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Do You Really Know Me? (Elkanah and Hannah) 

Then said Elkanah her husband to her, Hannah, why weepest thou? and why eatest thou not? and why is thy heart grieved? am not I better to thee than ten sons?

1 Samuel 1:8

READ 1 Samuel 1:1-20.

We aren’t told how long they were trying to have a baby, but it was long enough for Elkanah to marry a second time and have several children with his new wife. We are also told that the length of this complex triangle became a yearly pain for Hannah where she hated going to the temple to worship because each trip she was reminded that God did not answer her prayer for a baby boy. 

Can you see them? Regularly in the temple, but relying on their own strength. They were praying to God, but making their own provision. They were religious but not righteous, regularly hearing the Word but not allowing its power to make a difference in their home. Yet, the biblical narrative sheds light on a different problem, the need for relationship in the midst of pain. 

After a trip to worship, at what appeared to be a family event, Elkanah asked Hannah, “Am I not better to you than ten sons?” Based on her response, the answer was “no!” It was the question of a husband that wants to provide but clearly missed the point of her pain and the source of her strife. He took care of his wife’s physical needs and often gave her extra because she couldn’t bear children. In the husband’s mind, the thing that would make a difference was more of him, not stopping the pain his “new wife” caused or joining his wife in prayer for a son that was so long in the making. 

Hannah clearly wanted more.

There are several things we can learn from this strange love triangle. 

  1. First, don’t assume you know what your spouse needs.  
  2. Secondly, join your spouse in prayer. Hannah was so intent on having a son that when she prayed in the temple, the priest thought she was drunk. If she was that impassioned, then her husband should have been just as passionate about sharing the burden with his spouse. 
  3. Lastly, your provision cannot replace your presence. 

Thought Questions

  • What does your spouse want/need from you? How are you going about providing for him/her? Do you want to fulfill his/her needs, or do you want to satisfy the needs you think he/she needs? 
  • In this story, Hannah prayed alone. How can you ensure that you and your spouse pray together on a regular basis? How can you create an environment that allows for him or her to be open and transparent in prayer?

Life Lessons

  • Sometimes, the best thing you can do to support your spouse is listen. Listen to what they are saying and even what they may not be able to articulate in words. Pray and ask for wisdom to understand and meet your spouse’s needs. 

Further Study

Read Matthew 6:6. Prayer is an intimate experience. How can you share this experience with your spouse while also respecting their personal intimacy with God?