Peninnah was one of the wives of Elkanah. Elkanah’s other wife was Hannah. The Bible says that Peninnah was a mother of many children, but the Lord had shut the womb of Hannah and so Hannah remained childless (1 Samuel 1:2,4-5). Instead of treating Hannah with kindness for her emptiness, Peninnah regarded Hannah, her rival, and provoked her about her barrenness (1 Samuel 1:6). Not only did she do this once, but she did this year after year, so much so that Hannah sorely grieved in her soul to the point that she did not eat (1 Samuel 1:7).
What can we learn from Peninnah?
Many times, we act like Peninnah as well, when God blesses us. We scorn those in need and those who are empty and pridefully provoke them through our thoughts, words and deeds. Let us remember, that besides this mention of Peninnah in a negative light, there is nothing mentioned about Peninnah or of her sons and daughters, but when Hannah cried out to the Lord and the Lord heard her plea, Hannah the childless, turns out to be the mother of Samuel, who is one of the greatest prophets in Israel. Let us not be like Peninnah.
1 Samuel 1:1-7 (KJV)
1 Now there was a certain man of Ramathaimzophim, of mount Ephraim, and his name was Elkanah, the son of Jeroham, the son of Elihu, the son of Tohu, the son of Zuph, an Ephrathite:
2 And he had two wives; the name of the one was Hannah, and the name of the other Peninnah: and Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children.
3 And this man went up out of his city yearly to worship and to sacrifice unto the LORD of hosts in Shiloh. And the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, the priests of the LORD, were there.
4 And when the time was that Elkanah offered, he gave to Peninnah his wife, and to all her sons and her daughters, portions:
5 But unto Hannah he gave a worthy portion; for he loved Hannah: but the LORD had shut up her womb.
6 And her adversary also provoked her sore, for to make her fret, because the LORD had shut up her womb.
7 And as he did so year by year, when she went up to the house of the LORD, so she provoked her; therefore she wept, and did not eat.