Hannah: The Extraordinary Influence of a Gracious Woman
1 Samuel 1:1 – 2:10
1. Her name means gracious, but the circumstances in which Hannah had to live were anything but that.
a. The cultural setting is like the dark and confused days of the last part of the book of Judges.
b. The family’s situation was certainly less than ideal: she was one of her husband’s two wives, an arrangement God suffered but never wanted, and her jealous rival made her life miserable.
c. Personally she was deeply distressed, troubled in spirit.
2. Still, Hannah’s impact on history has been grand.
a. She became the mother of a son who was the first of the prophets (Acts 3:24) and the last of the judges (Acts 13:20).
b. Her beautiful prayer of thanksgiving for him is echoed in Mary’s song when the birth of the Christ was announced (Luke 1:46-55).
c. In fact, she is the one who first refers to God’s king as “his anointed” (2:10).
3. There are three means by which Hannah turned her lovely name into such a noteworthy legacy.
1. She prayed to the LORD for a son, then regarded him as a gift from the LORD.
a. Hannah was the kind of person who handled life with prayer.
i. She is proof that you can be a person of prayer even if others around you are not, and even if some have hurt you.
ii. After she had met her obligation at the feast, she went and prayed to the LORD, asking him to remember her and to go into action on her behalf (1:10).
iii. Her prayer was humble, earnest, and full of faith. As she prayed before the LORD, she was speaking in her heart (1:13) and pouring out her soul before him (1:15).
iv. She was “speaking out of [her] great anxiety and vexation” (1:16).
v. Hannah was doing exactly what the N.T. instructs all of us to do (1 Peter 1:5-6)
b. The kind of mother Hannah became was fashioned in practice and in prayer before she ever had a child.
i. She asked for a son from the LORD (1:11).
(1) It had already become clear to her that no new life would be given unless he intervened.
(2) Only the LORD could replace her disgrace with joy and honor.
(3) The way she asked it made it plain that she was not merely asking for herself.
ii. She committed herself to give him back to the LORD all the days of his life (1:11b).
(1) Her prayer took the form of a vow, a sacred promise.
(2) While such vows could be for a limited period, this one was for all the days of his life.
(3) It appears that she was vowing that her son would be a Nazirite, one dedicated to the LORD.
iii. When her son came, she treated him like a gift, a trust, from the LORD (1:20).
(1) She named him Samuel, which sounded like the word for “heard of God” and meant “godly name.”
(2) It emphasized that she saw in him the answer to her prayers.
(3) It indicated that she saw in him a future much greater than her own self-interest.
1. She joyfully kept the promise she had made to the LORD.
a. After Samuel’s birth, Hannah and her husband continued to live with the LORD as they had before.
i. The family went up to offer to the LORD on the same regular basis (1:21).
ii. Hannah said she would wait until the child was weaned, then take him to appear in the presence of the LORD and dwell there forever (1:22).
iii. Elkanah supported that course of action, desiring only that the LORD might establish his word (1:23).
b. When the time was right, Hannah brought her young son to the house of the LORD at Shiloh.
i. She brought sacrifices abundant enough to show that this action was not being taken with regret or remorse, but with loving honor.
ii. She identified herself to Eli the priest as the woman whose prayer the LORD had granted (1:27).
iii. Then she said, “Therefore I have lent him to the LORD. As long as he lives, he is lent to the LORD” (1:28).
(1) “Lent to the LORD” means literally “asked for the LORD.”
(2) Hannah was restoring what she had prayed for.
(3) That’s how she understood mothering.
c. Please notice a couple of things about what Hannah did.
i. She was doing what all mothers are meant to do, just in a shorter time frame and in a more obvious way.
ii. Her life was not the poorer for what she did.
(1) It did not end her tender and loving relationship with her son (2:19).
(2) And, she could not out-give the LORD (2:21).
2. She thought of the LORD in a manner which established the culture of her family life. You can see it in her wonderful prayer – or song – which is recorded in the first ten verses of chapter two.
a. Relationship with the LORD is cause for rejoicing (2:1).
i. The main source of Hannah’s joy wasn’t in the child, but in the LORD who answered her prayers.
ii. In her house, thoughts of the LORD were associated with strength, victory, and well-being.
b. The LORD is the fixed point, the point of reference, for all of life (2:2).
i. He is the ultimate consideration and the highest concern of our experience.
ii. Only he has absolute existence. Therefore, none are holy like he is, and there is no rock but him.
(1) A rock formed the nucleus of most ancient towns, and served as the community’s citadel or fortress.
(2) Hannah’s house had a sense of security in the LORD.
c. The LORD knows, and he evaluates our actions (2:3).
i. Hannah saw a point that her son was going to learn at some crucial points in his life (1 Sam. 16:7).
ii. She was the kind of mother who helped her family remember that they were living in God’s presence.
d. The LORD works in ways that turn man’s pride upside down (2:4-8).
i. The series of contrasts used here show that God’s rule is contrary to popular expectations, and that it often brings about surprising reversals.
ii. In her house one learned that “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5:5).
iii. Maybe this is one of the reasons Samuel turned out so different from Eli’s boys, who showed no respect even to God.
e. The providence of the LORD will prevail (2:9-10).
i. He will guard the feet of those who are true to him, and none of his adversaries will prevail.
ii. The judgements of the LORD will be right.
iii. These thoughts of him, all together, establish an atmosphere in a family’s life within which the business of healthy living can succeed.
1. Samuel ended up in “Faith’s Hall of Fame” (Heb. 11:32), but his faith lived first the great faith of his mother, Hannah.
2. The power and influence of motherhood is not in newly discovered child-rearing practices, but in the kind of reverence for the LORD which is so obvious in Hannah’s story.
3. “An excellent wife (a worthy woman) who can find? She is far more precious than jewels....Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.” (Proverbs 31:10, 31)