The book of 1 Samuel begins with the story of a remarkable woman of God named Hannah. As I meditated on her life I marveled at her heart towards God. This woman’s simple faith allowed her to walk with God through her deepest valley. God placed her story in Scripture as an example of how a follower of God walks with Him through adversity. Here are seven lessons we can all learn from the heart of Hannah:
Lesson One: Acknowledge God’s Sovereignty
“the LORD had closed her womb.” (v.5)
The very first thing we learn about Hannah is that she knew ”the Lord had closed her womb.” It’s clear that she and her husband saw her infertility as being under God’s sovereign hand. Without any help from sophisticated theology textbooks or philosophy courses, they were able to see the obvious truth that the being who created the universe must also be the being who orders its every event. Acknowledging God’s control over all our life’s circumstances is the essential first step to a life of walking with Him.
Lesson Two: Affirm God’s Righteousness
Next, we can see that Hannah saw God as righteous. Even in her deepest distress, she never accused God of being unloving or unjust. There is nothing in her prayers to suggest she cried out, “Why did you do this to me?” Her attitude parallels Job 1:22, where the Bible says that Job never “charged God with wrong.” If the first step of walking with God is to accept that He is in control, the second step must be to affirm Psalm 145:17 that, “the Lord is righteous in all his ways
and kind in all his works.”
Lesson Three: Keep Following in God’s Ways
“So it went on year by year. As often as she went up to the house of the Lord” (v.7)
When confronted with deep soul pain, many people make the choice to walk away from God. Not Hannah. Year after year, she remained faithful to worship Him, even if it meant traveling to Shiloh with another woman who delighted in making her miserable. She could have feigned illness, or could have outright refused to go. Instead, she continued to obey God’s commands year after year after year, fully knowing how hard the road of obedience sometimes was.
Lesson Four: Go to God With Your Pain
“She was deeply distressed and prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly.” (v.10)
Acknowledging God’s sovereignty and righteousness and remaining faithful to Him does not mean we have to stuff away our pain or pretend it doesn’t hurt. God is a loving Father and He both understands our pain and desires that we pour out our heart to Him. Hannah, David, even Jesus in the Garden freely poured out their pain to God. He always received them, and He will always receive us. We can freely pour out our heart to God.
Lesson Five: Ask God to Intervene
O Lord of hosts, if you will indeed look on the affliction of your servant…” (v. 11)
Trusting that God knows best does not mean we do not ask for our desires. God does not answer to Hannah, “Why are you asking me for a child?” For that matter, can you remember anytime God reprimanded anyone for asking Him for a good thing? No, that is not the way of a loving Father with His children. Part of walking with God is putting our requests before Him every day.
Lesson Six: Trust God With All Your Heart
I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life (v. 11)
Hannah’s vow here is not an example of mere crass bargaining with a deity. No, it is a mighty expression of her faith. Hannah declares to God that she knows that He can open her womb, and that she is more than happy to respond to His grace with her faith in dedicating this still future child to Him.
Lesson Seven: Let Your Joy in God Transcend Your Own Desires
Lastly, Hannah’s song of joy in 1 Samuel 2 shows us that her joy in God transcended her own desire to keep her son by her side. There is no hint of regret or misgiving in dedicating her beloved son for the sake of the Kingdom. She rejoices in God and sings:
My heart exults in the Lord;
my strength is exalted in the Lord.
My mouth derides my enemies,
because I rejoice in your salvation.
There is none holy like the Lord;
there is none besides you;
there is no rock like our God.
May we all strive to have a heart like Hannah that exults in the Lord everyday as we walk with Him.