By Mike Kemper
Interim Pastor, First Baptist Church, Dyer
The sincere, heart motivated prayers of Hannah for a son are exemplary and truly made a great impact on the course of Israel’s future. Prayer is not a last resort, but prayer can and does make a difference. Prayer is like a “power house” for God’s people.
Yes, God does hear the prayers of His people and God responds to our prayers. We, too, can be encouraged to know that God hears our prayers. He responds to us also!
There was a man named Elkanah who had two wives, Hannah and Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah had none. This was a source of conflict. In those days when women were valued primarily for their ability to bear children, a wife without children was considered a liability. Peninnah never let Hannah forget that she had not given Elkanah children.
Hannah wept and would not eat. Elkanah tried to console her and assure her of his love, but he could not fill the emptiness and sadness of her heart.
So, it was natural for this God-fearing woman to take her burden to the Lord. At the Temple of Shiloh, Hannah knelt to pray. She pleaded with the Lord and promised that if He would give her a son, she would “give him to the Lord all the days of his life.”
Eli, the priest was sitting on a seat beside the doorpost of the Temple. It would have been difficult for him not to notice this woman weeping and Eli “marked her mouth.” He saw her agony, “moving only her lips.” Eli thought she was intoxicated and he scolded her to “put away the wine.”
Hannah explains the sorrow of her heart and that she was “pouring out my soul before the Lord.” Then Eli gives her his blessing and says, “Go in peace: and the God of Israel grant thee thy petition ….” After this pronouncement of blessing, Hannah did receive peace that her prayers were heard. Now, where Hannah had no appetite to eat before, she ate and went away joyful.
As we learn from “the rest of the story” in the following verses, God blesses Hannah with a son, Samuel. And Hannah again does the right thing. When the time was right, she brings Samuel to the temple and to Eli in fulfillment of her promise to dedicate his life to the Lord’s service. We read what is called “Hannah’s Song,” a song of praise and thanksgiving. A wonderful way for us to demonstrate our joy in the Lord is to sing songs of triumph and praises to the God we love and serve, and even more so, praises to the God who loves and blesses us abundantly. Hannah compares God “to a rock.” A common idea in Scripture is that there is safety and stability in the Lord. Read Psalm 61.
From this powerful story, we learn that we too should have faith to bring our burdens and needs to the Lord. I am reminded of Peter’s encouragement in I Peter 1:6-7: “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that at the proper time he may exalt you. Casting all your anxieties on him; because he cares for you.”
We can do the right thing, and trust God! When we “pour out our soul” to the Lord, we can be sure that He is listening, that He cares for us and that He will answer. It very well can be that you will discover your own song to sing!