In the way of her prayer, God would save Hannah, according to His word by giving her a man-child. This was her confidence, which was not put to shame. She bare a son and “called his name Samuel, saying, Because I have asked him of the Lord.” Yet the name Samuel is a compound of the Hebrew word shamah, to hear, and the noun el, God, so that the thought conveyed is that she named him “heard of God” because she asked him of the Lord. It indicates that she wanted her child to stand out in the mind of her people as a living monument to God’s hearing and, answering her prayer for a man-child. She waited with going up to offer unto the Lord the yearly sacrifice until the child was weaned and could be brought to the sanctuary to abide there forever, doubtless because she deemed it improper to go up to the sanctuary as long as she could not appear before the face of God with her child and thus perform her vow. Elkanah, her husband, was willing that she have her way in the matter. “Do what, seemeth thee good;” said he to her. “Tarry until thou have weaned him; only the Lord establish His word.” The word of the Lord to which this reply has reference is the promise of God implicit in His hearing and answering Hannah’s prayer for a man-child—the promise that according to her vow He would -take the child to Himself and wholly dedicate him to His service at the sanctuary. When the child was weaned she brought him to the sanctuary and gave him to the Lord with the required sacrifices. She brought the child to Eli. But she must identify herself, which she did in these words, “Oh my Lord, as thy soul liveth, my Lord, I am the woman that stood by thee here, praying unto the Lord. For this child I prayed; and the Lord hath given me my petition which I asked of him; therefore also I have lent him to the Lord; and as long as he liveth he shall be lent to the Lord.” It is doubtful whether the clause, “Therefore also have I lent him. . . can be received as a correct translation of the Hebrew text at this place, Man cannot lend to his Maker. Some translate, “Therefore I have given him to the Lord.” But the Hebrew verb is sha-al, to ask, in the Hiphil. Doubtless the text must be rendered, “Therefore also I have asked him for the Lord; and he was asked for the Lord as long as he liveth.” “And he (or she) worshipped the! Lord there. And Hannah prayed and said,
My heart rejoiceth in Jehovah,
My horn is exalted in Jehovah;
My mouth is opened wide over mine enemies,
Because I rejoice in thy salvation.
There is none holy as Jehovah,
For there is none beside thee,
And there is no rock like our God.
Talk no more so exceedingly proudly;
Let not arrogancy come out of thy mouth;
For the Lord is a God of knowledge,
And by Him actions are weighed.
The bows of the mighty men are broken,
And they that stumbled are girded with strength.
They that were full have hired themselves out for bread,
And they that were hungry ceased (to hunger);
So that the barren hath borne seven,
And she that hath many children hath waxed feeble.
Jehovah killeth and maketh alive,
Bringeth down to Sheol and bringeth up.
Jehovah maketh poor and maketh rich,
Bringeth low and lifteth up.
He raiseth up the poor out of the dust,
And lifteth up the needy out of the dunghill,
To set among princes,
And he makes them to inherit a throne of glory:
For the pillars of the earth are Jehovah’s,
And he hath set the world upon them.
He will keep the feet of his favored ones,
And the wicked shall perish in darkness;
For not by strength shall a man prevail.
The adversaries of Jehovah shall be broken in pieces;
And out of heaven will he thunder upon them.
Jehovah will judge the ends of the earth,
And he will give strength unto his king.
