If you haven’t yet, take a few minutes to read Hannah’s story, here, in 1 Samuel. Be sure to read chapter 1and chapter 2, and if you need a version to read, I prefer the Christian Standard Bible (CSB).
I feel, personally, that it would be wasted opportunity if I didn’t share a post about Hannah in 1 Samuel chapters one and two. My fellow palindrome sister is someone I can’t resist studying and talking about. Her rich story is part of a much larger lineage that sets the stage for crucial alignment in the Bible’s timeline. (More on that later.)
It wasn’t until recently I felt I could really relate to Hannah’s story, and you might feel the same with some Bible stories yourself. I never got misty eyed because I wasn’t wanting a child, I was just wanting God to answer my prayer. It was always the external premise of her life that was difficult for me to understand. But after struggling with not seeing my own prayer answered, the Lord turned my heart to Hannah.
Hannah is a humble hero. She wrestles with her emotions and waits in expectation. She prayed without ceasing, even when her promise seemed far away. She was a Proverbs 31 woman – the type of woman we should be aspiring to be. When I re-visited her story I listened to her sorrows, pains and her hurt. I took a moment to see past her wanting a child to see what the Lord was doing in her waiting. Let’s look at a portion of her story after she prayed in the temple:
“No, my lord,” Hannah replied. “I am a woman with a broken heart. I haven’t had any wine or beer; I’ve been pouring out my heart before the Lord. Don’t think of me as a wicked woman; I’ve been praying from the depth of my anguish and resentment.” 1 Samuel 15-16 (CSB)
Relating to Hannah isn’t always a matter of situational similarities, though it might be for you, but it’s also a matter of heart and substance. We all go through seasons of waiting and longing. It’s something that has been burdened on my heart for a while in my own waiting, and I just want to rest here a little longer to understand that the purpose of our waiting isn’t something negative. I understand that it’s difficult to understand the purpose, but rest easy sister, it’s not your place to understand the whole intention of the waiting. It’s just your responsibility to be a woman in the Word. Sometimes it makes no sense, like Hannah crying out for years for a child, but it’s in those seasons that we draw closer to who God says we are.
Looking at Hannah in the entire context of her story, and let’s pull some of her characteristics to see what we can apply to our lives in the waiting:
- She’s bold
- She’s emotional
- She’s expecting fulfillment
- She’s a giver
- She’s servant-hearted
- She’s honest
When I started studying this passage of scripture, I was initially caught off guard by her composure. I always imagined a meek woman who softly prayed, and then all of sudden her blessing came and life was great. But, wow, there’s grit in her story. There’s emotion and pain – the same exact emotions I think we all deal with. However, even though I relate to her in her prayers to God, I fail to relate on one characteristic of her life. Let’s take a look, because I really think you’re going to be just as blessed as I have been:
Deeply hurt, Hannah prayed to the Lord and wept with many tears. Making a vow, she pleaded, ‘Lord of Armies, if you will take notice of your servant’s affliction, remember and not forget me, and give your servant a son, I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life… 1 Samuel 1:10-11 (CSB)
Every time I read this passage, I’m always blown away by her promise to God. Did you catch it?
…remember and not forget me, and give your sevant a son, I will give him to the Lordall the days of his life…
How many of us come at this prayer thing the complete opposite way? I know I’m guilty of living on the other side. I expect so much from God, and have an ever-growing list of promises He told me He would do. I pray to Him daily over the same things thinking, “He must have forgotten me, so I better remind Him who I am.” Even though Hannah in the Bible was similar in praying, she and I are completely different in mepromising that Iwould give mypromise backto Him.
I know that’s a head spinner! Let’s look a little deeper at Hannah – when she asked God to remember her in His promise, she followed it up with giving her promise back to God. Because the reality is it wasn’t hers to begin with. The promise of Samuel wasn’t something exclusive to only improving Hannah’s life, it was meant for the entire expansion of the Kingdom of God. Had it not been for the promise of Samuel, Saul wouldn’t have been king and we surely wouldn’t have had David at the demise of Saul. And, as we keep progressing in the lineage of David, we see Jesus – the King of Kings and our Mighty Savior.
I don’t know about you, but I want to be on the same end of Hannah in praying. I desire the same amount of confidence to go ahead and realize that what God gives me isn’t mine, but His and for His glory.
So, if you’re wanting more of Hannah’s kind of faith, how do we get on the same page? What can we learn from this woman in the word? For Hannah, it wasn’t just any ole promise she was giving back, it was her child. How could she give back her deepest cry and most desired thing? Going so far to place him in the temple so Samuel could intentionally live under the fellowship of Godly men. It’s easy for us to give back things that have some value to us. But the more weight those fulfilled promises have the harder it is to let go of our firm grip. If God fulfills our most desired promises, why do we instantly drop our praise and decide to keep it for ourselves, knowing it is His to begin with?
Much will be required of everyone who has been given much. And even more will be expected of the one who has been entrusted with more. Luke 12:48b (CSB)
Maybe the reason, aside from God’s timing, is that I don’t know how to 1 – give back my promises with confidence and 2 – I’m scared to fully let go and give God control. We are called to be servants first, just like Hannah was quick to pray –
Lord of Armies, if you will take notice of your servant’saffliction, remember and not forget me, and give your servanta son…
Hannah called herself a servant twice, why? Because a servant understands that they are not of themselves. To be a servant of Christ, is to sacrifice yourself. It’s seeing this crucial point that it’s not a one-sided relationship, it’s a two-way relationship. Walking with Christ means that He brings us to places so we can come to a deeper fulfillment of how much we need Him. He reveals His promises to us in different ways, so we can give Him the glory. As we go deeper in our relationship, our faith increases. And like Hannah we learn with each new season how to give God more glory so we can get less glory.
Sister, you are part of a much bigger story, just like Hannah. She received her promise of Samuel from God and when the time came, she gave him back to serve all the days of his life under the Lord. I believe she went back to visit Samuel in the temple to remember how faithful God was to her. Because that’s what we are called to do – the Lord doesn’t forget us, just like we can’t forget when He moves over our lives. Hannah went on to be blessed with five more children (1 Samuel 2:21). Five, the number of grace, is also the Hebrew meaning of her name. Hannah means favor and grace with God. God, literally, extended His grace and favor to her. She had the promise of the Lord, no matter what anyone told her, she continued to persistently pray and trust in God.
Today, can we agree to give back what the Lord has promised to us? Can we begin to pray for Him to make us better servants of His will? If it wasn’t for His grace or favor, we wouldn’t be where we are today. Let’s learn to praise God before the promise, so that way when we see His fulfillment, we already know where the promise belongs.
Thank you. Thank you for the answered prayers, the unanswered prayers and the prayers to come. Thank you for extending your grace and favor to me, and loving me despite my flaws. Today I pray that you bend Your ear to me, and help me be a better servant for Your Kingdom. Let me wake up with the desire to ask, “What can I do for You today?” without even asking what you can do for me. Let me wait patiently for you and have the confidence to know that while I pray and desire You, that you are desiring me too. Draw me closer to You and let me know that You are bringing my promises to fulfillment. Bless my coming and going, bless me in the morning and the evening. Let my heart sing the praise of Hannah, “My heart rejoices in the Lord; my horn is lifted up by the Lord. My mouth boasts over my enemies, because I rejoice in your salvation. There is no one holy like the Lord. There is no one besides you! And there is no rock like our God.” (1 Samuel 2:1-2, CSB)
In Your holy and sweet Name – Amen