Hannah’s barrenness

(1 Sam 1:1-2 NIV)  There was a certain man from Ramathaim, a Zuphite from the hill country of Ephraim, whose name was Elkanah son of Jeroham, the son of Elihu, the son of Tohu, the son of Zuph, an Ephraimite. {2} He had two wives; one was called Hannah and the other Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah had none.

Hannah is the mother of Samuel, the great prophet-judge of Israel whose ministry spanned several kings. She too was a barren woman. To make things worse, the other wife of her husband, Peninnah was not barren and was provoking her for her barrenness.

(1 Sam 1:6-7 NIV)  And because the LORD had closed her womb, her rival kept provoking her in order to irritate her. {7} This went on year after year. Whenever Hannah went up to the house of the LORD, her rival provoked her till she wept and would not eat.

The Hebrew word for rival is tsarah, which comes from the verb tsarar, which means “to show hostility toward.” The noun form is also translated as adversary or enemy (Lev 18:18).

Hannah’s adversary was Peninnah but we have a far more dangerous adversary, the devil. The name Satan is a transliteration of Hebrew word meaning adversary.

Satan will hurdle towards us the same kinds of insults, discouragements as Peninnah would towards Hannah. In fact, he might have worked in Peninnah’s life to be an irritation towards Hannah.

Like Hannah, a barren person falls into the trap of depression and discouragement. He needs to know who is adversary is and who is behind this depression. He needs to use the name of Jesus to take authority over the situation and command the demons to leave him alone and stop their provocation.

Another way the adversary works is to slow down our progress. When Daniel prayed to God, the answer from God was immediate but the demons slowed down the angel who was delivering the message. Spiritual warfare is very real. Our enemy could be discouraging us or he could be setting up all kinds of obstacles in our path so that we would not be fruitful.

Hannah’s situation was similar to the mother of Samson’s in some regards. God would grant both these women children if they would agree to commit their children to God all the days of their lives and set them apart for God’s work.

(1 Sam 1:10-11 NIV)  In bitterness of soul Hannah wept much and prayed to the LORD. {11} And she made a vow, saying, “O LORD Almighty, if you will only look upon your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the LORD for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head.”

Samson’s mother also agreed that her child would lead a strict Nazirite life.

(Judg 13:2-5 NIV)  A certain man of Zorah, named Manoah, from the clan of the Danites, had a wife who was sterile and remained childless. {3} The angel of the LORD appeared to her and said, “You are sterile and childless, but you are going to conceive and have a son. {4} Now see to it that you drink no wine or other fermented drink and that you do not eat anything unclean, {5} because you will conceive and give birth to a son. No razor may be used on his head, because the boy is to be a Nazirite, set apart to God from birth, and he will begin the deliverance of Israel from the hands of the Philistines.”

A Nazirite (also known as Nazarite, which despite its similarity to Nazareth and Nazarene, it has no actual relation) derives from the Hebrew word pronounced naw-zeer, meaning separated, or consecrated. The word was used to indicate someone who was separated from the general population and consecrated to God. Although Samson is the first Nazirite specifically mentioned in The Bible, there are general references to Nazirites much earlier, at the time of Moses. The Nazirite vow involved 3 things – no alcohol, including all products of the grape vine, uncut hair, and no contact with the dead.

When you are desperate enough to see God bring about fruits in whatever area of your life, you need to consecrate that area to God. It could be your job or business that you consecrate to God telling Him that you would set it apart for His work and not allow any unclean activities to touch it.

Below: Hannah dedicating Samuel to the temple