“My heart exults in the Lord; my strength is exalted in my God.”
1 Samuel 2:1.
Thursday, 13 August 2020
Hannah ~ a woman of prayer
1 Samuel 1-2
Elkanah had two wives, Peninnah and Hannah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah did not. Penninah taunted Hannah for her childlessness. Every year, when the family went up to the temple to offer sacrifice to Yahweh, Hannah felt the pain of her infertility acutely. In addition to her sadness, she bore the pain and stigma of being barren in a society where a woman’s worth was tied to her ability to bear children.
In her distress, she shared her pain with God and her longing for a child. Eli, the priest of the temple, saw her and mistook her grief for drunkenness. She told him: “I am a woman deeply troubled; I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have been pouring out my soul before the Lord…I have been speaking out of my great anxiety and vexation.” (1 Samuel 1:15-16) She begs God for a son and promises to dedicate him to God.
Hannah has a relationship with God in which she can freely express her pain and anger. These are no formulaic or sanitised prayers.
Hannah is gifted with a son, and when she brings him to the temple, as she promised, she prays in joy and praise: “My heart exults in the Lord; my strength is exalted in my God… He raises up the poor from the dust; he lifts the needy from the ash heap, to make them sit with princes.” (1 Samuel 2:1,8) Hannah recognises how God lifts the humble and the lowly and turns things upside down.
Hannah’s song of praise is echoed by Mary when she is pregnant with Jesus.
Do we, like Hannah, believe that we can pour out our hearts before the Lord? That we can share our distress and even our anger at situations in which we may find ourselves? And in the moments of our greatest joy do we give praise and thanks to God.