Hannah, a Godly Mother (1 Samuel chapters 1 and 2)

Mother’s Day Sermon

Hannah, a Godly Mother (1 Samuel chapters 1 and 2) Prepared and Preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, Ohio on Sunday, May, 10, 2020

The mother has an important part in God’s plan. Would Samuel have been born apart from Hannah’s prayers?

The story is told of William C. Burns, the man who mightily blessed Hudson Taylor and Murray McCheyne, of how when he was only a boy of seventeen he visited the city of Glasgow with his mother for the first time in his life. The mother suddenly lost her boy in the crowd and after many anxious moments discovered him in an alley with his head buried in his hands, sobbing with a broken heart.

“What ails you, lad?” asked the Scottish mother. “Oh, Mither, Mither,” said the country boy, “the thud of these Christless feet on the way to hell breaks my heart.” One can understand how he grew up to be the mighty revivalist of Scotland and China.

—Alliance Weekly[1]

Prayer, what does it matter? Seeking the Lord, who cares, dependence upon the Lord, not that important, is it? Well, obviously I think all of these things in our lives are very important. Prayers, seeking the Lord, dependence on God are important as they affect our whole life. But when you are a parent these affect more than you, but your children, even if your children are not born yet. Unfortunately, in my ministry I have worked with children who haven’t had godly parents. Unfortunately, I have worked with children who have had absent parents. It is always refreshing to see a good family. It is refreshing for me to see a family that puts God first. I know there are many families in this church that seek the Lord, depend upon God and have a vibrant prayer life.

I am not the only one who thinks that prayer and seeking the Lord are very important, in the Old Testament there was a woman who sought the Lord and she was rewarded because of this. I know as soon as I mentioned the Old Testament you thought of Hannah in 1 Samuel. But for those of you who haven’t thought of Hannah, she is the one I am thinking of. Hannah was a very godly woman. I want to talk about her for a few minutes and I intend to show you that she was a godly mother and because she was a godly mother she gave birth to one of the greatest Old Testament prophets. The prophet Samuel ordained King Saul and King David, Israel’s first two kings. Because of Hannah we have the Old Testament narratives of first and second Samuel. Let me explain this as we walk through chapter 1. But let me add a note, a very important note: As I talk about 1 Samuel 1 I will talk about Hannah’s devotion to the Lord and her husband’s support. My challenge is that you also are devoted to the Lord. But just because you are devoted to the Lord this doesn’t mean that your kids will also grow up to be godly. If you have an adult or teenage child that you are struggling with it is easy to blame yourself. But I know of parents that have been and are very godly and yet their children rebel.

My theme:

Hannah went to the Lord with her need and so should we.

We will read 1 Samuel 1 as we talk about it.

