Hannah’s name means “grace.” Hannah has been married to Elkanah for a number of years and has not borne him any children, let alone sons. In the culture of that day, barrenness was the worst thing that could befall a woman. To make matters worse, Peninnah, who comes in as a second wife, has children and constantly provokes Hannah. Elkanah tries to console her by giving “double portion” of food, which only makes matters worse with the other wife.
Though Hannah is childless, she is not prayerless. The Law required all Hebrew men to attend the three major religious festivals of the year at the tabernacle at Shiloh and Elkanah would attend and take his wives with him. On one of these visits, Hannah pours out her soul to God and vows that if God gives her a son; she will give him back to the Lord.
As she prays with her lips but not her voice, Eli, the priest thinks she is drunk and rebukes her. Hannah protests her innocence and proceeds to pour out her soul to Eli. Realizing her desire for a child is intense and her spirit is sacrificial in that she wants nothing for herself, Eli assures her that her heartfelt prayer has been heard.
Hannah honoured her vow; after she weaned Samuel, she offered him to the
Lord as promised. She sang a song of joy to the Lord as He had answered her prayer. The Lord did not forget Hannah and blessed her with more children.