1 Samuel 2:1-11: Hannah’s Praise
- God’s character
- God’s ways
- God’s victory
At the happy times of our lives we may write a poem or a song to commemorate the event. This is what Hannah does as she worships God as she gives away her son to fulfil her vow. The song is very significant, not merely from a human standpoint where we would be expecting to hear a dirge from a bereaved mother’s lips but instead she is worshipping. Instead we have a song which serves as a bookend for 1 and 2 Samuel. These books are bracketed with Hannah’s song here, and David’s song at the end.
When I read Lord of the Rings the first time I tended to skip the songs, they were boring and seemed to slow the story down. But in the Bible it is the songs and poems that are theologically rich. In this case Hannah’s song acts as an introduction in a piece of classical music that has all the motifs in it that will be expanded upon later. If you were reading this song for the first time and you were told that this is the song of a mother who has been granted a child by God, what would you expect to find in such a song? Certainly you would expect to hear thanksgiving, perhaps a prayer for the child’s salvation and health. So that when you come to this song you are immediately struck by the content. Firstly, the song sounds like Hannah is gloating over her enemies, and she is using the opportunity to get one over on Penninah.
Look at verse 1, ‘…my mouth derides my enemies,’ and v5, ‘…the barren has borne seven, but she has many children is forlorn.’ Incidentally Hannah ended up only having 6 children (1 Sam. 2:21). And if that doesn’t shock you then maybe this mother’s military language of the bows of the mighty getting broken in v4 will sound like hyperbolic poetry that has unhinged itself from the little domestic stage that we have been viewing. So when she starts singing about breaking the wicked in pieces and God exalting His King v10, we lose the train of thought we were expecting from her song. This is because Hannah’s song is not merely a journal entry in her private life.
Hannah sings prophetically, she is singing about what God will do in the future. And Hannah sees that what the Lord has done for her is an object lesson. Israel faces enemies, the rising power of the Philistines. They are the seed of the serpent that has risen up against God’s seed. Hannah is given insight to see how the birth of Samuel, fruitfulness in barrenness and victory in the face of a spiteful woman, these are a microcosm of something much bigger. The song then is all about God as the Saviour of His people who faithfully remembers them against their enemies and delivers them. It is a song which speaks of God’s character, God’s ways and His final victory.