1 Samuel 2:1
And Hannah prayed, and said, My heart rejoiceth in the LORD, mine horn is exalted in the LORD: my mouth is enlarged over mine enemies; because I rejoice in thy salvation.
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(1) And Hannah prayed, and said.—“Prayed,” not quite in the sense in which we generally understand prayer. Her prayer here asks for nothing; it is rather a song of thanksgiving for the past, a song which passes into expressions of sure confidence for the future. She had been an unhappy woman; her life had been, she thought, a failure; her dearest hopes had been baffled; vexed, tormented, utterly cast down, she had fled to the Rock of Israel for help, and in the eternal pity of the Divine Friend of her people she had found rest, and then joy; out of her own individual experience the Spirit of the Lord taught her to discern the general laws of the Divine economy; she had had personal experience of the gracious government of the kind, all-pitiful God; her own mercies were a pledge to her of the gracious way in which the nation itself was led by Jehovah—were a sign by which she discerned how the Eternal not only always delivered the individual sufferer who turned to Him, but would also at all times be ever ready to succour and deliver His people.

These true, beautiful thoughts the Spirit of the Lord first planted in Hannah’s heart, and then gave her lips grace and power to utter them in the sublime language of her hymn, which became one of the loved songs of the people, and as such was handed down from father to son, from generation to generation, in Israel, in the very words which first fell from the blessed mother of the child-prophet in her quiet home of “Ramah of the Watchers.”

My heart rejoiceth.—The first verse of four lines is the introduction to the Divine song. She would give utterance to her holy joy. Had she not received the blessing at last which all mothers in Israel so longed for?

Mine horn is exalted.—She does not mean by this, “I am proud,” but “I am strong”—mighty now in the gift I have received from the Lord: glorious in the consciousness “I have a God-Friend who hears me.” The image “horn” is taken from oxen and those animals whose strength lies in their horns. It is a favourite Hebrew symbol, and one that had become familiar to them from their long experience—dating from far-back patriarchal times—as a shepherd-people.

1 Samuel 2:1. Hannah prayed — That is, praised God. Hymns of praise are frequently comprehended under the name of prayers. To utter this hymn Hannah was raised by divine inspiration, while she was engaged in devout meditation on the extraordinary goodness of God to her. My heart rejoiceth — Or, leapeth for joy; for the words signify, not only inward joy, but also the outward demonstration of it. She was influenced by the same spirit which moved St. James to say, Is any afflicted? Let him pray, as she did, 1 Samuel 1:10. Is any merry? Let him sing psalms, as she now does. In the Lord — As the author of my joy, that he hath heard my prayer, and accepted my son for his service. My horn is exalted — My strength and glory (which are often signified by a horn) are advanced, and manifested to my vindication, and the confusion of my enemies. She who was bowed down and dejected, now lifts up her head and triumphs. My mouth is enlarged, &c. — That is, opened wide to pour forth abundant praises to God, and to give a full answer to all the reproaches of my adversaries. Enemies — So she manifests her prudence and modesty in not naming Peninnah, but only her enemies in general. I rejoice in thy salvation — The matter of my joy is no trivial thing, but that strange and glorious deliverance thou hast given me from my oppressing grief and care, and from the insolent reproaches of my enemies.

2:1-10 Hannah's heart rejoiced, not in Samuel, but in the Lord. She looks beyond the gift, and praises the Giver. She rejoiced in the salvation of the Lord, and in expectation of His coming, who is the whole salvation of his people. The strong are soon weakened, and the weak are soon strengthened, when God pleases. Are we poor? God made us poor, which is a good reason why we should be content, and make up our minds to our condition. Are we rich? God made us rich, which is a good reason why we should be thankful, and serve him cheerfully, and do good with the abundance he gives us. He respects not man's wisdom or fancied excellences, but chooses those whom the world accounts foolish, teaching them to feel their guilt, and to value his free and precious salvation. This prophecy looks to the kingdom of Christ, that kingdom of grace, of which Hannah speaks, after having spoken largely of the kingdom of providence. And here is the first time that we meet with the name MESSIAH, or his Anointed. The subjects of Christ's kingdom will be safe, and the enemies of it will be ruined; for the Anointed, the Lord Christ, is able to save, and to destroy.The song of Hannah is a prophetic Psalm. It is poetry. and it is prophecy. It takes its place by the side of the songs of Miriam, Deborah, and the Virgin Mary, as well as those of Moses, David, Hezekiah, and other Psalmists and prophets whose inspired odes have been preserved in the Bible. The special feature which these songs have in common is, that springing from, and in their first conception relating to, incidents in the lives of the individuals who composed them, they branch out into magnificent descriptions of the Kingdom and glory of Christ, and the triumphs of the Church, of which those incidents were providentially designed to be the types. The perception of this is essential to the understanding of Hannah's song. Compare the marginal references throughout. CHAPTER 2

