Text: I Samuel 1:4-20
Hannah’s story has a bit of everything in it – politics, drinking, and sex. That’s right, the three things we are told not to talk about in church. And it’s right there – in the Bible. Maybe you didn’t hear it because you were supposed to be listening to a story from the Bible – the Holy Book. Sometimes I wonder if we have so sterilized religion and scripture that we can’t and don’t hear just how openly and honestly it speaks to all aspects of our humanity. But it’s all there – in Hannah’s story.
Hannah’s story starts with politics – family politics and cultural politics. From the opening verses of the first chapter of I Samuel, we are informed that Hannah’s husband, Elkanah, is from a distinguished family line; and that he is a man of some means because he has two wives. We know nothing about these wives, however, except for their names and their respective reproductive statuses. Peninah has children; Hannah does not. From the brief sketch, we can presume a number of things: First, since barrenness (and it was always assumed that the problem was with the woman) was considered a source of disgrace in the ancient world, Hannah lived under a cloud of shame. Those around her probably wondered what she had done to deserve such a punishment from God. For certain, this seems to be the case with her co-wife Peninah, who, the story tells us, “to make her miserable, would taunt her that God had closed her womb.”