When we shared together last week, we touched on an issue which seems to affect every woman’s life at some moment or another and to various extents – insecurity. If you missed that article, I encourage you to read it first, and the comments that followed, as the next few weeks will follow its theme. Thank you to those who share their insights and struggles – you encourage my heart and we learn from each other.
To further complicate matters, wife number two made a special point of taunting Hannah until she was reduced to tears. Since Peninnah had children already, she added insult to injury and basically harassed Hannah. There is a possibility that Peninnah was very jealous of Hannah as we observe from this scripture passage that Elkanah’s love for Hannah was no secret. When they travelled annually to Shiloh for the sacrifices, he would give Hannah a double portion of the sacrificial meal because he loved her. No mention is made of his love for Peninnah. He was also very attentive to Hannah and her sorrow, weeping, and refusal to eat disturbed him greatly. He said to her, “Don’t I mean more to you than ten sons?” (v.8) Somehow, I don’t think this really comforted Hannah too much! Later on, we discover that Elkanah was very supportive and affirmed a crucial decision Hannah made. Even if Hannah felt the security of her husband’s love, which we can only assume, it still was not enough for her. I’m thinking she probably felt a great degree of unworthiness and lack of self-esteem due to her childlessness.
While some women identify personally with Hannah’s pain of being without children, others are able to relate to her struggles from a different perspective. Perhaps you feel unworthy because you bear the brunt of criticism, accusations, or other unkind words. Maybe you share the emptiness of unfulfilled dreams or expectations. Still others may long for a soul mate and wonder why God has not brought that special person into your life. I believe we can all find ourselves in Hannah’s experience on some level and feel some of her pain and insecurity.
“O Lord Almighty, if you will only look upon your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head.” (v.11) This latter statement refers to the Nazarite vow found in Numbers 6:5.