“….remember me and do not forget Your maidservant, but will give Your maidservant a male child, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life…”  1 Samuel 1:11

“And the Lord visited Hannah, so she conceived and bore three sons and two daughters.”  1 Samuel 2:21

There is so much in the story of Hannah, that can speak to us in so many ways if we will let it.  First there is the woman Hannah, the wife of a Elkanah.  The bible tells us that worshiping the Lord was a regular and important part of their lives.  Yet Hannah had not been able to have a child.  Understanding that the culture of that time put a huge importance on a wife’s ability to bring forth offspring, this was a burden to Hannah.  If the personal pressure she felt was not enough, this was a time when many husbands had multiple wives.  Elkanah had an additional wife who had brought forth children.  The other wife was not a loving, caring person to Hannah as she tormented Hannah about her bareness.  Yet scripture tells us that Elkanah tried as he might to make up for Hannah’s condition by showing her how much he loved her.

Scripture tells us that Hannah believed it was the Lord that was keeping her from having a baby.  Do realize that Hannah had a very human reaction to this belief.  For Hannah did not joyfully or peacefully accept her condition as the perfect will of the Lord.  No, the scripture tells us that Hannah grieved terribly and wept bitterly.  So the first great lesson is how does she respond?  In her anger and bitterness, Hannah could have turned from the Lord, cursing Him for His treatment of her.  However, Hannah did not.  We are told she prayed in the tabernacle.  Even then we are told that she was weeping and had bitterness in her soul.  Though even in that state, Hannah believed in the power of the Lord, for she made a vow that if she was given a son, she would give him to the Lord to serve all the his days in the tabernacle.

The second lesson is that the Lord hears our prayers.  For Hannah goes home.  She continues to act in a way that allows the Lord to fulfill her request.  In time she conceives and a son, Samuel is born to her.  She is extremely happy, she rejoices.

The third lesson is that she does not forget the Lord nor her vow to Him.  To fulfill her vow, Hannah was going to have to give up her child.  Samuel was going to have to physically reside at the tabernacle, serving the priests and learning from them.  Hannah did not hesitate.  When Samuel had been weaned, so that he was old enough to live at the tabernacle, Hannah brought him and gave him to the priests.  Hannah could have kept Samuel.  In her joy of having him and her fear of what life would be like without him, Hannah could have completely disregarded her vow and decided that she deserved to have Samuel with her for his entire childhood.  An additional  thing to take from her act is how careful, in fact Christ warns us about hastily making vows, we must be when we make a vow to God.  He absolutely expects us to keep the vows we make to Him.  The other thing we can learn is how she fulfills this vow.  When she does relinquish Samuel to the priests at the tabernacle, she does not do it with anger or bitter tears.  No, Hannah prays a prayer of rejoicing at the graciousness and power of the Lord and His Mercy at fulfilling her request.

Additionally, Hannah’s actions do not go unnoticed.  First as she relinquishes her son, the priest Eli blesses her and her husband asking that additional children come to her because of her faithfulness.  And, what started with a prayer, a request that was made in anguish, weeping and yes, even some bitterness, and continued with the faithful keeping of a vow, ended up with a greater blessing than just Samuel.  For Hannah bore three additional sons and two daughters.

Finally, let us not forget who Samuel grew up to be.  He was a great prophet of the Lord who was to eventually anoint the greatest human king that Israel was to have:  King David.  And from David’s lineage would come the King of kings our Savior Jesus Christ.

Se we may be in a dark place today.  We may feel that God is acting against us and our dreams.  We may be angry at him as the world torments us at our seemingly great failure.  We can turn away.  We can curse at God or worse yet deny that God exists at all.  Or, in the middle of that darkness, in the midst of the torment, we can pray to God.  It is not required that we make a vow.  What is required is that we believe that the Lord exists, the He can hear us, and has the power to fulfill our request.  He has promised that He will not forsake us.  He will come to us.  We must be very careful with our response.  If we made a vow to the Lord in the pain of our request, we must be sure to keep it in the joy of His Merciful response.  The keeping of the vow should be in a sense of peace and joy versus bitterness and hate.  Either way, we should, as Hannah did, pray a great prayer of joy and thanksgiving to the Lord.  And understand this, God doesn’t stop at our request.  He will grant much more than we ever thought possible.  He, who gave His only Son for us and our salvation, will not stop with what we request but will fulfill our every need.

Our Most Gracious and Heavenly Father, we humbly admit that so often we come to you when we have reached the lowest parts of our lives.  It is at those times we may be blaming You for where we are, not understanding the perfection of Your plan.  Hear our prayer Most Merciful Father and be swift to answer.  Give us a spirit of gratitude to You as we see how You are working through our prayers.  Help us to be faithful to every pledge we make to You, Dear Father.  That we may find the joy and peace that You desire for us as we come to a closer relationship with You.  In the name of Jesus Christ we pray.  Amen