Hannah: The Faithful Mother
John F. MacArthur
Read the story of Hannah in 1 Samuel 1:1-2:21
Studying the life of Hannah yields great scriptural detail concerning a faithful
mother. Hannah first appears in 1 Samuel 1, toward the end of the difficult period
of the judges in Israel. That was a time of moral and religious degeneracy and
political confusion and distress. With the death of Samson, Israel was leaderless
and vulnerable to her enemies, the Philistines. The nation needed a great leader and
a great man, and God needed a great woman to shape that man. Samuel was the
man, and Hannah was the godly mother who, with God's help, influenced his
Hannah had three right relationships in her life that made her a godly wife and
Hannah's Right Relationship with Her Husband
Hannah Worshiped with Her Husband "Now this man [Elkanah] would go up from
his city yearly to worship and to sacrifice to the Lord of hosts in Shiloh" (1 Samuel
Hannah had a devout, God-fearing husband, which always makes any believing
mother's responsibility for bringing up her children "in the discipline and instruction
of the Lord" so much easier and more effective (Ephesians 6:4). Hannah knew she
needed a husband who would provide spiritual leadership and would be an example
of godliness through family worship.
Hannah and Elkanah Loved Each Other "And when the day came that Elkanah
sacrificed, he would give portions to Peninnah his wife and to all her sons and her
daughters; but to Hannah he would give a double portion, for he loved Hannah" (1
As the one who really had his heart and whom he loved, Hannah received a double
portion from Elkanah for the family feast. His gesture was far more than an
emotional response; it was a love of kindness, thoughtfulness, sacrifice, and honor.
Hannah Received Her Husband's Sympathy
"Elkanah her husband said to her, 'Hannah, why do you weep and why do you not
eat and why is your heart sad? Am I not better to you than ten sons?'" (1 Samuel
Hannah was truly blessed by her husband's response. Elkanah knew of the conflict
between Hannah and Peninnah, that it was deliberately intensified by Peninnah, and
that it was a deeply painful and difficult situation for Hannah. But he had a
sympathetic heart and thoughtfully read Hannah's feelings. That enabled him not to
pontificate but simply to ask a question that revealed his shared feelings and
reassured her of his deep love.
Hannah's Right Relationship with God
Hannah Was a Woman of Prayer
Hannah slipped into God's sanctuary and poured out her heart to Him in honest,
open prayer (1 Samuel 1:10-11). Constant, persevering faith was the distinctive
virtue of her praying. Thus Hannah exemplified the spirit of all true prayer warriors;
she stayed with it and did not quit.
Hannah Had Patient Faith
Hannah cast her heartfelt burden on God and refused to remain frustrated (1
Samuel 1:18). That demonstrates genuine, patient faith. Believers with faith like
Hannah's will cast their heaviest burdens on God (1 Peter 5:6-7) and will patiently
go on with their lives, not allowing their deepest concerns to keep them sad.
Hannah Was a Woman of Praise
When God answered Hannah's prayer and gave her a son, her thankful soul
responded with a pure, unbroken stream of praise. Her words, recorded for us in 1
Samuel 2:1-10, are a masterpiece of what genuine praise ought to include.
Hannah's Right Relationship in Her Home
The third major character quality Hannah possessed was a faithfulness to her
responsibilities at home. First that involved a dedication to the new son God had
given her (1 Samuel 1:19-23). Hannah was committed to staying at home to rear
her son and to instruct him in the truths of God, preparing him for the time when
she and her husband would give him to the Lord's service in the temple. Thus she
was not only devoted to her child's welfare in the home, but she also wanted to
dedicate him to God, just as she had promised.
Hannah never really let go of her responsibility to Samuel (see 1 Samuel 2:18-19),
and she was always faithful in her relationships with Elkanah and the Lord, and God
The hope for society rests on the next generation, and what that next generation
will be like depends a great deal on the present actions of godly mothers. Hannah is
certainly a role model of godly motherhood and an excellent example of one who
walked in the footsteps of faith.
Permission kindly granted to Faith & Reason Forum by Crossway Books. Excerpted from In the
Footsteps of Faith: Lessons from the Lives of Great Men and Women of the Bible by John F.
MacArthur. Crossway Books, ©1998.