Hannah’s Virtue, 1 Sam 1:1-2:21

Hannah was a virtuous woman.  Her husband had two wives, the other of whom was Peninnah.  Peninnah bore children, but Hannah was childless in the early years of her marriage; and this caused her grief.  Rather than envy Peninnah and fuss with her husband about this like Rachel did to Jacob [Gen 30:1], she took her grief to the Lord.  You will see in Hannah’s life a faithful woman who, through the experience of becoming a mother, grew stronger in her relationship to the Lord.  Behold Hannah’s virtue:

She faithfully served the Lord – 1 Sam 1:1-8 – Hannah went each year with her husband to offer the yearly sacrifice.  She had to be very submissive and very faithful to do this because Elkanah’s other wife, Peninnah, provoked her “to make her fret, because the Lord had shut up her womb.”  Consider these facts.  First, the barren womb is never satisfied [Prov 30:15-16].  Second, it was the Lord who had shut up her womb.  Third, the “wife-in-law” provoked her.  Fourth, “her adversary also provoked her sore.”  In other words, it appears that the devil got in on this trial.  Despite all of this, she stayed for the meal, though she didn’t eat.  You may endure hardships and bitter trials in your life.  Follow Hannah’s virtue and continue to faithfully submit to your husband and serve the Lord.  

She earnestly prayed to the Lord – 1 Sam 1:9-18 – Hannah “poured out (her) soul before the Lord.”  She was “in bitterness of soul,” she “wept sore,” and she was “of a sorrowful spirit.”  She prayed “out of the abundance of (her) complaint and grief.”  Sometimes there are physical complications that explain why a woman can’t bear children.  And sometimes, these physical complications can be mitigated.  In Hannah’s case, she knew this was something the Lord had done and she knew that only the Lord could fix it.  But in her prayer, you see that she didn’t want a child to simply satisfy her barren womb and to stop the adversity.  She wanted a child she could give to the Lord.  You can also see that her faith was very strong, because when she heard that the Lord would grant her petition [1 Sam 1:17-18], she “was no more sad.”  She ate.

She sincerely vowed to the Lord – 1 Sam 1:11, 19-28 – in her prayer, Hannah vowed to give her son to the Lord “all the days of his life.”  This was not a rash, desperate vow, like Ecc 5:4-5.  This was a carefully thought-out decision to dedicate this child to the Lord for his entire life.  Hannah said “there shall no rasor come upon his head.”  This is like the vow of the Nazarite in Num 6.  That vow was a vow of separation.  She vowed to keep him separate from the world.  She named him Samuel, because she knew he was an answer to her prayer.  She “brought him unto the house of the Lord.”  And she gave him to the Lord.  When she said, “he shall be lent to the Lord,” this was not a temporary loan.  She was granting the Lord permission to use him “as long as he liveth.”  

As Christian mothers, you should carefully consider the virtue of dedicating your children to the Lord.  This means that you will keep them from worldly influences that will defile them.  You will keep them in the house of the Lord.  You will grant the Lord the use of your child to do his will.  You will dedicate yourself to rearing them for the Lord.  Notice that Hannah didn’t give Samuel too many things when he was growing up.  She just brought him a little coat from year to year [1 Sam 2:19].  In the end, your children must still decide what they will do when they are grown.

She joyfully praised the Lord – 1 Sam 2:1-11 – Her praise was about the Lord not about her.  These are all Second Advent references.  The bitter experiences of her life, her womb shut up, Peninnah’s provoking, and the devil’s adversity, didn’t embitter her toward God.  She drew even closer to the Lord through this trial.  A virtuous woman will draw closer to God through every trial and victory of life.  And, notice, the Lord gave her more children [1 Sam 2:20-21].

Conclusion: mothers can learn much from Hannah’s virtue.  No matter your circumstances, always faithfully serve the Lord.  When you pray for your children, pray earnestly to the Lord.  Dedicate yourself to rearing your children for the Lord.  Keep them from all defiling influences and keep them in the house of the Lord.  As you see the Lord answering your prayers, praise him, not only for his answers, but also for the future fulfillment of his prophecies, when all things will be made right.