Women of the Bible - Hannah

    A Woman Who Gave Sacrificially
    by Kathryn Capoccia

     Young Adults Sunday School Class
     All Scripture references are taken from the HOLY BIBLE: NEW
     INTERNATIONAL VERSION (C) 1978 by the New York Bible Society, used by
     permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.

 Copyright Kathy Capoccia 2000.  This file may be freely copied, printed out,
and distributed as long as copyright and source statements remain intact,
and that it is not sold.

  I. Introduction

     A. Prayer Requests

     B. Review of Last Week's Lesson/Verse
II. Character Profile: Hannah, a Woman Who Gave Sacrificially

     A. WHO WAS SHE? Read 1SA 1, 2:1-11, 18-21

        1. WHEN DID SHE LIVE? In the last part of the period of the Judges @
           1050 B.C.; her son, Samuel, was the last Judge (followed by Saul,
           King of Israel).

        2. WHERE DID SHE LIVE? In the hill country of Ephraim (vs.1), in
           Ramah, 5 miles N. of Jerusalem.

        3. WHAT WAS HER NAME? Hannah, "gracious" or "favor".


           a) She Was One Of Two Wives Married To Elkanah, An Ephraimite
              (1SA 1:1,2).

              1) God's ideal marital arrangement was monogamy (GEN 2:24, MAT

              2) Polygamy was allowed for a man if his wife was childless
                 (DEU 21:15-17) or in the case of a levirate marriage (DEU

                 *In the account Hannah's name comes before Peninnah's and
                 polygamy could only occur legally when the first wife was
                 barren, so the conclusion to be drawn from the facts is
                 that Hannah and Elkanah were married first- when they did
                 not have children he took a 2nd wife, Peninnah. He did not
                 profit from the Scriptures about Isaac and Rebekah- if he
                 had prayed about his wife's infertility and waited for His
                 answer he could have saved Hannah much heartache.

                 GEN 25:21  "Isaac prayed to the LORD on behalf of his wife,
                 because she was barren. The LORD answered his prayer, and
                 his wife Rebekah became pregnant."

           b) She Was Rivaled By Peninnah, The Other Wife (1SA 1:6).
              (rival means "one who vexes")

           c) She Was Provoked By Elkanah's 2nd Wife, Peninnah, Because She
              Was Not Able To Bear Children And Peninnah Had Sons And
              Daughters (1SA 1:4,6,7).

              *this is similar to the troubles Sarah and Rachel had (see GEN
              16:3-5, chp. 30).

              1SA 1:6,7  "And because the LORD had closed her womb, her
              rival kept provoking her in order to irritate her. This went
              on year after year. Whenever Hannah went up to the house of
              the LORD, her rival provoked her till she wept and would not

              1) She was provoked- "vexed" or "to provoke to anger".

              2) She was irritated- "to thunder".

              3) She wept- "to weep" or "bewail": "to weep continually".

                 a] It was considered to be a disgrace to be barren.

                    LUK 1:25 [Elizabeth speaking of her pregnancy] "'The
                    Lord has done this for me,' she said. 'In these days he
                    has shown his favor and taken away my disgrace among the

                 b] Hannah saw her barrenness as "a misery" or something to
                    howl, or wail about (1SA 1:11).

                    1SA 1:11  "And she made a vow, saying, 'O LORD Almighty,
                    if you will only look upon your servant's misery...'"

                 c] Multiple wives often experienced conflict over

                    i] see Sarah and Hagar (GEN 16:3-6).

                   ii] see Rachel and Leah (GEN chp. 30).

              4) She would not eat- she had no appetite because she was so

                 *This must have been a bitter life for Hannah to have
                 endured; every year when the family went "up to the house
                 of the LORD" in Shiloh, when she should have been free to
                 worship and rejoice in GOD, she would be baited about her
                 barrenness, loud arguments would ensue, and Hannah would
                 end up in anguish.

           d) She Was Loved By Her Husband.

              1) He would give her a double portion of his offerings, "for
                 he loved Hannah" (vs.50.

              2) He would try to comfort her when she was distressed (vs.8),
                 but he either did not understand her grief or was unable to
                 mitigate her suffering.

              3) She And Her Husband Shared A Common Faith And Worshiped
                 Together (1SA 1:3,7).

              4) He allowed Hannah to keep her vow to God, which he had the
                 power to cancel (NUM 30:8).




           a) She Prayed: She Had A Right Relationship With God.

              HEB 11:6  "And without faith it is impossible to please God,
              because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists
              and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him."

              1) She fervently prayed and wept (vs.10).

                 a] she poured out her heart before God (vs. 10).

                 b] she continued praying (vs. 12).

              2) She made a vow (vs. 11).

                 WHY DID SHE MAKE A VOW?

