Hannah’s desire to have a child wasn’t selfish ambition. It was God’s plan all along despite all the pain and agony that it caused her.
Hannah was a wife to Elkanah who has a second wife Peninnah. Having children in those days would have been part of the identity and the purpose of a married woman. While most women still choose to have children, nowadays there are others who opt not to have any. Women have other interests that they can build their identity around, rather than just having children. Some choose to delay the process because they have other goals that they would like to achieve before having children.
What do you do as a married, stay at home woman with no children in ancient Israel? Poor Hannah had insult added to her injury since her husband’s second wife Peninnah had many children. While Peninnah was a busy mom with purpose and honor from those around her, Hannah was humiliated and in pain for being barren. The fact that Peninnah provoked her severely certainly didn’t help the situation either.
We don’t know exactly how long Hannah was barren, but we do know that the scripture tells us that the Lord had closed her womb. When God closes doors, there isn’t much anyone can do. You can’t cast out any devils. You can’t get mad at someone else. One is even depleted of the idea in knowing how to get out of this tough and frustrating situation. There is nothing you can do.
Hannah’s husband tried to console her by giving her double portion of offering because he loved her so much. When you think about it, her husband really loved her for her. In those days, marriages were just functional agreements, for the purpose of forming a family and raising children. The fact that he didn’t look down on her, but he loved her for who she was made a great statement on her husband’s part. Elkanah even asked’ “Am I not better to you than ten sons?” (1Samuel 1:8b)
Elkanah was happy to be married to her, but Hannah had more in her heart. She deeply desired to have a child. The scripture tells us that she remained in faith and continued to go up to Shiloh to make the sacrifices and bring the offering. However, she was not in celebration mood. On one of the these trips, Hannah found herself at the entrance of the tabernacle. She was in bitterness of her soul and prayed and wept in anguish.
When Eli saw her weeping and her mouth moving with no words, he thought she was drunk. So he accused her falsely of being drunk and told her that she should put her drink away. Hannah, with great humility, told him that she wasn’t drunk, just sorrowful. Once Eli understood this, he blessed her and spoke prophetically that the God of peace would grant her petition. (1Samuel 1:9-18)
Hannah was in desperation for what only God could do. Her husband couldn’t help her. He loved her very much and if there was anything he could do to make the situation better, he would have done it. Her priest misunderstood her at first thinking she was drunk. He made his judgment based on only outward appearance.
There are times in life that the Lord orchestrates the events, so no one can help us. It is in those times that he is cutting off confidence in our abilities, and weaning us away from man and his solutions. The only place we can go is to the Lord. All other roads have come to their logical, dead-end conclusions. Unless the Lord shows mercy and opens a door, we cannot move. We are hemmed in behind and before.
Thank God for His divine provisions and divine frustration because they lead us into a deeper commitment to the purpose of God. Hannah dedicated her baby before he was born. If she just had a baby like any other woman, he would have been her son. However, after all the waiting, agony, & pain the baby was the Lord’s and he was dedicated for his purpose.
Hannah’s son Samuel was a prophet in Israel. He learned by hearing the Lord clearly in Eli’s house having been brought and dedicated by His mother for the work of the Lord. He had a pioneering ministry. He was the one who anointed the first two kings of Israel to the office and made the transition from period of judges to the kings in Israel’s history.
Thank you Lord for all your wonderful works which surpass our understanding! Fulfill those desires of our hearts which have been in your plan all along.