Throughout all the ancient world, motherhood was the aim and ambition of all married women. The worth of a woman was determined by the number of her offspring – mainly male offspring. If a wife was childless, her lot in life was hard. If she bore no children, she alone was blamed. A childless woman was often divorced or, even worse, another wife was added to the household and the childless one’s life became a bitter existence.
Hannah’s life was embittered by the taunts of Peninnah, the woman who shared her husband’s name with her. Even though the Bible tells us that she was the best loved wife of Elkanah, Peninnah, would make fun of Hannah because she had no children, making life almost unbearable.
It is recorded in 1 Samuel that at the great religious festival at Shiloh, Hannah prayed earnestly to God for a child. And she promised God that if He gave her a son, she would consecrate him to the Lord’s service all his life. It was in answer to her prayer that Samuel, the prophet-priest of Israel was born to her.
It is certain that most mothers would surely regret making a promise to give their young child to someone else to raise. I’m almost convinced that Hannah must have been tempted to renege on her promise once Samuel was born. To give birth to a child and raise him for 3-5 years and then give him up to be raised by another must have been agonizing. But Hannah was a woman of her word. When Samuel was weaned – which was probably between three and five years of age -she delivered him to the House of the Lord at Shiloh to begin his service to God. He was now to be raised by Eli, the priest of God in that place.
From the time that Hannah gave Samuel to be raised by Eli, she made a yearly visit, bringing with her a coat that she made for him with her own hands. She loved her dear boy, but she gave him over to the God who gave him to her.
We can learn a lesson from the life of Hannah. The vows or commitments that we make to God must be taken seriously. There’s no doubt that Hannah wept when she left her first born at the House of God. But since she had made that vow to God, she kept her promise. As a result, God rewarded her with more children and a first-born son that faithfully served God his entire life, becoming one of the most beloved rulers in Israel.