The Burden Of Hannah
I Samuel 1:9-15 says, “So Hannah rose up after they had eaten in Shiloh, and after they had drunk. Now Eli the priest sat upon a seat by a post of the temple of the LORD. And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the LORD, and wept sore. And she vowed a vow, and said, O LORD of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the LORD all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come upon his head.
And it came to pass, as she continued praying before the LORD, that Eli marked her mouth. Now Hannah, she spoke in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard: therefore Eli thought she had been drunken. And Eli said unto her, How long wilt thou be drunken? Put away thy wine from thee. And Hannah answered and said, No, my lord, I am a woman of a sorrowful spirit: I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but have poured out my soul before the LORD.”
We come to a time in Israel’s history in which they were one the brink of an awesome revival! The nation of Israel was in terrible shape. Samuel would prove to be the link that connected the time of the judges to the time of the kings for the nation of Israel. The time of the judges was a dark time for the nation of Israel. They would experience revival and then fall away; revival and then fall away; revival and then fall away. God would take Samuel and use him to anoint the nation’s first king, Saul. However, most important, the Lord would use Him to anoint Israel’s greatest king, David. The last thing said of Israel and her spiritual condition prior to this time is found in Judges 21:25: “in those days there was no king in Israel: and every man did that which was right in his own eyes.”
In I Samuel 1, we find a burdened and barren woman, a godly (yet self-centered) husband, a backslidden nation, an immoral and spiritually blind preacher, and a powerful and faithful God! Hannah was barren in a time when barrenness was viewed as the judgement of God. A woman incapable of bearing children was not held in very high regard. Yet, despite her barrenness, she was a virtuous woman who seemed to gain her favor over her husband’s other wife. Regardless of her place in her home, she was still overwhelmed with sorrow due to her inability to bring forth life. She was barren and burdened!
What is a burden?
The word burden can be defined as a weight that is carried, something that is oppressive and worrisome, or it can be a duty or responsibility. We see all aspects of the definition in the life of Hannah. This was certainly a weight that she carried around; it was heavy and hard for her to bear. We see that it was oppressive and worrisome, it completely changed her countenance and made her sorrowful. It was also her duty and her responsibility, it was her calling to be the mother of the prophet Samuel. You see a burden is not a passing thought. A burden is an overwhelming desire that never passes. It will be heavy, it will be a duty, and it will change your countenance.
Her husband was a godly man, but he honestly did not understand that this burden of Hannah’s was from the Lord. He came to her with unbelief and attempted to minimize her burden when he said (to paraphrase), “What is wrong with you Hannah, having a child is not that important. Aren’t I better for you than ten sons?” She had to push past the self-centered criticism of her husband. She would also have to push past the criticism and the mocking of her husband’s other wife who mocked Hannah almost daily.
The nation of that day was backslidden, and there really weren’t any miracles being performed. How difficult it must be to believe God for a miracle in a day where there are no miracles, in a time where there aren’t many believing God for much of anything, with most people just playing church, and God is overwhelming your soul to believe Him for the impossible. She had to push through a backslidden and faithless generation.
Eli was the high priest of that day, and his sons were the priests under him. They were the spiritual leaders of that day, and they were ungodly men. In fact the Holy Spirit would refer to Eli’s sons as “sons of Belial”—they were worthless. In fact, while Hannah was pouring out her soul to the Lord in the temple, Eli was so spiritually blind that he thought she was drunk. Hannah had to push past immoral and ungodly spiritual leaders—preachers.
Today is a lot like it was then. In fact, if you had acted like Hannah did in the temple by weeping before the Lord, everyone would have thought there was sin in your life. They would say, “If you really had faith, you would not be feeling or acting like that. A burden that comes from the Lord weighs heavy on the conscience of a man or woman. It changes the way you act and the way you feel, it drives you to prayer, and it keeps you broken before the Lord. We need more men and women in the earth today with a burden like Hannah’s. There is much ungodliness to push through in this generation, but the blessing of the Lord is worth it!