Empowered through Love

Empowered through Love
Blessing from Hannah-Elkanah Interactions

Elkanah’s interactions with childless wife Hannah empowered her with belief in herself, husband’s love and care, and understanding she could represent the family as led from the heart. Her husband’s love despite apparent barrenness may have contributed to motivating her to seek a child from God. She sought as led from the heart without reservation, found Prophet Samuel as her first child, and enough more children to confirm she was never barren. Her husband supported and stood by her as they fulfilled her vow and received abundant blessing for themselves and humanity.

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Reassured and comforted
Reassured and comforted
Sweet Publishing freebibleimages.org

Hannah and Elkanah interactions leading to the birth and dedication of Samuel provide a message on spousal empowerment through love. Elkanah assigned each of his two wives responsibility to manage the affairs of her sub-family under his care and supervision. When the weight of her apparent barrenness appeared overwhelming for Hannah, Elkanah tried to comfort her by promising to love and care for her enough to make up for childlessness. His show of love in these circumstances may have contributed to motivating her to seek a child from God. Bitter from childlessness, she prayed boldly, without reservation, and vowed to dedicate the child, if God should grant her prayer, to a lifetime of selfless service in the House of God.

Elkanah could have taken advantage of the prevailing law of the land, the Law of Moses, to overturn the vow if he so wished. Instead, he stood by his wife as they fulfilled the vow exactly as she made it.

Child favored by God and people
Child favored by God and people
Moody Publishers freebibleimages.org

Their child from the vow was highly favored by God and people: “And the child Samuel grew in stature, and in favor both with the Lord and men” [1 Samuel 2:26]. He became a prophet at an early age, led Israel spiritually and politically through several decades, thus establishing a link to later generations starting with David that led to fulfillment of the Messiah promise. Furthermore, the couple had more children through Hannah despite her early temporary barrenness. Her husband’s love empowered Hannah with belief in herself, husband’s support, and understanding she could represent the family as led from the heart.

 

Family of Elkanah

Elkanah married two wives. One wife, Peninnah, had children at the time; the other, Hannah, had no child. He apparently managed his family as two sub-families with each woman managing her sub-family. He was the overall family leader but each woman managed the affairs of her side of the family structure. The sub-family for Peninnah consisted of her and her children. In the case of Hannah, however, the sub-family was herself and the weight of childlessness that often overwhelmed her.

Trip Ramah to Shiloh
Trip Ramah to Shiloh
Sweet Publishing freebibleimages.org

Our understanding of the family structure is based on interactions regarding the family’s annual trip to the House of God in Shiloh to worship and offer sacrifice. The trip was planned and managed by Elkanah: “This man went up from his city yearly to worship and sacrifice to the Lord of hosts in Shiloh…” [1 Samuel 1:3]. However, during the event, he subdivided his family into two and delegated leadership of the sub-families to his wives.

This family structure contributed to empowering each woman to make and implement family decisions within the scope of her authority. Our study focuses on Hannah, because the biblical account on the birth and early childhood of Samuel includes important details regarding interactions between Hannah and her husband. As we discuss subsequently, the interactions indicate she felt empowered to manage her affairs without reservation, assured her husband will support her as necessary.

Hannah’s Empowerment

Hannah petitioned God for a child during one of the family’s annual visit to Shiloh. She prayed intensely from her heart and made a vow regarding the life of the child if God should grant her prayer: “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” [1 Samuel 1:11].

Hannah petitions to God in adversity
Petitions to God without reservation
Sweet Publishing FreeBibleImages.org

She made the vow without any fear of what her husband might do about it. After all, the vow was a promise regarding the life and service of their child if God should grant her prayer for a child. Making such a vow indicates she already had a relationship with her husband that assured her he would trust and honor her judgment in such matters. The vow resulted from her personal interaction with God and her husband understood her well enough to go along. Because her previous interactions with her husband showed her she could represent the family within a wide scope, she felt empowered to interact with God as led from the heart without any reservation regarding how her husband may respond.

Her empowerment also is evidenced by her management of the child’s affairs during his early life. First, she made the decision to keep the child at home until he was weaned: “But Hannah did not go up, for she said to her husband, ‘Not until the child is weaned; then I will take him, that he may appear before the Lord and remain there forever’” [1 Samuel 1:22]. Second, she led the official handover of the child to Eli [1 Samuel 1:26–28] and third, she led the praise and worship to thank God for granting her prayer for the child [1 Samuel 2:1–10]. Her husband yielded to her leadership and stood by her in each of these events.

Elkanah Support for Hannah

Stand by her to fulfill vow
Stands by her to fulfill vow
Moody Publishers FreeBibleImages.org

THE VOW Elkanah could have rejected Hannah’s vow but chose to support her. The Jewish law concerning vows [Numbers 30:1–16] gives a husband the authority to overturn a vow by his wife if he so wished. Therefore, if Elkanah did not support Hannah’s vow, all he had to do was reject it the first time he heard about it: “But if her husband truly made them void on the day he heard them, then whatever proceeded from her lips concerning her vows or concerning the agreement binding her, it shall not stand; her husband has made them void, and the Lord will release her” [Numbers 30:12]. But he supported her and stood by her as they fulfilled the vow.

LOVE IN APPARENT BARRENNESS Another evidence of Elkanah’s support for Hannah is he tried to comfort her as he could when they thought she was barren. He showed his support by telling her she should not worry about childlessness and promising he would cover for her everything that she could expect from children [1 Samuel 1:8]: “Hannah, why do you weep? Why do you not eat? And why is your heart grieved? Am I not better to you than ten sons?” Through these interactions, he tried to convey to her that her companionship with him was all he needed. He did not need a child from her in order to love and care for her. In fact, he will love and care for her all the more in order to cover for any love and care she could have expected from children.

Never was barren
Moody Publishers freebibleimages.org

MOTIVATION TO SEEK FROM GOD It is conceivable that Elkanah’s show of love to Hannah in her apparent barrenness contributed to motivating her to seek a child from God. She sought and found. She found Prophet Samuel as her first child. Furthermore, she found more children: so many that we now know her apparent barrenness was only temporary. She was never barren: “And the Lord was gracious to Hannah; she gave birth to three sons and two daughters” [1 Samuel 2:21].

 

 

Summary of What We Learned

A husband’s love and support for his wife could empower and motivate her toward mighty accomplishment. Also could a wife’s love and support for her husband. We find an excellent example in interactions between Hannah and Ekanah, parents of Prophet Samuel.

Elkanah’s interactions with childless wife Hannah empowered her with belief in herself, husband’s love and care, and understanding she could represent the family as led from the heart. Her husband’s love despite apparent barrenness may have contributed to motivating her to seek a child from God. She sought as led from the heart without reservation, found Prophet Samuel as her first child, and enough more children to confirm she was never barren. Her husband supported and stood by her as they fulfilled her vow and received abundant blessing for themselves and humanity.

More Information

Please watch this bible study on video at VIDEO_LINK , listen to or download the audio at AUDIO_LINK . You can also download a PDF copy of the PowerPoint presentation from PDF_LINK.

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