Never underestimate the power of a praying mother. Many moms can accomplish great things through their own strength, but there is something even more powerful about a woman whose hope, faith, and commitment is in the Lord. Such was a woman named Hannah.
After experiencing barrenness in her womb for many years, God had heard and answered her pleas for a child. What kind of a woman was Hannah for God to have blessed her with a son who would be a great leader in Israel? We will take a look at who was Hannah in the Bible and the lessons we can learn from her life.
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Who Was Hannah in the Bible
Hannah was married to Elkanah, a man from the tribe of Levi. But he was called an Ephraimite since he was living in Ephraim at that time. The Levites were a priestly tribe, but since Elkanah was not living in a priestly town, it seems to indicate that perhaps he was not a particularly spiritual man.
Hannah was one of two of Elkanah’s wives, and the wife that Elkanah loved. Although God’s plan has always been one man with one woman, the culture at that time allowed a man to have another wife if his first wife was unable to give him children. In that era, every Hebrew couple wanted to have babies and it was believed that you live on in your children. Another superstition that added to the corrupt practice of marrying multiple partners was the belief that childlessness was a curse from God.
While Elkanah’s other wife Peninnah had many children, Hannah was unable to have any until one day she earnestly prayed to God for one. Shortly thereafter she conceived and gave birth, naming her first son Samuel which means “heard by God” and dedicated him completely to the Lord by taking him to the Tabernacle in Shiloh and leaving him there to serve God for the rest of his life. After Samuel, Hannah was able to have three more sons and two daughters.
Hannah Meaning In the Bible
The name Hannah is derived from the Hebrew name Channah and is a biblical name found in the Old Testament. Some other spellings of it are Hanna, Hana, Johanna, or Chana. It is fairly popular and is usually given to girls. The name Hannah means “favor/favored” or “grace.” It can also imply the meanings of “one who gives,” or “favored by God” according to the story of Hannah found in the Bible.
The Story of Hannah in the Bible
The story of Hannah is mentioned in 1 Samuel Chapters 1 and 2. Chapter 1 introduces Hannah, her family, her struggle, and her miracle. Every year Elkanah and his family would travel to Shiloh to worship and sacrifice to the Lord at the Tabernacle.
It was during this time that Peninnah would especially taunt and make fun of Hannah for being childless. It affected Hannah so much that even though she was given a double portion of food from her husband, she would refuse to eat.
Verses 9-18 of chapter 1 describe the start of Hannah’s miracle. During one of the years they went up to Shiloh, Hannah gets up after a sacrificial meal to pray. This was no ordinary prayer. It was the earnest groanings of her heart.
So much so that Eli the priest saw her mouth moving but no sound was coming out. He thought she was drunk but after finding out she was pouring her heart out to the Lord, he gave her a blessing before she left. After this encounter, her heart was lightened and she was even able to partake in the sacrificial meal.
We see Hannah’s answered prayer and dedication in verses 19-28. After returning home to Ramah, Hannah gets pregnant, gives birth to a son, and names him Samuel. Once she finishes weaning him, she takes him to the Tabernacle in Shiloh. She offers a bull for the sacrifice and then brings Samuel to the priest Eli and explains the promise she made to God. This is where Samuel spends the rest of his life.
Samuel 2 begins with a beautiful prayer of praise by Hannah. After her prayer, they leave Samuel with Eli to serve alongside him. Hannah would visit her son every year when they would come up for the annual sacrifice.
She would faithfully bring with her a coat that she made herself for Samuel. After Eli gave her a blessing of more children, Hannah was once again able to conceive and had three more sons and two daughters.
Characteristics of Hannah in the Bible
Here are several lessons we can learn from Hannah in the Bible.
Hannah knew her only hope was in God alone
Other women who could not conceive are also mentioned in the Bible. When Abraham’s wife Sarah was getting too old to have a child, she told her husband to sleep with their maidservant.
When Rachel, Jacob’s wife, was not bearing any children, she told her husband to give her children or else she would die. But when Hannah remained childless for so many years, she went straight to the source of life: Almighty God. If God himself did not make the way, then there was no other way for it to happen.
We can often become impatient with God’s timing, lose hope in His promises, or try to do things our own way. But Hannah was a woman whose hope was completely in the Lord and who trusted His timing, faithfulness, and power. Because of that, God rewarded her with the desire of her heart.
Hannah had a gentle and quiet spirit
It says in 1 Peter 3:4 that women should have the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit. Hannah was no exception. Although she was provoked on every side, she did not retaliate. When Penninah threw insults at her, Hannah did not react back nor did she speak badly of her to Elkanah.
When Elkanah asked Hannah if he was worth more to her than ten sons, she did not respond with a sarcastic remark. When Eli the priest asked her if she was drunk when she was praying, she gave a humble and honest reply. Hannah’s gentle and quiet spirit is reflected in the way she was able to tame her tongue in these situations.
There are many circumstances in our lives that we can justify reacting in a way that does not honor God. But no matter how people treat us, we are called to refrain from quarrelsome behavior. Hannah exhibited this precious quality in God’s sight and shows us how to live a life worthy of the calling we have received.
Hannah believed before she received
After Hannah had earnestly prayed to God, Eli had blessed her saying that may God grant her request. This blessing encouraged her so much that right after she heard it she began to eat again and was no longer sad.
How quickly her countenance had changed because she had no doubt that God would answer her prayer! Hebrews 11:1 tells us that faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. Hannah believed before she conceived because all her confidence and conviction was in God alone to do the impossible.
There will be times in our lives when we will need direction, doors opened, or divine intervention. We can either fail in the flesh or succeed with the Savior. But like Hannah, casting all our cares on God gives us peace that surpasses understanding and opens us up to receive what we believe.
Hannah was a promise keeper
Not everyone who makes a vow keeps it. That is probably why Jesus reminds us in Matthew 5:37 to let our yes be yes and our no be no. Hannah made a two-part vow to God when she prayed for a son:
1) That she will give the child back to God to serve Him his entire lifetime, and
2) That the child’s hair will never be cut. She fulfilled these promises even though it was probably very difficult for her to do so. The very thing she had wanted so badly she had to give away – her only child.
But despite what she felt on the inside, she did what she said she would do. This showed her integrity and character. Many times obedience is not what feels good at the moment but it is doing what we are supposed to do despite our emotions. Hannah was a woman who did not delay in keeping her promise to God.
Hannah gave God all the glory
After fulfilling her promise of dedicating her son fully to the Lord, Hannah’s prayer of praise is written in 1 Samuel 2. In it, she gives all the praise and honor to God alone for answering her prayer and worships Him for who He is. Giving gratitude back to God is not as common as we may think.
After the Israelites were rescued from the oppression of the Egyptians, they continued to complain about their circumstances. In the New Testament when Jesus heals 10 lepers, only one came back praising God. Giving God the glory when good things happen is a trait of a humble heart and one that Hannah exhibited in her life.
Lessons From Hannah in the Bible
Hannah is an amazing example of a woman and a mother whose hope was in God alone. She had the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, she had the faith to receive her blessing even before it happened, she kept her promises, and in the end, she gave God all the glory.
Because of her dedication to the Lord, her son Samuel became a godly leader and prophet that was a blessing to the nation of Israel. Anyone can pray, but not everyone can pray with a heart like Hannah’s.
Anyone can make a promise, but not everyone will fulfill it. God gives His undeserving grace to everyone, but not everyone will acknowledge it. May our hearts glean from the once barren woman, Hannah.
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