23 Elkanah her husband said to her, Do what seems best to you. Wait until you have weaned him, only may the Lord establish His word. So Hannah remained and nursed her son until she weaned him. Ė 1 Samuel 1:23 AMP
The story of Hannah in the Book of first Samuel is one repeated many times in Christian circles. Hannah prayed for a son because she had no children. She even promised if she had one that she would give him back to the Lord. But Elkanah, Hannahís husband, is a figure often overlooked in the midst of this touching story.
Why is he so overlooked? In Godís eyes, the husband is the head of the home. The husband calls the shots. The New Testament even reinforces the authority of the husband in the home. Now I am by no means an advocate of all husbands using this information to be domineering over their wives. But I do mention it because there were things that Elkanah knew in that day, but he did nothing to intervene with Godís plan.
First of all consider the fact that Hannah made a vow to God to give her son back to the Lord. By Mosaic Law, Elkanah had every right to invalidate Hannahís vow (Numbers 30:6-7). Sons in that day were important in that they carried on the family line. Elkanah already had sons from his other wife, but numerous sons were considered important because in those times, sons frequently died in battles against other nations. The more sons one had, the better the chances for the family line to continue. But still, Elkanah did not intervene and make Hannahís vow to naught.
Next you have to consider Eliís sons. Hannah was leaving Samuel at the temple after she weaned him. He couldnít have been over three years of age. And they were leaving him in the care of Eli. Yes, the same Eli that had raised two worthless sons by the names of Hophni and Phineas (1 Samuel 2:12). Everyone knew these guys were evil. Even Elkanah knew. Yet here comes Hannah, giving her only son to the man who had raised these two hooligans. Canít you see the people around there? They were probably saying something like, those people are crazy. Donít they know how those two sons of his turned out? Yes, they knew. But Elkanah and Hannah both knew of the importance of the vow that she had made. Elkanah went to the tabernacle annually to fulfill his vow, and he understood the importance of Hannahís.
5 But to Hannah he gave a double portion, for he loved Hannah, but the Lord had given her no children. Ė 1 Samuel 1:5 AMP
Elkanah loved Hannah. Even though he knew he could revoke her vow and even though he knew Eli was a failure at raising children, he also heard Hannahís heart. He knew she wanted a child so badly that she was willing to give him back to God just for the chance to be a mother one time. And he respected that. What was the result? Samuel became a great prophet and Israelís last judge and Hannah gave birth to five more children. And it all came to pass not only because Hannah prayed, but also because Elkanah was able to hear the heart of his wife speaking.
Men do you hear the heart of your wife? Do you hear her even though there may be things that you know seem contrary to your line of thinking? What would you have done in Elkanahís situation? I can personally say it would have been an uphill climb to convince me that leaving my child with a man who had raised a couple of losers was that right thing to do. But to Elkanah, there was seemingly no decision. Hannah made a vow and she needed to fulfill it. He encouraged her to keep her promise. He loved her as Christ loved the church (Ephesians 4:25). Jesus literally gave up His life for all of us to be saved. Elkanah and Hannah gave up their son. Do you love your wife that much? Are you willing to give up part of your own life so that your wife will feel more secure in your marriage, or are you too busy trying to convince her that you are the head of the home?
The bottom line is this: if you truly love your wife you will always want her to follow God. God wanted Hannah to fulfill her vow, so Elkanah never stopped her even though it was well within his right to do so. Elkanah knew about his authority and place in the home, and knew very well about Eliís parental abilities, yet he heard Hannahís heart. And the heart of his wife prevailed over the knowledge he possessed. Men, can you say the same thing about your wife? Does her heartís desire prevail over anything you may know or perceive? The answers to those questions will shed lots of light as to whether you are a husband who just knows or one who can also hear.