16th October 2020

Hannah and her Sister 

“Hannah was very sad. She wept and wept. She prayed to the Lord. She made a promise to him. She said, ‘Lord, you rule over all. Please see how I’m suffering! Show concern for me! Don’t forget about me! Please give me a son! If you do, I’ll give him back to the Lord. Then he will serve the Lord all the days of his life.’”
1 Samuel 1:10-11 (NIRV)

The story of Hannah in the first two chapters of 1 Samuel is a tale that never fails to inspire. The name Hannah means ‘favoured one’ which seems ironic as the story begins with Hannah not only unable to bear any children, but with her rival Peninnah taunting her constantly. Interestingly, Peninnah’s name means ‘fertile’ or ‘prolific’, which is apt. She is fertile when it comes to bearing children and prolific with her scorn of Hannah (1 Samuel 1:6).

But upset though she is, instead of turning bitter, Hannah takes her problem to God in prayer, and makes a vow, “Please give me a son! If you do, I’ll give him back to the Lord”. You know the rest of the story. The Lord remembers Hannah and she becomes pregnant and gives birth to a son, whom she names Samuel, which means, ‘God has heard’. According to Hebrew scholar Professor Morris Jastrow, Samuel’s name can also mean ‘son or offspring of God’. Both meanings are appropriate, but the latter points to Samuel being a type of Jesus Christ. The similarities are striking. Two male children miraculously born, each one consecrated to God’s service. Both set to become prophets of the nation of Israel.

But if Samuel is a type of Christ, so Hannah is a type of Mary, Jesus’ mother. Both Hannah and Mary describe themselves as “maidservants of the Lord” (I Samuel 1:11 NKJV; Luke 1:38 NKJV). The meaning of Hannah’s name ‘favoured one’ resonates with Mary, who is greeted by the angel Gabriel with the same title in Luke 1:28 (NKJV). And both women of God glorify God with magnificent hymns of praise—Hannah’s culminating in a direct reference to the coming Messiah (1 Samuel 2:10). Such is the similarity between both prayers, that some believe Mary learnt Hannah’s prayer as a girl and spontaneously praised God using words of scripture she already knew by heart.

In the end, both share the same vision, the glory of the earth’s full salvation in Jesus Christ. Who, then, is Hannah’s sister referred to in the title? It is none other than Mary, the mother of Jesus. Not a flesh and blood sister, but nevertheless, a very real sister in Christ.

Prayer
Almighty Father, Jesus said that all the law and all the prophets point to him (Luke 24:27) and so when we look for him there, we should not be surprised to find him. Like Hannah and Mary, let Christ be our vision. In Jesus’ name we pray.
Amen
 

Study by Peter Mill

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About the Author:
Peter Mill is an Elder and the Missions Developer of the National Ministry Team of Grace Communion International in the UK and Ireland. He and his wife, Jackie, are Pastoral Workers for Grace Communion International in Scotland and Ireland.

Local Congregation:
GCI, Edinburgh
Gilmerton New Church
Ravenscroft Street
EDINBURGH
EH17 8QJ

Meeting time:
Saturday 11:00am

Local Congregational Contact:
Peter Mill
Email: edinburgh@gracecom.church

 

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