Follow the link for The literary structure of 1 Samuel 2:1-10
We are finishing up the stories about Hannah in 1 Samuel today. We have covered her prayer for a son, her gift to God of her son and now today we cover her praise to God.
I said when we began this series, that Hannah was a strong and godly woman and I want to take note of this briefly before we get to our passage today in 1 Samuel 2:1-10.
Hannah was a strong woman
- She endured a great deal of testing – her rival wife’s taunting and a husband who didn’t really get it. She put up with a lot.
- She prayed boldly at the tabernacle by herself, which must have been unusual in that day.
- She made a vow to give up her child to God, without talking to her husband first.
- She placed her child under a Nazarite vow, without talking to her husband first.
- She defended her character before the High priest and ruler of the land, when he thought she was drunk. She stood up for herself; she spoke up.
- She named her son, not her husband.
- She decided when to take Samuel to give to the Lord, 3 or more years later, after he was weaned.
- She brought Samuel to Eli and offered him up. Even though both she and her husband were there she is the one who says, “I have lent him to the Lord” – 1 Samuel 1:28.
We already know from the story that her Elkanah loved her, but we can see here that he respected her. Her strength was not a threat to him. He accepted her vow to give up the child who was his son as well; he accepted that the child would be a Nazarite; and he accepted that Hannah would fulfill her vow after Samuel was weaned, saying, “do what seems best to you” -1 Samuel 1:23.
She was a strong woman, but also –
Hannah was a godly woman
- She did not return evil for evil, harm for harm to Peninnah.
- She took her problem to the Lord, she didn’t scheme; she didn’t fight with Peninnah; she didn’t rely on the flesh.
- She knew how to pray boldly and persistently
- She had great faith in God to answer her prayer
- She kept her word, the vow that she made to God.
- She was very generous in her offerings to the Lord
- She gave the gift of her son to serve God forever
- She publicly worshiped and praised God for his goodness to her.
Well, not only was she strong and godly, as we will see, she was a prophet as well. This leads us to our verses for today.
Hannah’s praise to God
I want to point out four things from these verses. And the first is found in vs. 1-2. 1. Hannah thanked God for answered prayer.
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. 2There is none holy like the Lord: for there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God.”
She was reviled for not being able to have a child. She was looked down on. Some would have said that God was punishing her. But God heard her prayer and lifted her up. And in response, she not only brought an offering, and gave her son – she also spoke out words of praise to God, publicly, for all to hear. And notice how wholehearted and personal it is – “my heart . . . I rejoice.”
The phrase “my horn is exalted” is not something we go around saying, but it was a way of talking about one’s strength or victory, like an animal that wins a battle and lifts up its head. It can also refer to having a progeny (1 Chronicles 25:5) which she gained through Samuel.
She confesses her strong faith in a God who is beyond compare:
- there is none holy like the Lord
- there is no God besides God, that is, the one true God
- there is no rock like God
And this should remind us that we should also thank God for answered prayer. We might be quick to ask for prayer, but we need to be just as quick to give praise to God when he acts to save and bless us, and to do so publicly. This is only right and it also encourages and strengthens others when they hear what God is doing.
This is a real theme in the book of Psalms. Here is just one example. Psalm 40:10 says, “I have not hidden your deliverance within my heart; I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation; I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness from the great congregation.” God had helped him and he told others about it. And likewise, we need to make it known how great God is through our public praises before the congregation. Just like Hannah did.
2. God knows about and judges the arrogant. The focus of verses 3-5 is found in verse three.
“3Talk no more so very proudly, let not arrogance come from your mouth”
The enemies of the faithful are the proud and the arrogant. And these are always boasting and talking it up. They lift themselves up over God’s people. This certainly applies to Peninnah, but also more broadly to the Philistines who were dominating and oppressing Israel at this time.
Next we learn something about God that relates to this.
“for the Lord is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed.”
What she is saying is that God knows and hears all that the arrogant say and do and God will weigh, or judge all their words and actions.
And then we have three examples of how God judges by means of reversal, putting down the arrogant and raising up the lowly who look to him.
“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.”
- The militarily strong and the weak change places
- The well fed and the hungry change places
- The woman who can’t have children and the one who can change places.
In each of these cases the arrogant who are lifted up are put down and the lowly who look to God are raised up by the hand of God.
Who are your enemies? Do you have any; those who oppose and deride you? Hannah’s message is clear know that God hears the boasts of your enemies and will act. You can trust God to take care of things.
In verses 6-9 we learn that 3. God is able to judge the powerful. The focus here is found in v. 9 and works its way backwards (in parallel to the material above – see the literary structure), so we will go through these verses in reverse order.
“9for not by might shall a man prevail.”
The enemies of the faithful are powerful in this world’s eyes. But they depend on mere human strength – whether military, social or political. They rely on their own wisdom and resources.
Next we learn something about God that relates to this –
“8For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s, and on them he has set the world. 9He will guard the feet of his faithful ones, but the wicked shall be cut off in darkness”
V. 8 is talking about creation and how God has established the dry land on the waters by means of pillars, as it were. And so she’s saying, God is more than able to take care of his own and judge the wicked, no matter how powerful they may seem to be, because he is the same God who created the world and all that is in it.
And then we have another set of three of examples of God’s judgment that reverses the order of things.
“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.”
God holds the power of life and death. He can raise up and he can put down. Indeed, God can reverse any situation and set things right. The same power that God used to create the world is more than enough to reorder things and bring about justice and righteousness.
Do your enemies seem powerful? Hannah’s message to us is this – God is more powerful than any enemy we have, and he can take care of us.
4. God will use his anointed to bring victory. In v. 10 Hannah looks ahead with regard to her son Samuel and beyond.
“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.”
She sees prophetically that her son will be a judge whom God uses to bring about victory over the Philistines. God will thunder from heaven to defeat the Philistines, just as he does in 1 Samuel 7:10. He is God’s anointed being a prophet, priest and judge.
Not only has God given her a victory over her arrogant and powerful enemies, God will act for all Israel through Samuel.
God will “exalt the horn” of her son and give him victory to lift up the Israelites and to put down the Philistines.
(Samuel was not a “king” or called “anointed.” Israel didn’t technically have a king at this time. This language should be taken like the “prince” and “throne” language of v. 8 in a more generic sense. Israel’s leaders could be called princes, as in Judges 5:15, and a judge ruled – Ruth 1:1 – they decided legal cases and they led in battle. But they weren’t a king like the nations around them had, who had total control of a nation state.)
But her prophetic voice doesn’t just address Samuel. It looks forward to king David, God’s anointed and how God will use him to bless Israel. (The titles of “king” and “anointed” fit David better. God also thunders for David – 2 Samuel 22:14.) And this is where 1 and 2 Samuel is going – the stories of David.
And ultimately her prophetic vision looks forward to the Son of David – Jesus the Christ, or the anointed one.
- For it is only with Jesus that resurrection comes as v. 6 says, “he brings down to Sheol and raises up”, that is from the dead.
- And it is only with Jesus that lasting reversal comes, as he talks about in the beatitudes, when the hungry will be well fed, and the well fed will be hungry – Luke 6.
- And it is only with Jesus that all the earth will be judged as v. 10 says, he will “judge the ends of the earth,” that, is the whole world.
Hannah as a prophet gives us a picture of the future, from Samuel’s adult life all the way to when Jesus returns and rules over the world.