The hymn we just sang — ‘Tell out, my soul’ — is based on the words of Mary, which are recorded for us in Luke chapter 1. The angel Gabriel had announced to Mary that she would give birth to the Lord Jesus. And Mary then visited her relative, Elizabeth, who was due to give birth to John the Baptist. And after Elizabeth greeted Mary, Mary began to say: ‘My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour….’ And Mary’s words — which have become known as ‘The Magnificat’ — are similar to the words of Hannah in 1 Samuel 2. Mary began by saying that she glorifies the Lord and rejoices in God her Saviour. And Hannah began by saying: ‘My heart rejoices in the Lord.’
Both women rejoiced before the Lord, because the Lord was kind to them and had lifted them up from their lowly positions and had exalted them.
The Lord was kind to Hannah because — as we saw in chapter 1 — he had heard her prayer and he had given her what she asked for. She longed to have a child of her own: for many years, she was unable to have any children; and her husband’s second wife used to provoke her and make her weep because of her barrenness. But then, she cast her cares on the Lord and prayed for a son, promising that if the Lord heard and answered her and gave her a son, she would give her son to the Lord. And sure enough, the Lord heard her and answered her and gave her a son. And once she had weened the boy, she kept her promise and brought Samuel to the priest so that he could serve the Lord in the Lord’s sanctuary.
And so, the Lord saved Hannah from her misery by taking away her barrenness and by giving her a son. But do you remember? I said the last time that when the Lord answered Hannah’s prayer, he wasn’t only saving Hannah from her misery, but he was also saving all of Israel from their misery. In those days, Israel had no king and everyone did what was right in his own eyes. In other words, without a king to rule over them and to guide them, everyone went astray and instead of worshipping and obeying the Lord, they turned to false gods. And because of their sin and rebellion, the Lord used to hand them over to their enemies who made their lives miserable. That went on again and again and again throughout the time of the Judges.
But then, instead of leaving them in their sin and misery forever, the Lord rescued them from it by enabling Hannah to give birth to Samuel, who would prepare the way for the coming of King David; and King David would rescue the people from all their enemies and enable them to live in peace and safety all the days of his life.
And do you remember what I said the last time? The story of Samuel points us to John the Baptist; and the story of King David points us to Christ our King, because just as Samuel prepared the way for the coming of David, so John the Baptist prepared the way for the coming of Christ; and just as David rescued the people from their enemies and gave them peace, so Christ our King rescues us from sin and death, so that all who believe in him might live before the Lord Almighty in peace and safety in the new heavens and earth forever and forever.
And so, by the things we read in this book — about Hannah and Samuel and David — God was revealing the good news of the gospel and how he was going to send his Son into the world to save his people from their sin and misery and to give them everlasting life.
And because of God’s kindness to Hannah, and because of his kindness to all his people, Hannah spoke these words which are recorded for us in chapter 2.
Verses 1 and 2
And, as you can see from verse 1, her words are a prayer to God. And in her prayer, she said: ‘My heart rejoices in the Lord; in the Lord my horn is lifted high. My mouth boasts over my enemies, for I delight in your deliverance.’ The last time Hannah prayed, she was weeping because of her misery. Now, when she prays, she’s rejoicing because the Lord has delivered her from her misery. And she mentions her ‘heart’. Back in chapter 1, her husband has asked her why she was down-hearted. That is, he asked her why her heart was sad. But her heart is no longer sad; it’s full of joy. She mentions her ‘horn’, which in the Bible represents strength and pride. So, you’re to imagine a strong and mighty bull, lifting up its horns as a show of strength to frighten away any rivals. Well, Hannah no longer felt weak and anxious, but strong and confident, because the Lord has lifted her up from her misery. And she mentions her mouth and how she was now able to boast over her enemies. Her husband’s second wife used to provoke her by the things she said. And there was nothing Hannah could say in reply. But now, because the Lord has delivered her, she’s able to boast about the Lord’s kindness to her. I should probably add that the Hebrew words translated, ‘My mouth boasts over my enemies’ can also be translated, ‘My mouth opens wide’. In that case, we’re to picture an animal opening wide its mouth to swallow and devour its enemies. The point then is that Hannah is no longer afraid of her husband’s second wife. And, of course, the reason for Hannah’s rejoicing is because the Lord has delivered her from her misery by giving her a son.
And so, in verse 2, she continues to rejoice before the Lord and to praise him. She praises him because there’s no one holy like the Lord; and there’s no one beside him; and there’s no other rock but him. By describing God as ‘holy’, she’s saying that God is perfect. He’s perfectly good and pure and completely without fault. By describing God as a rock, she’s saying that he provides protection and strength and security for his people. He’s able to shelter his people from trouble and they can cling to him for protection. And since God alone is holy and since God alone is a rock, then there is no one beside him or like him. No one compares to him. This is the God we worship.
