HANNAH: A WOMAN UNDER THE PRESSURE OF DESTINY
So Hannah arose after they had finished eating and drinking in Shiloh. Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat by the doorpost of the tabernacle of the Lord. 10 And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed to the Lord and wept in anguish. 11 Then 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 male child, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and no razor shall come upon his head.”
12 And it happened, as she continued praying before the Lord, that Eli watched her mouth. 13 Now Hannah spoke in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard. Therefore Eli thought she was drunk. 14 So Eli said to her, “How long will you be drunk? Put your wine away from you!”
15 But Hannah answered and said, “No, my lord, I am a woman of sorrowful spirit. I have drunk neither wine nor intoxicating drink, but have poured out my soul before the Lord. 16 Do not consider your maidservant a wicked woman, for out of the abundance of my complaint and grief I have spoken until now.”
17 Then Eli answered and said,”Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant your petition which you have asked of Him.”
18 And 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. NKJV
I am convinced that there are situations in life that won’t change until (and unless) someone does something about them. A time comes in life when you become discontented with the status quo and want to press into all that God had ordained for your life; when you realise that there can be more, that you were born for more. The pressure of destiny is a strong desire to become all that God has purposed for your life. Sometimes, what may appear as restlessness or tension can be the pressure of destiny; when a woman is in labour she is under the pressure of destiny.
Destiny is what God had ordained for our lives before we were born (Ephesians 2:10); It is the purpose of God that we are to fulfill on earth (Acts 13:36); It is the dream of our future that God has given us (like Joseph, Genesis 37). For a Christian, destiny does not mean blind fate, but implies that the individual participates in achieving an outcome that is directly related to him.
HANNAH’S FAMILY SITUATION
Hannah most likely was Elkanah’s first wife and he no doubt loved her. However, he may have taken a second wife called Peninnah because Hannah had no child, however, her coming shattered the peace of his home. Peninnah used Hannah’s unfortunate situation to mock her.
Some of us know how it feels when there’s something you’ve been praying and believing God for, then someone just comes along and has it so easily. You begin to wonder “Why is my own case like this?” Peninnah seemed not to have problem with child-bearing and used her advantage to taunt Hannah. Hannah means ‘GRACE’ or ‘FAVOUR’ but her circumstances didn’t reflect it.
Elkanah had a practice of going to Shiloh for the yearly festivals. Although Mizpah and Shechem were nearer for the family, he chose to go farther because the Ark of the Covenant was at Shiloh. He went to where he was sure to experience the presence of God notwithstanding the distance. Hannah didn’t have to go with him because these festivals were only mandatory for males. Nevertheless, she accompanied her husband despite her predicament. All such trips were occasions for Peninnah to further torment her. Peninnah was a pain in her neck!
A CRUCIAL YEAR
There was a year when Hannah realised that if she did nothing about her condition then nothing would change. She had to make a choice, either to allow her circumstances keep her down or to let her destiny prevail over her circumstances. She realised what was at stake.
To be clear, the Bible doesn’t say that Hannah was barren, rather that the Lord had shut her womb. This is one of those difficult theological issues. Why would God shut the womb of a godly woman like Hannah? Well, in all cases where a womb was shut, or where God deliberately withheld something, it was always for a purpose. The attitude and response of the individual will determine whether that purpose will be fulfilled or not. Remember the case of the man that was born blind. “Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him.” John 9:3.There are situations in our lives that God allows so that His glory can be revealed thereby, but if we do nothing then nothing will happen. Hannah’s closed womb was a deliberate act of God to manifest His glory in her life.
So, on this particular occasion, while everyone sat and ate, “Hannah got up and went to pray.” (1 Samuel 1: 9 NLT). She must have said to herself, I can’t seat here and pretend that all is well, I am going to do something about my situation. Yes, my husband loves me but this is beyond my husband, there are things that a man can do for me but there are things that only God can, this is about my destiny.
It was Shakespeare who said, “To be or not to be, that is the question.” There comes a point when a man must arise. When the Prodigal son came to his senses he said ‘I will arise’. When he did, everything about him changed. Hannah abandoned food. There is time for everything, a time to eat and a time to refrain from eating. A time comes when the pressure of destiny pushes a man into a fast, a time of separation in order to seek the Lord.
PRAYER RELEASES THE MIGHTY HAND OF GOD
In this incident, Hannah was under the pressure of destiny. She stood up and went farther than she had ever gone before; she prayed longer than she had ever prayed before. The intensity of her prayers attracted the attention of Eli the priest. She literarily “poured out (her) soul before the Lord” (1 Sam 1:15). What a description of fervency in prayer! “…The earnest (heartfelt, continued) prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available [dynamic in its working]”. James 5:16 AMP
I believe it was Spurgeon who said that “Prayer is the nerve that moves the hand of God.” Hannah prayed intensely. She came to the point where she even had to make a radical vow. She vowed that whatever God gave to her she would return it back to God. Why do I call it radical? Usually, when people were dedicated to God it was for a period but Hannah said that her own son would be for life; when people took on the Nazarite vow it was only for a season but Hannah said that her son would be for life. Hannah’s prayer touched the heart of God, no wonder that His mighty hand was released for her favour. Overall, what Hannah was saying to God was this – whatever you give me, I’ll dedicate it back to your service. That is very instructive! Many times, God is watching for our attitude. He knows that if He gives us certain things they will become idols to us, so He has to first wean us from that mind-set.
In the unfolding drama of destiny, even an adversary has a place. Peninnah had her nuisance value! She pushed Hannah to her rightful place in life. Hannah would have died unsung, there couldn’t have been a Samuel if this woman didn’t get up from the norm and pray through her dream. When God answered Hannah and opened her womb, nothing else mattered. Samuel, one of the greatest judges and prophets of Israel was the result of Hannah’s fervent and persistent prayer. Oh that someone would know what God has in store for them and vigorously pursue it!