The above comes close to being a literal translation from the Hebrew of Hannah’s song of thanksgiving. The prayer or song with which we here deal is truly remarkable. Mark you, it expresses great joy in Jehovah and His salvation. It extols His virtues. It directs words of rebuke to the proud and the arrogant. It predicts the destruction of the mighty, and speaks of the strengthening of the weak, the depletion of the full, the satisfying of the hungry, the fruitfulness of the barren, and the enfeebling of the fruitful, and then sets forth Jehovah as the one who works all these things, goes on to describe the Lord’s gracious dealing with the poor and the needy—his favored ones, who put their trust (in God—again predicts the destruction of Jehovah’s adversaries and ends with extoling the universality of Jehovah’s reign in and through /His king. There is this question. How could Hannah’s giving birth to a son be the cause of such rejoicing on her part and give rise in her soul to a song of such themes as her own personal salvation and the salvation and exaltation of God’s people in general? To understand her peculiar joy, it must always be borne in mind that it was the dispensation of shadows. As has already been explained, in the Old Dispensation, Canaan was heaven for the Old Testament Church, for there dwelt the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ with His people. Hence, the one great desire of every believing Israelitess was to bear children, sons and daughters, in order that in her generations, she and her house might continue to have a name and a place in God’s country. When an Israelite died without an issue, his inheritance went to another, and his place would know him no more. That was equivalent to his being banished from God’s presence even in death, Jacob’s desire was to be buried in Canaan. And such was also the desire of Joseph. He took an oath of the children of Israel, saying, God shall surely visit you, and ye shall carry up my bones from hence. Certain it is that a childless marriage caused sadness of soul, if those, so afflicted, were true children of God, as was Hannah; for though a God-fearing woman, she bore in her body what was generally regarded as the mark of divine disfavor. But what caused her greatest grief was the taunts of that wicked Peninnah by whom she was being despised and held in visible contempt on account of her barrenness. And in all likelihood she was quoting the very words of the Lord, in defense of her stand that the God-fearing Hannah, being childless, was the object of divine disfavor however God-fearing she might appear to be. For the Lord, in commanding His people, had said by the mouth of Moses, “And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe and to do all His commandments which I commanded thee this day. . . . that all these blessings shall come upon thee and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God. Blessed shalt thou be in the city, and blessed shalt thou be in the field. Blessed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy ground, and the fruit of thy cattle. . . . And the Lord shall make thee plenteous of goods, in the fruit of thy body, and in the fruit of thy cattle and in the fruit of thy ground. . . (). In the Old Dispensation, being as it was the dispensation of shadows, the Lord would bestow upon the nation all these gifts, in the way of its keeping His covenant. When the covenant was broken, these gifts were withheld and the nation was visited with social and economic disasters, which, according to the law, had to include also the unfruitfulness of the body. But the cursings and blessings of the law in their working were made to pursue only the nation on a whole and not lone members of the theocracy by themselves. Also in Israel, the wicked often prospered, while the believer might be plagued all the day long and chastened) every morning. Such was the lot of Hannah. Though truly God-fearing, she was barren and on this account reviled all the day long by her adversary, the malicious Peninnah who, though wicked, was fruitful. It was also of this woman that Asaph was speaking when he said, “For there are no bands in their death: but their strength is firm. They are not in trouble as other men; neither are they plagued like other mem. Therefore pride compasseth them about as a chain; violence covereth them as a garment. . . . They are corrupt, and speak wickedly of oppression; they speak loftily,” . It was from the persecutions of that wicked woman that the Lord saved Hannah by hearing and answering her prayer for a man-child. And she was glad and praised the Lord her Savior for the salvation that he sent her. Thus a right understanding of this song requires that we perceive that the strife between Peninnah and Hannah was not a common quarrel between two women vying for the affections of a man, but rather the working of the enmity between) the serpent brood and the seed of the woman set by God at the dawn of history. It was thus a manifestation of the strife of the ages between darkness and light with the light always the victor. The spirit of the serpent brood was revealed in Peninnah. The ambition of this brood stirred in her bosom. Her aim was to destroy Hannah’s faith in God. But the faith of Hannah was indestructible. The triumph was therefore hers. She overcame her adversary not by opposing reviling to reviling, thus not by the weapons of the flesh, but by putting her trust in Jehovah and by casting herself upon His mercy. Thus she prevailed; and her victory was her faith.
Therefore her heart rejoiced in Jehovah; and she was conscious of being filled with courage and power, of which the source was Jehovah, to bless His name, declare His glories, rebuke the pride of her enemies, and proclaim and foretell their abasement. In the words of the song, her horn was exalted in Jehovah; her mouth was opened wide over her enemies, because she rejoiced in the Lord’s salvation. She next sets forth the onlyness and absoluteness of God, His infinite transcendence over everything earthy, human, creaturely, and His perfect devotion to self as the only and incomparable God. These ideas are indicated by her words, “For there is none beside thee.” And thus it follows that, in the words of her song, “There is none holy as Jehovah and there is no rock like our God.” These words set forth the onlyness of God by the names holy and rock. As the Holy One, He is the Unchangeable, Immoveable, in His faithfulness toward His people, unshakable and indestructible in His trustworthiness. And this rock is “our God”. He chose His people in Christ and makes them His possession by His grace so that He is “our God”.
Having exalted Jehovah in her song, Hannah addresses words of censure to the ungodly. Let them not increase to speak proudly; let not arrogancy come out of their mouth. The soul of the wicked, is haughty and shows itself in haughty talk, directed towards God’s believing people. Reference here is not to the heathen that dwelt on Israel’s borders, but to the enemy within the gate, to the carnal seed in the church that, in the language of the psalmist “utter and speak hard things; boast themselves, break in pieces thy people and afflict thy heritage, slay the widow and the stranger, and murder the fatherless,”. But let them consider that in the words of Hannah’s song, “The Lord is a God of knowledge and by Him actions are weighed.” He knows all the deeds and all the words of the wicked. His eye pierces even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart; in his sight all things are naked and opened, and no man can withdraw from His rule. It is plain that Hannah was mindful of the fact that she was but one of many harassed and reviled by the haters of God, one of many who fight the good fight, and that, as mindful of this, she merged herself in the many, in the nation according to the election, in the church universal in fact; and that,, looking forward from her own strife and from the triumph of her own: faith, she extended her song into a large outburst of praise to God for His saving love to all His people in Christ, This comes out especially in the sequel of the song.
