Tuesday, February 9, 2010
Hannah - Women of the Bible
Elkanah had two wives - Hannah and Peninnah. Peninnah had children but Hannah did not (1 Samuel 1:1-8). Hannah's name means 'woman of grace' or 'gracious woman'.1 She eventually gave birth to Samuel after endeavouring years of cruel mocking and taunts from Peninnah for being childless.
Hannah had what many would call 'a raw deal in life'. She was childless in a society that considered not having a child the ultimate failure. A longing of the heart denied can cause much pain. Rather than allow her pain to cause bitterness towards God Hannah used the pain in her heart as a catalyst to pray. (1 Samuel 1:12-20).
Hannah developed a more intimate relationship with the God of Israel than the priest of Israel had. Eli was a man who watched lips instead of perceiving hearts (1 Samuel 1:12-24). How often today do we applaud those who 'talk the talk' at the expense of those who are quietly 'walking the walk'.
Eli was the priest, yet even when God spoke he heard nothing (1 Samuel 3:4-6). On the other hand, Hannah, a childless woman conversed freely with God and received her request. God honoured the most despised in the society with the favour of his blessings.
The perception that God in the Old Testament did not treat women well is not true. It was the culture of the time that detested women not God.
After Hannah's encounter with God her attitude changed before her condition did. She started to live a normal life again prior to having a child (1 Samuel 1:18). Contentment comes with believing God and finding rest in him. Contentment starts in the heart not with possessions. Hannah soon gave birth to Samuel. When the child was weaned she gave him back to the Lord (1 Samuel 1:24-28). From what we know of the culture of those days Samuel would have been about three years old at this time.
All mothers know that the time will come (or has come) when their children will grow up and leave. That is the time to let them go. No more holding and pulling their emotional cords. It's time to stop influencing them. Let them loose to be what God has called them to be.
This might involve calling them and praying over them. Releasing them to go and fulfil their God given destiny. You will always be their parent but no longer their guide. For some parents this is not easy. On your part it might involve a few tears. But it is the right thing to do (Genesis 2:24).
They might still be around and visit you often, but they are now independent of you in many ways.
God used Hannah to show us that this is possible. If anyone cherished her child Hannah did. Yet even she knew that children are a gift from God. We are given the privilege to care, guide and train them and later release them into life.
Hannah's story ends with her giving praise and glory to God (1 Samuel 2:1-11). She had a fulfilled life. The fact that she had to wait for some things did not mean she was doomed.
Waiting for things is not a curse. In fact God always uses it to produce a blessing if we remain faithful to Him. Keep your trust in God. That is what Hannah's life is telling you.
1. Who caused Hannah much grief?
2. How did she pour out the bitterness and hurt in her heart?
3. What was the changing point in Hannah's life?
4. Was she willing to let her child go after having him?
5. Where do our blessing come from?
6. How can we cope with unfulfilled desires in our life?
7. Compare Hannah's prayer in 1 Samuel 2:1-11 with Mary's in Luke 1:46-56.
Do you see any similarities? What do these prayers teach us about prayer?