So it went on year by year. As often as she went up to the house of the LORD, she used to provoke her. Therefore Hannah wept and would not eat. And Elkanah, her husband, said to her, “Hannah, why do you weep? And why do you not eat? And why is your heart sad? Am I not more to you than ten sons?”
After they had eaten and drunk in Shiloh, Hannah rose. Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat beside the doorpost of the temple of the LORD. She was deeply distressed and prayed to the LORD and wept bitterly. And she vowed a vow and said, “O LORD of hosts, if you will indeed look on the affliction of your servant and remember me and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a son, then I will give him to the LORD all the days of his life, and no razor shall touch his head.”
As she continued praying before the LORD, Eli observed her mouth. Hannah was speaking in her heart; only her lips moved, and her voice was not heard. Therefore Eli took her to be a drunken woman. And Eli said to her, “How long will you go on being drunk? Put your wine away from you.” But Hannah answered, “No, my lord, I am a woman troubled in spirit. I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have been pouring out my soul before the LORD. Do not regard your servant as a worthless woman, for all along I have been speaking out of my great anxiety and vexation.”
Comment: As her husband, Elkanah tried to comfort Hannah by asking her if it wasn’t better to have him rather than ten sons. But I think we can understand that she wanted both! And this was more true when her ‘enemy’ kept taunting her year after year. So on this particular year she after no doubt a painful session of bullying she went into the worship place and silently poured out her heart to God. During her prayer she made a potentially very emotionally costly vow. The watching old priest got it wrong and accused her of being drunk. She excused herself by claiming that not only had she not drunk strong wine but not even the watered down wine which was commonly drunk with meals. She didn’t mention her childless estate but stated ‘great anxiety and vexation’. I wonder if Eli worked out what was going on?
Prayer: Help me not to be a bully nor to jump to wrong conclusions.