On the day when Elkanah sacrificed, he would give portions to Peninnah his wife and to all her sons and daughters. But to Hannah he gave a double portion, because he loved her, though the Lord had closed her womb. And her rival used to provoke her grievously to irritate her, because the Lord had closed her womb. So it went on year by year. As often as she went up to the house of the Lord, she used to provoke her. Therefore Hannah wept and would not eat. And Elkanah, her husband, said to her, “Hannah, why do you weep? And why do you not eat? And why is your heart sad? Am I not more to you than ten sons?” After they had eaten and drunk in Shiloh, Hannah rose. Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat beside the doorpost of the temple of the Lord. She was deeply distressed and prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly. And she vowed a vow and said, “O Lord of hosts, 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.” As she continued praying before the Lord, Eli observed her mouth. Hannah was speaking in her heart; only her lips moved, and her voice was not heard. Therefore Eli took her to be a drunken woman. And Eli said to her, “How long will you go on being drunk? Put away your wine from you.” But Hannah answered, “No, my lord, I am a woman troubled in spirit. I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have been pouring out my soul before the Lord. Do not regard your servant as a worthless woman, for all along I have been speaking out of my great anxiety and vexation.” Then Eli answered, “Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant your petition that you have made to him.” And she said, “Let your servant find favor in your eyes.” Then the woman went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad. They rose early in the morning and worshiped before the Lord; then they went back to their house at Ramah. And Elkanah knew Hannah his wife, and the Lord remembered her. And in due time Hannah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Samuel, for she said, “I have asked for him from the Lord.” . . . 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. There is none holy like the Lord; there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God. 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. The bows of the mighty are broken, but the feeble bind on strength. 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. The Lord kills and brings to life; he brings down to Sheol and raises up. The Lord makes poor and makes rich; he brings low and he exalts. 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. 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. 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.”
Summary – There are two main sections of this passage: the narrative and the psalm. The first bit tells us the story of Hannah, who was barren, as she prays to the Lord to bless her with a child, promising that if she is, the child will be dedicated to the Lord’s service as a priest. During her prayer, the priest Eli think she is drunk but, on finding out what her true state was, blesses her and she goes on her way. Following her prayers being answered through her bearing a son, Samuel, we have her poetic song of praise to God.
Insight – Have you ever begged and begged your parents for something? Maybe a special toy or game, or maybe a trip to a special place? When they surprised you by giving you what you asked for, what was your response? Surely you got excited, but then what? Did you just go off and play with the game? It can be difficult, when those who have authority and responsibility over our lives bless us with something, to remember who provided that thing. In this Bible story, Hannah teaches us the proper way to go about things. First, she prayed and asked God to give her what she desired, not believing that she deserved it, but putting it only up to God’s grace. Second, she promised that she wouldn’t keep her desired child for herself, but rather God could have him. Third, she didn’t forget! The third step is the most important. The first two are great, but if God blesses us with something and we forget to praise HIm for giving it to us out of His grace, and we forget to use that thing for HIs glory, He doesn’t ultimately get the credit. Whenever we are blessed by God, we can follow Hannah’s lead and pray a prayer of thanksgiving, recognizing that our great God is over all things, and blesses those He wishes.
Child Catechism – What should you do when God blesses you with something? Praise Him for it.
Discussion – Can you think of times when you forgot to thank God for something He did? Read over Hannah’s song of praise again, what are some things we learn about God from it? How could we model our thanksgiving to God off of Hannah’s psalm?
Prayer – Our Almighty God, we are made joyful by your triumph over your enemies. No one is like you. You bless the humble, and cause the proud to be put down. You are over all things, and nothing happens that you don’t cause. Since we are confident that “not by might shall a man prevail,” we ask that your might alone sustain us in this life and give us what we need to live godly lives. In Christ’s name, Amen.