Faithlife Sermons

Session 6: Hannah

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Introduction

How would you rate your prayer life?
What about prayer? How would you rate your prayer life?

Background

What about prayer? How would you rate your prayer life?
First Samuel is set in the 11th century BC, a period marked by regional conflicts such as those between the Philistines and the Israelites. The story of Hannah is one of struggle, endurance, perseverance in times of persecution, and of ultimate triumph from a faith fully developed in the Lord.
The story of Hannah is one of struggle, endurance, perseverance in times of persecution, and of ultimate triumph from a faith fully developed in the Lord.
The story of Hannah is one of struggle, endurance, perseverance in times of persecution, and of ultimate triumph from a faith fully developed in the Lord.
Hannah was married to Elkanah, but because of her barrenness, Elkanah likely took his second wife, Peninnah, to bear him an heir. To be barren in those times would indicate to be out of the Lord’s favor, and thus Hannah’s self-esteem would be low to begin with. Then having to endure watching another woman give her husband children would be even more distressful.

Barren Women

Hannah was the fourth woman in biblical history to suffer through infertility: Before her were Sarah, Rebekah, and Rachel. Compare their responses to Hannah’s:
Sarah: go to
Genesis 18:12 ESV
So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I am worn out, and my lord is old, shall I have pleasure?”
Rebekah: go to
Genesis 25:21–22 ESV
21 And Isaac prayed to the Lord for his wife, because she was barren. And the Lord granted his prayer, and Rebekah his wife conceived. 22 The children struggled together within her, and she said, “If it is thus, why is this happening to me?” So she went to inquire of the Lord.
Genesis 25:22 ESV
The children struggled together within her, and she said, “If it is thus, why is this happening to me?” So she went to inquire of the Lord.
Rachel: go to
Genesis 30:1 ESV
When Rachel saw that she bore Jacob no children, she envied her sister. She said to Jacob, “Give me children, or I shall die!”
Before Hannah, three other women endured the despair of not being able to conceive. Sarah was the first, followed by Rebekah and then Rachel. However, Hannah accepted God’s promise with unwavering faith. The other three did not. 
Before Hannah, three other women endured the despair of not being able to conceive. Sarah was the first, followed by Rebekah and then Rachel. However, Hannah accepted God’s promise with unwavering faith. The other three did not. 
Sarah laughed at the angel’s proclamation that God would give her a child. ( NIV) Rebekah questioned, “If all is well, why am I like this?” as her twins struggled in the womb. ( NKJV) Rachel gave the responsibility to her husband. ( NIV) But Hannah trusted God without doubt or concern. Her reverent fear of the Lord was just one more quality of her godly character.

Hannah’s Persecution

Go to
1 Samuel 1:3–7 ESV
3 Now this man used to go up year by year from his city to worship and to sacrifice to the Lord of hosts at Shiloh, where the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were priests of the Lord. 4 On the day when Elkanah sacrificed, he would give portions to Peninnah his wife and to all her sons and daughters. 5 But to Hannah he gave a double portion, because he loved her, though the Lord had closed her womb. 6 And her rival used to provoke her grievously to irritate her, because the Lord had closed her womb. 7 So it went on year by year. As often as she went up to the house of the Lord, she used to provoke her. Therefore Hannah wept and would not eat.

SHILOH (שִׁלֹה, shiloh). A city in the hill country of Ephraim, centrally located between Shechem to the north and Bethel to the south. Joshua and the tribes of Israel camped here after the settlement in the land. Home of the ark of the covenant and the tabernacle during the time of Joshua to Samuel.

