Hannah's Story in the Bible
Hannah's story is found in 1 Samuel, Chapters 1 and 2. Elkanah had two wives. Hannah was the first wife, and she was barren. Elkanah took another wife, Peninnah, who gave him ten children. Hannah wanted to give her husband children like her rival. She was greatly distressed because of her barrenness. Three people overlooked her sadness.
- Elkanah: Hannah's husband
- Peninnah: the other wife
- Eli: the priest at Shiloh
How Hannah's Needs Were Overlooked
The people close to Hannah should have noticed that she was hurting and in need of comfort and support. Instead of paying attention to Hannah's needs, those three people close to her did different things that did not help her.
- Hannah's own husband thought giving Hannah food would comfort her. So, he gave her a double portion to mask her hurt. (I Samuel 1:5)
- The other wife kept provoking her in order to irritate her even more. (I Samuel 1:6) By taunting Hannah, she made her pain worse.
- Eli, the priest of Shiloh, should have discerned what was bothering Hannah. Instead, he accused her of being drunk when she was praying. He said to her, "How long will you keep on getting drunk? Get rid of your wine." (1 Samuel 1:14)
Neither one of the three people identified Hannah's need and consoled her.
Elkanah Overlooked Hannah's Needs
Elkanah had two wives, Hannah and Peninnah. Hannah was barren and gave her husband no children. The other wife was fertile and gave him ten children, including sons and daughters.
Elkanah took his family to Shiloh once a year to worship and to sacrifice. When it was Elkanah's turn to distribute the food, he gave Peninnah and her children a portion, but to Hannah, he gave a double portion of meat.
This happened year after year, and Hannah wept as usual. No matter how big the portions were that Elkanah gave her, she did not eat. Even after Hannah told her husband what was wrong, he still did not understand. He failed to comfort her. Instead, he asked her a series of questions in 1 Samuel 1:8.
- "Hannah, why are you weeping?"
- "Why don't you eat?"
- "Why are you downhearted?"
- "Don't I mean more to you than ten sons?"
Peninnah Overlooked Hannah's Needs
Every chance Peninnah got, she poked fun at the barren Hannah. Peninnah teased and taunted Hannah by saying, "See, I am the one giving Elkanah children; something you can't do."
Hannah was like other women in the Bible who were barren. It was considered a disgrace if a wife could not give her husband children, especially a son. Other women were barren before God opened up their wombs and they did eventually have sons.
- Sarah: mother of Isaac
- Rebekah: mother of Jacob
- Rachel: mother of Joseph
- Samson's mother (unnamed in the Bible)
- Hannah: mother of Samuel
- Elizabeth: mother of John the Baptist
The firstborn of the above females was a son as they had prayed for. Every one of the sons fulfilled a very important role in God's plan for Israel.
Eli Overlooked Hannah's Needs
Eli, the priest had no discernment about Hannah's predicament. In fact, he thought the worst of her. Eli mistakes Hannah's praying for drunkenness when he saw her mouth moving with no words coming out. This doesn't speak very highly of the priest who should have spiritually discerned Hannah's heaviness as she prayed and wept. (1 Samuel 1:10)
When the priest accused Hannah of being drunk, she told him that she wasn't drunk. Instead, she was a woman of a sorrowful spirit and she was pouring out her heart to the Lord. Then the priest blessed her and told her to go in peace and the God of Israel would grant her what she had requested.
Hannah Gave Birth
Hannah felt much better after that. She was sad no more. Then she conceived and bore a son and named him Samuel. Elkanah and his household continued to go to Shiloh every year to worship. Hannah did not go again until Samuel was weaned and could be dedicated to the Lord as she had vowed.
Hannah kept her promised and took Samuel to live in the temple with Eli after he was weaned. She reminded Eli that she was the woman who was praying so fervently that he thought she was drunk. She left her first born at the temple, and God kept her womb opened and she had five other children besides Samuel. In all, she had four sons and two daughters.
Do not overlook the needs of others.
God Did Not Overlook Hannah's Needs
God did not overlook Hannah's needs. He did not give her extra food to make her happy. He did not tease and taunt her. He did not think she was drunk when she was praying. Instead, He answered her prayer. Hannah's story is a good example of how people miss what's going on with those who are hurting.
After someone commits suicide, people say they didn't see the signs, and they had no idea the person was so troubled. We should stop overlooking the needs of others and become more supportive.