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!

  1. Hannah’s Heartbreak

    1. Let’s read 1 Samuel 1:1-2. Do you see a problem here? What
      is it? (One wife could not have any children.)

      1. 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.)

      2. 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

    2. 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.)

      1. What do you think Peninnah’s attitude is towards
        Elkanah giving Hannah a double portion?

        1. Does Hannah deserve favored treatment?

        2. 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
          about this.)

          1. 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.)

        3. Do you like people to show you sympathy instead
          of respect?

      2. Did you notice that Peninnah seems to have many
        children? How does that play in the relationship
        between the two wives?

      3. 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

        1. If this speculation of mine is true, what else
          gets thrown on the fire of rivalry between the
          two women?

    3. 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!

    4. Read 1 Samuel 1:6. Put yourself in Hannah’s place. What
      kind of mental attitude would you have?

    5. 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?

    6. 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
      biased attitude.)

      1. How can we trade “well-meaning” for wise in our
        family relationships?

      2. Any mental health professionals here? What is the
        impact of long-term (v.7: “year after year”)
        harassment? (Continual harassment creates mental

        1. 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?

      3. Is this a dysfunctional family?

  2. The Promise

    1. 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?

      1. 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.)

      2. Notice she is asking not just for a child, but for a
        son. Why?

      1. Why would she want a son to give away? What would
        motivate her to make that prayer?

        1. 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.)

    1. 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

      1. 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.)

    2. Read 1 Samuel 1:15-18. What impact does her prayer and
      Eli’s blessing have on her mental state?

  1. The Answer

    1. 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.)

    2. 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.)

  2. The Prayer

    1. Read 1 Samuel 2:1. How has Hannah’s attitude changed? Is
      her mental health restored?

      1. 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?

    2. 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
      He is.)

    3. 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.)

    4. Read 1 Samuel 2:9-10. How do we prevail according to this
      prayer? How do we succeed in life? (By faithfulness to

  3. Contemplation

    1. We started out saying that Hannah was a great mother. What
      do you think made her great?

      1. Why do you think God chose her to be the mother of

      2. Was it the mental distress she suffered?

      3. 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?)

  4. Next Week: Prayers of Penitence: David.