Hannah: Let’s Make a Deal

Posted on Posted in Connect to God, Family, Kids, Make Disciples, Prayer
Share our post

The weight of the loads carried on the donkey matched the heaviness she felt in her own soul. The caravan slowly made their way to the city.


“Another year, another sacrifice,” her husband, Elkanah looked at Hannah, and held her closely, as Penninah looked on.


As Elkanah drew closer to the city gate, they could see the city of Shiloh bustling with people. As they made their way to the tabernacle, Penninah leans to Hannah and whispers “looks like my children and I will get the most portions again.” She smirks as she leads her sons and daughters up the steps.


Hannah is used to hearing this talk from Penninah, but this year it grates on her soul. She stops and looks at the steps leading to this great place known for housing the presence of the Yahweh Sabbaoth – the Lord of Heaven’s armies, and contemplates if this God – the God of her people – could see her, and feel the depth of her despair, too.


She had been married to Elkanah for some time now, and she still hadn’t been able to conceive. At first Hannah had been at peace, knowing that a child would come in due time. But, as months passed on to years and still no child, Hannah started to wonder if she was barren.


She looked longingly at the growing size of Penninah’s children, and pushed back the tears welling up in her eyes as she entered the tabernacle outer court. She endured years of painful ridicule and taunts thrown at her by Penninah, but this year it was too much for her to bear.


Hannah watched as Elkanah gave each portion of the sacrifice to Penninah and their children. They looked like a beautiful family. She could take no more. She hid her face in her hands and quietly started crying.


In moments, she felt the gentle hands of her husband around her shoulders and folded into him as he told her,


1 Samuel 1:8 NLT

[8]“Why are you crying, Hannah?” Elkanah would ask. “Why aren’t you eating? Why be downhearted just because you have no children? You have me—isn’t that better than having ten sons?”


He brought her choice portion, and Hannah wiped her tears away as she took the portion and they sat to eat the meal.


I don’t know if you’ve ever been in a position like Hannah was in. If you have, you will understand how her story starts out with so much sadness. She is the second wife to a man who already has plenty of children from another marriage. And his first wife is still there. In her time, unlike current popular opinion, baring children was a defining role for a woman. And having a family was their hearts desire. It was a blessing. To be unable to conceive would be looked at as a curse on you. Think how Hannah must have viewed her own value:


•to her husband

•to herself

•to other women

•to God


She bore the sting of being childless in a situation where her husband already had a beautiful family. She must have felt useless.


Can you relate? Maybe you’re married into a mixed family, and your spouse has children from a past marriage. You love them as your own, but there may be a tug on your heart for your own children.


Maybe you’re the single gal who has seen just about everyone she knows get married and start their families. You feel completely left out of the “mom” conversations, and try as best as you can to feel happy for those around you, while inside you ache desperately for a husband to hold you and little baby cheeks to snuggle and kiss.


You could be waiting on God for some promise, and you have been waiting for what seems like a very long time – longer than you would have liked to wait. And you’re starting to wonder if God was in this at all. Or, maybe you question whether He wants to do this for you.


Whatever the case, you can relate. After the meal, we find our Hannah needing to get out of the room. Our story picks up here:


1 Samuel 1:9-11 NLT

[9]Once after a sacrificial meal at Shiloh, Hannah got up and went to pray. Eli the priest was sitting at his customary place beside the entrance of the Tabernacle.

[10]Hannah was in deep anguish, crying bitterly as she prayed to the lord.

[11]And she made this vow: “O  lord of Heaven’s Armies, if you will look upon my sorrow and answer my prayer and give me a son, then I will give him back to you. He will be yours for his entire lifetime, and as a sign that he has been dedicated to the lord, his hair will never be cut.”


Whatever it was that was troubling her, we see that she takes it to the Father in prayer. She sees her problem is too overwhelming to do anything about herself. She takes her request, full of the emotion she feels, and brings it all into the hands of the One who will really listen, and really do something about it.


This type of prayer has been called travailing prayer, because it presents the deep anguish of the person praying. I also see something else in her words.


1 Samuel 1:11

[11]And she made this vow: “O  lord of Heaven’s Armies, if you will look upon my sorrow and answer my prayer and give me a son, then I will give him back to you. He will be yours for his entire lifetime, and as a sign that he has been dedicated to the lord, his hair will never be cut.”


Maybe she remembered the story of her ancestor, Abraham, as he bartered with God to relent from destroying Sodom and Gomorrah for the sake of ten righteous. Whatever the case, she believed that God might grant her the request for a child, if she in turn dedicated him back to God.


