Hannah’s prayer provides a framework for the events in the rest of 1 and 2 Samuel. God’s sovereign plan-to raise up the poor and humble while bringing low the high and mighty-would be vividly portrayed in this era of Israel’s history. The truths of Hannah’s prayer were echoed centuries later in Mary’s prayer, also known as The Magnificat.
In this passage Hannah prayed from joy. The main point in her prayer is that God is a righteous judge. He brought down the proud Peninnah and exalted the humble Hannah. Peninnah was the other wife of Hannah’s husband Elkanah. Hannah was barren and prayed for a child while being mocked by Peninnah for being childless. God humbles everyone who opposes Him. We can smile at our enemies when we remember that we serve a God who takes great delight in saving and redeeming us.
Hannah not only cried out to God in prayer, but her prayers were accompanied by bitterness. Her prayer was filled with feelings of frustration and injustice. She wanted vindication in the form of conceiving and bearing a son who would redeem her in the eyes of both Peninnah and her husband.
Peninnah placed great expectations on Hannah. Sometimes when people place great expectations on us we do silly things. Self-promotion or bragging (which is what Peninnah did) generally hides a deep insecurity. We can’t please everyone. The best thing that we can do is to be the best we can possibly be.
Hannah was more than a mother who understands that all of our children are simply on loan from God. Her life was centered on God. She attributed her barrenness to God, she prayed to God, she made a vow to God, she was blessed in God’s name, and she gave her son to God.
Hannah’s prayer declares God’s glory and His trustworthiness. It declares that God is sovereign and that we can trust Him when times are tough. Hannah’s prayer is about the longing of God’s people for the promised Messiah. Because of Hannah’s prayer, God blessed the people with the prophet Samuel. Hannah surrendered to God’s plan. Her promise to give her son back to God is a good example of dying to self, and it is a good example for us as Christians to follow today.
Hannah had to be broken so she would have a new strength that is not human in origin. All of us have to be broken for the same reason. We, like Hannah, realize that we are powerless, and we have to turn to God. God humbles the exalted and exalts the humble. Hannah professed God to be her rock. She built the foundation of her life on her faith in God. She set a good example for us to follow.
Dr. Helen Roseveare, who was a medical missionary in Africa, told the story of a remarkable answer to prayer. A mother had died in childbirth leaving a dangerously premature infant child. They had no advanced facilities, so their normal practice was to keep the baby warm with a hot water bottle. But as they filled the bottle it burst because the rubber had decayed in the African climate. Unfortunately, they had no replacement. Dr. Roseveare doubted the baby would live. But that day they prayed with the other children at the mission.
Dr. Roseveare recounted, “During the prayer time, one ten-year-old girl, Ruth, prayed with the usual blunt consciousness of our African children. ‘Please, God,’ she prayed, ‘send us a water bottle. It’ll be no good tomorrow, God, the baby will be dead; so, please send it this afternoon.’” She was stunned at the girl’s simple faith, hardly daring to believe the prayer could be answered. But that very day she received a package sent by friends from her home church in England. Not only had the package been five months in the mail, but it was the first package she had received in four years on the field. Among the supplies it included was a new hot water bottle that saved the baby’s life.
Both this story and Hannah’s prayer show that there is no restriction on God’s ability to meet and supply our needs. Yet all too often we fail to receive what God could and would give us simply because we lack the faith to ask Him to work. Jesus said that if we have faith as small as a mustard seed, we can move mountains. Hannah and the child Ruth had faith, and when they prayed, mountains were moved. If they can pray and have their mountains moved, so can we.
- Jeremiah, David: The Jeremiah Study Bible: New King James Version (Brentwood, TN: Worthy Publishing; 2013; p. 361)
- MacArthur, J.F. Jr.: The MacArthur Study Bible: New American Standard Bible (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers; 2006)
- Stanley, C.F.: The Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible: New King James Version (Nashville, TN: Nelson Bibles; 2005)
- Berni Dymet, “Bragging and Boasting.” Retrieved from firstname.lastname@example.org
- Sharon Betters, “The Legacy of Two Songs.” Retrieved from email@example.com
- Sharon Betters, “Hannah’s Song.” Retrieved from firstname.lastname@example.org
- Sharon Betters, “No Rock Like our God.” Retrieved from email@example.com
- Dr. Paul Chappell, “The Joy of Answered Prayer.” Retrieved from firstname.lastname@example.org
- Os Hillman, “The Strength of Brokenness.” Retrieved from email@example.com
- Raul Ries, “Is God Your Rock?” Retrieved from www.crosswalk.com/devotionals/somebody-loves-you-raul-ries/sonebody-loves-you-september-22-2018.html
- Bob Cornwall, “A Soul Poured Out.” Retrieved from www.bobcornwall.com/2018/11/a-soul-poured-out-lectionary-reflection.html
- Stan Mast, “1 Samuel 1:4-20.” Retrieved from https://cep.calvinseminary.edu/sermon-starters/proper-28b/?type=the_lectionary_gospel