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Last week, we read that in her predicament, Hannah (bitter of soul and weeping despondently) prayed to God and made an unprecedented vow.
"O Yahweh of hosts, if You...will give Your maidservant a seed amongst men, then I will give him to Yahweh all the days of his life." (1:11)
- God heard and answered Hannah's prayer.
Today, we look at a second prayer of Hannah. Unlike her first prayer, which was an intense appeal, this second prayer is a song of thanksgiving.
It's profitable for us to look at prayers in the Bible. We learn how to pray by modeling the prayers of others.
- One of [Jesus's] disciples said to [Jesus], "Lord, teach us to pray..." (Luke 11:1)
- Jesus responded with a prayer to model.
- "Pray, then, in this way: Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven." (Matt 6:9–10)
Hannah's prayer is recorded here in 1 Samuel 2 in poetic form to be read and recited by the nation of Israel.
As we examine Hannah's prayer of thanksgiving, we will see several attributes of God.
- God is a personal God (v.1), a holy God (v.2), an all-knowing God (v.3), an all-powerful God (v.4–8), and a saving God (v.9–10)
1. A Personal God (v.1)
- Hannah begins her prayer by speaking personally from her personal experience.
“My heart exults in Yahweh; My horn is exalted in Yahweh; My mouth speaks boldly…”
- Hannah's prayer was prompted by God's personal dealings with her.
- Hannah’s prayer involves all of her personal self.
- “My heart, my horn, and my mouth."
“My heart exults in Yahweh” (v.1a)
- To exult is to “rejoice” (NIV, CSB)
- Hannah’s joy is not ascribed to the birth and life of Samuel.
- Hannah rejoices in God.
- Implication: Is your joy based on the person and character of God?
"My horn is exalted in Yahweh" (v.1b)
- Hannah's song, from start to finish, declares that Yahweh exalts.
- Yahweh exalts (v.7, 8, 10)
- "He also exalts" (v.7)
- "He exalts the needy from the ash heap" (v.8)
- "He will exalt the horn of His anointed." (v.10)
- "Exalt" - Hebrew verb רוּם [NIDOTTE]
- “lifted high” (NIV) or “lifted up” (CSB)
- Communicates the process of lifting or moving things higher.
- A frequent object of this verb רוּם is "horn"
- "horn" - Hebrew noun קֶרֶן (qeren) is a symbol of strength, power, and pride (Deut 33:17; 2 Sam 22:3)
- Picture the image of an animal goring with its horns. One fundamental difference between a cow and a bull is the bull's horns.
- "My horn is exalted" means symbolically, "God gives me strength and triumph."
- God gives me a "lasting distinction of posterity." [NIDOTTE]
- "And all the horns of the wicked I will cut off, but the horns of the righteous will be raised up (or exalted)." (Ps 75:10)
- "But You have raised up my horn (exalted my horn) like that of the wild ox." (Ps 92:10)
- "[The righteous man] has given freely to the needy, His righteousness stands forever; His horn will be raised (or exalted) in glory." (Ps 112:9)
- Hannah is praying, "When I was weak, empty, feeling shame, in need of deliverance, Yahweh gave me strength in victory."
And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast in my weaknesses so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions and hardships, for the sake of Christ, for when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Cor 12:9–10)
- When God works in our souls and gives us His strength, it affects the words that we utter from our mouths.
"My mouth speaks boldly against my enemies because I am glad in Your salvation." (v.1c)
- “enemies” is plural, so it’s not just referring to Peninnah but all of God’s enemies.
- Anyone who is not a follower of Yahweh and Christ Jesus is God’s enemy.
- “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son” (Rom 5:10a)
- Because God has given Hannah personal deliverance with Samuel, she can boldly speak to unbelievers.
- Her heart rejoices in God. Her strength comes from God. Her mouth is emboldened by God.
- Is God the reason and basis of your satisfaction and joy?
- Do you recognize that God is our source of strength?
- Are you bold to share the gospel, knowing what God has done for you in giving you personal salvation?
God is a personal God. Second, God is a holy God.
2. A Holy God (v.2)
Read verse 2. — "No only holy like Yahweh."
"holy" - Hebrew word קָדוֹשׁ [HALOT]
- "moral purity is a secondary component" [UBS Handbook]
- commanding respect, awesome, absolute difference
- singled out, consecrated, "dedicated to God"
- unique, the opposite of common, "set apart from ordinary use"
"Yahweh is high above all nations; His glory is above the heavens. Who is like Yahweh our God, the One who sits on high." (Ps 113:4–5)
Hannah declares God's uniqueness when she prays, "There is no one holy like Yahweh."
- She repeats it again, "Indeed, there is no one besides You."
"rock" - used as a metaphor for God (Deut 32; 2 Sam 22; Psalms 118:22; Isaiah 8:14, 16)
- The image is not a pebble or stone you can hold.
