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1 Samuel 2:1-11: Hannah’s Song of Praise
Hannah has suffered the distress of childlessness and the scornful abuse of Elkanah’s other wife, who has children. But then Hannah is blessed with a son and Samuel is born. Hannah’s joy is unbounded, her joy is complete. These are some of the happiest days of Hannah’s life. As Samuel grew, Hannah’s love for Samuel grew. But, constantly in the back of her mind was her vow to God, “And she vowed a vow and said, “O Lord of hosts, if you will indeed look on the affliction of your servant and remember me and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a son, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and no razor shall touch his head.” (1 Samuel 1:11).
Hannah was a godly woman. She was a loving mother. I’m sure during the early days, she must have had thought in her mind, ‘Does God really expect me to give my son to Him, for all the days of his life? Does God know what this means to me? Does He really understand how I feel about giving up my only son?’ God understood. He knew the pain of giving up a son because He had also made a vow, back in eternity, of giving up His only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus.
Hannah was sending Samuel to a good place, a welcoming place, into the care of Eli the priest, the servant of God. God would send His Son into a fallen world of hatred and rejection, to be abused and mocked by the servants of Satan.
Samuel would know safety and security under the protection of God’s servant, a life of privilege and blessing. Jesus had no-where to lay down His head, no place to call His own, raised to a life of depravation, of hatred and pain.
Samuel would live to a ripe old age. Jesus would be cut down in His prime, nailed to a cruel Roman cross.
Samuel would become a great example of faithfulness, but Samuel was still a sinner. Jesus, in spite of everything He endured, the torment and the temptation, remained perfect in thought, word and deed.
Hannah must have thought, ‘Surely there must be another way.’ God knew all along that there was no other way to provide salvation for sinners. Jesus is the only way. Jesus is the only one ever to fulfil the law of God. His spotless life was the only sacrifice good enough. God knew what the cost of salvation would be to Himself and to His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Hannah’s love for Samuel enabled her to give him up. For her, it was the deepest act of love to dedicate Samuel to God for his life. The deepest act we can do for our loved ones is to commit them to God in our prayers, in our example, as we seek to live for the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ. The greatest thing we can do for our loved ones is to dedicate them to the Lord.
As Hannah packed her bags and headed off to Shiloh, taking Samuel with her, it was with a measure of sadness but also with joy in the knowledge that there could be no better thing for him than a lifetime of dedication to God. So, she was able to say, “So now I give him to the Lord. For his whole life he shall be given over to the Lord.’ (1 Samuel 1:28). Is that your desire for your loved ones, for your children?
Hannah prays this prayer of thanksgiving to God. There are 4 distinct parts.
- Hannah praises God for His sovereignty.
She is moved to begin with words of praise. Even as she’s parted from the son she loves, she knows it’s ultimately for his good. She finds strength in the Lord. Hannah is weak, frail and saddened but she finds strength in the Lord. She gladly acknowledges it was God who overcame her barrenness. God’s power is greater than circumstances. He is always loving and faithful with me, therefore, we can trust Him.
- Hannah praise God for His character.
“There is none holy like the Lord:
for there is none besides you;
there is no rock like our God.”
1 Samuel 2:2
God has no rivals in His purity. God alone is perfect. He alone is the one who has done all things well. David also acknowledges this, “This God – his way is perfect.” (2 Samuel 22:31a). Look to the Lord alone, the One who sustains us. When we cry to Him, He always answers. He is the rock, the solid foundation on which we can build our lives. We can lean upon the grace of God, in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Hannah also declares God’s glorious omniscience,
“Talk 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.”
1 Samuel 2:3
Hannah knew God wasn’t ignorant of her situation or the cost of her sacrifice. Hannah’s faithfulness was rewarded by God. This barren woman was only not only rewarded with Samuel, but six other children. Seven children in all – the Bible’s number of fullness and perfection. We too have an omniscient Saviour, one who has felt all our heartaches, trails and difficulties, all our joys. Our Saviour has been through every battle we are likely to go through. Jesus is aware of everything we are going through. He promises not only to keep us but to reward our faith. Hannah was a barren woman. We live in barren times. Are you concerned for your own children in these wicked days?