                 *She may have made this vow on her own initiative, or more
                 likely, because God touched her heart to do it so that He
                 could have a godly man in the Tabernacle to serve Him
                 (since the high priest Eli's two sons, Hophni and Phinehas,
                 were evil men 1SA 2:12).

                 a] What is a vow? It's a prayer of binding obligation
                    towards God: a transaction between man and God in which
                    man dedicates himself or his service or something
                    valuable to God. There are two kinds of vows:

                    i] conditional vows, "bargains"- those made on
                       conditions of favors returned by God.

                   ii] unconditional vows- those of dedication to accomplish
                       set goals.

                 b] Do we see other vows in Scripture?

                    i] Jacob's vow at Bethel if God would protect him
                       (GEN 28:20-22).

                   ii] Jephthah's vow if God would give him military victory
                       (JDG 11:30,31).

                  iii] the Nazirite vow of service.

                 c] What was her vow? A "bargain" vow.

                    i] she said if God would give her a son he would be
                       devoted to lifelong service to Him.

                   ii] she said if God would give her a son he would become
                       a lifelong Nazirite (two other Nazirites were Samson
                       and John the Baptist).

                        -- a Nazirite was to devote himself to the special
                          service of God.

                          I. he was to make himself available for God's use.

                         II. he was to discharge the prescribed sacrificial

                        -- a Nazirite was forbidden to:

                          I. touch a dead body.

                         II. drink wine.

                        III. shave or cut his hair.

                        -- a Nazirite vow could be followed for an entire
                          lifetime or only for a short period of time,
                          depending on the reason for "separating himself to
                          the LORD".

                 d] Were vows lightly taken? No.

                    i] vows were binding (DEU 23:21,23; ECC 5:4).

                       DEU 23:21  "If you make a vow to the LORD your God,
                       do not be slow to pay it, for the LORD your God will
                       certainly demand it of you and you will be guilty of

                       DEU 23:23  "Whatever your lips utter you must be sure
                       to do, because you made your vow freely to the LORD
                       your God with your own mouth."

                   ii] warnings were given about keeping them (ECC 5:5,6;
                       PRO 20:25).

                       ECC 5:4-6  "When you make a vow to God, do not delay
                       in fulfilling it. He has no pleasure in fools;
                       fulfill your vow. It is better not to vow than to
                       make a vow and not fulfill it. Do not let your mouth
                       lead you into sin. And do not protest to the temple
                       messenger, 'My vow was a mistake.' Why should God be
                       angry at what you say and destroy the work of your

                       PRO 20:25  "It is a trap for a man to dedicate
                       something rashly and only later to consider his

                  iii] vows could only be canceled by if rashly made by a
                       woman (NUM 30:5,8).

                       *For Hannah to have made a vow indicates her piety,
                       sincerity, and desire to have God's best. It was not
                       wrong for Hannah to have made a "bargain" vow; in
                       fact, in the O.T. vows were common and often an
                       indicator of spiritual fervor. Elkanah himself made
                       vows (1SA 1:21) so in this she was following her
                       husband's example.

           b) She Rested In The LORD (vs. 18): She Had A Right Belief.

              1SA 1:18  "She said, 'May your servant find favor in your
              eyes.' Then she went her way and ate something, and her face
              was no longer downcast."

              1) She went her way- she left the Tabernacle because she had
                 made her petition and believed that God would answer her.

              2) She ate- her appetite returned because she was at peace.

              3) Her face was no longer downcast- her anguish was over.

           c) She Worshiped: She Had A Right Appreciation Of God.

              1) At Shiloh after her petition (1SA 1:19).

              2) When she named her son, Samuel "name of God" (1SA 1:20).

              3) When she brought the boy to the Tabernacle (1SA 2:1-10).

           d) She Was Rewarded: Her Faith Was Not Misplaced.

              1) God granted her request for a son (1SA 1:19,20).

              2) God gave her other children (1SA 2:21).

                 a] 3 sons

                 b] 2 daughters


           a) She Devoted Herself To Her Family.

              1) She faithfully attended to her son until he could serve

                 a] she would not leave him while he lived with her.

                    1SA 1:22  "Hannah did not go. She said to her husband,
                    'After the boy is weaned, I will take him and present
                    him before the LORD, and he will live there always.'"

                 b] she nursed her son until she weaned him (1SA 1:23).

                    1SA 1:23  "So the woman stayed at home and nursed her
                    son until she had weaned him."

                    i] nursed means "allow to suck", i.e. to suckle a very
                       young child upon the breast.

                   ii] weaned means "dealt fully with"

                        -- training is implied, both physical and spiritual.

                          *Hannah only had a short time to train her son
                          before he would live apart from her. During that
                          time she had to teach him everything she could
                          about loving and serving God, a daunting task for
                          a lifetime much less a few years.

                        -- weaning usually took place at 2 or 3 years old.

                        -- the completion of weaning was sometimes cele-
                          brated by a feast (GEN 21:8).

              2) She Gave Samuel To The LORD (1SA 1:24-28).

                 a] Hannah brought Samuel to Shiloh (1SA 1:24), in
                    fulfillment of her vow, after he was weaned.

                    HOW DO YOU THINK SHE FELT?

