In First Samuel chapter 1 we find a woman named Hannah sorely crying out to God in distress. She was barren and could not give her beloved husband any children. Although this did not bother her husband because she was still the love of his life, yet this was the greatest source of harassment for her coming from her rival Peninnah. But Hannah’s prayer made the difference.
The problem stemmed from the fact that her husband had two wives, as was common practice in that day, and the other wife, Peninnah had given him children but Hannah could not have children because the Bible says that God shut her womb (v.5). Furthermore, to make matters worse, Peninnah, also called her “adversary” in verse 6, used this sensitive issue against Hannah as a way to torment and harass her.
But what Hannah did not know and what Peninnah did not know, and what Elkanah did not know was that God had a purpose for Hannah’s barren state. He was trying to give birth to a Prophet and leader for the nation of Israel, therefore, He was waiting for Hannah’s prayer of faith. We must understand that God was not being cruel to Hannah, but He had chosen Hannah before hand to be the mother of one of the greatest prophets that the nation of Israel would ever see.
This is where I need to drop a note to some of us who think that God has been cruel and given us the shaft. There is proof in the text here that if we will allow Him, by trusting in Him, that He will birth something great out of our barren state. The gifts of the Spirit that God wants to use to change a community, a nation, and even the world lay dormant in our spiritual womb waiting for a Hannah’s prayer.
What Did Hannah Pray That Moved God?
We find Hannah’s prayer in I Samuel 1:11, (in the King James version Bible) it reads as follows:
“And she vowed a vow, and said, O LORD of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the LORD all the days of his life, and there shall no rasor come upon his head.”
First, we see that Hannah vowed to God out of desperation. Vowing is not good in most circumstances because we are expected by God to live-up to our vows and, according to Ecclesiastes 5:5,
“Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay.”
Yet, God was not so much looking for an unreasonable vow as much as He was seeking a covenant from Hannah. A covenant was an agreement between two parties where one party had to fulfill certain obligations to the other party and, in turn, the other party would fulfill their side of the agreement. In other words, it was a contract, in this case between God and Hannah.
Hannah vowed or agreed, if you will, that if God would look upon her torment and affliction and enable her to give birth to a son, that she would, in turn, give that child back to God. Well, this is what God was waiting for, He wanted her to agree to give the child back to Him in dedication! It was not that God wanted to take away from her the one thing that she most desired, it was that He needed to give this child special training in His service in order to bring glory to His name and fame to her name, therefore, He was waiting for Hannah’s prayer of covenant and dedication.
What Became of The Child?
The child that she gave birth to was named Samuel and he would become the main prophet to the entire nation, and furthermore, the last Judge who would rule the nation of Israel. In other words, in modern terminology, through Hannah’s prayer, God allowed her to give birth to the future prime minister, or godly president of the nation.
Imagine with me, years later after Samuel has just stepped into the office of the Prophet and Judge, how famous Hannah became for having such a great testimony that allowed her give birth to the Leader of the nation. Then, on the other hand, imagine how shameful Peninnah must have felt after being a eyewitness to the miracle of God in Hannah’s life and child which all developed from her cruel harassment of Hannah. From great cruelty she was left with a reputation of great shame.
This is why we must not harass and torment people over their perceived weaknesses, because who knows when they will pray Hannah’s prayer and God will birth in them something great. That’s not the end of the story for Hannah, however, it turns out that God repaid Hannah for keeping the covenant and giving Samuel back to Him by enabling her to give birth to three more sons and two daughters. In all, this woman who was once mocked and made fun of because of her barren state became the proud mother of six children; look at God!
Therefore, the text is telling us to take our frustrations and weaknesses to God and agree that when He blesses us, that we will use those blessing to bring glory to His name and allow the Holy Spirit to guide us with those blessings. We don’t have to vow but we can stand on the Word of God and remind God that Jesus made our blessings possible through the blood He shed on that old rugged cross. A-MEN