Anglican Morning Devotion, 9 May 2021 Anno Domini
A ministry of the Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide
“Now there was a certain man of Ramathaim-zophim, of mount Ephraim, and his name was Elkanah, the son of Jeroham, the son of Elihu, the son of Tohu, the son of Zuph, an Ephrathite: 2 And he had two wives; the name of the one was Hannah, and the name of the other Peninnah: and Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children. 3 And this man went up out of his city yearly to worship and to sacrifice unto the LORD of hosts in Shiloh. And the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, the priests of the LORD, were there.” (1 Samuel 1:1-3:all scripture quoted is from the King James Version)
The name, Hannah, has always had a pleasant ring to my ears. She is the perfect example of a loving and sacrificial mother. There is no higher honor than that of motherhood. “Hannah had no children.” That single statement sealed the sorrows and disappointments for Hannah’s life. The thought never left her mind whether traveling, entertaining guest, or going about her daily work of keeping house. A second wife of her husband, Peninnah, did have children, and she never allowed Hannah to forget it. It was a disgrace to be childless.
But dear Hannah did not pine for children for the sake of boasting of them or showing them off to friends. She wanted a child because it was a God-given privilege of womanhood for which she felt incomplete in her soul. Her husband, too, felt pity for Hannah and gave her a double portion of his offerings each time.
The Bible tells us that “the Lord had shut up her womb.” Not only does the Lord shut up wombs, but He also opens them in giving conception. He has a great plan in every case.
Each year her husband, Elkanah, went up to the Temple with his family to Jerusalem. Peninnah again ridiculed Hannah and she wept bitter tears. While all others of the party drank and feasted, Hannah ate and drank not. There are some things more important than food and beverage. She arose and went forth to the Temple at Shiloh and continued to weep sorrowfully. “And she vowed a vow, and said, O LORD of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the LORD all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come upon his head.” (1 Samuel 1:11)
Eli the priest stood nearby and watched Hannah. He saw her praying by moving her mouth but not speaking openly. He thought she was drunk and reprimanded her. (Man may hear audible words, but he cannot hear the soulful words of the heart). Hannah responded, “. . .No, my lord, I am a woman of a sorrowful spirit: I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but have poured out my soul before the LORD. 16Count not thine handmaid for a daughter of Belial: for out of the abundance of my complaint and grief have I spoken hitherto. Then Eli answered and said, Go in peace: and the God of Israel grant thee thy petition that thou hast asked of him.” (1 Samuel 1:17)
When the family returned home to Ramah (Bethlehem), we are told that “. . .the LORD remembered her.” (1 Samuel 1:19) The Lord, as in all cases, gave Hannah conception. This magnifies the sin of the abortion of innocent life. Hannah bore a son and called his name SAMUEL – one of the greatest prophets of Israel. Hannah no longer made the yearly journey to the Temple but remained at home until the child was weaned.
After Samuel was weaned, Hannah went up, according to her pledge, and gave her darling child to the Lord to serve in the Temple all his days. Samuel became a great man in Israel, and to us. Hannah made a proclamation before the Lord when she delivered Samuel into His hands: “And she said, Oh my lord, as thy soul liveth, my lord, I am the woman that stood by thee here, praying unto the LORD. 27For this child I prayed; and the LORD hath given me my petition which I asked of him: 28Therefore also I have lent him to the LORD; as long as he liveth he shall be lent to the LORD. And he worshipped the LORD there.” (1 Samuel 1:26-28) Hannah did not lose a son, but “LENT” him to the Lord. What a happy day it will be when Samuel is reunited with his mother, Hannah, in the fulness of time – and what a great mother was the once childless Hannah!