Provoking Hannah

We are studying the book of 1 Samuel in church, and I found the following dialogue helpful in bringing Hannah’s situation to life. Hannah was barren and could not have any children. Her husband had a second wife named Peninnah who did have children. The Bible tells us that Peninnah kept provoking Hannah until she wept and would not eat. Dale Davis in his commentary on 1 Samuel imagines the following conversation where Peninnah flaunts her children in front of Hannah. The dialogue begins with Peninnah speaking.

– Now do all you children have your food? Dear me, there are so many of you, it’s hard to keep track.

– Mommy, Miss Hannah doesn’t have any children.

– What did you say, dear?

– I said, Miss Hannah doesn’t have any children.

– Miss Hannah? Oh yes, that’s right – she doesn’t have any children.

– Doesn’t she want children?

– Oh yes, she wants children very, very much! Wouldn’t you say so, Hannah? [In a low aside] Don’t you wish you had children, too?

– Doesn’t Daddy want Miss Hannah to have kids?

– Oh, certainly he does – but Miss Hannah keeps disappointing him; she just can’t have kids.

– Why not?

– Why, because God won’t let her.

– Does God not like Miss Hannah?

– Well, I don’t know – what do you think? Oh, by the way, Hannah, did I tell you that I’m pregnant again?! You think you’ll ever be pregnant, Hannah?

You can just imagine how deeply a conversation like that would have hurt Hannah. And we’re told that this went on year after year. You can read the whole message on this section of Scripture here:  God’s Purpose in Prayer


  1. Sharon Gamble says:

    I can’t imagine being one of two or more wives in any situation, but with a cruel and tormenting fellow wife….life would be intolerable. Somehow reading this dialogue made me “see” Hannah’s hurt so much more. I am suddenly very grateful for monogamy!!!

  2. John Ayan says:

    Hi there,
    Well after reading this, the passage takes on a different perspective. Elayne and I tried for 5 years to get pregnant and, after we/she did, she had a miscarriage. She was devestated! God is good all the time, however. It wasn’t long after, our Joy was born! That’s why she got that name.

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