Praise after Sacrifice
1 Samuel 2:1-11
1And Hannah prayed and said, “My heart exults in the Lord; my horn is exalted in the Lord. My mouth derides my enemies, because I rejoice in your salvation.
2“There is none holy like the Lord: for there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God.
3Talk no more so very proudly, let not arrogance come from your mouth; for the Lord is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed.
4The bows of the mighty are broken, but the feeble bind on strength.
5Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread, but those who were hungry have ceased to hunger. The barren has borne seven, but she who has many children is forlorn.
6The Lord kills and brings to life; he brings down to Sheol and raises up.
7The Lord makes poor and makes rich; he brings low and he exalts.
8He raises up the poor from the dust; he lifts the needy from the ash heap to make them sit with princes and inherit a seat of honor. For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s, and on them he has set the world.
9“He will guard the feet of his faithful ones, but the wicked shall be cut off in darkness, for not by might shall a man prevail.
10The adversaries of the Lord shall be broken to pieces; against them he will thunder in heaven. The Lord will judge the ends of the earth; he will give strength to his King and exalt the horn of his Anointed.”
11Then Elkanah [and Hannah] went home to Ramah. And the boy was ministering to the Lord in the presence of Eli the priest.
That last few days have been ones of personal examination of my own prayer life, inspired by a conference about prayer I attended on Saturday. That Monday morning should bring some serious time of meditation upon Hannah’s prayer is not an accident. God has plans in even the tiny details. Hannah’s prayer is brilliant and almost sparkles off of the page. She is honest, godly, and really rather concise considering the gift she has received and is now returning to the Lord. I would have been racked with grief over leaving my son in the hands of Eli instead of raising him myself. But Hannah is looking only to God and that in and of itself is inspiring.
Hannah’s prayer is one of four significant poems in the book of Samuel. The other three are David’s Song of the Bow (2 Sam 1:17–27), his song of deliverance (2 Samuel 22 || Psalm 18), and his last words (2 Sam 23:1–7). All four occur at important junctures in the narrative. Hannah’s prayer prefaces the ministry of Samuel. The Song of the Bow closes the reign of Saul. David’s song of deliverance summarizes his reign, and his last words look beyond his rule to the reign of the perfect King. All of these poems are united by one concept: anointing. They signal that anointed kings (“christs”) are important throughout the book. Samuel is the anointer of kings—both Saul and David. Saul is the first person in Scripture to be called “anointed one”, a title later assumed by David. The Hebrew מָשִׁיחַ becomes the title “Messiah,” or in Greek, Χριστός, “Christ”. Hannah’s prayer prepares the reader for this as she is moved not only to pray in thanksgiving for the gift of a son, but also to prophesy of God’s work that begins with the prophetic ministry of her son and culminates in Jesus, the great Anointed One.
Steinmann, A. E. ©2016. 1 Samuel. (pp. 76–77). Saint Louis, MO: CPH.
There are few details in each verse that demand attention, which I will attempt to point out below.
Vs. 1 & 10 – my horn is exalted – she has been raised to a higher status – verse 1 is about Hannah, verse 10 is prophetic about Jesus
Vs. 2 – Hannah declares the words of Deuteronomy 32 back to God – it is how He described Himself
Vs. 3 – Peninnah isn’t called out by name, but one wonders if these words are about her
Vs. 4-7 – The next verses speak of God as reversing the state of affairs in order to redeem his contrite people and to humble the proud and arrogant. These include seven spheres of human experience: power (2:4), nourishment (2:5a), fertility (2:5b), life (2:6a), the grave (2:6b), wealth (2:7a), and honor (2:7b). In six of these seven reversals the first thought is that God deprives a prosperous person of something, and the second is that he blesses a deprived person. The only time the order is blessing first and then deprivation is in the one that was most relevant to Hannah—fertility (2:5b)—marking this prayer as truly Hannah’s and not a poem from another context inserted by the author into Hannah’s mouth.
Steinmann, A. E. ©2016. 1 Samuel. (pp. 79). Saint Louis, MO: CPH.
Vs. 8-10 – Very closely mirrored in Psalm 113. Almost makes one wonder if the writer of 113 “borrowed” his words from Hannah’s prayer
1Praise the Lord! Praise, O servants of the Lord, praise the name of the Lord!
2Blessed be the name of the Lord from this time forth and forevermore!
3From the rising of the sun to its setting, the name of the Lord is to be praised!
4The Lord is high above all nations, and his glory above the heavens!
5Who is like the Lord our God, who is seated on high,
6who looks far down on the heavens and the earth?
7He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap,
8to make them sit with princes, with the princes of his people.
9He gives the barren woman a home, making her the joyous mother of children. Praise the Lord!
Vs. 10 – straight up eschatological prophecy about the coming Messiah – the exalted King, God’s Anointed
This beautiful song of praise helps us realize that Hannah was a spirit-led theologian! She knew and understood God intimately and declares truth about who He is and who she is. Clearly, Hannah years of pleading before the Lord for a son paid off in a truly deep relationship with God. Her time of fervent prayer was not wasted. She has been given a son and she knows exactly Who provided that gift to her. Her praises are appropriately placed and so very brilliant.