And he (Elkanah) had two wives: the name of one was Hannah, and the name of the other Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children…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. But to Hannah he would give a double portion, for he loved Hannah, although the Lord had closed her womb. And her rival also provoked her severely, to make her miserable, because the Lord had closed her womb…
And Elkanah knew Hannah his wife, and the Lord remembered her. 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.”
Now when she had weaned him, she took him up with her, with three bulls, one ephah of flour, a skin of wine, and brought him to the house of the Lord in Shiloh…And she said,” O my lord! As your soul lives, my lord, I am the woman who stood by you here, praying to the Lord. For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition which I asked of Him. Therefore I also have lent him to the Lord; as long as he lives he shall be lent to the Lord.” I Samuel 1:2,4-6,19-20,24-28
Hannah longed to share a child with the man she loved, but instead she bore the heartache of unfulfilled longings. She lived under the shadow of shame for being childless. To make the situation more miserable, her burden was compounded by the hateful gestures of another woman who bore several children with the man she loved.
Oh Hannah, look at all you endured! Such weight upon your shoulders! Such sorrow in your heart! Would the God of Israel remember His faithful servant? He would!
When time had reached its fullness, the Lord opened Hannah’s womb and she finally conceived.
Can you imagine the joy that filled her very being as she felt the flutter of a little life growing within her? Her deep longings were satisfied by a blessed pregnancy. Her shame turned to laughter! Her sorrow to joy! And the scoffing woman who once pinned her with vicious words fell silent.
The new chapter in Hannah’s life was, no doubt, exuberant. Elkanah and his wife savored a long awaited child conceived in love. What a lovely family! I am certain that each day was precious in every way.
This part sounds like ‘happily ever after,’ doesn’t it? But ‘happily ever after’ did not dawn upon this story until Hannah’s next move.
When the child was fully weaned, Hannah gave him back to God. This beautiful woman took the high ground and brought Samuel to the temple to serve the Lord for the rest of his days. Though Hannah held Samuel close, God never had to pry His blessings from her fingers. In an act of worship and honor, she returned the precious firstfruits of her womb. Little wonder, Samuel went on to become one of the most powerful prophets of all time.
Friends, we will never out give God. But isn’t it a beautiful thing when we try? When we return blessings to God, we trust Him with the most precious things in our lives. Our offerings send lovely fragrances heavenward. Oh that we would look for firstfruit opportunities always!