Hannah would have been further decimated when Elkanah’s family would go to Shiloh for annual worship. We see in how Peninnah (Pa-nee-nah)would use this time to further torment Hannah about her inability to provide Elkanah a child. It is worthy to note that Elkanah’s love for Hannah still seemed more that his love for Peninnah, as we see in of him giving Hannah double portions of the sacrifice. Still, Hannah felt distraught over the matter.
Hannah would have been further decimated when Elkanah’s family would go to Shiloh for annual worship. We see in how Peninnah (Pa-nee-nah)would use this time to further torment Hannah about her inability to provide Elkanah a child. It is worthy to note that Elkanah’s love for Hannah still seemed more that his love for Peninnah, as we see in of him giving Hannah double portions of the sacrifice. Still, Hannah felt distraught over the matter.
Hannah would have been further decimated when Elkanah’s family would go to Shiloh for annual worship. We see in how Peninnah (Pa-nee-nah)would use this time to further torment Hannah about her inability to provide Elkanah a child. It is worthy to note that Elkanah’s love for Hannah still seemed more that his love for Peninnah, as we see in of him giving Hannah double portions of the sacrifice. Still, Hannah felt distraught over the matter.
1 Samuel 1:6 ESV
6 And her rival used to provoke her grievously to irritate her, because the Lord had closed her womb.
1 Samuel 1:4–5 ESV
4 On the day when Elkanah sacrificed, he would give portions to Peninnah his wife and to all her sons and daughters. 5 But to Hannah he gave a double portion, because he loved her, though the Lord had closed her womb.
Someone read
1 Samuel 1:9–11 ESV
9 After they had eaten and drunk in Shiloh, Hannah rose. Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat beside the doorpost of the temple of the Lord. 10 She was deeply distressed and prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly. 11 And she vowed a vow and said, “O Lord of hosts, if you will indeed look on the affliction of your servant and remember me and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a son, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and no razor shall touch his head.”

The Nazirite Vow in the Old Testament

The Lexham Bible Dictionary The Nazirite Vow in the Old Testament

The Nazirite Vow in the Old Testament

The Hebrew term for “Nazirite” comes from the Hebrew word meaning “to separate” (נזר, nzr). Numbers 6 presents the distinguishing features of the vow as:

• abstaining from anything related to grapes and/or alcohol

• refraining from cutting one’s hair

• avoiding dead people (even family members)

Hannah is the only woman recorded in the OT to make such a vow. (see ) Elkanah could have voided the vow, but did not.
Deuteronomy 23:21 ESV
“If you make a vow to the Lord your God, you shall not delay fulfilling it, for the Lord your God will surely require it of you, and you will be guilty of sin.
What does the term “Lord of Hosts” mean?
Hannah went to the Lord in humble and reverent prayer. Recognizing God as all-powerful by her use of the words “Jehovah tsevaot”, or Lord of Hosts, referencing the hosts of the angelic armies at the Lord’s disposal. Hannah fully understood that God had the power to open her womb.
While a vow is never a requisite for prayer, we can learn from Hannah that even in times of extreme sorrow and troubles, we should seek the Lord through earnest prayer.

