Song of Hannah

The Song of Hannah as recorded in 1 Samuel 2:1-10, is at all points a classic Hebrew prophecy. This song/hymn was composed spontaneously and immediately at the time when Hannah dedicated her son Samuel to God at the tabernacle where Eli and his sons, Hophni & Phinehas, served as priests to God in behalf of the people of Israel. In her song, Hannah praised God for several reasons: first, God provided salvation for His people (vv.1-2); second, she learned that God humbles the proud and exalts the lowly (vv.3-4); third, God will surely help those whose trust is only on Him (vv. 5-8). Fourth and last, she exulted in the fact that the godly and the wicked will ultimately face different destinies – the saints protected and safe, while the wicked will be judged and punished (vv.9-10). The thrust of Hanna’s hymn is to encourage people to trust only in the Lord which she herself did when she prayed for her son Samuel. Because Hannah had cast herself to God in her point of need, God had blessed her miraculously as a reward. She conceived and gave birth to a son even though she was barren (Constable, 2000).

That it is prophetic is made clear by the fact that the song contains a reference to the coming King of Israel (v.10). This prophecy of the coming King not only refers to the greatest king of Israel in the person of David but extends to the Messiah whose rule reaches to the ends of the earth (A. Clarke Commentary). As early as Genesis (Gen.17:6), God had already revealed His plan to raise up kings to rule His people. God told Abraham that from Israel – his descendants – kings will rise. This purpose of God was also revealed to Moses (Deut.17). Therefore, Hannah’s mention of Israel’s king is proof enough that tells us the common desire of people at that time in Israel – they were waiting for the fulfillment of these prophesies about the coming king. Not long after this inspired prayer of praise by Hannah, the people had demanded for a king.

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Another major theme of Hannah’s hymn of praise which permeated the entire book of 1 Samuel is the reversal of fortune in life. People who are considered unimportant by many can become very important persons in the economy of God, and they may be acknowledged as such in actuality as God uses them and allows them to become great in the eyes of many so that God’s principles of promotion is recognized. Very important also in the sight of God is the response of the Israelites to His will as it has been revealed in the Mosaic covenant. The point of Hannah’s song is that God will bless His people especially as they do their part of advancing His program in the world. It is actually God who enables them to do just that. He is the One who makes it possible for them to further His agenda. In Hanna’s actual experience, natural limitations as it is only possible to us humans, do not and cannot put a limit on God. It is true that when we are weak, God shows Himself strong by doing the supernatural. God wants His people to have a comprehensive knowledge of what He has revealed about Himself, His program, and His ways because it is through this kind of understanding that He inspires interest in His program among His people. As God has shown in the case of Hannah, He is willing to intervene (so to speak) in behalf of His people and will even reverse the fortunes of people who are responding positively to His will.

Hannah’s song, though seemingly insignificant at first glance, is very crucial to the understanding of the rest of the books 1st and 2nd Samuel. God blesses those whose full trust is in Him, while He judges those who disregard Him. David’s life illustrates this theme of Hannah’s song. From an obscure shepherd boy, David had risen to the highest political position in Israel and served not only as a king but an executor of God’s program among God’s people. Saul’s story also describes how God rejects people who are self-sufficient in their walk and would only make use of God and the things of God when they deem it suits them. To the humble like Hannah who, instead of wallowing in the mire of despondency, had trusted God and determined to advance God’s plans, God turned barrenness or unfruitfulness into fertility and fruitfulness.  This general principle not only applies to Hannah, but it is true universally.