The Prayer Song of Hannah
1 Samuel 2:1-10
And Hannah prayed, and said, My heart rejoices in the LORD, my horn is exalted in the LORD: my mouth is enlarged over my enemies…

In her prayer of asking Hannah was intent not merely on having a child, but on giving to the service of God a priest, and to the government of Israel a judge, very different from the sons of Eli - a Nazarite, a second and a better Samson. No wonder, then, that when she brought her son to the sanctuary, her prayer of thanksgiving took a large scope, and revealed even a prophetic fervour. What religious poetess has made such an impression as Hannah with one ode? Reproduced in Psalm 113., and yet again in the song of the blessed Virgin Mary, commonly called the Magnificat, it may be said to have continued in devout minds, Hebrew and Gentile, for about 3000 years. The first verse is the introduction, and strikes the key in which all that follows is pitched - a tone of warm and grateful confidence in God. Then follow the praises of the Lord, with some anticipation of better days to come.

I. PRAISE OF JEHOVAH (vers. 2-8).

1. Because of his sublime attributes (vers. 2, 3). "There is none holy as Jehovah." The root idea of holiness is always that of separateness from what is evil or profane. The God of Israel was the Holy One, absolutely unique, immaculate, inviolate, and inviolable. None among the gods of the nations might be likened to him. So he called and required Israel to be a holy nation, i.e. separate from the nations of the world, who are idolatrous and unclean. So under the New Testament the saints are the separated ones who touch not the unclean thing. "Neither any rock like our God." His protection cannot be invaded. His purpose does not vacillate. His power does not fail. He is the Rock of Ages. This was what made Israel unconquerable so long as faithful to God. The "rocks" of the nations, i.e. the gods in whom they trusted, were not as Israel's Rock. "Jehovah is a God of knowledge." Let not the wicked boast proudly. No word of scorn cast at the humble, no haughty glance of the eye, is unobserved by the Lord; and nothing is more certain than that, sooner or later, he will abase the proud. "And by him actions are weighed." In his estimate of human conduct he holds the balances of a perfect equity.

2. Because of his mighty works (vers. 4-8). Ruling in holy sovereignty, God often reverses the conditions of men, lowering the exalted and exalting the lowly. He even kills and makes alive, leads down into Hades, and leads up from it again. Sheol or Hades was no mere pit of extinction from which there could be no uprising. God was able to raise even the dead. Such being his power, what could the boastful effect against Jehovah? What might not the humble hope from him? This is the central thought of Hannah's song, and it is still more finely expressed in that of the blessed Virgin. "He hath showed strength," etc. (Luke 1:51-53). Of the elevation of the despised, celebrated here and in Psalm 113., how many illustrations in sacred story! Joseph, Moses, Gideon, before the time of Hannah; and afterwards, David, and the great Son of David, the Man Christ Jesus, and his Galilean apostles. This fact is not to encourage contempt of, or impatience under, earthly dignities; but it is to cheer those who are or may be depressed by worldly disadvantage of poverty or obscurity. God's grace is no appanage of the rich or powerful. Was not Martin Luther a poor miner's son? David Brainerd a small farmer's son? John Bunyan a tinker's son, brought up to follow the same craft? Were not the good missionaries Carey and Knibb apprentices, the one bound to a cobbler, the other to a printer? And are not such men among the princes of God's people? The house of Elkanah was of no eminence in Israel; but thence God was raising up this child Samuel, whom Hannah brought to his courts, to be, if not king, king maker, and to stand at the head of a line of prophets who should be the guides of the kings and the people so long as the kingdom stood.

II. ANTICIPATION Of BETTER THINGS TO COME. The end of this prayer song has a prophetic strain (vers. 9, 10). Hannah was confident of God's preservation of his saints, and of the correlative truth of the perdition of ungodly men. Not that he has any pleasure in their death; but that if men will fight against eternal order and righteousness, they must fail in the struggle, they must perish. "As for Jehovah, those who contend against him are broken." The prophetic element shows itself in the closing expressions of the song. The government of Israel at the time may be described as that of a commonwealth, so far as concerns human administration. It was a theocracy, as it had been from the time of the exodus; but the actual administration was carried on through leaders, or judges. The eye of Hannah opened on a new epoch, foresaw a king to whom Jehovah would give strength as his Anointed. It is the first mention of a Messiah in Holy Writ. No doubt Hannah's words are a prediction of David, whose horn of power the Lord was to exalt, giving him a career of victory over all his enemies. But whether or not it was clear to Hannah's mind, the Spirit who rested on her signified a King greater than David, and a more illustrious kingdom. It is he of whom the angel said to Mary, "He shall be great," etc. (Luke 1:32, 33). We see not yet his kingdom. We see not all things put under him. But we see Jesus crowned with glory and honour; and we wait for his appearing and his kingdom. The longings of many generations, the hopes of many Hannahs, the visions of many seers and prophets, O may they come to pass speedily! - F.

Parallel Verses
KJV: And Hannah prayed, and said, My heart rejoiceth in the LORD, mine horn is exalted in the LORD: my mouth is enlarged over mine enemies; because I rejoice in thy salvation.

WEB: Hannah prayed, and said: "My heart exults in Yahweh! My horn is exalted in Yahweh. My mouth is enlarged over my enemies, because I rejoice in your salvation.

Spiritual Gladness
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