HANNAH’S STORY AND SONG
What’s happened since last week’s reading? We’ve jumped ahead 150 or so years. The Israelites are in the Promised Land. They consist of 12 tribes which don’t always get along. “Judges” have ruled over them with mixed results. We’re heading towards the time of the Kings of Israel…which will bring us to King David, and from his family ‘tree’ the promised Messiah will come!
Hannah’s story and song: 1. Hannah is a beloved wife for whom childlessness is a heavy burden. (Infertility was even seen as a sign of God’s dis-favor.) She goes to the worship place at Shiloh (the Temple in Jerusalem doesn’t exist yet.) She pours out her anguish to God. The Priest, Eli, misunderstands her; and then blesses her.
2. Hannah makes a vow to the Lord: If God gives her a child, she will dedicate her son to God’s service. (What a “nazirite” vow means is fuzzy.) When Samuel is born and weaned, she places him in the care of the temple priest, where he will be raised to serve God. Why would someone who wanted a child this much, give him up like this? There used to be a time when many Roman Catholic families, for example, ‘gave’ one of their children to be a priest or a nun. How do we help our children recognize God’s calling for their lives? How are we open to God’s call?
3. Chapter 2 of this book starts out with a joyful poem/song that celebrates what God has done and is doing. (There are numerous examples, like “Moses/Miriam’s Song” in Exodus 15 and “Mary’s Song” in Luke 1. (Hannah’s Song is echoed in Mary’s song.) Notice the ‘reversals’ in this song: God’s reign evens the score between powerful/weak, rich/poor, the full/the hungry. How does this word of scripture help address some of the inequalities or injustices of today?
4. This is another story in scripture where a childless woman plays a key role in the story of God’s people, and where a ‘miraculous’ conception and birth results! (Think of Sarah and Isaac; Elizabeth and John the Baptist, and Mary and Jesus.)
5. What happens when you open up to God and pour out your complaints and your longings? Do we have to work at getting God’s attention on our struggles? Do our prayers change God? Or do they change us? Or do they change the situation?
6. Many of the personal stories in scripture focus on a person’s vulnerability. How is Hannah vulnerable? To what are we vulnerable? How are our leaders, CEOs, candidates vulnerable? How do we treat vulnerability in the church? In this society?