This was not some prayer that we pray when we are in a tight spot, promising we’ll go to church more, or give to the poor more if He will just come through. No, in the midst of her despair and anguish, she asks boldly for her request, and vows that she will do her part of the deal if He will. That’s Faith. That’s not only travailing prayer, but prevailing prayer.


Unfortunately she wasn’t exactly alone in this great moment vulnerability. We read on:


1 Samuel 1:12-17

[12]As she was praying to the lord, Eli watched her.

[13]Seeing her lips moving but hearing no sound, he thought she had been drinking.

[14]“Must you come here drunk?” he demanded. “Throw away your wine!”

[15]“Oh no, sir!” she replied. “I haven’t been drinking wine or anything stronger. But I am very discouraged, and I was pouring out my heart to the lord.

[16]Don’t think I am a wicked woman! For I have been praying out of great anguish and sorrow.”

[17]“In that case,” Eli said, “go in peace! May the God of Israel grant the request you have asked of him.”


Desperate prayers aren’t always clean looking or form fitting. Eli saw (not very clearly) what he thought was a drunk woman roaming about the tabernacle, and he gave her a sharp chastening. I am so glad Hannah chose to explain herself without getting bitter about the priest’s wrong judgment.


Church history is full of stories similar to this. The pastor sees the homeless man come in to the service, or the ladies group has a newcomer join who seems less than godly. Maybe she doesn’t dress with modesty, or she seems like someone who is living in sin. They don’t know their story, yet before they do, pass a judgment or make a snide comment.


Most of us probably have a story of how we’ve been hurt by the Church, especially church leadership. I have had my share, too. And, it has taken me much time and loads of talking with God to come through the layers of bitterness and rejection that I’ve felt as someone who has been pushed aside, or looked at like a black sheep of the fold.


I encourage you if you feel snubbed by a group of people to – right now – put this post down, and take those bleeding wounds to your Heavenly Father. Tell Him all. Don’t lick those wounds, or find your own version of truth to come to your own conclusions about them. Let His unfailing love, and His unfailing word surround your heart and the situation that got it broken. Let Him heal you. He will never reject you because He is your friend that sticks closer than a brother.


You do not have to turn to alcohol, to food, to depression, to working harder, or living for someone else. Don’t blame someone. You do not have to wrap your identity around your role or something you’re good at. Just let Him heal.


Pour out your heart to the Lord. There is another scripture that admonishes us to do the same:


Psalms 62:8 NLT

[8]O my people, trust in him at all times. Pour out your heart to him, for God is our refuge.


There’s something about this kind of deeply anguished prayer that pulls on the Lord’s heart strings, and brings about an answer. This is a true story of William booth, founder of the Salvation Army:


At another time, two Salvation Army officers set out to found a new work, only to meet with failure and opposition. Frustrated and tired they appealed to the General to close the rescue mission. General Booth sent back a telegram with two words on it, “TRY TEARS.” They followed his advice and they witnessed a mighty revival.


How do you pray for your children? Do you sense the urgency of the hour? Are you saddened to the point of tears by the degradation of our society – one that keeps getting darker – with terribly evil things we never imagined… becoming promoted as good and normal on mass media and schools? Our children will one day live as decision makers within this dark society. Are we gripped with the desire for God’s destiny to be made manifest in their lives? Does it seem like our current prayers get us nowhere?


If the answer to any of these is no, maybe we ought to do what General Booth did, and what our girl Hannah did. Try tears. Don’t try to work yourself up in a frenzy. But use your sadness, fear, frustration, disgust as well as His word with hope, and let them catapult you to come boldly before God’s throne to ask Him for things you would have never otherwise dared.

Hannah gets dangerous in prayer by making a vow to God to dedicate her child back to Him, and He comes through:


1 Samuel 1:19-20

[19]The entire family got up early the next morning and went to worship the lord once more. Then they returned home to Ramah. When Elkanah slept with Hannah, the lord remembered her plea,

[20]and in due time she gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, for she said, “I asked the lord for him.”


Here he is! God remembered that prayer, and He delivers her a son. He is faithful to the vow. Now it’s time for Hannah to fulfill her part of the agreement:


1 Samuel 1:21-23

[21]The next year Elkanah and his family went on their annual trip to offer a sacrifice to the lord and to keep his vow.

[22]But Hannah did not go. She told her husband, “Wait until the boy is weaned. Then I will take him to the Tabernacle and leave him there with the lord permanently.”

[23]“Whatever you think is best,” Elkanah agreed. “Stay here for now, and may the lord help you keep your promise.” So she stayed home and nursed the boy until he was weaned.


She waits a while, and can you blame her? She has just received one of the greatest delights granted to men, parenthood. I imagine she probably enjoyed having an extended period of nursing and caring for little Samuel.


I hear the average age for weaning babies in America is around a year. But in ancient times, and today in the middle East, women tend to take longer to wean, and the process to caring for babies was a more attached approach.