Verses 3 to 9
And the God we worship, and the God Hannah praised, knows all things. That’s in verse 3. The Lord is a God who knows. He knows all things: nothing is hidden from his sight and nothing is beyond his understanding. We scratch our heads because we don’t understand something and it’s a mystery to us. But nothing is a mystery to the Lord; and everything is laid bare before him.
And since that’s the case, ‘by him deeds are weighed’. That’s also in verse 3. That means he’s able to evaluate our deeds and the things we do. He’s able to weigh our deeds in his scales and determine whether they’re right or wrong. Because we don’t know everything, then we can make mistakes when we evaluate what people do. A human judge, for instance, may not know all the facts and he might now have heard all the evidence, and he can be misled by false impressions. And so, a human judge might make a mistake when judging someone. But God’s judgments are perfect, because he knows us perfectly and nothing is hidden from his sight. We can’t fool him or deceive him. And so, no one can talk proudly or arrogantly in his presence, because he knows all about us: our sins and shortcomings. There’s no point boasting in the presence of the Lord, because he knows what we’re really like.
And look what God is able to do. He’s able to turn things around so that the proud are humbled and the humble are lifted up; the strong are defeated; and the weak are given victory. He brings down one person and he exalts another person. All things and all people are in his hands. And so, according to verse 4, the bows of the warriors are broken, but those who stumbled are armed with strength. Think of Israel’s past and how the mighty Egyptian army was destroyed by God in the waters of the Dead Sea; and his weak, oppressed people — who did not have any weapons — were saved. Or think of their future: mighty Goliath will one day fall down dead, defeated in battle by a shepherd-boy, armed only with a sling and a stone. According to verse 5, those who were full now have to hire themselves out for food, but those who were once hungry are no longer hungry. That means that those who had plenty end up with nothing, but those who had nothing, receive what they need. In addition, the barren women will have seven children, whereas the one who had many sons will pine away, presumably because her sons have died. Well, Hannah was once barren, but the Lord gave her Samuel and he eventually gave her others sons and daughters.
And you see, these things don’t happen by chance, because the Lord — the Sovereign Lord who rules and reigns over the heavens and the earth — determines all things and decides all things. As Hannah says in verse 6, the Lord brings death and he also makes alive. He brings one down to the grave and he raises another up. So, one person gets sick and dies, whereas another person is lifted from his sick bed and is kept from dying. Life and death and sickness and health are in God’s hands.
Hannah continues by saying in verse 7 that the Lord sends poverty to one person and wealth to another. He humbles one and exalts another. He raises the poor from the dust, and the needy from the ash heap — where they’ve been sitting — and he makes them sit with princes on thrones of honour. Again, think of Israel’s past and how the Lord rescued Joseph from prison and exalted him so that he became Prime Minister of all Egypt. And think again of David, who was only a shepherd-boy, the youngest and the least important person in his family. And yet, the Lord chose him and exalted him so that he became king of all Israel. Meanwhile, Saul, the first king of Israel, became proud and so the Lord took the kingdom from him. These things don’t happen by chance, but by the hand of the Lord God Almighty, who preserves and controls all his creatures and all their actions.
As Hannah says in verse 8, the foundations of the earth are the Lord’s and upon them he has set the world. In other words, he the great Creator, the great architect, who has built the world and set it up on foundations which he has established. And as the Creator of the world, he is the one who determines what will be.
And the Lord acts in the world to guard the feet of his saints and to silence the wicked in darkness. Do you see that in verse 9? The saints are God’s people, the ones he chose from out of the world to belong to him. And the Lord is at work in the world to protect them. Meanwhile, the Lord will silence the wicked. Though the wicked may be strong and mighty, they will not prevail, because those who oppose the Lord will be shattered. They’ll be broken into pieces like a glass which falls on a tiled floor.
Hannah says all this about God, because that’s what God has done for her. She was once weak and humble and lowly, because she was barren. And her rival, Peninnah, Elkanah’s second wife, made her miserable by provoking her. But the Lord heard Hannah’s prayer and he lifted her up. He raised her up from the dust and — by giving her a child of her own — the Lord exalted her. Her life was once empty, but the Lord came and filled her life. She was once covered in shame, but the Lord has covered her with honour.
So, Hannah prayed like this, and she praised God like this, because the Lord had turned her life around and he had come and helped him.
However, some of the things she says go beyond her own circumstances, don’t they? In verse 1 she referred to her enemies. Now, Peninnah, Elkanah’s second wife, was certainly Hannah’s rival, but it’s not clear whether she qualifies as Hannah’s enemy. In any case, Peninnah was a single person, whereas Hannah refers to enemies in the plural. Then, in verse 4 Hannah refers to the bows of warriors. Now, Peninnah’s words may well have hurt Hannah, but they can’t really be compared to a warrior’s bow and arrows. And in verse 8, she refers to the way God raises the poor and seats them with princes. Again, that’s going beyond her own circumstances.
