1 And Hannah prayed and said, “My heart exults in the Lord; my horn is exalted in the Lord. My mouth derides my enemies, because I rejoice in your salvation. 2 “There is none holy like the Lord: for there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God. 3 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. 4 The bows of the mighty are broken, but the feeble bind on strength. 5 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. 6 The Lord kills and brings to life; he brings down to Sheol and raises up. 7 The Lord makes poor and makes rich; he brings low and he exalts. 8 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. 9 “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. 10 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.” 11 Then Elkanah went home to Ramah. And the boy was ministering to the Lord in the presence of Eli the priest.
(1 Samuel 2:1-11)
Today we begin a passage known as “Hannah’s prayer”. Yesterday we read how Hannah gave her son Samuel – who she had waited years for – back to God as she had promised to do [1 Samuel 1:10-11]. She then prayed this prayer.
Most Bibles format this passage as a Psalm, which it is. It is poetry. It contains parallelism and symbolism, which is typical of a psalm. And like many of the Psalms, Hannah’s prayer is also prophetic as we’ll see over the next few days.
This prayer was Hannah’s act of worship offered on the very day she left her only child at the tabernacle. Notice that on the day she made the biggest sacrifice of her life she found reason to be happy. Instead of being depressed over the loss of the son she waited so long for, Hannah was exalted. Her emotions (heart) were raised up by God and so was her strength (horn).
But it is the object of her elation that is important here. Notice that Hannah was exalted in the Lord. What gave her joy was God Himself. She was not filled with joy because of her blessings such as her husband or being a mother. She was filled with joy because of her relationship with God. Because of the salvation she had she was able to rejoice.
Hannah realizes that there is none holy like the Lord; there is none besides God. No child can replace the need for God in our life. Without God we are empty. No other person – spouse, parent, sibling, child – can provide stability in our life. Only God can be our rock.
Today we have many so-called experts telling us how to find meaning in life and how to overcome our problems. Invariably, we are told to do it in our own strength. Slogans such as “Just Do It” and “Believe” permeate our society. But they are hollow. They offer no real solution to our emptiness and problems.
For years Hannah had been subjected to ridicule by her husband’s other wife, Peninnah, for not having children. For years Hannah was unhappy, probably wondering why God didn’t provide her with a child even though she had probably asked Him for one many times. It’s not hard to imagine that Hannah was looking for fulfillment in that child when she should have been looking for it in God.
But on the trip to Shiloh we read about in chapter one a light went on in Hannah’s head. She finally got it. And now we see in her prayer that she has learned. She has learned that it is not things or even other people that bring us joy. What brings us joy is God’s salvation.
If you are not a person who is content with life you must consider that you are looking for joy in the wrong places. If you are not a born-again member of God’s eternal family you are likely looking for fulfillment in your relationships, or money, or your career. None of those things will ever satisfy no matter how hard you “believe” in them.
Even believers can fall into this trap. Hannah was a believer. She was a daughter of God. Yet her happiness was focused in the wrong place. Once she refocused it on the One who is the only source of true joy, she was able to overcome her problems.
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