Meaning of Hannah in the Bible: Lessons from Her Story

We find the story of Hannah in the Bible in the Old Testament. She loved God with all her heart and soul. She was a wife of Elkanah and the mother of Samuel. It is evident that God was the one whom her soul loved and she had full confidence in his ability to come through for her no matter what. 

In the Bible, we learn a little about her. Not about her outward beauty (which wasn’t mentioned) but about the quiet dignity she possessed. She was open-faced and honest in her emotions and saw God come through on her behalf over and over again. 

Hannah shows us what true motherhood is all about by lovingly sacrificing what she asked God for. She shows Christian women all over the world that prayer and faith work because they did for her.

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The Story of Hannah in the Bible Summary

The meaning of the name Hannah in the Bible is suitable for the character she displays. It means gracious, graciousness, or favor. 

We find the story of Hannah’s life in the first book of Samuel chapter 1.

Hannah Was the Wife of Elkanah

Now there was a man from Ramathaim-zophim from the hill country of Ephraim, and his name was Elkanah the son of Jeroham, the son of Elihu, the son of Tohu, the son of Zuph, an Ephraimite. And he had two wives: the name of one was Hannah and the name of the other Peninnah; and Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children.

Now this man would go up from his city yearly to worship and to sacrifice to the Lord of armies in Shiloh. And the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were priests to the Lord there. When the day came that Elkanah sacrificed, he would give portions to his wife Peninnah and to all her sons and daughters; but to Hannah he would give a double portion, because he loved Hannah – 1 Samuel 1:1-5

Hannah was one of the wives of Elkanah and lived during the time when men were comfortably doing what they saw as right in their own eyes. There was little fear of God because polygamy abounded in the land. Elkanah, Hannah’s husband was undoubtedly a godly man because the Bible tells us that he would go to the temple yearly to worship the Lord. 

Hannah’s Barrenness

but the Lord had closed her womb. Her rival, moreover, would provoke her bitterly to irritate her, because the Lord had closed her womb. And it happened year after year, as often as she went up to the house of the Lord, that she would provoke her; so she wept and would not eat. Then Elkanah her husband would say to her, “Hannah, why do you weep, and why do you not eat, and why is your heart sad? Am I not better to you than ten sons?” – 1 Samuel 1:5-8

Hannah was loved by her husband but tormented by his second wife, Peninnah because she couldn’t bear children. Although she appreciated the love shown to her by her husband, year after year her womb remained closed. She was a woman of sorrowful spirit. Her husband’s second wife continued teasing caused her to cry day and night and refuse to eat. 

Hannah was certainly depressed and miserable because she couldn’t produce an heir. Hannah’s husband Elkanah was greatly distressed because he truly loved Hannah and felt he was much better to her than ten sons. However, Hannah knew that she wanted to have a child produced by their union. 

What is the Story of Hannah’s Prayer?

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Hannah came up with a plan that she would present to God this time around. Each year they would go to the temple and Hannah decided to pour out her heart to God. What’s amazing about Hannah was that she continued to trust in God and not be consumed by jealousy. 

Then Hannah got up after eating and drinking in Shiloh. Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat by the doorpost of the temple of the Lord. 10 She, greatly distressed, prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly. 11 And she made a vow and said, “Lord of armies, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your bond-servant and remember me, and not forget Your bond-servant, but will give Your bond-servant a son, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and a razor shall never come on his head.” – 1 Samuel 1:9-11

Although Hannah was barren, she prayed a specific prayer to God and trusted Him for the result. Hannah prayed for a son and promised God that he would be dedicated to him all his life. She also added with good faith that his hair would never be cut as a sign that he would be solely given for the Master’s use. What’s interesting about Hannah’s prayer is that as she knelt at the altar she was not audible. No one but God knew what she was praying for. Hannah’s words were a matter of the heart as she poured out her sorrow and great anguish before God. She found out that a true believer’s prayer is not one of boasting or pious sounding words but of faith. 

Now it came about, as she continued praying before the Lord, that Eli was watching her mouth. 13 As for Hannah, she was speaking in her heart, only her lips were quivering, but her voice was not heard. So Eli thought that she was drunk. 14 Then Eli said to her, “How long will you behave like a drunk? Get rid of your wine!” 15 But Hannah answered and said, “No, my lord, I am a woman despairing in spirit; I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have poured out my soul before the Lord. – 1 Samuel 1:12-15

Hannah prayed as one that was well ahead of time, her entire body was so engrossed in approaching the throne of God that the Priest thought she had been drunk. After she expressed her desires and swore she had never been drunk, she left with Eli’s blessing and was never the same again. She was no longer sad, forlorn, or sorrowful. She entrusted her heart to the God of Israel and believed that he was able to deliver what she had asked. 