So, we can gather from these next verses that she did, indeed stay home with baby Samuel for several years:


1 Samuel 1:24-28

[24]When the child was weaned, Hannah took him to the Tabernacle in Shiloh. They brought along a three-year-old bull for the sacrifice and a basket of flour and some wine.

[25]After sacrificing the bull, they brought the boy to Eli.

[26]“Sir, do you remember me?” Hannah asked. “I am the very woman who stood here several years ago praying to the lord.

[27]I asked the lord to give me this boy, and he has granted my request.

[28]Now I am giving him to the lord, and he will belong to the lord his whole life.” And they worshiped the lord there.


What a beautiful picture of God fulfilling His promise to Hannah and her husband! And she gets to tell the Faith building story to Eli, as this year’s sacrifice would be very different than the last time she was there.


She kneels down to pray, but this time it’s not tears of pain that she’s crying:



1 Samuel 2:1-10 NLT

[1]Then Hannah prayed: “My heart rejoices in the lord!     The lord has made me strong. Now I have an answer for my enemies;     I rejoice because you rescued me.

[2]No one is holy like the lord!     There is no one besides you;     there is no Rock like our God.

[3]“Stop acting so proud and haughty!     Don’t speak with such arrogance! For the lord is a God who knows what you have done;     he will judge your actions.

[4]The bow of the mighty is now broken,     and those who stumbled are now strong.

[5]Those who were well fed are now starving,     and those who were starving are now full. The childless woman now has seven children,     and the woman with many children wastes away.

[6]The lord gives both death and life;     he brings some down to the grave but raises others up.

[7]The lord makes some poor and others rich;     he brings some down and lifts others up.

[8]He lifts the poor from the dust     and the needy from the garbage dump. He sets them among princes,     placing them in seats of honor. For all the earth is the lord’s,     and he has set the world in order.

[9]“He will protect his faithful ones,     but the wicked will disappear in darkness. No one will succeed by strength alone.

[10]Those who fight against the lord will be shattered. He thunders against them from heaven;     the lord judges throughout the earth. He gives power to his king;     he increases the strength of his anointed one.”


I see the same joy and thankfulness in many of David’s psalms in here, don’t you? And, how her heart must have swelled as they worshipped! Even though she would leave her boy there permanently. Even though she had only one child. She was so intoxicated with God’s sheer goodness, that the other issues of her life seemed dim.


But our story of Hannah doesn’t end here. We read further in the next chapter:



1 Samuel 2:18-21

[18]But Samuel, though he was only a boy, served the lord. He wore a linen garment like that of a priest.

[19]Each year his mother made a small coat for him and brought it to him when she came with her husband for the sacrifice.

[20]Before they returned home, Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife and say, “May the lord give you other children to take the place of this one she gave to the lord.”

[21]And the lord blessed Hannah, and she conceived and gave birth to three sons and two daughters. Meanwhile, Samuel grew up in the presence of the lord.


We’re told in the verses before that Eli’s sons were scoundrels who were wicked and did wicked things in the presence of the Lord.


But it says that Samuel, though he was only a boy, served the Lord. He must have had a great godly influence even at the beginning of his life.


Pray over your baby, with your baby – when he is still a baby. Don’t wait until he is considered older to start the basics of Christian life with them. They will imitate the type of life you set for them.


As we speak my children are acting out a prayer meeting. But they’re not playing, they are practicing.



I love that yearly coat she made for her boy. I can imagine Hannah making it with so much care, thinking that even if she couldn’t wrap her arms around Samuel to keep him warm, her coat would be an extension of them, and a reminder that mom would always be praying, thinking, and caring for him. Moms don’t forget.


Eli blessed Elkanah and Hannah, and the Lord gave Hannah even more children. This reminds me that you can never out-give God. And He always gives you back more than you originally have.


And then it says that Samuel grew up in the presence of the Lord. It was this Samuel who heard God speaking audibly in the tabernacle. It was this Samuel who had an intimate walk with God. This Samuel who became a prophet and judge in the land, who prophesied Eli’s family would fall, whose prayers saved the people of Israel numerous times, who anointed the first two kings of Israel, and whose words never fell to the ground.


I can almost see an intensity in his eyes, that same intense look his mother must have had that caused her to pray so passionately and so fervently.


I leave you with an example of prayer from the Christian movie War Room. I hope you will see Hannah’s contribution as a Mom of Faith as a prayer warrior, intercessor, and woman who had faith that the God who ruled in Israel would answer her prayer and meet the challenge of her vow.



James 5:16-18 NKJV


16 The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. 18 And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit.

Subscribe to Rachel’s Blog

Share our post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *