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1 Samuel 2:1-10 – Hannah’s Song

Summary

Hannah's song of praise introduces several themes that will appear in the books of Samuel. The song serves as a model for the Magnificat in Luke 1:46-55.

Analysis

Hannah's song, a later poetic piece, has been inserted into the narrative. This poem, a national thanksgiving, is only tangentially related to Hannah's situation in verse 5b, where "the barren has borne seven." The reference to "his king" (v. 10) also indicates that the poem is later than its setting.

Nevertheless, this marvelous song beautifully expresses Hannah's transformation by contrasting her sad song, lamenting her childlessness (1:10-11), with this glad song, praising God for the gift of her son. This movement from sad song to glad song, lament to praise, is foundational to the Psalter and, indeed, to biblical theology as well. The source of her joy is found in the Lord throughout the song. It is the Lord who has triumphed, and the Lord who brings about the reversal of situation that will form the backbone of the following narrative.

Hannah's song should also be seen in its relation to two other scriptural songs:


1. David's song (2 Samuel 22), coming near the end of 2 Samuel, and Hannah's song form an inclusio or framework around the books of Samuel, attesting to their original unity. Among the similarities are the following:

  • both begin with the Hebrew word "horn" as a metaphor for "strength," call God "Rock," and speak of God's "deliverance" (1 Samuel 2:1-2; 2 Samuel 22:2-3)
  • both have references to "the grave/Sheol" (1 Samuel 2:6; 2 Samuel 22:6) and "thunder" (1 Samuel 2:10; 2 Samuel 22:14)
  • both end by juxtaposing "his king" with "his anointed" (1 Samuel 2:10; 2 Samuel 22:51)

2. The Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55), whether sung by Mary or Elizabeth, also strongly echoes Hannah's song:

  • Hannah, Mary, and Elizabeth all became pregnant in miraculous ways
  • all three dedicated their sons (Samuel, Jesus, and John the Baptist) to God's service
  • the songs were offered in response to God's gift of these sons
  • of more significance, however, is the repeated theme of God's reversal of fortune by bringing down the powerful and raising up the lowly (1 Samuel 2:4-5, 7-8; Luke 1:52-53).

1 Samuel 2:1-10

Hannah’s Prayer

2Hannah prayed and said,
‘My heart exults in the Lord;
   my strength is exalted in my God.*
My mouth derides my enemies,
   because I rejoice in my* victory.


2 ‘There is no Holy One like the Lord,
   no one besides you;
   there is no Rock like our God.
3 Talk no more so very proudly,
   let not arrogance come from your mouth;
for the Lord is a God of knowledge,
   and by him actions are weighed.
4 The bows of the mighty are broken,
   but the feeble gird on strength.
5 Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread,
   but those who were hungry are fat with spoil.
The barren has borne seven,
   but she who has many children is forlorn.
6 The Lord kills and brings to life;
   he brings down to Sheol and raises up.
7 The Lord makes poor and makes rich;
   he brings low, he also exalts.
8 He raises up the poor from the dust;
   he lifts the needy from the ash heap,
to make them sit with princes
   and inherit a seat of honour.*
For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s,
   and on them he has set the world.


9 ‘He will guard the feet of his faithful ones,
   but the wicked shall be cut off in darkness;
   for not by might does one prevail.
10 The Lord! His adversaries shall be shattered;
   the Most High* will thunder in heaven.
The Lord will judge the ends of the earth;
   he will give strength to his king,
   and exalt the power of his anointed.’

oremus Bible Browser
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v 2.2.7
10 February 2011

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