“Matriarchs of the Faith – Hannah” – Devotional for June 30, 2021
First Samuel 1:10-11
10 In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the Lord, weeping bitterly. 11 And she made a vow, saying, “Lord Almighty, if you will only look on your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head.”
Last Sunday I began a series of sermons entitled “Matriarchs of the faith.” The first sermon in the series focused upon the story of Sarah. Sarah’s story began with these words: “Sarah was barren.” In the story, Sarah eventually conceived and gave birth to Isaac. As we read a little further into the Bible, we come across the story of another woman who was barren—the story of Hannah.
Hannah was married to Elkanah, who had two wives. One of his wives, Peninnah had children, but Hannah was barren. Peninnah was cruel to Hannah, taunting and bullying her because she was unable to have children. Peninnah’s taunts finally wore Hannah down to the point that she stopped eating. Her husband tried to cheer her up (he truly loved her) but to no avail. Finally, Hannah slipped away and went to the Temple to pray. In her prayer, Hannah poured her heart out to God, praying her despair and pain. “God of the heavenly hosts, do you see my pain? Why do you continue to neglect me?” (My translation.) I picture Hannah praying and praying.
Can you remember a time when life was especially difficult, so difficult all you could do was pray to God for help? Did your time of prayer make a difference in how you dealt with your struggle?
As Hannah prayed, she began bargaining with God. God, if you__________, then I _________.
Have you ever bargained with God? If so, when? Hannah prayed, “God, if you give me a son, I will dedicate the child to your service, and he will serve you his whole life.”
As Hannah prayed, a priest named Eli overheard her and accused her of being drunk. While I have never been accused of being drunk while praying, certainly there are people I have encountered who have not understood why praying was so important to me. Has your spiritual life ever been misunderstood?
God heard Hannah’s prayers and answered by giving her a son who she named Samuel. Hannah kept her promise and dedicated her child to the Lord’s service. Upon presenting Samuel to the priest, Hannah said “The Lord gave my son to me, now I give him back to the Lord.” Presenting her son to the Priest had to be one of the hardest things Hannah ever did, but as hard as it must have been, we hear that in offering Samuel to the Lord she immediately worshipped God and prayed: “My heart rejoices in the Lord. My strength rises up in the Lord. My mouth mocks my enemies because I rejoice in Your deliverance. No one is holy like the Lord…There is no rock like our God.” (Her prayer continues through I Samuel 2:10, and is a beautiful prayer that most certainly inspired the prayer of the Virgin Mary many years later.)
Hannah was a strong woman of great faith in God. She was a woman of prayer. In pain, she prayed. In the face of difficultly she prayed. And no matter the circumstance of her life, she found reason to worship and give thanks to God.
Though the circumstances of life were much different, Hannah’s story reminds me of a woman I knew named Marge. Marge prayed without ceasing about what was happening in her life. And she never gave up on prayer or on God. She was a woman of great faith. Have you known some like Hannah, someone who was a person of prayer, who though the circumstances of life could be difficult, always found a reason to worship and give thanks? Give thanks to God for the person!
God bless you, and I will see you in church.