- This word depicts a large boulder or a majestic mountain (like El Capitan in Yosemite).
- The metaphor suggests God's strength, sovereignty, and security for those who trust in Him. [RBS]
- "Indeed their rock is not like our Rock, Even our enemies themselves judge this." (Deut 32:31)
- "Is there any God besides Me, Or is there any other Rock? I know of none." (Is 44:8)
"our God" - Hannah is speaking as a member of God's covenant community.
- He's not just my God. He is our God.
- Sometimes, we approach God too casually. We approach God like we approach another fellow human being.
- God is unlike any other creature. He is separate, unique, and without equal.
- Only one of God’s attributes is repeated three times in the Hebrew OT.
- Not Love, Love, Love or mercy, mercy, mercy.
- But Holy, Holy, Holy. Our God is holy.
3. An All-Knowing God (v.3)
Hannah’s prayer now pivots with words of warning to others.
Read verse 3. "Yahweh is a God of knowledge."
- God's knowledge extends beyond just our human actions.
- It extends to our motives
- "Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is too high, I cannot attain to it...How precious are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them!" (Ps 139:6, 17)
- For those who love God and receive forgiveness, an all-knowing God is reassuring and comforting.
- But for those who are guilty, an omniscient God becomes threatening and terrifying.
- Why? “Because with God, actions (our deeds) are weighed (held accountable).”
Illustration: Parent confronting a guilty child.
- God knows. God remembers. God understands.
- And for God’s children, that should give us consolation, comfort, and confidence.
4. An All-Powerful God (v.4–8)
In these verses, we see the use of merisms (two opposite terms signify inclusiveness)
- "puts to death" AND "makes alive"
- "brings down" AND "raises up"
- The ability to do opposites is a standard ANE poetic device for expressing the ability to do everything.
- In the Babylonian epic Enuma Elish, the supreme god Marduk shows his power as the highest god by making a cloth vanish and then causing it to reappear. [Hoffner EEC]
- Illustration: Story of Gideon
- Gideon wanted God to prove His power by (1) putting dew on the fleece and keeping the ground dry, and then (2) keep the fleece dry while putting dew on all the ground.
- Therefore, Yahweh has absolute power over all things.
i. Power Over Military (v.4)
- "The bows of the mighty are shattered" (v.4a)
- The bow (which can injure and kill from a distance) is often stronger than a sword.
- A skilled archer-warrior can be quickly disarmed.
- "Those who stumble gird on strength" (v.4b)
- Those who are weak and ready to collapse can "gird on strength."
- "Put on military prowess," "be equipped with a belt that holds a sword" [Hoffner EEC]
- Examples: Saul leads Israel in victory over the Ammonites in 1 Samuel 11. Jonathan helps Saul defeat the Philistines in 1 Samuel 14. And, of course, there's David and Goliath in 1 Samuel 17.
ii. Power Over Provision (v.5a)
- "Those who were full hire themselves out for bread." (v.5a)
- "Those who were hungry cease to hunger." (v.5b)
iii. Power Over Fertility (v.5b)
- We saw this with Hannah, but this is true throughout all of human history.
- ”Gives birth to seven" - the number seven represents ideal completeness (Ruth 4:15)
- Hannah only has six children (v.21)
- ”She who bore seven sons languishes” (Jer 15:9)
- God can quickly reverse a picture of blessing.
iv. Power Over Life and Death. (v.6)
- God destroyed the world with a flood.
- God eradicated Sodom and Gomorrah.
- God struck dead Judah’s first two sons.
- God can preserve and even resurrect the dead.
- "Sheol" - refers to the place of the dead (Ps 30:3) [ESV Study]
- "Raise up" (see Job 19:25)
- Before raising Lazarus from the dead, Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies.” (Jn 11:25)
v. Power over Wealth (v.7)
"Yahweh makes poor and rich"
- This verse is not spotlighting that the poor have always been poor. Rather, God makes some to be poor who were formerly rich. [UBSH]
vi. Power to Show Mercy. (v.8)
Read verse 8.
He "raises the poor" and "exalts the needy."
- Poor and needy refer to the same people
- "Dust" and "ash heap" refer to their miserable condition.
- "ash heap" = "trash heap" (CSB), "garbage dump" (NLT), "dunghill" (KJV)
Mercy is "a blessing that is an act of divine favor or compassion; compassionate treatment of those in distress." [Webster's Collegiate Dictionary 11th ed]
"To make them sit with nobles and inherit a seat of glory." (v.8b)
- This foreshadows that those who display humility are promoted to king.
- The verb "inherit" does not primarily mean "receiving something from one who died." Rather, it means God "causes them to sit in the places of honor." [USBH]
We cannot presume God's mercy. God's sovereign choice over whom to bestow mercy is an essential attribute of God.