                    *In Hannah's eyes it was only right to keep her side of
                    "bargain" and she could envision no higher calling, no
                    better future, and no greater honor than to be permitted
                    to serve the LORD: she brought Samuel to Shiloh with joy
                    (chp. 2:1).

                 b] She brought an offering for him.

                    i] a bull, 3 yrs. old, or 3 bulls- a burnt offering for
                       sin or a thank offering.

                   ii] an ephah of flour (about 2/3 of a bushel)- a cereal
                       mixture consisting of fine flour, olive oil, and
                       frankincense- almost always accompanying a burnt

                  iii] a skin of wine

                       *This was probably a "thank offering" to God. It was
                       common in the O.T. to bring offerings and praise
                       after fulfilling a vow (see LEV 7:16; PSA 50:14,
                       56:12, 66:13-15, 116:17,18; ISA 19:21).

              3) She Continued To Care For Samuel.

                 a] She made him a "little robe" every year: i.e. a blue
                    ephod like a priest would wear (1SA 2:18,19; EXO

                 b] She visited him when the family came to offer the yearly
                    sacrifice (1SA 2:19).

           b) She Devoted Her Best To God.

              1) She "dedicated" her only son to God (1SA 1:28):
                 "dedicated" means "made him over to" or gave him completely
                 up to.

                 a] Samuel was like Isaac, an offering completely given to
                    God with nothing held back.

                    GEN 22:2  "Then God said, 'Take your son, your only son,
                    Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah.
                    Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the
                    mountains I will tell you about.'"

                 b] Samuel was like a "firstfruits" offering.

                    EXO 34:26  "Bring the best of the firstfruits of your
                    soil to the house of the LORD your God."

                    i] he was the first of her children offered to God with
                       no guarantee to Hannah that she would have others, as
                       the firstfruits offering was given to God with no
                       guarantee that more crops would follow.

                   ii] he was the best she had to offer, her only son that
                       she had prayed for and longed for.

                  iii] he was followed by other children as the firstfruits
                       were followed by more crops.

                       1SA 2:21  "And the LORD was gracious to Hannah; she
                       conceived and gave birth to three sons and two
                       daughters. Meanwhile, the boy Samuel grew up in the
                       presence of the LORD."

                       *This is as the LORD said in Malachi:

                       MAL 3:10  "'Bring the whole tithe into the
                       storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test
                       me in this,' says the LORD Almighty, 'and see if I
                       will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour
                       out so much blessing that you will not have room
                       enough for it.'"

              2) She extolled the LORD (1SA 1:27; 2:1-10).

                 a] She testified about her answered prayer (1SA 1:27).

                 b] She prayed and praised the Lord (possibly publicly)
                    (1SA 2:1-10).

                    i] for His deliverance

                   ii] for His holiness

                  iii] for His knowledge

                   iv] for His power

                    v] for His judgment

              3) She continued to worship regularly.

                 1SA 2:19  "Each year his mother made him a little robe and
                 took it to him when she went up with her husband to offer
                 the annual sacrifice."


        1. It's not wrong to ask for something in prayer many times until an
           answer is given, either "yes" or "no".

           a) See the parable of the unrighteous judge (LUK 18:2-8).

           b) See Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane (MAT 26; MAR 14; LUK 22,
              especially verse 43, where He apparently gets His answer with
              the coming of an angel to strengthen Him).


              2CO 12:8  "Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it [the
              thorn in his flesh] away from me."

              PAUL GOT HIS ANSWER:

              2CO 12:9  "But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you,
              for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will
              boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that
              Christ's power may rest on me."

        2. We should give our best to the LORD.

        3. We should pray about infertility because God is sovereign    over
           the womb.

           a) He opens it.

              1) GEN 29:31  "When the LORD saw that Leah was not loved, he
                 opened her womb, but Rachel was barren."

              2) GEN 30:22  "Then God remembered Rachel; he listened to her
                 and opened her womb."

           b)  He closes it.

              1) GEN 30:2  "Jacob became angry with her and said, 'Am I in
                 the place of God, who has kept you from having children?'"
              2) 1SA 1:5  "But to Hannah he gave a double portion because he
                 loved her, and the LORD had closed her womb."

              3) 2SA 6:23  "And Michal daughter of Saul had no children to
                 the day of her death" [because she despised David's

           c) His will may be circumvented if we are not very careful to
              bathe our every action in prayer and follow the Spirit's
              prompting; we may end up 1) without God's best or 2) bringing
              needless heartache upon ourselves.

        4. God loves a cheerful giver.

           2CO 9:7  "Each man should give what he has decided in his heart
           to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a
           cheerful giver."

        5. God has a perfect timetable for the events of our lives.

           ECC 3:1  "There is a time for everything, and a season for every
           activity under heaven..."

 III. What fruits of the Spirit can we see in her?

     A. love

     B. patience

     C. faithfulness

     D. self-control

  IV. Memory Verse: 2CO 8:2,3 " Out of the most severe trial, their
     overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich
     generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able,
     and even beyond their ability."


Added to Bible Bulletin Board's "Kathy Capoccia's Sunday School Lessons for Young Adults" by:

Tony Capoccia
Bible Bulletin Board
Box 119
Columbus, New Jersey, USA, 08022
Websites: www.biblebb.com and www.gospelgems.com
Email: tony@biblebb.com
Online since 1986