  • Let’s talk about Hannah’s devotion to the Lord.
    • Let’s read verses 1-8: Now there was a certain man from Ramathaim-zophim from the hill country 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. He had two wives: the name of one was Hannah and the name of the other Peninnah; and Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children. Now this man would go up from his city yearly to worship and to sacrifice to the Lord of hosts in Shiloh. And the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were priests to the Lord there. 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, but the Lord had closed her womb. Her rival, however, would provoke her bitterly to irritate her, because the Lord had closed her womb. It happened year after year, as often as she went up to the house of the Lord, she would provoke her; so she wept and would not eat. Then 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?”
    • In the first couple of verses we have an introduction to the passage. We have a little bit about their lifestyle. Hannah was married to Elkanah. Elkanah had two wives.
      • It is most likely from context and wording that Elkanah was married to Hannah first. But when Hannah could not have children he took a second wife named Peninnah. Hannah means “grace” and Peninnah means “ruby.”
      • It was important back in those times for a man and woman to be able to have children. Back then children grew up and were expected to take care of their parents as they grew older. Children helped with the family business as well.
  • I believe we still expect children to help take care of their parents as they get older. My dad set a very good example for me. I remember many Saturdays watching my dad fix his mom’s car, fix the plumbing in the basement of her house, fix the flooring, electric and much more. Then, my grandmother lived with us later as well.
  • The IVP Bible Backgrounds Commentary shows that a barren woman would often be shamed/discarded, or ostracized, or given a lower status. Mesopotamian prayers and legal texts show that this was common throughout the middle east.
  • So, the text shows us that Hannah was barren. This was a big deal. It was tragic.
  • As we talk about Hannah’s commitment to the Lord, we must also talk about Elkinah’s commitment to the Lord. Verse 3 shows that Elkinah would take his family to Shiloh to worship and make sacrifices. He gave sacrifices to his two wives and to his children.
  • Now, this was a big commitment. Shiloh was about 15 miles from Jerusalem and Shiloh was about a two day journey. Now many of you are thinking, “Why Shiloh? What about Jerusalem?” I am glad you asked. At this point Jerusalem had not yet been conquered by King David. So, at this point the Ark of the Covenant, Israel’s temple and worship center were in Shiloh.
  • But as stated, it was a two day journey. How are you guys doing taking your family to church? When I was a kid we went to church several times a year but sometimes only two or three times a year. We would go to church on Mother’s day because my dad knew that was what mom wanted.
  • I know it is hard to get up on Sunday mornings, the devil makes you extra tired. But it was a two day walk for them!
  • Now you may think: “It was only once a year.” You are right, this is only talked about once a year. But it was at least 4 days of travel and they probably stayed over a week. Then there was the cost of the sacrifices.
  • So, men take a lesson from Elkanah—lead your family in worship.
  • Verse 5 shows that Elkanah loved Hannah more. But also that “the Lord had closed her womb.”
  • Major principle: The Lord is in control. I was at a doctor’s office and there was a sign—“Physicians treat, God heals.”
  • Verses 6-8 show the pain that Hannah experienced being barren. Peninnah is described as a rival. She would provoke Hannah as Hannah had no children. It is possible that she provoked Hannah because Elkanah loved Hannah more.
  • So, the Scriptures show that God controls the womb and now Hannah believes that. She believes it so much that she spends extra time in prayer about a son.
  • Hannah prays.
    • let’s read verses 9-18:
    • Then Hannah rose after eating and drinking in Shiloh. Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat by the doorpost of the temple of the Lord. 10 She, greatly distressed, prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly. 11 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 son, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and a razor shall never come on his head.” 12 Now it came about, as she continued praying before the Lord, that Eli was watching her mouth. 13 As for Hannah, she was speaking in her heart, only her lips were moving, but her voice was not heard. So Eli thought she was drunk. 14 Then Eli said to her, “How long will you make yourself drunk? Put away your wine from you.” 15 But Hannah replied, “No, my lord, I am a woman oppressed in spirit; I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have poured out my soul before the Lord. 16 Do not consider your maidservant as a worthless woman, for I have spoken until now out of my great concern and provocation.” 17 Then Eli answered and said, “Go in peace; and may the God of Israel grant your petition that you have asked of Him.” 18 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.
    • She prays for a son. She prays so intensely that Eli, the priest, thinks she is drunk. She is praying with her mouth but her lips are moving without sounds coming out.
    • Now, Hannah prays for a son but also makes a vow. If the Lord gives her a son, she will dedicate him to the Lord his whole life, and no razor will touch his head.
    • Even beyond the Bible vows were common in the ancient Middle East: usually these went to a deity. This includes Hittite, Ugaritic, Mesopotamian, and less often, Egyptian. In Ugaritic literature King Keret makes a vow in requesting a wife who could produce offspring. In return he offered gold and silver corresponding to his bride’s weight.
    • Now, that is the Nazirite vow which is usually a temporary vow but she promises that Samuel will have that vow his whole
    • It is not that this was uncommon: gifts of children to the temple are evidenced in Sumerian texts from the beginning of the second millennium.
    • Have you ever wanted something so very badly? Well, Hannah did in this case so she went to the One who could ultimately provide it.
  • The Lord rewarded Hannah’s vow
    • Let’s read verses 19-20.
    • 19 Then they arose early in the morning and worshiped before the Lord, and returned again to their house in Ramah. And Elkanah had relations with Hannah his wife, and the Lord remembered her. 20 It came about in due time, after Hannah had conceived, that she gave birth to a son; and she named him Samuel, saying, “Because I have asked him of the Lord.”
    • God provided a baby and they name him Samuel. So, Hannah follows through and after the child was weaned she brings him to the temple.
    • So, Samuel was probably two to three years old when he was dedicated to the temple.
    • I read this and think, “That is amazing, she dedicates her son to serve in temple service his whole life.”
    • I am thinking it is quite likely there were more people to help raise Samuel than just Eli. And if you want, later on I encourage you to read 1 Samuel chapter 3. That tells about Samuel when he was about 12 years old.
    • But I don’t want Hannah’s dedication to go unnoticed. Mom’s care for their children unconditionally.
    • Mothers are committed, mothers love their children. This mother gave her child up to serve the Lord. She was that committed to the Lord. She knew the Lord will take care of her son.
  • Now, for a minute I want to talk about Elkinah’s support for Hannah.
    • Yes, Elkinah led them to the annual festival, or festivals but he also supported her in her turmoil.
    • Verse 8 is a verse that shows Elkanah’s support. Now we think, “what! What is he saying? He is better than ten sons.” Well it is possible what is meant is “don’t I treat you better than if you had ten sons.” Either way, he is trying to comfort her.
    • Then in verse 23, they have already given birth to the boy and it is time to sacrifice again. But she says, let me stay home until the boy is weaned. And what does Elkanah say? He supports her. He says do what seems best.
    • You know, Hannah made this vow to the Lord to dedicate the boy to God for his whole life. Elkanah could have made the vow invalid. According to Numbers 30:6-15 a husband can revoke a woman’s vow. But Elkanah doesn’t do this. He supports her.
    • They take the boy Samuel to Shiloh to minister before the Lord and Elkanah supports her decisions.
    • How are you guys doing with this? How are you doing with supporting your wife? How are you doing with supporting her emotionally when she may be going through hard times? How are you doing supporting her decisions?
    • I know many men who are unsupportive. I heard a counselor say it is possible that for a long time a marriage is dead. The two are living together but simply fulfilling the needs of life. That is not what God meant for in marriage. Marriage is supposed to be joyful and we are supposed to support each other.
    • I know that many of you are great supports for your wife as well.


