Lessons from Hannah

By on February 9, 2014
Hannah praying

By Gina Burgess –

Walk with me, if you will, though 1 Samuel 1 for a glimpse at what makes women tick.

There was a man… named Elkanah… and he had two wives…

Of course polygamy/bigamy is forbidden in the U.S. and in most places around the world it isn’t practiced – men have wised up since the days of Solomon.  But there are a lot of things that men can be married to besides a woman.

A woman needs to know her man loves her above all others.  When a man spends long hours at work, at a hobby, working out, with “the boys” then there needs to be priority adjustment if the marriage is going to work.  When Elkanah sacrifices, he gave several shares of the meat to his wife Peninnah with all her sons and daughters; but, although he loved Hannah, he gave her only one share.

A husband needs to show his wife he loves her.  We are not told how Elkanah showed Hannah how much he loved her but he allowed her rival, Peninnah, to revile her and torment her because she had no children.  That doesn’t show much love and allows conflict within the family.  No matter with what the husband replaces his wife—hobby, children, work etc, this thing getting the attention the wife should have is reviling her and humiliating her.  It is torment to love someone and be treated as the “second” wife.

Year after year this happened…  It is worse when nothing changes.

Tears usually mean, “I need you to comfort me, and show me how much I mean to you.”  Once when she was in tears and would not eat, her husband said to her, “Hannah, why are you crying and eating nothing?  Why are you so miserable?  Am I not more to you than ten sons?”

In a word, Hannah said, “No.”

Why is that? Remember the song in Funny Girl, “Sadie, Sadie, Married Lady”? For a Jewish woman, getting married was what she was born for, and the next priority was having children, preferably boys with a few daughters sprinkled in for old age. It was everything. When a woman had no children, she was nothing and was made to feel to be nothing with hurtful, sly, and snide remarks from the other wives of the home and the village. It was always pointed out. “Oh, yes, you know Hannah. She’s the barren wife of Elkanah. The one with no children to take care of her in her old age.”

Today, women are not admonished in public as they were in biblical days. But, inside some women wither just a bit with so much longing to have a baby. Women sometimes worry themselves sick which literally keeps them from getting pregnant. Is the husband more than ten sons? In a word, “No.” There is no comparison. A husband cannot replace a son, nor can a son replace a husband. It is a ridiculous thought and one I am sure earned Elkanah a withering glance through Hannah’s tears.           

And Hannah rose up after eating and drinking. That word translated “rose up” or “rise up” is very interesting.  קוּם  qûm koom The meaning is full of action:  accomplish, confirm, continue, decree, make good, help, hold, (help to) lift up (again), make, ordain, perform, pitch, raise (up), rear (up), remain, (a-) rise (up) (again, against), rouse up, set (up), establish, (make to) stand (up), stir up, strengthen, succeed, (as-, make) sure (-ly), (be) up (-hold, -rising). Isn’t it fabulous the word UP is included. We all know Who is the Up-est of all Ups. She had decided to take some definitive action. She went to the Temple and made a vow.

This vow that Hannah made was one of the hardest things any woman could do. One has to wonder if she truly measured the cost of giving up her son after he was weaned. Samuel was around two or three when she grabbed his little hand and deposited him at Eli’s front door.

I imagine she probably wanted to say, “Here’s my drunken dream, Eli-man. What do you say to that?” But, I’m sure she didn’t. Can you imagine how difficult it would be to give up your son only to see him once a year? Can you imagine what it would be like to lovingly make clothes for him throughout the year, and then not see him wear them? To know he would out grow them?

To love him, but not chat with him, or hear about the frogs and snakes he found? Nor ever to get a bouquet of wildflowers in a grubby little hand, or a hug that smelled of clean mud and a whiff of barn yard? Aching-hearted, this woman gave up her rights of being Mother to give Israel a prophet who would anoint the kings of Israel. God must have settled her soul, and gave her comfort. We do know that He opened her womb with many more children. How marvelous to hear the giggles and squeals of her own children.

Women are resilient, persistent, hopeful, tolerant, prayer warriors. Those of us who put God first, know who has created us, given us our family, and who provides for us daily. There isn’t a man in the world who can fathom all the intricacies of women, or what makes them tick. The magnitude of a woman’s heart knows no boundaries, and the prayers of a righteous woman avails much.

About Gina Burgess

Gina Burgess is the author of Refreshment in Refuge published by WestBow Press in 2011. She earned her Master’s in Communication in 2013. Since 1972 she has taught Sunday school, discipleship training, and Bible studies because God gifted her with the motivational spiritual gifts of encourager and teacher. To read more from her heart check out her blog at refreshmentrefuge.blogspot.com, and her reviews of Christian writings at www.uponreflectionblog.blogspot.com.

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Lessons from Hannah