Hannah—A Woman Who Found Comfort in Prayer
CHILDLESS Hannah lived at a time when women regarded barrenness as a terrible curse. Their feelings were like those of Rachel who, in desperation, said to her husband Jacob: “Give me children or otherwise I shall be a dead woman.” (Gen. 30:1) Hannah, too, felt her womanhood unfulfilled because of having no children. The fact that she was only one of Elkanah’s two wives added to the problem. This was especially so because, by his wife Peninnah, Elkanah had sons and daughters.
When Elkanah and his family traveled to the sanctuary at Shiloh for worship, Peninnah would take advantage of the situation to vex Hannah, taunting her respecting her barrenness. Hannah would give way to weeping and would not eat her portion of the sacrificial meal. Her husband would then try to comfort her, saying: “Hannah, why do you weep, and why do you not eat, and why does your heart feel bad? Am I not better to you than ten sons?”—1 Sam. 1:2-8.
Finally, Hannah committed all her concerns to Jehovah God. While at Shiloh on one occasion, she left the table and “began to pray to Jehovah and to weep greatly.” (1 Sam. 1:9, 10) With real earnestness, Hannah pleaded: “O Jehovah . . . if you will without fail look upon the affliction of your slave girl and actually remember me, and you will not forget your slave girl and actually give to your slave girl a male offspring, I will give him to Jehovah all the days of his life, and no razor will come upon his head.”—1 Sam. 1:11.
Since only her lips were moving as she inwardly poured out her distress before Jehovah God, high priest Eli mistakenly concluded that she was drunk and reproved her. But Hannah quickly explained: “No, my lord! A woman hard pressed in spirit I am; and wine and intoxicating liquor I have not drunk, but I pour out my soul before Jehovah. Do not make your slave girl like a good-for-nothing woman, for it is out of the abundance of my concern and my vexation that I have spoken until now.”—1 Sam. 1:15, 16.
Recognizing his mistake, Eli wished her God’s blessing, saying: “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant your petition that you have asked of him.”—1 Sam. 1:17.
How did Hannah’s prayer, along with the words of Eli, affect her? She found real comfort. Hannah resumed eating, and “her face became self-concerned no more.” (1 Sam. 1:18) Having committed the matter to Jehovah God, she was freed from deep inward sorrow. Hannah realized that the Most High was interested in her as a person, and she confidently looked to him for help. Though not knowing just what the outcome would be, Hannah enjoyed an inner peace. She must have recognized either that her period of childlessness would end or that Jehovah God would in some other way fill the lack resulting from her barrenness.
Hannah’s trust in the Almighty God was certainly not misplaced. She gave birth to a boy and named him Samuel. After weaning him, Hannah turned Samuel over for sanctuary service. (1 Sam. 1:19-28) Since the Bible mentions a genealogical enrollment for Levites “from three years of age upward,” it may well be that the boy was at least three years old at the time.—2 Chron. 31:16.
Appreciative of Jehovah’s kindness toward her, Hannah offered up a prayer of thanksgiving. This prayer glorified Jehovah as the One who is without equal. Hannah said: “There is no one holy like Jehovah, for there is no one but you; and there is no rock like our God.” (1 Sam. 2:2) In her own case, Hannah had experienced that the Most High is like a firm rock, that is, dependable and stable. On him one can indeed rely.
Additional blessings were ahead for Hannah. Once, when she came with her husband to Shiloh, Eli blessed both of them, saying: “May Jehovah appoint to you an offspring from this wife in place of the thing lent [Samuel], that was lent to Jehovah.” (1 Sam. 2:20) Hannah had the joy of seeing that blessing fulfilled. Eventually she became the mother to three more boys and two girls.—1 Sam. 2:21.
Just as Hannah found comfort in prayer, we too can find encouragement in committing all our cares to Jehovah God. He will answer all requests that are in harmony with his purpose. Hence, when we pour out our hearts to our heavenly Father, may we, like Hannah, become “self-concerned no more,” confident that he will remove our burden, whatever that may be, or enable us to bear it.