Introduction: So far this quarter we have explored the prayers of
Jesus, Moses and Job. Are there any women in the Bible whose
experience can teach us about prayer? This week the title of our
lesson turns our attention to two of the most blessed mothers in the
Bible. Because of the amount of material involved, we are only going
to be able to cover Hannah in this study. Let’s jump in and see what
can we learn from this saint!
- Hannah’s Heartbreak
- Let’s read 1 Samuel 1:1-2. Do you see a problem here? What
is it? (One wife could not have any children.)
- Wives, do you see a problem with Elkanah having two
wives? What do you see? (The problem with two or more
is rivalry. Here we have one wife who is apparently
not able to have children.)
- What was the common view in the Bible about not being
able to bear children? (Read Genesis 20:17-18. Not
being able to have children was considered to be a
judgment from God. Genesis 30:22-23 calls it a
- Read 1 Samuel 1:3-5. What is Elkanah’s attitude towards
Hannah? (He both loves her and feels sorry for her because
she does not have any children.)
- What do you think Peninnah’s attitude is towards
Elkanah giving Hannah a double portion?
- Does Hannah deserve favored treatment?
- Could you work up some righteous anger about
this if you were Peninnah? (If anyone deserved a
double portion, it would be the wife who bore
all the children! I’m sure Peninnah was steamed
- How does this issue of God’s judgment on
those women who cannot have children play
in here? (Peninnah probably thought this
was a moral issue too! She was morally
superior to Hannah.)
- Do you like people to show you sympathy instead
- Did you notice that Peninnah seems to have many
children? How does that play in the relationship
between the two wives?
- Do you think Hannah was more attractive than
Peninnah? (Odds are a woman who has had many children
will not be as trim as one who has not had any
- If this speculation of mine is true, what else
gets thrown on the fire of rivalry between the
- Let’s summarize. What factors we have in play in this
family problem? (Beauty, love, God’s judgment against
Hannah, rivalry, jealousy, God’s blessing in children.
This is a pretty potent brew!
- Read 1 Samuel 1:6. Put yourself in Hannah’s place. What
kind of mental attitude would you have?
- We have discussed the mental attitude of Peninnah towards
Hannah. Do you think you would you be like Peninnah if
you were in her place?
- Read 1 Samuel 1:7-8. Notice two more important clues about
family dynamics here. The yearly worship seems to trigger
Peninnah’s harassment of Hannah. Notice also Elkanah
asking whether he is worth more to Hannah than ten sons.
How important a factor is Elkanah in the ongoing
harassment? (Elkanah is well-meaning, but not very wise.
Since the yearly worship seems to trigger the harassment,
this points to the “double portion” given to Hannah as a
major problem. The fact that Elkanah says that Hannah
possesses him (as opposed to Peninnah), reveals a strongly
- How can we trade “well-meaning” for wise in our
- Any mental health professionals here? What is the
impact of long-term (v.7: “year after year”)
harassment? (Continual harassment creates mental
- Verse 7 tells us that Hannah wept and would not
eat. Have you ever been that upset? How upset is
a person who reaches that point?
- Is this a dysfunctional family?
- The Promise
- Read 1 Samuel 1:9-11. This is no doubt a “valley” in
Hannah’s life. Her suffering is at its height. Suddenly,
she is filled with resolve, she stands up, and goes to the
place of worship to pray. What is her promise to God?
- What does it mean that “no razor” will ever be used
on his head? (This is the “Nazarite vow.” See Numbers
6:1-5. It means that the person is separated out and
especially dedicated or consecrated to God. John the
Baptist and Sampson are high profile men who were
“Nazarites.” Hannah is making a special pledge for
her coming son.)
- Notice she is asking not just for a child, but for a
- Why would she want a son to give away? What would
motivate her to make that prayer?
- What do you think about her son being raised in
this dysfunctional family? How would Peninnah’s
children treat him? (Hannah could have many
reasons for her offer to give the boy back.
Perhaps this is a lesson in sharing our
blessings. Perhaps it was “bribe” to God.
Perhaps this speaks to the “judgment” issue. She
is under “judgment” because she cannot have
children. She tries to show she is a good
person by dedicating her son to the Lord.
Perhaps it is simply the shame of her situation
that troubles her the most, and having a boy,
even if you give him back, will take away the
shame. Perhaps she is concerned about him being
raised in this household.)
- Read 1 Samuel 1:12-14. You are in the pit of despair,
praying to God, and the High Priest calls you a drunk! Why
would Eli assume she was drinking as opposed to fervently
- Does this suggest something about the women who came
to the temple to pray? (Eli’s sons were evil. They
used to sleep with the women who helped in the place
of worship. ( 1 Samuel 2:22) Therefore, Eli is used
to thinking the worst.)
- Read 1 Samuel 1:15-18. What impact does her prayer and
Eli’s blessing have on her mental state?
- The Answer
- Read 1 Samuel 1:20-23. Why do you think Hannah stayed
home from these worship trips until after Samuel was
weaned? (I think it was hard for her to go. She was
probably tempted to renege on her promise.)
- Read 1 Samuel 1:24. Hannah does not renege on her promise
to God. How long do you think she waited? (Wycliffe Bible
Commentary cites II Maccabees 7:8 for the information that
Hebrew women would wean their children after three years.)
- The Prayer
- Read 1 Samuel 2:1. How has Hannah’s attitude changed? Is
her mental health restored?
- Is it “OK” to pray to God for the healing of our
minds, instead of just our bodies? Is it “OK” to pray
for help in family relationships?
- Read 1 Samuel 2:2. What element do we find in Hannah’s
prayer that was in Jesus’ model prayer? (Compare Matthew
6:9-10. This is the praise element of prayer. Not thanking
God for what He has done for us, but praising God for who
- Read 1 Samuel 2:3-8. How would you describe the God that
Hannah talks about in these verses? (She sees God as the
“Great Equalizer.” A God who helps those who are
struggling and who brings down the arrogant.)
- Read 1 Samuel 2:9-10. How do we prevail according to this
prayer? How do we succeed in life? (By faithfulness to
- We started out saying that Hannah was a great mother. What
do you think made her great?
- Why do you think God chose her to be the mother of
- Was it the mental distress she suffered?
- Was it being part of a dysfunctional family? (I have
noticed in life that children of “well-to do”
families are often worthless. While children of poor
families are driven to succeed. Hannah saw God as
rescuing her from her terrible situation. I feel
confident this supercharged her with love, gratitude
and devotion to God. What better mother could a
future leader and prophet of Israel have than that?)
- Next Week: Prayers of Penitence: David.