In the end, her prayer was answered because Samuel means, “asked of the Lord”. Hannah’s prayer is one that is a great example of how to ask God for anything. It was short, simple, and specific and enough to get God’s attention.

Do Your Own Bible Study of Hannah

If you would like to do your own in-depth study of Hannah, make sure to get the free Bible worksheets kits. Use the Character Study Kit to do your own study of any biblical character.

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Lessons from Hannah in the Bible

What beautiful and inspiring lessons can we glean from Hannah? She was a woman tormented, sorrowful and childless yet with faith and trust she believed wholeheartedly in God and became the mother of the Prophet Samuel. 

Hannah a Woman of Prayer

Hannah talked with God all the time. She was confident that He was the God of knowledge. When she prayed at the altar, that certainly was not her first time. She knew exactly what she wanted and prayed to God for the answer. She didn’t need anyone but God to know her requests and she prayed with specificity and made a vow to God. Hannah’s prayer is one to emulate and put to use. She embodies a true believer in God and teaches us to pray with grace.

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Hannah’s Bold Faith

When Hannah finished praying to God, she left a different woman than she first came. She no longer cried day and night, she was not sorrowful and she was not jealous. Hannah boldly believed that God had answered her prayers and she started waiting for his fulfillment. No doubt she began to look forward to and enjoy the relations and love she received from her husband in preparation for God’s answer. Hannah teaches us to believe that God will answer our prayers in his timing and in His way. 

James 4:3 is a great passage in the New Testament that confirms this:

You ask and do not receive, because you ask with the wrong motives, so that you may spend what you request on your pleasures.

Hannah’s prayer was motivated by deep longing and desire for a child, but ultimately her motive was God’s glory. She wanted God to be glorified in her bearing this male child.

Hannah’s Sacrificial Love

What a mother! After everything Hannah went through, the years of waiting, the constant abuse and reminder that she was barren- when God came through for her she fulfilled her promise. Hannah nursed her son until he was weaned and gave him to the Lord. She was a woman of her word and like Jephthah of old, she kept her vow to the Lord. 

What a sacrifice it must have been to give up her son but God rewarded her with five more children. (1 Samuel 2:26) Each year she would visit Samuel and even bring a coat for him. Her love for God was genuine and she proved it in giving back the son he had graciously blessed her with. The Lord had filled her with gladness of heart.

Hannah’s Humility

Hannah’s husband second wife didn’t make things easy for her. She constantly reminded her of her inability to bear children but Hannah never uttered one bad word to her. She could have prayed that God would send her some type of suffering but with humility, she bore the ridicule and even humbly answered Eli, the Priest when he accused her of being drunk. 

Hannah teaches us that our main focus should always be on the Lord so we can treat and answer others graciously. Remember, Hannah’s name means “gracious”. She exhibited the same humility that Jesus showed when he lived among men. Hannah’s humility is also a great lesson in the way we respond to those who speak evil against us.

Hannah displayed a quiet humility that was deeply rooted in her love for God above everyone else. She teaches us about the power of intercession and the importance of taking our hurts to God. She was a true woman of God, gladly bearing her hurt and turning to the only one who could help. I can imagine the joyous occasion when she first found out she was with a child and how her heart leaped for joy. 1 Samuel 2 shows her thanksgiving and praise to God which is quite similar to the Marys’ exultation to God when she carried Jesus. May Hannah’s story encourage you to trust fully in God always.

Hannah in the Bible

Hannah’s son, Samuel became of the great prophets of the Old Testament by anointing King David.

Hannah’s journey, marked by her earnest supplications and unwavering trust in God, serves as an inspiring testament to the power of a surrendered heart. Her story resonates across time, offering valuable lessons on perseverance, gratitude, and the importance of surrendering one’s desires to God’s higher purpose. As we reflect on Hannah’s life, may we find encouragement in our own challenges, knowing that, we too can experience the transformative touch of God when we approach Him with sincerity and trust. Hannah’s legacy endures as a timeless beacon of hope, reminding us that even in our darkest moments, faith can light the way to miracles and blessings beyond our imagination.

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About the Author

Keneesha SaundersKeneesha is a wife, mom, wife, teacher, blogger, and Biblical Counselor. She believes in the sufficiency of Scripture and its transforming power. She likes encouraging Christian women to grow spiritually through her words. You can read about being becoming a woman after God’s own heart and sign up for her free spiritual growth guide.