What she says here in her prayer applies not only to her own circumstances, but it applies to something else, something greater than her own personal circumstances. And that becomes especially clear when we get to verse 10 where she refers to how God will judge the ends of the earth and where she also refers to God’s anointed king.
So, she’s not only referring to herself, but she’s also referring to the king who was to come. And that king, in the first instance, was David. God enabled David to boast over his enemies. David had many enemies. Think of Goliath and all the Philistines and all the other nations who used to attack Israel. And even his own son turned against him so that David had to flee from Jerusalem. But the Lord delivered David from all his enemies; and God enabled him to boast over his enemies in triumph.
Goliath the Giant was proud and arrogant. He was sure that he would feed David’s flesh to the birds of the air and to the beasts of the field. He was proud and arrogant, but the Lord weighed Goliath in the scales and decided that Goliath should die.
Many enemies came at David with their arrows, but the Lord rescued David from them all. The Lord rescued him from death, and kept him from the grave. And, of course, David was only a humble shepherd boy when God first called him. And he wasn’t the first in his family, or the second, or the third. He was the eighth son of Jesse, so that when Samuel came to anoint one of Jesse’s sons as king, Jesse almost completely overlooked David. He was the youngest son, but the Lord chose him and exalted him and made him sit with princes and enabled him to inherit the throne of honour in Israel. And so, the Lord gave strength to his king and he exalted the horn of his anointed. The Lord lifted David out of the fields and made him king over his people.
And, of course, through David, the Lord — in a sense — judged the ends of the earth, because the Lord used David to humble the nations which attacked Israel and he used David to punish the wicked. Through David, God shattered those who opposed the Lord. Through David, the Lord thundered against them from heaven. And so, through David, God destroyed his enemies and enabled the people of Israel to live in peace and safety in the Promised Land of Canaan.
So, Hannah, in her prayer, spoke as a prophet. She wasn’t only referring to her own circumstances, but she was referring to David who was to come. But, of course, Hannah’s words also refer to King David’s Greater Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, who is God’s True Anointed King. He too was poor and humble, because when he was born, he was not born in a palace, but in a stable. And his parents were not wealthy and powerful, but weak and lowly. And he too faced powerful enemies, proud and arrogant enemies, like Herod who wanted to kill him when he was only a child. And then, later there were all the Pharisees and Sadducees and the Teachers of the Law who ganged up against him. And they plotted against the Lord Jesus and had him arrested. And he then faced false charges, before being sentenced to death by Pilate. And then, the soldiers surrounded him and whipped him and beat him and they nailed him to the cross where he died. And so, he was brought down to the grave, where he lay until the third day.
But then the Lord gave strength to his anointed king and the Lord God exalted him. He was dead, but God made him alive. He was brought down to the grave, but God raised him up. The Lord Jesus was raised from the dust and from the ash heap and he was exalted to heaven above, where he sits enthroned at God’s right hand side as King of kings and Lord of lords. The Lord exalted his king.
And the day is coming, when God will judge the nations through Christ his King. On that day, the Lord Jesus will come in his glory, and all his angels with him. And all the nations will be gathered before him. Everyone who ever lived will be there, which means you will be there. And Christ the King will separate the people of the nations as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. The wicked will be sent away from the presence of the Lord to be punished for their wickedness. And so, they will be silenced in darkness. They will be shattered like glass. God will thunder against them from heaven. On the other hand, the saints — all those who belong to Christ by faith — will be brought in to enjoy perfect peace and rest in the new heavens and earth. Christ will bring them in to the Promised Land to come and they will reign with Christ the King forever.
In this life, the wicked may prosper and do well. But in the end, Christ the King will bring them down and he will punish them. And in this life, the saints may suffer and struggle. But in the end, Christ the King will bring them in to enjoy everlasting life in his presence.
And so, that’s why you must yield your life to Christ the King and trust in him, because whoever yields their life to Christ the King and trusts in him receives the hope of everlasting life in the presence of God. Those who do not believe will one day be punished when Christ the King comes in his glory to judge the nations and to shatter all those who opposed the Lord. But those who believe are able to look forward to Christ’s coming, because when he comes, it will mean an end to all their sorrow and an end to all their troubles and trials, and instead they’ll enjoy perfect peace and rest forever.
And so, do you see? Hannah’s prayer is about her own circumstances, because the Lord lifted her up and honoured her. But she spoke as a prophet to foretell the coming of David whom the Lord raised from the fields to become king of Israel. But more importantly, Hannah spoke as a prophet to foretell the coming of Christ the King. When Christ the King was dead and buried in the ground, God gave strength to his King and he exalted the horn of his anointed. He raised Christ the King from the dead and exalted him to heaven, from where he gives eternal life to all who trust in him. And so, will you trust in Christ the King and will you keep trusting in Christ the King? — because everyone who trusts in him will receive eternal life when he comes to judge the ends of the earth.