Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Hannah: an example of biblical womanhood

“grace” also “beauty or charm”
1 Samuel 1 & 2

You can picture her with a face that bore the radiance of her own spirituality, wearing clothes that she stitched herself being handy with the needle (1 Sam. 2:19). She was barren because the Lord had closed her womb (1 Sam 1:6) Most likely the first wife of Elkanah, but because of her barrenness he took another wife (Peninnah) who bore him children.
Hannah was one of 4 great woman in history who grieved because she could not conceive. Others were:
  • Sarah (Gen. 21) who was much like Hannah because of their husbands bigamy and distress over their inability to conceive (later conceived Isaac)

  • Rebekah (Gen. 25) who bore her trial of barrenness with indifference (later conceived Jacob and Esau)

  • Rachel (Gen. 29) who being so irritated at her long wait said “give me children, or else I die” (later conceived Joseph)

Each barren case and first born was raised up for special purposes of divine providence. Hannah handled her barren womb with faithful prayer. (seen below)

Hannah would travel with her husband, Peninnah and family once a year to worship and sacrifice to the LORD OF HOST (this is the first time Jehovah Sebaoth is used in scripture asserting his universal supremacy- “hosts” meaning armies of heaven seen for the first time in Hannah’s prayer later. )

You see that Elkanah had a great love for Hannah by giving her double the size he gives his other wife. And because of this her rival (Peninnah) was jealous and provoked Hannah greiviously to irritate her because of her closed womb.

After years of provoking by her rival, we never see Hannah railing or going into furious rages. She simply grieves and ends up weeping and loosing her appetite ,denying the peace offering her husband offered her yearly.Once again you see her husbands care and love for her in verse 8. She did not whine to Elkanah about her childlessness because she knew that children are an inheritance from the Lord (Ps. 127:3; Gen. 33:5)

We then see Hannah deeply distressed pouing her heart out to the Lord and weeping bitterly she vowed this vow:

O Lord of Host, if you will indeed look on the affliction of your servant and remember me and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a son, then I will give him to the LORD all the days of his life, and no razor shall touch his head.” –(1 Sam. 1:11)

  • She first starts out with Lord of Host once again recognizing his universal supremacy

  • The word Servant is expressed 3 times showing her humility, submission and dependence on the Lord.

  • The vow was significant alone. Levites were already the Lord’s property from 25 years of age until 50. It was their duty to minister in the tabernacle taking turns a few weeks every year also attending three annual feast. But her vows to offer her son in service to the temple were from infancy to death making it a Nazarite vow that could only be made by the husband. This vow had be be approved by the husband in order for it to be a valid vow. This also would show her husbands support for her. (Samson’s mother made this vow and John the Baptist’s mother did later) It is not shown whether or not the vow included all the provisions of the Nazarite vow.

Eli the priest observed her prayer and accused her of drunkenness because no word came from her mouth. His accusation against Hannah was the same accusation the unbelieving mob made against the disciples on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:13). But Hannah’s defense (in verse 15) argues her conscious integrity, innocence and serenity of spirit. Simply pouring out her soul before the LORD.

You then see the family ending their time at the temple in worship and returning home where Elkanah knew Hannah (aka. they had sex). It was then that the Lord opened her womb and Hannah conceived and bore a son that she called Samuel which means “asked of the Lord”.

You see Hannah being a wonderful mother, not leaving him with another, and turning down a trip with her husband until he was weaned. Once being weaned, Hannah dresses him for his first trip to the tabernacle, where she leaves him. Though Eli the priest’s two son’s were polluting the atmosphere of worship by laying with women that assembled at the door of the tabernacle, Hannah leaves him with no fear. She had placed him in the hands of God, and she believed that God would answer the petition she had made before his birth.

But before she leaves her precious son she offers a prayer that echo’s through generations of women. In it Hannah exhibited the fervency, depth and fire of a woman who was happy and who sang her happiness and belief in God. SHE LOVED HER GOD!

1Sa 2:1 And Hannah prayed and said, "My heart exults in the LORD; my strength is exalted in the LORD. My mouth derides my enemies, because I rejoice in your salvation.
1Sa 2:2 "There is none holy like the LORD; there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God.
1Sa 2:3 Talk no more so very proudly, let not arrogance come from your mouth; for the LORD is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed.
1Sa 2:4 The bows of the mighty are broken, but the feeble bind on strength.
1Sa 2:5 Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread, but those who were hungry have ceased to hunger. The barren has borne seven, but she who has many children is forlorn.
1Sa 2:6 The LORD kills and brings to life; he brings down to Sheol and raises up.
1Sa 2:7 The LORD makes poor and makes rich; he brings low and he exalts.
1Sa 2:8 He raises up the poor from the dust; he lifts the needy from the ash heap to make them sit with princes and inherit a seat of honor. For the pillars of the earth are the LORD's, and on them he has set the world.
1Sa 2:9 "He will guard the feet of his faithful ones, but the wicked shall be cut off in darkness, for not by might shall a man prevail.
1Sa 2:10 The adversaries of the LORD shall be broken to pieces; against them he will thunder in heaven. The LORD will judge the ends of the earth; he will give strength to his king and exalt the power of his anointed."

  • She acknowledges God’s holiness, His goodness, His sovereignty, His power, and His wisdom. She worshiped Him as Savior, as Creator, and as sovereign judge. She acknowleged the fallenness and depravity of human nature, as well as the folly of unbelief and rebellion. In short, her few stanzas were a masterpiece of theological understanding.

  • Hannah’s prayer of dedication was the model for Mary’s Magnificat (to magnify or extol) in Luke 1:46-55.

  • Both Hannah and Mary formally dedicated their firstborn sons to the Lord (1 Sam 1:24-28; Luke 2:22-24).

She gladly left Samuel to work in the temple by lighting a candle, holding a dish or closing a door because she knew that if he could do those menial tasks joyfully than he would rise in a greater ministry to the Lord.

The way Hannah immediately dedicated her first son to the Lord and gave him over to serve in the tabernacle at such a young age demonstrated the purity of her motives of motherhood being her one ambition in life. She understood that motherhood is the highest calling God can bestow on any woman under the call of being a wife.

Scripture frequently portrays marriage as “the grace of life” (1 Peter 3:7) and motherhood is one of the highest calling any woman could ever be summoned to under the call to be a wife (1 Tim. 5:10; Titus 2:3-5 these two passages share things on motherhood). Only rarely in Scripture were women singled out and praised for careers outside the domestic realm.

Samuel later became the earliest of the great Hebrew prophets after Moses and last of the “Judges”. He also would anoint David as king.
At the end of her biography it states- “And the young Samuel grew in the presence of the Lord”

Characteristics of Hannah that we can take home with us:
- Constant, steadfast faith
- Patience
- Persistent and Passionate Prayerfulness
- Meekness
- Humility
- Submission
- Unreservedly devotion
- Motherly love
- Non- complaining spirit
- Willingness to cast her burdens on the Lord
- Love for heaven, husband and home
- Unselfish
- Dependence on the Lord
- Integrity
- Innocence
- Belief and Trust in the Lord
- Grace
- Worker of the home
- And the woman could sew.

Information retrieved from : “The Bible”, “All of the Women of the Bible” by Edith Deen, and “Twelve Extraordinary Women” by John MacArthur