Hannah Asks the Lord
1Elkanah lived in Ramah, a town in the hill country of Ephraim. His great-great-grandfather was Zuph, so Elkanah was a member of the Zuph clan of the Ephraim tribe. Elkanah's father was Jeroham, his grandfather was Elihu, and his great-grandfather was Tohu.
2Elkanah had two wives, Hannah and Peninnah. Although Peninnah had children, Hannah did not have any.
3Once a year Elkanah traveled from his hometown to Shiloh, where he worshiped the Lord All-Powerful and offered sacrifices. Eli was the Lord's priest there, and his two sons Hophni and Phinehas served with him as priests.
4Whenever Elkanah offered a sacrifice, he gave some of the meat to Peninnah and some to each of her sons and daughters. 5But he gave Hannah even more, because he loved Hannah very much, even though the Lord had kept her from having children of her own.
6Peninnah liked to make Hannah feel miserable about not having any children, 7especially when the family went to the house of the Lord each year.
One day, Elkanah was there offering a sacrifice, when Hannah began crying and refused to eat. 8So Elkanah asked, “Hannah, why are you crying? Why won't you eat? Why do you feel so bad? Don't I mean more to you than ten sons?”
9When the sacrifice had been offered, and they had eaten the meal, Hannah got up and went to pray. Eli was sitting in his chair near the door to the place of worship. 10Hannah was heartbroken and was crying as she prayed, 11 “Lord All-Powerful, I am your servant, but I am so miserable! Please let me have a son. I promise to give him to you for as long as he lives, and his hair will never be cut.”
12-13Hannah prayed silently to the Lord for a long time. But her lips were moving, and Eli thought she was drunk. 14“How long are you going to stay drunk?” he asked. “Sober up!”
15-16“Sir, please don't think I'm no good!” Hannah answered. “I'm not drunk, and I haven't been drinking. But I do feel miserable and terribly upset. I've been praying all this time, telling the Lord about my problems.”
17Eli replied, “Go home. Everything will be fine. The God of Israel will answer your prayer.”
18“Sir, thank you for being so kind to me,” Hannah said. Then she left, and after eating something, she felt much better.
Samuel Is Born
19Elkanah and his family got up early the next morning and worshiped the Lord. Then they went back home to Ramah. Later the Lord blessed Elkanah and Hannah 20with a son. She named him Samuel because she had asked the Lord for him.
Hannah Gives Samuel
21The next time Elkanah and his family went to offer their yearly sacrifice, he took along a gift that he had promised to give to the Lord. 22But Hannah stayed home, because she had told Elkanah, “Samuel and I won't go until he's old enough for me to stop nursing him. Then I'll give him to the Lord, and he can stay there at Shiloh for the rest of his life.”
23“You know what's best,” Elkanah said. “Stay here until it's time to stop nursing him. I'm sure the Lord will help you do what you have promised.” Hannah did not go to Shiloh until she stopped nursing Samuel.
24-25When it was the time of year to go to Shiloh again, Hannah and Elkanah took Samuel to the Lord's house. They brought along a three-year-old bull, a sack containing about nine kilograms of flour, and a clay jar full of wine. Hannah and Elkanah offered the bull as a sacrifice, then brought the little boy to Eli.
26“Sir,” Hannah said, “a few years ago I stood here beside you and asked the Lord 27to give me a child. Here he is! The Lord gave me just what I asked for. 28Now I am giving him to the Lord, and he will be the Lord's servant for as long as he lives.”
Elkanah worshiped the Lord there at Shiloh, and
Have you ever bargained with God? “Dear God, if you help me with _____ I promise I will ______.” In this passage we meet a woman who does just that.
Hannah is a married woman who has no children. In her day, being barren was a humiliation, often believed to be a punishment from God. Her barrenness was also a social embarrassment to her husband. But Elkanah loved her so much that her inability to have children didn’t matter to him.
The problem came from Elkanah’s other wife, Peninnah. Verse 6 tells us that Peninnah enjoyed making Hannah miserable about not having any children.
Hannah begged God to give her a son. She promised that if he did she would give her son back to him, so he could devote his life to God’s service. Less than a year later Hannah had her much hoped for son in her arms. Finally Hannah could walk though her community without gossip and pitying looks following her. She could live without the word “failure” figuratively written on her forehead. God had answered her prayers with a “yes” and now Peninnah’s taunting would stop. I’m sure her whole being overflowed with gratitude to God, and love for her son.
But she had made a promise to God. As she nursed her precious son, as she rocked him and sang age-old lullabies, did she regret her promise? Did she plot how to keep her son? Did Hannah keep this promise? Verse 28 gives us the answer -yes, even though keeping her vow meant giving up her longed for baby. I’m sure it was heart wrenching, but Hannah respected God and had not made her promise lightly.
God always keeps his promises to us. How many times do we honour our promises to him?
Dear Heavenly Father, You are faithful to always keep your promises to me. Unfortunately, it isn’t always easy for me. Please remind me to think very carefully before making a promise to you, and then help me to keep it. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.