Hannah and Peninnah Part 1
Updated: May 24
1 Samuel 1:1-28
Although Hannah’s story is the primary focus of this scripture (Don’t worry, we will be talking about this godly woman next.), there is a lesson, as we read about Peninnah. The first thing that comes to mind when I think of Peninnah is “mean girl”. (Truthfully there was another word that popped into my mind first, but it is inappropriate to write inside a bible study.) Having experienced the struggle of infertility, including two miscarriages, before I was blessed with my two beautiful healthy children, I can relate to the heartbreak that Hannah experienced. I’m thankful I did not have a Peninnah in my life to rub salt in my wounds. It was sometimes painful enough having people who loved me, with the best intentions, try to give me “words of comfort”. (Side note: If you have a loved one who has just experienced a miscarriage, telling them “It’s for the best”, is probably not what they want to hear at that moment.) Let’s explore, what may have caused Peninnah to act so cruelly toward Hannah. My guess is that much of it stems from jealousy and her own insecurities. From what we read in the scripture, it seems like Hannah was the favorite of their husband Elkanah. I can imagine how irritated Peninnah felt when she saw Hannah getting the double portion of meat and other ways Elkanah may have shown her more affection. She took out her feelings on Hannah, taunting her with the one thing she had over Hannah, which was also the one thing Hannah desired the most. As women, we have the opportunity to lift each other up or tear each other down. Let’s be careful to not let our own feelings of jealousy and insecurity cause us to attack or judge other women. Let’s lift each other up. Marriage is hard. Motherhood is hard. Life is hard. It is so much better to journey with authentic girlfriends by your side that will lift you up, laugh with you and cry with you, especially in your darkest times. Surround yourself with these women and be that woman to others. If you do have a “Peninnah” in your life, you may not be able to control their words and actions, but you can control how they affect you. The old adage “Hurting people, hurt people” is true and their actions against you, most likely have more to do with them, than with you. Jesus tells us to “love our enemies” (One of his most difficult commandments, for sure) but it is ok to set up healthy boundaries with toxic people. Love them, pray for them, but be cautious of letting their words and actions affect your emotional well-being.
1. Have you ever had a Peninnah in your life? How did you handle it?
2. How can we love our enemies while still establishing boundaries to protect our emotional well-being?
3. What authentic female friendships in your life are you thankful for?
4. Write down some things you can do this week to foster those relationships.
If you feel like you are missing authentic female relationships in your life right now, pray for God to bring a special friend into your life and write down one thing you can do this week to reach out in this area (For example: inquire about women’s small groups at your church, reconnect with a dear friend you have lost touch with).