- "I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will show compassion on whom I will show compassion." (Ex 33:19)
- God has dominion and power over everything: military powers, food and provision, fertility, life and death (and the number of our days), money and wealth, and the prerogative to show mercy.
- Because God is all-powerful, you can rest. You can trust in Him. You can worship Him. You can be certain of God's promises and your future hope.
5. A Saving God (v.9–10)
God is not just a personal, a holy, an all-knowing, and an all-powerful God. God is a saving God.
- When God delivered Hannah from her state of infertility, it was a foretaste of God's grand plan of salvation for His chosen people.
"He keeps (guards, protects) the feet of His holy ones." (v.9a)
- "feet" is a figure of speech called a synecdoche in which a part is substituting for the whole. [UBSH]
- "For You have delivered my soul from death, Indeed my feet from stumbling." (Ps 56:13a)
- "holy ones" = "faithful servants" (NIV), "faithful ones" (ESV, CSB), "godly ones" (NASB), "his saints" (KJV)
- In Hebrew, "holy ones" is singular and here refers to a collective singular.
- His people. His nation. His covenant. His chosen.
"For not by power shall a man prevail." (v.9c)
- It is not physical prowess but God's presence that brings success [RSB]
- This is the word of Yahweh to Zerubbabel, saying, "Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit," says Yahweh of hosts. (Zech 4:6)
- God tells Zerubbabel that the obstacles that they will face to rebuild the temple will not be overcome by military strength but by the Spirit of God.
- That is equally true as it pertains to God's plan of salvation for His people.
"And [God] will give strength to His king." (v.10b)
"In those days, there was no king in Israel." (Judg 17:6; 18:1)
"Now it happened in those days, when there was no king in Israel." (Judg19:1)
"In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes." (Judge 21:25)
Hannah anticipates a future institution of the monarchy. (As foreshadowed in the Torah)
"The scepter shall not depart from Judah." (Gen 49:10 — Jacob prophesies)
- A scepter symbolizes royal authority. [RSB]
"Water will flow from his buckets, and his seed will be by many waters, and his king shall be lifted up higher than Agag, and his kingdom shall be exalted." (Num 24:7)
When you enter the land which Yahweh your God gives you, and you possess it and live in it, and you say, "I will set a king over me like all the nations who are around me." (Deut 17:14)
Hannah's song appears to be a prophecy of David, but it's also predicts something greater.
"And He will exalt the horn of His anointed." (v.10c)
Hebrew word מָשִׁיחַ (masaiah)
The coming Messiah who will save God's people will not come by might but by God's Spirit.
This Messianic king will come when Yahweh renders "justice to the ends of the earth."
This does not happen during the reign of King David.
This is only be fulfilled with the final king in the line of David.
"The Spirit of Lord Yahweh is upon me (referring to the promised Messiah) because Yahweh has anointed me (verb form of Messiah) to bring good news to the afflicted...to bind up the brokenhearted...to proclaim release to captives and freedom to prisoners." (Is 61:1)
The woman (at the well) said to Him, "I know that Messiah is coming (He who is called Christ); when He comes, He will declare all things to us." (Jn 4:25)
Hannah is thanking the God of salvation, and the words attributed to Hannah anticipate King David but ultimately point to the final King, the anointed one, the Messiah, King Jesus.
- Hannah's Song of Thanksgiving was prayed in response to God's answer with little Samuel.
- Hannah's prayer of thanksgiving becomes an anthem of worship for the national of Israel.
- God is a personal God.
- He's a holy God.
- He's an all-knowing God.
- He's an all-powerful God.
- And as Hannah reflects on her son Samuel, she declares her faith in a coming King, an anointed one, a promised Messiah who will make all things right and save His people.
- When was the last time you thanked God for his personal dealings with you, big and small?
- And when you thank God, does it remind us of His great attributes?
- That He's personal, holy, all-knowing, all-powerful, and the God of salvation.
- There is another song that comes from the lips of another woman, and it is found in Luke 1.
- Remember when the angel Gabriel said to Mary, "Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David, and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and there will be no end of His kingdom." (Luke 1:31–33)
- Mary responds with a song of praise (The Magnificat), imitating Hannah's prayer here in 1 Samuel 2.
- Notice the similarities.
- "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior." (Personal)
- "For the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is His name" (Holy)
- "He has looked upon the humble state of His slave." (All-knowing)
- "He has brought down rulers from their thrones and has exalted those who were humble. He has filled the hungry with good things and sent away the rich empty-handed" (All-powerful)
- "He has given help to Israel His servant, in remembrance of His mercy, as He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and his seed forever." (Saving)
- May we follow the example of Hannah and Mary as we thank God for all His blessings, big and small, and acknowledge Him as the Incomparable God. There is none like Him.