As Hannah trudged up the steep hill to the temple, a path that she could travel with her eyes closed, she fought the doubt that tried to enter her heart. She had wrestled with it the night before. It was never invited nor encouraged but that didn’t stop it from constantly troubling her soul.
Doubt had appeared the night before to discourage her from appealing to her Lord yet another year for a son. It told her that she was wasting time. That night she wept and could not eat but she still had hope.
Hannah lifted her eyes to behold the glorious temple and imagined him waiting for her. Her heart leaped with joy! ‘This is the year’ she thought.
As she reached the outer court her mind drifted back to the day before they embarked on their annual journey.
Elkanah could not understand her determination to petition the Almighty and tried to dissuade her. “Hannah my love. We are old now. I think that you should accept your barrenness. Look around you dear wife. Do I not give you a double portion of my sacrifice? Do I not love you more than ten sons ever could?”
Hannah touched his cheek and smiled. The lines and wrinkles in his face or number of years were not enough to dissuade her. Elkanah was a good husband, but he did not understand. “My husband, my lord. You truly are better to me than ten sons, but I will nurse a man child of my own.”
“Can you not accept Peninnah’s children as your own? What’s mine is yours.”
Tears sprang to her eyes. She could not make her beloved understand. “No my husband, I cannot so will you once again agree with me in prayer?”
Elkanah smiled. He could not deny her. He looked into her brown eyes and saw sadness amidst the love and compassion. He could see how much this meant to her so as in times past so he agreed to her request.
Peninnah was standing outside the tent eavesdropping as she regularly did. As Hannah passed her on the way out she said, “You poor woman, I feel so sorry for you. I can’t believe that after all this time you think God would bless you with a son. So do you need one of my sons to help you with anything today?
Fighting back the tears and trying not to allow Peninnah’s constant mockery to hurt her, she shook her head and walked past her whispering, “O Lord, please this year… please hear the prayer of your handmaiden. I promise to honor my vow to you.”
The greeting of the other women in the temple brought Hannah back to the present. She smiled at them, while ignoring the pity in their eyes. This time next year her smile will be genuine. God will hear and answer her prayer.
As she passed the group of women one of them whispered, “Poor Hannah, she’s been coming to this temple for over twenty years petitioning the Almighty. Does she not know she’s past the childbearing years? Why does Elkanah allow this?”
Hannah ignored them as she kneeled down and closed her eyes. As she emptied her heart to the Lord, Eli watched the way her eyelids fluttered and how her lips moved but spoke no words. Her prayer was not the same as times past. He approached her and accused her of drinking. She assured him that she was not drunk and that her prayer was due to the grief in her heart.
The desperation in her voice and hope on her face caused Eli to encouraged her. “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him.” 1 Samuel 1:17
Hannah’s heart leaped. God was going to answer her! She would bear her husband a son.
She got up and slowly walked towards the group. Peninnah had joined them. Good! With the biggest smile on her face and her head held high, she walked past them and whispered, “Who says I’m poor?” She didn’t turn around to see the surprised look on their faces.
Hannah’s countenance shone with the glory of God, as she headed back down the hill thinking of what she should name her son.