Having exhorted the proud to recollect that Jehovah weighs actions, she proclaims the conduct of the Holy and Faithful God toward the ungodly and the godly by a sharply contrasted change in their respective lots. The idea set forth is that the strong who will be something in themselves are destroyed; and that the weak who despair of themselves are made strong. Thus in the words of the song, “The bows of the mighty are broken, and they that stumble are girded with strength. They that were full have hired themselves out for bread, and they that were hungry were filled; so that the barren hath borne seven; and she that hath many (children hath waxed feeble.”
And because Hannah would have God’s people consider that this cometh from the Lord, she continued, “Jehovah killeth and maketh alive, Bringeth down to Sheol (the grave) and bringeth up. Jehovah maketh poor and maketh rich, bringeth low and lifteth up.” But doubtless there is more in these words. To kill is also to bring the soul near to death by extremest suffering—making alive is saving from deadly sorrow unto safety and joy. Thus at, “I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal;” , “Thou hast brought up my soul from the grave (Sheol), thou hast made me alive,” , “Thou who hast, shown us great and sore trouble, wilt quicken us again, and wilt bring us up from the depths of the earth.” , “Great is thy mercy toward me, and thou hast delivered my soul from the lowest grave.” There is then no reference in this part of the song to the physical resurrection of the dead. Doubtless in this verse the prophetess (Hannah) concentrates solely on God’s dealings with His people (the believers). The thought set forth is that sorrow as well as joy, adversity as well as prosperity come to the believers by God’s fatherly hand; and further that He submerges His people in deepest suffering in order to create for Himself the opportunity, so to say, to save them from all their troubles, that He may be feared. This thought is continued and further developed in the lines that follow. “He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the needy out of the- dunghill, to set among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory.” This language agrees almost word for word with , “He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth the needy out of the dunghill; that he may set him with princes, even with the princes of his people.” The poor and the needy are the oppressed believers in Israel, whose expectation is the. Lord. “Dust” and “dunghill” are words descriptive of deepest dishonor and disgrace. One in this condition was, as it were, being trampled by men, definitely by the violent men, who feared not God and had no regard for His people. Thus the “raising and lifting up” indicate the gracious intervening of God whereby shame and contempt are changed into honor and glory, that consists in the oppressed ones being made to sit in the company of nobles and princes, on the throne of glory. And this salutary government of God, whereby He saves His people cannot fail, for He is Israel’s mighty God; “the pillars of the earth are Jehovah’s, and he hath set the world upon them,” meaning that He is the Creator and Sustainer of the earth, and therefore by His power exercises unlimited rule over the earth and in the hearts of all mankind. Thus “He will keep the feet of His favored ones, and the wicked shall perish in darkness; For not by strength shall a man prevail The adversaries of Jehovah shall be broken in pieces; and out of heaven will He thunder upon them. Jehovah will judge the ends of the earth, and He will give strength unto his king.” So does the song culminate in the prediction of the rule of God in the manifestation of His justice towards the godly and the ungodly and in extending His kingdom over the world in the person of His anointed, who in the first instance was king David as including Solomon, and in the final instance Christ. Thus, these last words do not, as the critics maintain, assume the existence of a king but the promise of one.
Hannah’s song is gospel. As there is but one gospel, the themes of her song are discernible in every proclamation of the gospel in the ages that preceded. The “king” of her song is the “seed” of the woman that shall bruise the head of the serpent,; He is the “seed” in whom all the nations of the earth will be blessed, ; He is the Shiloh to whom shall be the gathering of the people, . And Balaam prophesied that “Out of Jacob shall come he that shall have dominion. . . . . Then there is the law of the king in Deut. 17. The things of which Hannah spake had been heard before, for it was the gospel that she proclaimed. Only, as filled with the Spirit of prophecy, whose representative and instrument she was, she shed upon the gospel, upon its promise, a new light. But it was the same gospel. The hope that the Lord would raise up a king, who would save His people from their troubles and deep sorrows, was already living. Hence, that Hannah lived at a time when the nation was still without a king, cannot be adduced against the view that the song is of her but of one who lived when the king was in existence. Besides, the sacred writer puts the song in her mouth. There is certainly no arguing with the Scriptures.