Prayers of the Old Testament
The Prayer of Hannah
Hannah the mother of the prophet Samuel lived during the last days of the Judges of Israel. It was a very turbulent time for God’s people, a season wherein everyone did what was right in their own eyes, making it up as they went along, and having no regard for the law of God or His commandments.
Lawlessness reigned, and men were no longer concerned as to what the will of God was, or what the law of God said, but did as they saw fit, as benefited them, or pleased them in some way.
In other words, it was allot like today except for all the technology and motorized vehicles. Men stray from God. It is a painful truth which we must acknowledge, and knowing it as truth, we must individually do our utmost not to be among those who stray. The way we do this is by continually keeping God’s word in our heart, and trusting the lamp that is the Scripture to illuminate the path before us, and prevent us from stumbling.
Men stumble when they begin to do what is right in their own eyes, rather than remain within the well-defined boundaries of scripture. There has never been nor will there ever be an individual who having walked in obedience to the word and will of God, found themselves far from truth and off in the desert, away from the path of righteousness.
It is rebellion in men’s hearts that leads them to think they know better than God and assumes that by doing what is right in their own eyes they will still reach the same destination as having followed after God would have them follow.
The decline of a nation goes hand in hand with the decline of its spiritual leaders, and we see the sons of Eli, being corrupt and doing things unbecoming of priests. They did not know the Lord, yet they performed the tasks of the temple, out of habit, or due to it being an easy and rewarding career.
Tragically, much of the Old Testament, especially the negative aspects mirror our day and age to an almost eerie degree. Today, as in the days of old we have our own version of the priests of the temple, whether we call them pastors, evangelists or preachers, and many of them, as was the case long ago, do it because they see it as a career rather than a calling.
Many of these men know not God nor do they know the power of God, yet they preach a version of spiritualized humanism which attracts many a soul because humanism requires neither righteousness or holiness of the individual…just a cult of personality and a gift offering once in a while.
As those tasked with upholding the truth, the sons of Eli failed as miserably as many preachers and teachers are failing today. They did not teach truth, they did not preach the whole council of God, they were corrupt men just going through the motions, and because of this the whole of society became more debased, lawless, and vile.
The spiritual condition of those who call themselves God’s people, and the spiritual condition of the nation wherein they reside, are linked and interconnected. When those who ought to be the people of God abandon righteousness, holiness, and even morality, it is only a matter of time before those of the world begin to wax worse.
Judges 2:10-12, “When all that generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation arose after them who did not know the Lord nor the work which He had done for Israel. Then the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and served the Baals; and they forsook the Lord God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt and they followed other gods from among the gods of the people who were all around them; and they provoked the Lord to anger.”
It was within this context that Hannah, the wife of Elkannah – by all accounts a godly man, who nevertheless had another wife by the name of Peninnah – comes before God with an ache in her heart, and a prayer of petition unmatched in passion and emotion.
The crux of Hannah’s heartache was barrenness. In those days being barren was considered a curse for any married woman. Although Elkannah preferred Hannah over Peninnah, Peninnah tormented Hannah for years for not having any children, and not being able to bear sons.
There are many things we can glean from the prayer of Hannah, as well as the attitude and faithfulness of this amazing woman. Without doubt, Hannah is one of the noblest Hebrew women in the entire Bible. Even in her time of sadness and sorrow her faith and commitment to God are unwavering. She comes before God exhibiting not only faith, but an understanding of the divine in an age when her contemporaries had neither an understanding of God, nor a desire to serve Him.
The people of Hannah’s day, just as the priests of Hannah’s day were going through the motions, feigning worship, doing what they considered to be the bare minimum to still remain in God’s good graces, all the while being corrupt and immoral in their conduct and lifestyle.
It takes character to go against the tide, and to remain faithful when others around you are breaking faith. It takes character to intercede and plead with God from a position of hurt and pain, and still have the wherewithal to stand on His promises even when everything suggested the contrary.
Hannah was a woman who stood, and her prayer is a testament to faithfulness and obedience unto God.
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.