Hannah and Eli

Let’s go back and read
Go to
Hannah would have been further decimated when Elkanah’s family would go to Shiloh for annual worship. We see in how Peninnah (Pa-nee-nah)would use this time to further torment Hannah about her inability to provide Elkanah a child. It is worthy to note that Elkanah’s love for Hannah still seemed more that his love for Peninnah, as we see in of him giving Hannah double portions of the sacrifice. Still, Hannah felt distraught over the matter.
1 Samuel 1:6 ESV
6 And her rival used to provoke her grievously to irritate her, because the Lord had closed her womb.
Go to
1 Samuel 1:17–18 ESV
17 Then Eli answered, “Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant your petition that you have made to him.” 18 And she said, “Let your servant find favor in your eyes.” Then the woman went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad.
1 Samuel 1:4–5 ESV
4 On the day when Elkanah sacrificed, he would give portions to Peninnah his wife and to all her sons and daughters. 5 But to Hannah he gave a double portion, because he loved her, though the Lord had closed her womb.
Why do you think her face was no longer sad?
Secondly are the words of Eli. While at first Eli believed Hannah was drunk, he recognized his error. And what did he do? He offered words of encouragement. We should all be like that. When we have those in our own lives who are struggling with the various trials that befall us, we should speak words of comfort and encouragement to one another (; ; ).
(ESV)
17 Then Eli answered, “Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant your petition that you have made to him.” 18 And she said, “Let your servant find favor in your eyes.” Then the woman went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 ESV
Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.
Hannah was married to Elkanah, but because of her barrenness, Elkanah likely took his second wife, Peninnah, to bear him an heir. To be barren in those times would indicate to be out of the Lord’s favor, and thus Hannah’s self-esteem would be low to begin with. Then having to endure watching another woman give her husband children would be even more distressful.
Ephesians 4:29 ESV
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.
Yet, God’s sovereignty was working in this story.
Hebrews 10:25 ESV
not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
Secondly are the words of Eli. While at first Eli believed Hannah was drunk, he recognized his error. And what did he do? He offered words of encouragement. We should all be like that. When we have those in our own lives who are struggling with the various trials that befall us, we should speak words of comfort and encouragement to one another (; ; ).
And, as we see, Hannah leaves the temple in a much better state of mind. She finds much comfort in taking time for a solemn moment with God and the words of encouragement given by Eli.

Samuel’s Dedication

Go to
1 Samuel 1:21–28 ESV
21 The man Elkanah and all his house went up to offer to the Lord the yearly sacrifice and to pay his vow. 22 But Hannah did not go up, for she said to her husband, “As soon as the child is weaned, I will bring him, so that he may appear in the presence of the Lord and dwell there forever.” 23 Elkanah her husband said to her, “Do what seems best to you; wait until you have weaned him; only, may the Lord establish his word.” So the woman remained and nursed her son until she weaned him. 24 And when she had weaned him, she took him up with her, along with a three-year-old bull, an ephah of flour, and a skin of wine, and she brought him to the house of the Lord at Shiloh. And the child was young. 25 Then they slaughtered the bull, and they brought the child to Eli. 26 And she said, “Oh, my lord! As you live, my lord, I am the woman who was standing here in your presence, praying to the Lord. 27 For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition that I made to him. 28 Therefore I have lent him to the Lord. As long as he lives, he is lent to the Lord.” And he worshiped the Lord there.
What is our takeaway from this section?
1 Samuel 1:26–28 ESV
26 And she said, “Oh, my lord! As you live, my lord, I am the woman who was standing here in your presence, praying to the Lord. 27 For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition that I made to him. 28 Therefore I have lent him to the Lord. As long as he lives, he is lent to the Lord.” And he worshiped the Lord there.
God hears prayer and He responds according to His purposes
In chapter 2, the Lord’s sovereignty is fully realized when the situation of Hannah and Peninnah is reversed. Hannah gives birth to Samuel and eventually six more children, the number seven signifying completeness, while Peninnah pretty much disappears from Israelite history.

Hannah’s Thanksgiving Prayer

Someone read and someone pick up 6-10
1 Samuel 2:1–10 ESV
1 And Hannah prayed and said, “My heart exults in the Lord; my horn is exalted in the Lord. My mouth derides my enemies, because I rejoice in your salvation. 2 “There is none holy like the Lord: for there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God. 3 Talk no more so very proudly, let not arrogance come from your mouth; for the Lord is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed. 4 The bows of the mighty are broken, but the feeble bind on strength. 5 Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread, but those who were hungry have ceased to hunger. The barren has borne seven, but she who has many children is forlorn. 6 The Lord kills and brings to life; he brings down to Sheol and raises up. 7 The Lord makes poor and makes rich; he brings low and he exalts. 8 He raises up the poor from the dust; he lifts the needy from the ash heap to make them sit with princes and inherit a seat of honor. For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s, and on them he has set the world. 9 “He will guard the feet of his faithful ones, but the wicked shall be cut off in darkness, for not by might shall a man prevail. 10 The adversaries of the Lord shall be broken to pieces; against them he will thunder in heaven. The Lord will judge the ends of the earth; he will give strength to his king and exalt the horn of his anointed.”

