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Biblical People

Biblical People: Hannah

Hannah, married to Elkanah, longs to have children but is childless. To add to her misery, she’s harassed by everyone around her. Though she’s her husband’s favorite wife, he diminishes her infertility. He also fails to protect her from the verbal assaults of his other wife, Peninnah, who endlessly torments her. 

Then, when Hannah prays earnestly, Eli, the priest, accuses her of being drunk. But she is actually in deep despair. Her life is in constant turmoil.

At her breaking point, Hannah cries out to God in anguish. She begs him to give her a son. She specifically asks for a boy, not just a child. In return, she promises to give him to God for a lifetime of service. 

Unlike everyone else, God understands Hannah. He answers her plea, giving her a son just as she requested. She names him Samuel. Hannah responds by singing her praises to God. She celebrates his power, the elevation of the oppressed, and the judgment of the arrogant. A few lines of her poem may even be digs at Peninnah, her chief tormentor.

After Samuel is weaned, Hannah presents him to Eli for a lifetime of service to God at the temple, just as she promised. Each year when Hannah and her family make their annual pilgrimage to the temple to offer their sacrifices to God, she sees young Samuel and gives him a new robe. God then blesses Hannah with five more children.

God understands our situation, even when no one else does. Will we trust him to rescue us from our turmoil?

[Discover more about Hannah in 1 Samuel 1–2.]


Read about other biblical women in Women of the Bible, available in audiobook, e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

A lifelong student of the Bible, Peter DeHaan, PhD, wrote the 700-page website ABibleADay.com to encourage people to explore the Bible. His main blog and numerous books urge Christians to push past the status quo and reconsider how they practice their faith in every area of their lives.