Even in today’s realm of Christian folk one is aware of young married ladies who have not been able to conceive. It can be an emotional turmoil that can disrupt a less than stable marriage. Acquaintances of mine have been blessed by being able to adopt an infant thereby fulfilling that need to have a family. In Bible times the society norms were such that a barren woman was often scorned and looked down on for not being blessed with a child. such is the case with Hannah, the wife of Elkanah. unfortunately for Hannah, she received a double dose of peer pressure if you will, in that she shared her husband with another woman, who was a fertile Myrtle and bore Elkanah many children. Peninnah, was harsh and provoked Hannah grievously. Peninnah had such contempt for her rival that whenever Elkanah comforted Hannah she would set out to taunt and ridicule Hannah, thus attempting to rob her of any relief from her grief. It was evident that Peninnah was aware that she was not the favored wife, because of all of the extra gifts which Elkanah gave Hannah.
We glean from scripture in 1 Samuel 1, that Hannah was deeply loved by her husband. Elkanah was very much aware of Hannah’s emotional pain related to her barrenness. He did try to comfort her by asking her is he was not better than 10 sons to her. The desire for a child was so intense that it consumed Hannah day and night. However, in all of her sadness and distraught of not being able to bear children, Hannah did not lose sight of her God. She is a beautiful example of how the most unpleasant circumstances can produce a Godly character. It was not easy living all of those years with a nasty woman like Peninnah, but Hannah retained her serenity of soul and was a rose among the thorns.
Her name meant graciousness and favor, yet she lived a life full of difficulty, emotional pain, suffering and sacrifice. God chose to use some dark threads when he wove the rich tapestry of her life, She had to share her husband with another woman; she had no children; and she was harassed by her husbands other wife. Hannah had marital problems, she was denied motherhood. Provocation, cruelty and ridicule were part of her everyday life. Bitterness of soul and anguish of heart clouded her spirit. Her soul may have been dark, but her faith was radiant as she knelt down and poured out her distress and disappointment to God.
Being the devout woman who she most likely did not complain her heart to her husband about the relentless aggravation that she suffered from his other wife. Scripture does tell us that she did pour her heart out to God. She knew that her Heavenly Father would listen as she knelt down in worship. Hannah went to God for wisdom in dealing with the daily difficulties in her life. When she worshipped God it was a personal matter of her heart leaving her open to the love of God and ergo wanting to submit to his will.
Hannah’s afflictions were so grievous that her tears flowed freely. In verse 7 we are told that she wept and did not eat. Her heartfelt prayers were so intense that her voice could barely be heard. In fact. Eli, the Priest thought that she was drunk. However, once he learned of her maternal desire for a child, he then blessed her with the assurance that she would have her prayer answered. And, indeed she did! God opened her womb and she bare a son, Samuel.
What takes place next boggles the mind of even the most spiritual of earthly mothers. Hannah gave her beloved, earnestly sought for son back to the Lord. Friends we are not just talking about going to the church altar and dedicating our child to he Lord. Hannah literally gave her beloved son to minister for the Lord in the temple with Eli, the priest. Once a year she would visit her son, each tmie bringing him a coat that she had made for him. What sacrifice, what devotion.
We see a similar scenario within the Hallowed Writ in the love which our heavenly Father bestowed upon us when he sent he beloved Son into the World to die on the Cross of Calvary for our sins. Such love, such devotion. How can we escape if neglect so great salvation which has been provided for us? We absolutely cannot.