7 Lessons from Hannah's Prayer in 1 Samuel 2
By reading Hannah's Prayer in 1 Samuel 2, we sense what resided in her heart and learn how God affected her thoughts, desires, and priorities.
Hannah’s prayer profoundly impacts. By reading it, we sense what resided in her heart. We learn how her knowledge of God affected her thoughts, desires, and priorities. As we examine the content of Hannah's prayer, we can compare it with ours and try to model it.
Background of Hannah
Hannah was Elkanah’s first wife, and she was barren. Unlike Hannah, his second wife Peninnah bore him several children. While Elkanah favored Hannah, Peninnah despised her and made her life miserable (1 Sam 1:6-8).
One year, Hannah journeyed to Shiloh and made a vow to God. She vowed that if God would give her a son, she would dedicate him as a Nazarite (1:9-11). God answered her prayer, and after returning to her hometown, Hannah became pregnant and bore a son (1:19-20). She named her son Samuel.
Hannah stayed home until she had weaned Samuel. Then she returned to Shiloh with her son. Just as she had promised, she sacrificed her offering and dedicated Samuel to God (1:24-27).
Hannah gave back to God her only son. She entrusted him to God with Eli the priest in Shiloh permanently. It must have been a bittersweet farewell. As she was leaving her son, Hannah offered to God this prayer–song.
1. Hannah Glorifies God
“And Hannah prayed and said, “My heart exults in the LORD; my horn is exalted in the LORD.” (1 Samuel 2:1a ESV)
Hannah glorifies God with her entire being. She praises God with her heart and horn. Her heart refers to her soul and inner being. Her horn symbolizes her strength like a weapon capable of goring the enemy. She begins her song in full worship and praise.
2. Hannah Rests in God’s Salvation
“My mouth derides my enemies, because I rejoice in your salvation.” (1 Samuel 2:1b)
God delivered Hannah on a personal level through her son Samuel. She plead to God in her barrenness, and God gave her a son. He removed the sting of Peninnah’s ridicule.
Hannah understood that salvation belongs to God, and his salvation extends more broadly. God gave Israel temporary victory over the Philistines, but he brought ultimate victory in salvation through his Son Jesus. Hannah confidently opposes her enemies because she finds rest in God’s salvation. God’s salvation is sufficient, satisfying, and secure.
3. Hannah Acknowledges God’s Holiness
“There is none holy like the LORD: for there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God.” (1 Samuel 2:2)
“When the Bible calls God holy, it means primarily that God is transcendentally separate.”
God is separate. He is a “cut above the rest.” He is supreme in his excellence. There is none like him.
God is transcendent. He exceeds all limits. God greatness is beyond us. His supreme majesty rises above us by an infinite distance.
Hannah understood God’s holiness. She acknowledged it. She proclaimed it.
4. Hannah Speaks to Her Heart
“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)
We often let our wrongful thoughts, beliefs and emotions reign our hearts. We cannot tolerate this. Instead of listening to our hearts, we must speak to our hearts.
Hannah spoke biblical truth into her heart. She chided the pride in her heart. She told herself that God is omniscient. She reminded herself that God’s actions are just. Similarly, we need to speak truth to our hearts rather than listening to its deceitfulness.
5. Hannah Keeps the Right Perspective
“The bows of the mighty are broken, but the feeble bind on strength. 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 2:4–5)
Hannah maintained the right perspective. She understood that circumstances quickly change; God quickly removes blessing, and he swiftly bestows grace. While situations change, God does not.
God remains always good, and he can do all things. He can humble the proud in good circumstances. He can restore the weak, hungry, and barren. Keep the right perspective: our circumstances will change, but God remains constant.
6. Hannah Trusts in God’s Sovereignty
“The LORD kills and brings to life; he brings down to Sheol and raises up. The LORD makes poor and makes rich; he brings low and he exalts. He 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.” (1 Samuel 2:6–8)
God is actively involved in his creation, and he reigns supreme. His actions may not follow human expectations. He created everything. He owns everything. Nothing happens without God’s permission. God’s sovereignty comforts Hannah, and it should comfort us too. We should not fear, for God is in control.
7. Hannah Anticipates God’s Righteous Judgment
“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. The 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.”” (1 Samuel 2:9–10)
In God’s providence, the wicked may prosper. But in the end, God will bring judgment. He will judge his enemies. He will exalt his faithful.
Hannah did not get envious or resentful. She trusted that vengeance is the Lord’s. God will make things right. Justice will be served.
Final Thoughts on Hannah’s Prayer Song
Do we sing and pray like Hannah? Ask yourself these 7 questions.
- Are you praising God in every circumstance?
- Are you treasuring God’s salvation?
- Are you acknowledging God’s holiness?
- Are you speaking to your heart?
- Are you keeping the right perspective?
- Are you trusting God’s sovereignty?
- Are you anticipating God’s final judgment?
By meditating on Hannah’s prayer in 1 Samuel 2, we can learn to rightly entreat and exalt our Creator, God, and King.
R. C. Sproul. The Holiness of God (Kindle Locations 380-381). Kindle Edition. ↩︎