannah replied, “Count not thine handmaid for a daughter of Belial: for out of the abundance of my complaint and grief have I spoken hitherto.” (vs. 16) Then Eli answered and told her to go in peace and asked that the God of Israel should grant her request.

The Lord remembered Hannah and a son was born to her, and she called his name Samuel. She refused to go up to the Temple and sacrifice until the boy was weaned. “And when she had weaned him, she took him up with her, with three bullocks, and one ephah of flour, and a bottle of wine, and brought him unto the house of the Lord in Shiloh: and the child was young. And they slew a bullock and brought the child to Eli. And she said, O my lord, as my soul liveth, my lord, I am the woman that stood by thee here, praying unto the Lord. For this child I prayed; and the Lord hath given me my petition which I asked of him: therefore also I have lent him to the Lord; as long as he liveth he shall be lent to the Lord. And he [they, margin] worshiped the Lord there.”—I Sam. 1:24-28

There is a real lesson for us in the experience of Hannah. When we think of Eli judging Hannah by her outward appearance—her intense and perhaps awkward motions, the contortions of her face, her lips moving without the sound of voice—all of these things to him were signs of drunkenness, where, as we know, the very opposite was the case. Hannah was laying bare her heart and very soul to the Lord. How true is the Lord’s statement that he uttered when Samuel anointed David as king, “For the Lord seeth not as man seeth, for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.” (I Sam. 16:7) Since we are not capable of reading the heart, how careful we should be in judging others from the outward appearance.

After Hannah had given Samuel to the Lord, she offered a prayer that was beautiful and prophetic. In it she expressed her great gratitude for the demonstration of the Lord’s mercy and power exercised on her behalf. And she exalted the name of the Lord. Then through the power of the Holy Spirit she spoke of the eventual establishment of the kingdom. “Talk no more so exceeding proudly; let not arrogancy come out of your mouth; for the Lord is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed. The bows of the mighty men are broken, and they that stumbled are girded with strength. … The Lord killeth, and maketh alive: he bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up. The Lord maketh poor, and maketh rich: he bringeth low, and lifteth up. He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory: for the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s, and he hath set the world upon them. He will keep the feet of his saints, and the wicked shall be silent in darkness; for by strength shall no man prevail. The adversaries of the Lord shall be broken to pieces; out of heaven shall he thunder upon them: the Lord shall judge the ends of the earth; and he shall give strength unto his king, and exalt the horn of his anointed.”—I Sam. 2:3,4,6-10

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