The Song of Hannah


“You need not cry very loud; He is nearer to us than we think.” ~Brother Lawrence

If Hannah appeared outwardly as she appeared inwardly, she was a lovely young woman indeed. She was married to an older man, Elkanah, a Levite living in Ephraim (1 Samuel 1:1; 1 Chronicles 6:27, 34), who already had children by another wife, Peninnah; but he cherished Hannah. Hannah was despondent because she was childless. She wanted a child more than she wanted to live. He asked her, “Why are you weeping? Why are you not eating? Why is your heart grieved? Am not I better to you than ten sons?” (1 Samuel 1:8).

Each year Elkanah and family went to Shiloh, where the Tabernacle was set up (Joshua 18:1), to worship and to sacrifice to the Lord. While she was there, Hannah “was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the Lord, sobbing” (1 Samuel 1:10). She made God a promise—a vow, which Israelites took seriously (Deuteronomy 23:21-23; 1 Samuel 1:11; Ecclesiastes 5:2-7)—that if He would give her a son, she would give him back to the Lord.

Though earnest and intense, Hannah was not praying aloud. She was praying in her heart. When Eli the priest observed her, he quickly assumed she was drunk and reprimanded her.

“No, my lord, I am a woman of a sorrowful spirit: I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but have poured out my soul before the Lord” (1 Samuel 1:15).

Notice here the power of words. Eli said to her, “Go in peace: and the God of Israel grant you your petition” (1:17). And he didn’t even know what she’d asked.

Hannah must have sensed in her spirit that God had heard and answered or that Eli’s words had power to make it so, because that very day she laid down the burden of her heart and left it all at the altar. According to the time of life, God granted her request, and gave her a son, Samuel (“asked of God”).

Next year Elkanah made his annual trip to Shiloh to worship, but Hannah did not go with him. “I will not go up until the child is weaned, and then I will bring him, that he may appear before the Lord, and there abide forever” (1:22).

Elkanah, it seems, had no will in the matter. “Do what seems good to you; stay till you have weaned him” (1:23). she had weaned him—“the child was young” (1:24) but probably more than a toddler—Hannah took him to the house of the Lord in Shiloh, worshiped, and left the child with Eli. She identified herself as the woman who had been praying that day. “For this child I prayed; and the Lord has given me my request … Therefore I have lent him to the Lord as long as he lives” (1:27, 28). One can only imagine Eli’s chagrin to find that at his advanced age, he was to rear and mentor a young boy.

And Hannah prayed, praising (2:1-10):

My heart rejoices in the Lord,
My horn is exalted in the Lord:
My mouth is enlarged over my enemies;
Because I rejoice in Your salvation.
There is none holy as the Lord:
For there is none beside You:
Neither is there any Rock like our God.
Talk no more so exceeding proudly;
Let not arrogancy come out of your 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 out themselves for bread;
And they that were hungry ceased:
So that the barren has born seven;
And she that has many children is waxed feeble.
The Lord kills, and makes alive:
He brings down to the grave, and brings up.
The Lord makes poor, and makes rich:
He brings low, and lifts up.
He raises up the poor out of the dust,
And lifts up the beggar from the dunghill,
To set them among princes,
And to make them inherit the throne of glory:
For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s,
And He has set the world upon them.
He will keep the feet of His saints,
And the wicked shall be silent in darkness;
For by strength shall no man prevail.
The adversaries of the Lord shall be broken to pieces;
Out of heaven shall He thunder upon them:
The Lord shall judge the ends of the earth;
And He shall give strength unto His King,
And exalt the horn of His Anointed.

Leonard Ravenhill said that before He could get a man—Samuel—God first had to get a woman. Hannah was remarkable not only for her vow, and keeping her vow, but for her theology. As you read, you see, in a day before the printing press and wide dissemination of Scripture—though she was married to a priest—how much she understood about the Lord and His governance of the universe. Her “Anointed”, the Hebrew מְשִׁיחֽ, is the first time this word is used in Scripture for Messiah, showing her song to be prophetic. Samuel, being a child, wearing a linen ephod, ministered before the Lord. And each year when the family came to Shiloh to worship, Hannah brought him “a little coat” (2:19), the Hebrew מְעִ֤יל, meaning the “robe of the ephod” (Exodus 29:5; 1 Chronicles 15:27) or mantle of a priest (1 Samuel 28:14), “all of blue” (Exodus 28:31; 39:22) and “woven without seam” (Exodus 28:32; John 19:23), worn by prophets, priests, and kings (1 Samuel 24:4; 15:27) and persons of prominence (2 Samuel 13:18; Job 1:20; 2:12). Eli blessed Elkanah and said, “The Lord give you seed of this woman for the loan you have made to the Lord.” The narrative says that Hannah had three more sons and two daughters (2:18-21). That her song says “the barren has born seven” (2:5) indicates that the Song of Hannah came later in life, after she had had more children.

“Men are God’s method. The church is looking for better methods; God is looking for better men.” ~EM Bounds

Copyright © 2013 Alexandra Lee


4 thoughts on “The Song of Hannah

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