- Hannah praises God for His transforming power.
We see this in verses 4-8, where she presents three different example of God turning the tables. Our God is the God who transforms and turns things around. We see a turning around of strength,
“The bows of the mighty are broken,
but the feeble bind on strength.”
1 Samuel 2:4
Very often, we can feel defeated by our circumstances. It seems to us that the powers of darkness are those with the bows in their hands, and the church are those who are stumbling. Hannah reminds us God is sovereign and supremely able to turn things round in a moment.
The things of this world do not satisfy. Real peace can only be found in the Lord Jesus. Jesus says, “Blest are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.”
Those 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.
1 Samuel 2:5
Hannah may be speaking about Elkanah’s other wife here. We don’t know anything more about her. But I also think that Hannah is not only praying and praising, she is prophesying as well. I believe she is speaking about the children of God, that they will always prosper. The Lord Jesus is still building His Church. Through His death and Resurrection, the Lord Jesus Christ is still bringing many to glory. Do we really believe that God can overcome the indifference that we see around us? God can still bring blessing out of barrenness. Humanly speaking, it was impossible for Hannah to have a child, but with God, all things are possible.
Verses 6-7 confirm His great authority and sovereign choice,
“The Lord brings death and makes alive;
He brings down to the grave and raises up. The Lord sends poverty and wealth;
He humbles and He exalts.”
1 Samuel 2:6-7
The very next breath that you breathe will be because God gives it to you by His sovereign will.
Verses 8-10 outline His sovereign grace in salvation.
“He raise up the poor from the dust
and lifts the needy from the ash heap;
He seats them with princes
and makes them inherit a throne of honour.
He will guard the feet of his faithful servants.”
1 Samuel 2:8-9a
What greater assurance do we need, than the Lord will guard the feet of His saints. If you are trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ, that is you.
There is a serious note as well, a sad note. For those who refuse His grace, things are much different. We read on and see,
“The wicked will be silenced in the place of darkness,
those who oppose the Lord will be broken.
The Most High will thunder from heaven;
the LORD will judge the ends of the earth.”
1 Samuel 2:10
All protests, all criticism, all opposition will finally be silenced when they come face to face with the God of eternity. Hebrews 10 says, ”If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgement and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.” (Hebrews 10:26-27). These are fearful word. But that is the reality for those who refuse the grace of God. I trust that there are none amongst us here who are turning away from the grace of God.
- Hannah praises God for His ultimate purpose.
As well as praising, Hannah is also prophesying. “He will give strength to his King and exalt the horn of the anointed.” (1 Samuel 2:10b). Hannah is speaking about the king, but Israel has no king yet. She speaks about an anointed one, a Messiah, one chosen and sent by God to establish His kingdom. Hannah wouldn’t have known the full implications of what she is saying. How could she? A king for Israel was in the distant future. But by the Spirit, Hannah is proclaiming the coming of the King of Kings, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, the One anointed and chosen by God to redeem His people from their sins.
Centuries after Hannah spoke her great prayer of praise and prophecy, her song is mirrored, confirmed by Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, as he also rejoices in song at the imminent arrival of the Messiah. The one that Hannah prophesied has come. In Luke 1 we read, “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because He has come and redeemed His people. He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his father David.” Zechariah has confirmed what Hannah prophesied. The Lord Jesus Christ came, and He came to redeem His people from their sins as He died on Calvary’s cross for the sins of those who will trust in Him.
Are you trusting God through the trials and difficulties, those things that you don’t understand, just as Hannah did? Is that your song? Do you have a song of praise and thankfulness? Do we have Hannah-like faith? Are we ready to trust God’s providence, even when we don’t fully understand it? Are we looking to Christ, the horn of our salvation?
Are you praising God for His sovereignty in your life? Are you praising God for His character, the one who is gracious, loving, faithful and forgiving heavenly Father? Are you praising God for His transforming power that has turned your life around and set you on the narrow path that leads to life? Are you praising God for His ultimate purpose in sending the Lord Jesus Christ that we might be saved and go to be with Him for all eternity?