Scripture:1 Samuel 1:9-28
In biblical times, names had meaning. The name Babel meant “God confused” (Gen. 11:9). The name Bethel meant “house of God” (Gen. 28:17). The name Shiloh meant “peaceful One” (Gen. 49:10). The name Jacob meant “sub-planter,” deceiver or trickster (Gen.27:36). The name Immanuel meant “God with us” (Matt. 1:23) and the name Samuel meant “asked of the Lord” (1 Samuel 1:20).
My grandfather and my father were both named Samuel; Samuel T. Calloway, Sr. and Samuel T. Calloway, Jr. My grandfather told me the story about the birth and naming of Samuel, one of the most respected and revered priest of Israel, who anointed Saul and David as the first and second kings of Israel.
Hannah, the wife of Elkanah, was barren. To be barren in biblical days was considered to be a curse from God. Elkanah was sensitive to Hannah’s plight and whenever it came time to give his wives offerings that he gave Hannah a double portion (v.5).
But even her husband’s sensitivity could not overcome the hate of her husband’s other wife, Peninnah who provoked Hannah severely (v.6). That’s what haters do. They provoke you and try to make your life miserable. If you know somebody like that or have somebody like that in your life, you are in good biblical company.
Peninnah provoked Hannah so that it depressed her (v. 8), so went to the tabernacle to pray (v.9). When haters hate on you, take them to the Lord in prayer. When misery, and depression, and grieve, and anguish fall upon you, take them to the Lord in prayer.
When she arrived at the tabernacle, Hannah was bitter in her soul and crying in anguish (v.10). She was so bitter that she uttered not a word, but spoke in her heart (v.13). She was there for such a long time that Eli, the priest, thought that she was drunk (vv.13-14). But, Hannah told him that she was not drunk, rather she had a sorrowful spirit (v.15). Misery, depression and grieve can leave you with a sorrowful spirit.
Out of her complaint and her grief, she was now telling the Lord all about them (v.16). She prayed that the Lord would look upon her affliction, recognize her condition, that she would find value in the Lord’s sight and that the Lord would not forget her.
She prayed that the Lord would give her a male child. Sometimes you have to pray for a particular response to your situation. Not just pray for your children, but a particular child. Not just every church that’s opened in Jesus’ name, but a particular church. Not just all the members, but particular members. Hannah prayed for a particular response to her situation.
Hannah concluded her prayer with a vow, a promise, or a covenant that if the Lord answered her prayer and gave her a male child that she would give him back to the Lord. Her prayer was a conditional one. If the Lord gave her a male child, she would give the child back to the Lord to be raised as a Nazarite and no razor would come to his head (v.11c).
The Lord kept his promise to Hannah and Hannah kept her promise to the Lord and Samuel grew up to be one of the greatest priests in all of Israel. How much of our greatness can be attributed to a mother’s prayer?
In high school and college, as I was coming of age, I discovered the nightlife. I discovered partying, and clubbing and everything else that went on at night. I remember coming home late and my mother was still up.
“What are you doing up,” I asked her. She said that she was waiting on me to come home and that she could not sleep until I made it home.
If in life, we achieve any great thing, it’s because of a mother’s prayer. My mother prayed for me, had me on her mind, took the time to pray for me, I’m so glad she prayed, I’m so glad she prayed, I’m so glad she prayed for me.
Thank God today for a mother’s prayers. In Jesus’ name, Amen!
The Rev. Dr. Kelvin Calloway is the senior pastor of Bethel AME Church, 7900 S. Western Avenue in Los Angeles.