There is great value in raising godly children. This value starts when moms and dads are seeking the Lord at home.

A mother in New England was helping pack a box to be sent to India. Her son, aged four, insisted on putting in an offering all his own, a little leaflet entitled “Come to Jesus.” His name was written on it with the little prayer, “May the one who gets this soon learn to love Jesus.” When the child’s leaflet reached that far-off land it was finally given to a Hindu priest who was teaching the missionaries the language. He took it without looking at it, but on his way back to his mountain home he thought of the leaflet, took it out, and read the writing on the outside.

The child’s prayer so touched him that he was then eager to read further. He soon gave up his idols and became a devoted missionary to his own people. Fifteen years after that, American missionaries visited his mountain village, and there found the converted Hindu priest with a congregation of fifteen hundred people who had learned to love Jesus as their Saviour, through the influence and teaching of that leaflet.

That 4 year old had to have learned it from his mother and father. We need godly mothers like Hannah. We need supportive fathers. Unfortunately, it is far too often that the mother teaches about faith and not the father. In this case it was Hannah who spent time in intense prayer, it was Hannah who made the vow, it was Hannah who went through the turmoil. But at least Elkanah was supportive.

Praise God for godly mothers. Praise God for a mother’s work.

A little boy looks up at you,

With eyes opened wide.

He puts his trusting hand in yours,

And something stirs inside

He leads you to the window,

Where you stand and stare …

A robin hops out on the lawn,

But you didn’t see it there.

Your mind is deep in thought;

The years are racing past.

A small hand moves in yours …

“Why do they grow so fast?”

Soon you’ll watch him go off to school,

So full of promise and hope;

And suddenly you can’t speak,

For the lump that’s in your throat.

Time will pass so quickly;

The days will turn to years.

You’ll treasure every moment;

All the laughter and the tears.

One day he’ll meet that special girl,

And want her for his wife.

He’ll take her hand in his,

And build a brand-new life.

Suddenly … your thoughts come back,

To all the living he’s not yet done.

You whisper a grateful prayer …

And embrace your tiny son.

—Patricia J. White[2]

I pray that you will seek the Lord in your life as Hannah did.

I do understand that for many of you this mother’s day may be sad. You have lost your mother, she has passed away. My prayers are with you. Or, maybe you have not been able to have children. Or, maybe you are single, you have a gift of celibacy. There is certainly such a thing as spiritual children. These are adults and children that you mentor and take on a parental roll with. And praise God for that. My prayers are for God’s comfort.

Let’s pray

Happy mother’s day

[1]Tan, P. L. (1996, c1979). Encyclopedia of 7700 illustrations : A treasury of illustrations, anecdotes, facts and quotations for pastors, teachers and Christian workers. Garland TX: Bible Communications.

[2]Tan, P. L. (1996, c1979). Encyclopedia of 7700 illustrations : A treasury of illustrations, anecdotes, facts and quotations for pastors, teachers and Christian workers. Garland TX: Bible Communications.

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