the Church on the Hill
by D. Eric Williams
Pastor, Cottonwood Community Church
The day finally comes in the story of Hannah when she returns to the tabernacle in order to dedicate her son Samuel to the Lord. Upon that occasion, she pronounced a prayer of praise to God (1 Samuel 2:1-10).
The first thing we see in Hannah's song is the acknowledgment that Yahweh is sovereign. She rejoiced in the Lord - not just because of Samuel's birth but because of God's holy sovereignty. No doubt, she is very glad to have a son; she is gladder to be a daughter of Yahweh. Thus, Hannah recognizes that it is God who is the giver of all good things. So, her joy is primarily in the wonder and majesty of Yahweh. Her joy is primarily over the sovereignty of God.
It is God who has lifted her up. She was once low, ridiculed and shamed in her own home and community. But because of God she is made strong. Her horn is lifted up. She has been recognized as one with strength and as one blessed by God. Again, it is because of Yahweh that she triumphed.
Moreover, her enemies are swallowed up. In the Hebrews it says "my mouth is enlarged over my enemies." This is variously translated as "I smile at my enemies" or "I have an answer for my enemies" or something of that sort. But what Hannah wants to say here is that by God's power and glory she, Hannah, has swallowed up her enemies. She has triumphed over those who previously shamed her and ridiculed her. In short, she has emerged as the victor and her opponents are left with egg on their face. In all of this it is God who is glorified. This may seem like gloating to us. It may seem inappropriate for Hannah to rejoice that Peninnah and others who looked down on her have been put in their place. Yet, again, Hannah is concerned with the glory of God. Hannah's victory is God's doing.
And this victory is termed as salvation. Not the saving of Hannah's soul from hell, but the realization of God's blessings in this life. Certainly, one aspect of God's salvific benefit is eternal reward, but according to Hannah it also includes temporal blessings such as the provision of children and victory over enemies. In other words, God's salvation is comprehensive.
In her song, Hannah also acknowledges that God has no rivals. All other so-called gods are false gods. Moreover, human pride is false. Human pride suggests that God is not sovereign or that he is distant and doesn't really care about what happens on earth. Human pride suggests the achievements of a person are his or her own doing. It is human pride that looks upon another who is lacking in achievements and ridicules them, as if their circumstances were somehow beyond the control of Yahweh. Nevertheless, God reigns over all things and Hannah affirms this in her song.
Because Yahweh is the only true God he is the only legitimate object of adoration. As the true orchestrator of all events, Yahweh deserves all praise. Indeed, to look elsewhere is foolish. Again, to look to the false gods of the pagans or to look to one's own strength is foolishness.
This is true because Yahweh is the rock. He is the solid, immovable, unchanging ruler of the universe. This truth was affirmed in the song of Moses, is given messianic overtones by the prophets and is embraced by Jesus Christ in the New Testament. Throughout Scripture this truth that Hannah proclaims the day of Samuel's dedication is affirmed; Yahweh is the only lasting foundation of stability.
We will return to this topic next week