Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Hannah's Promise

Hannah was a very ordinary woman who lived in an extraordinary time in Israel's history. She became an integral part of that history though at the time she had no such thought. The time when Judges ruled over Israel was almost over and the Kings were coming. Hannah lived right before this transition occurred; in fact, her prayer helped to usher it in. Hannah was married to a man named Elkanah who dearly loved her but he also had another wife. The other wife, Pininnah, had children but not Hannah - "the Lord had closed her womb." (1 Samuel 1:5) All of Hannah's thoughts centered on being childless and her husband could not comfort her. She endured great provocation and ridicule from Pininnah for her barrenness and she continually sought the Lord to remove her reproach and give her a male child.
Each year Elkanah took his family up to Shiloh to worship God and offer sacrifices because there was a tabernacle of the Lord there and priests who ministered at the temple. One year during this trip Hannah had a divine appointment with her God. She entered into the Lord's tabernacle to pray once again for her deepest need.
"And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed to the Lord and wept in anguish. Then she made a vow and said, 'O Lord of hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your maidservant and remember me, and not forget Your maidservant, but will give Your maidservant a male child, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and no razor shall come upon his head" (1 Samuel 1:10-11)

Hannah's Vow Remembered

Eli, the priest, observed her and saw such anguished behavior that he thought she was drunk and he rebuked her for it. When she explained that she was indeed not drunk but was pouring out her heart to the Lord, he said; "Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant your petition which you have asked of Him." (I Samuel 1:17) Hannah left the temple "and her face was no longer sad" (verse 18) because she had given her all in prayer and had made a vow that would cost her the very thing she sought.
The Bible says that God then remembered Hannah; she did conceive and had a male child whom she named Samuel. Hannah also remembered the vow she made to the Lord and when Samuel was weaned she took him up to the temple and entrusted him into the hands of Eli, the priest who had overheard her prayer.
Hannah may have been an ordinary woman but Samuel was not an ordinary child. Even as a tiny boy Samuel began to hear the voice of God which the Bible says was rare in Israel at that time. He grew up and became the greatest prophet in Israel's history. He was a Judge over Israel; he anointed Saul as Israel's first king and then anointed David as king after Saul's disobedience disqualified him in God's eyes. Samuel's influence and power cannot be overestimated; he was a giant of a man that God used as a bridge between two epochs in the history of his chosen people. Two books of the Old Testament are named after him.

Source/Hannah's Cupboard-A Ministry of Barbara Lardinais