“MY HEART EXULTS IN THE LORD!”
Hannah 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.
“There is no Holy One like the Lord,
no one besides you;
there is no Rock like our God.
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.
The bows of the mighty are broken,
but the feeble gird on strength.
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.
The Lord kills and brings to life;
he brings down to Sheol and raises up.
The Lord makes poor and makes rich;
he brings low, he also exalts.
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 honor.
For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s,
and on them he has set the world.
“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.
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.”
Then Elkanah went home to Ramah, while the boy remained to minister to the Lord, in the presence of the priest Eli (1 SAMUEL 2:1-11 NRSV).
Having given her very heart to the Lord in the person of her son, Hannah lifts her voice in prayer and praise to God. The theme of her song is the power and sovereignty of a God who reverses human fortune. God is her horn (1 Samuel 2:1, a symbol of strength) and will raise up a king, the anointed one, who will be a horn. Hannah serves a God who breaks the weapons of the violent while strengthening their weak victims. He causes the full to hunger and feeds the empty. He raises the poor, guards the saints, gives children to the barren, and brings life to the dying.
This great reversal is also a central theme in the New Testament. Mary the mother of Jesus sings a similar song of hope and deliverance (Luke 1:46-55). Jesus himself often gives examples of this reversal where the first are last and the last first. God has a heart for those who suffer oppression and poverty. His word to them is one of hope and anticipation. Things will not always be the same. God will act. The days of injustice are over. The kingdom of God has come.
What does all this have to do with the birth of one small boy in the hill country of Ephraim? Everything. For God speaks and acts through his chosen ones, his anointed ones. It is God’s strength, wisdom, and justice that will fill Samuel. It is God who is the hero of Hannah’s story and of ours.
What reversals are you praying for? What do you think is impossible today? The injustices in our society? A situation in your family? Take a step today to pray like Hannah to the God who raises up the poor and brokenhearted.
God of love, may we praise you in song as the one who raises the lowly.
DR. GARY HOLLOWAY
Gary Holloway is Executive Director of the World Convention. Holding degrees from Freed-Hardeman, Harding, The University of Texas, and Emory University, he has written or edited thirty books, including (with Douglas Foster) Renewing God’s World: A Concise Global History of the Stone-Campbell Movement from ACU Press. He is married to Deb Rogers Holloway.