Thursday after the Fourth Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Scripture: 1 Samuel 1:1-20 (NKJV)
1 Now there was a certain man of Ramathaim Zophim, of the mountains of Ephraim, and his name was Elkanah the son of Jeroham, the son of Elihu, the son of Tohu, the son of Zuph, an Ephraimite. 2 And he had two wives: the name of one was Hannah, and the name of the other Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children. 3 This man went up from his city yearly to worship and sacrifice to the LORD of hosts in Shiloh. Also the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, the priests of the LORD, were there. 4 And whenever the time came for Elkanah to make an offering, he would give portions to Peninnah his wife and to all her sons and daughters. 5 But to Hannah he would give a double portion, for he loved Hannah, although the LORD had closed her womb. 6 And her rival also provoked her severely, to make her miserable, because the LORD had closed her womb. 7 So it was, year by year, when she went up to the house of the LORD, that she provoked her; therefore she wept and did not eat. 8 Then Elkanah her husband said to her, “Hannah, why do you weep? Why do you not eat? And why is your heart grieved? Am I not better to you than ten sons?”
9 So Hannah arose after they had finished eating and drinking in Shiloh. Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat by the doorpost of the tabernacle of the LORD. 10 And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed to the LORD and wept in anguish. 11 Then she made a vow and said, “O LORD of hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your maidservant and remember me, and not forget Your maidservant, but will give Your maidservant a male child, then I will give him to the LORD all the days of his life, and no razor shall come upon his head.” 12 And it happened, as she continued praying before the LORD, that Eli watched her mouth. 13 Now Hannah spoke in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard. Therefore Eli thought she was drunk. 14 So Eli said to her, “How long will you be drunk? Put your wine away from you!” 15 And Hannah answered and said, “No, my lord, I am a woman of sorrowful spirit. I have drunk neither wine nor intoxicating drink, but have poured out my soul before the LORD. 16 Do not consider your maidservant a wicked woman, for out of the abundance of my complaint and grief I have spoken until now.” 17 Then Eli answered and said, “Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant your petition which you have asked of Him.” 18 And she said, “Let your maidservant find favor in your sight.” So the woman went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad.
19 Then they rose early in the morning and worshiped before the LORD, and returned and came to their house at Ramah. And Elkanah knew Hannah his wife, and the LORD remembered her. 20 So it came to pass in the process of time that Hannah conceived and bore a son, and called his name Samuel, saying, “Because I have asked for him from the LORD.”
Not only is Hannah childless, but her rival, Penninah, “provoked her severely, to make her miserable.” And this torment, both in her conscience from the shame of being without child, and outwardly from Penninah, does not last only a short time. We are told that this torment went “year by year.” Further, having poured out her heart to the Lord and having made a vow to give the child to lifelong service to the Lord, she is even tormented by the priest Eli, who charged her with drunkenness.
There are many who, having endured years of seemingly unanswered prayers and who face continual torment, would forsake God, blaming Him for the trouble that they are experiencing. But not so with Hannah. In this Hannah shows her true and enduring faith. Certainly she wanted her prayers answered in the affirmative; her weeping and fasting are evidence of this. But amidst all this torment she does not abandon her Lord, but clings to Him.
These events have taken place and have been recorded for our benefit, for they are a testimony to what great faith truly is. Even her name, Hannah, which means “grace”, is a revelation to us, for our prayers are answered by the grace of God. When we suffer torments, grace is the one thing we truly desire. We desire to be in the good graces of our Lord Jesus so that He might lift our torment and restore us. So with our sin and guilt, our Lord lifts these from us with the words of the Absolution and removes our torment through His promises.