The opening of 1 Samuel introduces us to a mighty woman of God named Hannah. Little did she know what an impact her seemingly insignificant life would play in blessing the whole nation of Israel. Early on in the book, we find that she was facing two huge problems–her sterility and persecution from her husband Elkanah’s other wife, Peninnah. During this age, having children was considered a huge blessing because children were the parents’ assurance they would be cared for in their elderly years and would carry on the family legacy.
Although this was a religious family who regularly worshiped, Peninnah was very ungodly in her attitude toward Hannah and demeaned her every opportunity she got simply because she had plenty of children, but Hannah had none. 1 Samuel 1:6 implies there may have been a religious component to the persecution and Hannah was seen as being cursed by God because “the Lord had shut up her womb.” However, being a bigamist household, jealousy may have also played a part. Sometimes when you have a calling on you, “religious” people will despise you when they assume things about you based on outward appearances.
But Hannah’s response to her problems revealed her godly character. She didn’t harden her heart against the Lord and stop worshiping him or blame him. Her problems led her closer to God–as they should do for us if our relationship with God is genuine. Hannah knew God was the ultimate solution to her problem. Her persecution drove her to passionate prayer in Shiloh, where the tabernacle was. But isn’t it great today that because of Jesus we don’t have to travel as far as Hannah did to cry out to God, since he tabernacles with us as we worship in spirit and in truth, our bodies being the temple of the living God.
In Shiloh, Hannah made her plea with a promise to God that if he gave her a son, she would dedicate him to the service of the Lord. And when she received an additional blessing from Eli the high priest, who originally misunderstood what she was doing, Hannah got the peace she sought. It’s interesting to note that this incident was symbolically prophetic. Shiloh in Hebrew has the same meaning as shalom–peace. So Hannah found peace in a city named “Peace” and the city’s name back then pointed to the prophecy of the coming Messiah (see Gen. 49:10).
She soon had Samuel and fulfilled her promise to God after Samuel became old enough to stop breastfeeding him. After turning Samuel over to Eli, she broke out in a prophetic prayer of praise to the Lord, exalting Jehovah for how he lifts up his saints above those who persecute them or who despise them while he brings low their persecutors. The climax of her prayer was a prophetic word about the Messiah and the end of days–
The adversaries of the Lord shall be broken to pieces; out of heaven shall he thunder upon them: the Lord shall judge the ends of the earth; and he shall give strength unto his king, and exalt the horn of his anointed. 1 Samuel 2:10
What God did for Hannah, he can do for us. When we stay faithful in times of persecution by seeking the Lord’s face to fulfill our godly desires, embracing his peace in that moment, and waiting for his outcome, when it does manifest itself we should not be surprised if in the midst of thanking him and exalting him for his mighty works that he may give us a prophetic word of some kind.