Application From Hannah’s Prayer

1 Samuel 2:1–3 ESV
And Hannah prayed and said, “My heart exults in the Lord; my horn is exalted in the Lord. My mouth derides my enemies, because I rejoice in your salvation. “There is none holy like the Lord: for there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God. Talk no more so very proudly, let not arrogance come from your mouth; for the Lord is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed.
What do you see in this prayer that applies to you?
While Hannah was earnestly and silently praying, Eli (the priest at the tabernacle) saw her and mistook her distress for drunkenness. He made an ill-advised comment to encourage her to give up drinking, and she corrected his mistake. “I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief,” she told him (). Hannah then explains her predicament, and Eli says, “Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant your petition that you have made to him.” After that, Hannah felt better; she had received God’s promise.
The Lord answered Hannah’s prayer. She bore a son and named him Samuel, whose name means “Asked of God.” When the child was old enough, she kept her promise to the Lord, taking him to Eli and giving him to the Lord to serve in the tabernacle. There, Eli worshiped God along with Hannah. And then Hannah spoke a beautiful prayer, recorded in .
God is presented as the One who helps the weak. Hannah and Peninnah represent the weak and the strong in this world. The strong often mock the weak, but God hears and rescues the Hannahs of the world.
Hannah’s prayer addresses the arrogance of the proud, contrasting their haughty words with God’s knowledge, which is vast and far beyond their understanding. “The bows of the mighty are broken,” she says, “but the feeble bind on strength” (verse 4).
She begins her prayer with “My heart exults in the Lord; my strength is exalted in the Lord.” Hannah recognized that her strength came from God and not from herself. She was not proud in her strength but rejoiced in God’s ability to make a weakling strong.

Closing Thoughts

Why was Hannah’s story necessary? Why not just start with Samuel?
Why was Hannah’s story necessary? Why not just start with Samuel?
Hannah’s story gives us insight into God’s heart. God does not despise human desire. Hannah’s longing for a child was obviously placed in her heart by God Himself.
Hannah’s story also teaches us that God can use human weakness to accomplish great things. Samuel, Hannah’s son, grew up to be a great man of God – the final judge and the prophet who anointed the first two kings of Israel.
Hannah’s story also teaches us that God can use human weakness to accomplish great things. Samuel, Hannah’s son, grew up to be a great man of God – the final judge and the prophet who anointed the first two kings of Israel.
Because God is glorified in Hannah’s story. Her weakness, her trust in God as she turned to Him, the fervency of her desire, and her faithfulness in bringing Samuel to God as promised are all evidences of God working in Hannah’s life. Her tears were ordained to be part of the glorious story of what God was doing in Israel’s history.
Hannah’s life illustrates that God does indeed hear and answer the prayers of those who come to Him in faith. Despite the traumas we may face in the world around us, God is always there to help.
Hannah’s life illustrates that God does indeed hear and answer the prayers of those who come to Him in faith. Despite the traumas we may face in the world around us, God is always there to help.

Lesson from Hannah

Hannah probably never dreamed when she prayed for a son that someday her son would be a prophet of God, a judge and a leader in the nation of Israel. Samuel did become a mighty servant of God. She probably never dreamed that once she had Samuel she would be blessed with many more children! And she probably never dreamed that her prayer would become part of God’s Holy Writings.
Hannah’s life illustrates that God does indeed hear and answer the prayers of those who come to Him in faith. Despite the traumas we may face in the world around us, God is always there to help. As Hannah prayed, “For the pillars of the earth are the LORD’s, and He has set the world upon them. He will guard the feet of His saints” ().
Hannah believed God! What about you? Do you have faith as Hannah had? For more instruction on how to have faith, read the related articles on this topic under the heading of “Faith.”
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