Eternal God, with all that is within me, I bless your name. Your ways are from of old, your works are ever new.
Read 1 Samuel 2:1–11
2 Then Hannah prayed and said:
“My heart rejoices in the Lord;
in the Lord my horn[a] is lifted high.
My mouth boasts over my enemies,
for I delight in your deliverance.
2 “There is no one holy like the Lord;
there is no one besides you;
there is no Rock like our God.
3 “Do not keep talking so proudly
or let your mouth speak such arrogance,
for the Lord is a God who knows,
and by him deeds are weighed.
4 “The bows of the warriors are broken,
but those who stumbled are armed with strength.
5 Those who were full hire themselves out for food,
but those who were hungry are hungry no more.
She who was barren has borne seven children,
but she who has had many sons pines away.
6 “The Lord brings death and makes alive;
he brings down to the grave and raises up.
7 The Lord sends poverty and wealth;
he humbles and he exalts.
8 He raises the poor from the dust
and lifts the needy from the ash heap;
he seats them with princes
and has them inherit a throne of honor.
“For the foundations of the earth are the Lord’s;
on them he has set the world.
9 He will guard the feet of his faithful servants,
but the wicked will be silenced in the place of darkness.
“It is not by strength that one prevails;
10 those who oppose the Lord will be broken.
The Most High will thunder from heaven;
the Lord will judge the ends of the earth.
“He will give strength to his king
and exalt the horn of his anointed.”
11 Then Elkanah went home to Ramah, but the boy ministered before the Lord under Eli the priest.
- 1 Samuel 2:1 Horn here symbolizes strength; also in verse 10.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good!’1
How come Hannah sounds so pleased, when she has just left her small son to serve the Lord under Eli? The secret lies in her belief that she has been lifted by God out of a powerless situation (barrenness – a source of shame) and has been empowered to live as a mother. Hannah’s song is a reflection on power and powerlessness. Other women in Scripture (e.g. Miriam, Deborah and Mary) reflect theologically and express it in song,2 but here, ‘the privilege of providing the main theological introduction to the whole account of the history of the Israelite monarchy is given to Hannah’ – which has to be noteworthy!3 In verses 3–5 we can see echoes of the proud, arrogant words she endured from Peninnah and her declaration that she has borne seven children is a way of expressing the perfect situation. (Hannah eventually had other children; v 21.)
This change of status in her life makes her exult with every fiber of her being, as she praises God for bringing deliverance and as she recognizes that human boasting is a waste of time because the Lord acts in ways we don’t expect. She, of course, has no inkling that her son will be used by God in bringing what has been an oppressed, powerless nation (in Judges) to become the liberated and unified nation provided through David.4
Most of us have known a moment in which great joy floods our hearts – because of the birth of a child, or the wonder of a beautiful sunset, or, more mundanely, the huge relief that the parking lot has an empty space! But what do we do with that joy? Is it fleeting, only to be immediately forgotten as life moves on, or do we stop and reflect as Hannah does here, and turn it into heartfelt worship?
Why not make a special effort to reflect and worship next time you feel joy?
Almighty God, your Word reminds me that nothing can separate me from your love. Thank you for that assurance.
1 Ps 136:1, NLT 2 Exod 15; Judg 5; Luke 1:46–55 3 Evans, 2004, p30 4 Mary Evans, 1 and 2 Samuel, NIBC, Paternoster Press, 2000, p20
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