Elkanah plays a relatively minor part in the story of Hannah… and Samuel. But, he still proves himself to be a positive example of godly love that goes against the grain of culture.
Elkanah was the husband of 2 wives – Hannah & Peninnah. Peninnah had children; Hannah did not… and this was a source of much tension between the 2 wives. In the culture of Bible times, one of the more important roles a woman could fulfill was to bear children for her husband. If she was not able to do that, she was often despised by society… or ignored by her husband… or treated with disdain by other woman. In fact, in this particular situation, Peninnah would often provoke Hannah because she was unable to have children. As a result, Hannah became very sad and upset each time they went up to worship at the tabernacle at Shiloh.
But Elkanah demonstrated godliness by going against the grain of his culture and showing true love for his wife, Hannah. When they offered sacrifices… and then prepared to eat a meal as part of the sacrifice, Elkanah would give Hannah a double portion of food to show his care for her even though she was unable to bear him children.
Later, God blessed Hannah & Elkanah and allowed Hannah to become pregnant. She eventually gave birth to the great prophet, Samuel.
Some husbands can be insensitive; sometimes it’s because of ignorance, sometimes because of self-centeredness.
But, Elkanah loved Hannah just as she was… wife first. And, if she were never able to have children of her own, he would still – and always – love her.
And, even when Hannah was eventually able to have the child she had long prayed for… and decided to hand that child over to God for His use and service!… Elkanah supported his wife. Surely he did not understand her thought process… yet he supported her anyway.
* God requires our obedience even when we don’t understand all the reasons for doing something.
Elkanah’s story can be found in 1Samuel 1,2.