Reading For Monday 1 Samuel 1:1-28
Elkanah was a Levite, who had taken two wives and perhaps the comment that Hannah had no children suggests that her infertility had driven him to marry another woman to produce an heir. Elkanah would take his family to the annual feast at Shiloh, which is approximately eighteen miles north of Jerusalem. These trips were most painful for Hannah. Every year, her husband would show his love for her by giving her an extra portion at the sacrificial meal. This would incite Peninnah, who made life miserable for Hannah by using her fertility to torment her rival. Every year the scene replayed itself and every year Hannah would become so emotionally upset that she could not eat. Elkanah attempted to comfort his wife, but the words only made this desperate woman feel all the more her emptiness.
On one occasion, Hannah finished the ritual meal and then wept near the entrance to the temple. She approached God reverently as can be seen in her threefold reference to herself as a handmaid of the Lord. Hannah vowed that if the Lord gave her a son, she would dedicate him all the days of his life as a Nazarite. While she was praying before the Lord, Eli, the high priest observed her from a distance. Because Hannah was praying silently and only her lips were moving, Eli thought she was drunk. Since it was his duty to guard the courts of the sanctuary against desecration, Eli scolded Hannah and ordered her to put away her wine. Hannah responded by explaining that she was anxious, vexed, and was pouring out her heart to the Lord. Eli pronounced a blessing on Hannah, and she returned. She was confident that God heard her petition, so she was not sad any longer. The trip to Shiloh ended with worship, and they returned home.
The Lord did not just hear Hannah; he granted her petition. She conceived and bore a son. This baby was truly an answer to prayer. At the next annual sacrifice, Hannah elected not to go to the sanctuary until she had weaned the child and could present him to the Lord. Under the Mosaic law, a woman was not obligated to attend the annual festivals. Elkanah agreed that this would be the wisest course, and when the child was weaned, Hannah took him and a generous offering to the sanctuary. She then presented the young boy to Eli and reminded the priest of the incident that had taken place earlier when he had mistaken her earnest petition as drunken gibberish. God had answered her prayer and Hannah dedicated her son to the Lord for as long as he lived. In gratitude, Eli bowed in worship.
Thing To Consider:
- What do we learn about consistency in worship?
- How painful do you think it was for Hannah to suffer from infertility?
- Why do you think that Hannah did not respond to Peninnah in anger?
- Why is it unusual for us to go to the Lord when we are hurting?
- How difficult do you think it was for Hannah to turn Samuel over to Eli?