As Eli the Priest Watches Hannah Praying in the Temple, He Misjudges Her, Thinking “She Had Been Drunken”

1 Samuel 1:9–18

9 So Hannah rose up after they had eaten in Shiloh, and after they had drunk. Now Eli the priest sat upon a seat by a post of the temple of the Lord.
10 And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the Lord, and wept sore.
11 And she vowed a vow, and said, O Lord of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the Lord all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come upon his head.
12 And it came to pass, as she continued praying before the Lord, that Eli marked her mouth.
13 Now Hannah, she spake in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard: therefore Eli thought she had been drunken.
14 And Eli said unto her, How long wilt thou be drunken? put away thy wine from thee.
15 And Hannah answered and said, No, my lord, I am a woman of a sorrowful spirit: I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but have poured out my soul before the Lord.
16 Count not thine handmaid for a daughter of Belial: for out of the abundance of my complaint and grief have I spoken hitherto.
17 Then Eli answered and said, Go in peace: and the God of Israel grant thee thy petition that thou hast asked of him.
18 And she said, Let thine handmaid find grace in thy sight. So the woman went her way, and did eat, and her countenance was no more sad.

Jerrie W. Hurd wrote:

“Hannah went alone to the temple. . . . There on the steps, she knelt and poured out her soul, fervently weeping.

“Her prayer confirms the purity of her character. She spoke from her heart. . . . Humbly calling herself a handmaid, she placed herself wholly in God’s care and with bold confidence made a covenant: ‘O Lord of hosts, if thou wilt . . . give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the Lord all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come upon his head.’

“In that manner she vowed to consecrate her child to God as Samson’s mother had and as John the Baptist’s mother would, his uncut hair being a sign that he was so consecrated.

“Even in God’s house, she did not find sympathy and understanding. Eli, the high priest, sat by the post of the temple; seeing Hannah praying continually with some agitation, he thought she was drunk and reproved her.

“Hannah’s defense under his tactless criticism is as ingenuous as her prayer. ‘No, my lord,’ she answered. ‘I am a woman of a sorrowful spirit: I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but have poured out my soul before the Lord.’

“Eli, without knowing her request, added his own prayer to hers and seemingly promised her new hope. ‘Go in peace,’ he said, ‘and the God of Israel grant thee thy petition.’

“Hannah went her way, and the scriptures add that ‘her countenance was no more sad.’”

(Our Sisters in the Bible [1983], 64–65.)

Comments