“Then Hannah prayed and said, ‘My heart exults in the Lord; my horn is exalted in the Lord, my mouth speaks boldly against my enemies, because I rejoice in Your salvation.”-1 Sam. 2:1
Hannah Grace, what a beautiful name. Hannah means “favorable” and “grace.” Grace means “steadfast love, compassion, kindness, favor, and goodwill mercy.” To have such a name one would think blessings would abound. To Hannah there was no grace in her life.
The story of Hannah takes place during the darkest times in Israel. This was in the times of the judges and the terrible and embarrassing cycles of sin. God’s children failed in purging the land of idolatry and eventually (several times) forgot God and worshipped the man-made idols. This story shows that in the dark times God remembers the faithful and through them He blesses the world. However, to Hannah there was no grace in her life.
Hannah had a husband but no children, and she also had to share her husband with a second wife, Peninnah. It seems that for Hannah her pain was more because she did not have children than having to share her husband. Peninnah had children-sons and daughters. But Hannah could not have children and the writer of 1 Samuel says that “…the Lord had closed her womb.” (1 Sam. 1:5) This means that the Lord had miraculously made it where Hannah could not have children, at least not yet. To Hannah there was no grace in her life.
To make matters worse, Peninnah would often “ridicule” Hannah and show off her children. Peninnah was a bully and her bullying had caused Hannah to feel depressed and less of a woman. At every opportunity Peninnah would boast about her children and made sure to point out the obvious, Hannah had no children. To Hannah there was no grace in her life.
Elkanah wanted to please Hannah so he would give her a “double portion” while Peninnah and her children only received one portion. This angered Peninnah and in retaliation she would bully Hannah. (1 Samuel 1:4-5) To Hannah there was no grace in her life.
One day the Lord opened Hannah’s womb and gave birth to a son, who would later become a priest of the Lord and judge over Israel. (1 Samuel 1:19ff) What a blessing! In the second chapter of 1 Samuel Hannah sings a song of praise and thanksgiving. In one verse she says that her heart “exults in the Lord,” “my horn is exalted in the Lord,” and her mouth “speaks boldly against my enemies, because I rejoice in the Lord.” There is no longer any mention of Peninnah or her children. When God rewarded Hannah because of her patience and faithfulness she said she no longer had a need to be depressed, now she could lift her “horn in the Lord.” Just like a ram standing on the mountain top with it’s horns held up high signifying power and victory, so too Hannah. To Hannah there was now grace in her life.
But wait, there is more to the story. Unbeknownst to Hannah, God was using her for something great. Hannah was a type of Mary the mother of Jesus. God was involved in both of these women’s pregnancies. Hannah had given birth to a prophet and judge, while Mary had also given birth to a prophet and judge (Mark 6:4; Deuteronomy 18:18; Acts 3:22; 7:32; John 1:1) There is no doubt that Hannah was a type of Mary-Hannah was pointing to the mother of Jesus. (See chart for comparison) To Hannah there was now grace in her life.
There is a blessing in waiting on the Lord while being faithful to Him. For Hannah the blessing was first one child and then more. She sang a beautiful hymn and Mary spoke the beautiful Magnificat. Hannah was happy and her rivals had been silenced by God. Certainly, to Hannah there was now grace.
Hannah’s story teaches several simple and practical lessons:
- Trusting and waiting on the Lord while doing His will, will certainly bring about blessings beyond imagination and we will see grace in our lives.
- Our families can be the bright lights shining forth in a sinful world, even when the times are the darkest.
- Families that dedicate time to prayer and consecration will be blessed. Elkanah and Hannah would make a yearly prayer and sacrificing trip to the temple of the Lord.
- Husbands should always love and respect their wives; that is one husband should love and respect his one wife.
- When the family is not as God has ordained be prepared for discipline, marital dilemmas, jealousies and eventually the breakdown of a marriage.
- When we are faced with trials we should be prepared to take our trials to the Lord in prayer.
- When our trials are over, whether they turn out the way we want them or not, we should be prepared to praise the Lord.