Hannah: an unexpected hero of the Bible
Find out why all of us can look up to Hannah as an example.
Have you ever wanted something so much that it actually breaks your heart not to have it?
When I was younger, I desperately wanted a Nintendo DS – a popular console back in the day. I longed for one, saved up hard, even made a little poster for my room with pictures of the DS that I cut out from a magazine! But as much as I longed for that DS, my parents wouldn’t let me get one.
Now we can laugh about our desires for objects or things, but sometimes the thing that we want is something much bigger. For example, there may not be a greater heartache than for a woman to have the desire to be a mum, but not have a child.
What great pain and struggle for couples who want a child, yet can’t have one. It breaks my heart to see the tears of a woman who wants to be a mother so badly.
This was the circumstance for Hannah, as recorded in 1 Samuel.
Hannah hurt deeply because she wanted to be a mother – a sadly commons struggle. But Hannah actually responds to her pain in an unexpected way: Hannah knew that when she was in pain, God was the one she needed to turn to.
There are so many lessons we can learn from Hannah, and here’s the first one: When pain and suffering strike your life, God is ready to hear your prayers. He loves and cares for you!
Now, I don't know about you, but I am overwhelmed by the thought that one day I’ll probably be a mum. It is an amazing honour to be given a precious young life to shape, mould, and direct.
Unfortunately, I will not receive an owner's manual with the birth of my first baby, and I imagine that I’ll make many mistakes. I’ll need someone more qualified than me to help me with this process, and Hannah points us to who that is.
Hannah gives her son to God literally, and she points us toward doing the same. Hannah promised her future son to God as a priest. To demonstrate the depth of her commitment, she committed her boy with a Nazarite vow.
According to Jewish tradition, Levite priests served until the age of 50. Hannah made a commitment that reached far beyond 50. Her vow was for all the days of his life.
I find it amazing that that Hannah would make such an extreme promise for a son she did not have. But here’s reason number 2 we can look to Hannah as an example: she trusted God so much that she would give her son to him.
What is the most important thing to you? Is it your family, your reputation, something you own, or something else? If you trust God, you need to entrust that special thing to him. I know when I was younger, my future was something I struggled to give to God. I wanted to be in control of where my life went. But when I let go of my desire to take charge of my life, and let God be in charge instead, he did amazing things and he has taken care of me faithfully.
When Samuel was weaned, Hannah made good on her vow to God and brought the boy to Eli the priest. Here is how 1 Samuel 1:26-28 describes that encounter:
“Pardon me, my lord. As surely as you live, I am the woman who stood here beside you praying to the Lord. I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to the Lord. For his whole life he will be given over to the Lord.” And he worshiped the Lord there.
Here is what is amazing about this passage. It is not Eli who worships God, but Samuel. I find it so amazing that this boy who is at the most, two or three years old at the time, knows how to worship God.
How did he learn to worship? He learned from the only person around him: his mother.
Children are like sponges, soaking up everything around them. I know a friend of mine, his first word was actually AMEN, because he heard his parents say it so often around him when they prayed at home.
I have to think Hannah did the same thing. She worshipped God and included Samuel in that time. That is how he learned to worship God.
One day when you’re a parent, if you want your children to learn to pray, include them in a home prayer time. If you want your children to worship, worship in front of them.
But just as Hannah has shown her son how to worship God, we can be examples to our friends. If you want your friends to follow God, don’t hide your faith! Tell them that you pray, you go to church and you believe in Jesus. Our actions and our words can be a great example to them of the power of following God.
Hannah is an amazing unexpected hero for us. From a barren wife belittled by her counterpart, to a woman who trusts God so much that she is willing to give her precious boy into his service.
And that’s not all: God used this woman to do something great in the history of Israel. Samuel grows up to become the priest who appoints King David.
I’m encouraged by the example of Hannah to trust God when I’m in pain, entrust him with my whole life including the things that are most precious to me and show my faith to others. How does Hannah encourage you?