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Hannah: The Faithful Mother

John F. MacArthur

Read the story of Hannah in 1 Samuel 1:1-2:21

Studying the life of Hannah yields great scriptural detail concerning a faithful mother. Hannah first appears in 1 Samuel 1, toward the end of the difficult period of the judges in Israel. That was a time of moral and religious degeneracy and political confusion and distress. With the death of Samson, Israel was leaderless and vulnerable to her enemies, the Philistines. The nation needed a great leader and a great man, and God needed a great woman to shape that man. Samuel was the man, and Hannah was the godly mother who, with God's help, influenced his character.

Hannah had three right relationships in her life that made her a godly wife and mother.

Hannah's Right Relationship with Her Husband

Hannah Worshiped with Her Husband "Now this man [Elkanah] would go up from his city yearly to worship and to sacrifice to the Lord of hosts in Shiloh" (1 Samuel 1:3).

Hannah had a devout, God-fearing husband, which always makes any believing mother's responsibility for bringing up her children "in the discipline and instruction of the Lord" so much easier and more effective (Ephesians 6:4). Hannah knew she needed a husband who would provide spiritual leadership and would be an example of godliness through family worship.

Hannah and Elkanah Loved Each Other "And when the day came that Elkanah sacrificed, he would give portions to Peninnah his wife and to all her sons and her daughters; but to Hannah he would give a double portion, for he loved Hannah" (1 Samuel 1:4-5).

As the one who really had his heart and whom he loved, Hannah received a double portion from Elkanah for the family feast. His gesture was far more than an emotional response; it was a love of kindness, thoughtfulness, sacrifice, and honor.

Hannah Received Her Husband's Sympathy

"Elkanah her husband said to her, 'Hannah, why do you weep and why do you not eat and why is your heart sad? Am I not better to you than ten sons?'" (1 Samuel 1:6-9).

Hannah was truly blessed by her husband's response. Elkanah knew of the conflict between Hannah and Peninnah, that it was deliberately intensified by Peninnah, and that it was a deeply painful and difficult situation for Hannah. But he had a sympathetic heart and thoughtfully read Hannah's feelings. That enabled him not to pontificate but simply to ask a question that revealed his shared feelings and reassured her of his deep love.

Hannah's Right Relationship with God

Hannah Was a Woman of Prayer

Hannah slipped into God's sanctuary and poured out her heart to Him in honest, open prayer (1 Samuel 1:10-11). Constant, persevering faith was the distinctive virtue of her praying. Thus Hannah exemplified the spirit of all true prayer warriors; she stayed with it and did not quit.

Hannah Had Patient Faith

Hannah cast her heartfelt burden on God and refused to remain frustrated (1 Samuel 1:18). That demonstrates genuine, patient faith. Believers with faith like Hannah's will cast their heaviest burdens on God (1 Peter 5:6-7) and will patiently go on with their lives, not allowing their deepest concerns to keep them sad.

Hannah Was a Woman of Praise

When God answered Hannah's prayer and gave her a son, her thankful soul responded with a pure, unbroken stream of praise. Her words, recorded for us in 1 Samuel 2:1-10, are a masterpiece of what genuine praise ought to include.

Hannah's Right Relationship in Her Home

The third major character quality Hannah possessed was a faithfulness to her responsibilities at home. First that involved a dedication to the new son God had given her (1 Samuel 1:19-23). Hannah was committed to staying at home to rear her son and to instruct him in the truths of God, preparing him for the time when she and her husband would give him to the Lord's service in the temple. Thus she was not only devoted to her child's welfare in the home, but she also wanted to dedicate him to God, just as she had promised.

Hannah never really let go of her responsibility to Samuel (see 1 Samuel 2:18-19), and she was always faithful in her relationships with Elkanah and the Lord, and God honored that.

The hope for society rests on the next generation, and what that next generation will be like depends a great deal on the present actions of godly mothers. Hannah is certainly a role model of godly motherhood and an excellent example of one who walked in the footsteps of faith.

Permission kindly granted to Faith & Reason Forum by Crossway Books. Excerpted from In the Footsteps of Faith: Lessons from the Lives of Great Men and Women of the Bible by John F. MacArthur. Crossway Books, ©1998.