1Sa 2:1-11. Hannah's Song in Thankfulness to God.

1. Hannah prayed, and said—Praise and prayer are inseparably conjoined in Scripture (Col 4:2; 1Ti 2:1). This beautiful song was her tribute of thanks for the divine goodness in answering her petition.

mine horn is exalted in the Lord—Allusion is here made to a peculiarity in the dress of Eastern women about Lebanon, which seems to have obtained anciently among the Israelite women, that of wearing a tin or silver horn on the forehead, on which their veil is suspended. Wives, who have no children, wear it projecting in an oblique direction, while those who become mothers forthwith raise it a few inches higher, inclining towards the perpendicular, and by this slight but observable change in their headdress, make known, wherever they go, the maternal character which they now bear.Hannah’s song, 1 Samuel 2:1-10. Samuel ministers before the Lord, 1 Samuel 2:11. Eli’s sons are wicked, 1 Samuel 2:12-17. Hannah beareth more children, 1 Samuel 2:20,21. Eli reproves his sons, but mildly 1 Samuel 2:22-25. God by a proverb foretelleth the destruction of Eli’s house, 1 Samuel 2:27-36.

Hannah prayed, i.e. praised God; which is a part of prayer, Colossians 4:2 1 Timothy 2:1; so it is a synecdochical expression. My heart rejoiceth, or, leapeth for joy; for the words note not only inward joy, but also the outward demonstrations of it.

In the Lord, as the author and the master of my joy, that he hath heard my prayer, and accepted my son for his service.

Mine horn is exalted; my strength and glory (which are oft signified by a horn, as Psalm 89:17,24 92:10) are advanced and manifested to my vindication, and the confusion of mine enemies.

My mouth is enlarged, i.e. opened wide, to pour forth abundant praises to God, and to give a full answer to all the reproaches of mine adversaries; whereas before it was shut through grief and confusion.

Over mine enemies, i.e. more than theirs, or so as to get the victory over them, as she saith afterwards. Here she manifests her great prudence, and piety, and modesty, that she doth not name Peninnah, but only her enemies in the general.

Because I rejoice in thy salvation; because the matter of my joy is no trivial or worldly thing, but that strange and glorious salvation or deliverance which thou hast given me from my own oppressing care and grief, and from the insolencies and reproaches of mine enemies, in giving me a son, and such a son as this, who shall be serviceable to God, and to his people, in helping them against their enemies, which she presaged, as may be guessed from 1 Samuel 2:10.

And Hannah prayed and said,.... She had prayed before, but that was mental, this vocal; she had prayed and was answered, and had what she prayed for, and now she gives thanks for it; and thanksgiving is one kind of prayer, or a part of it; see 1 Timothy 2:1, wherefore though what follows is a song, it was expressed in prayer; and therefore it is said she prayed, and that by a spirit of prophecy, as the Targum; hence she is by the Jews (h) reckoned one of the seven prophetesses; and indeed in this song she not only relates the gracious experiences of divine goodness she had been favoured with, and celebrates the divine perfections, and treats of the dealings of God with men, both in a way of providence and grace; but prophesies of things that should be done hereafter in Israel, and particularly of the Messiah and of his kingdom. There is a great likeness in this song to the song of the Virgin Mary; compare 1 Samuel 2:1 with Luke 1:46 and 1 Samuel 2:2 with Luke 1:49 and 1 Samuel 2:4 with Luke 1:51,

my heart rejoiceth in the Lord: not in her son the Lord had given her, but in the goodness and kindness of the Lord in bestowing him on her, as an answer of prayer; which showed great condescension to her, the notice he took of her, the love he had to her, and his well pleasedness in her, and his acceptance of her prayer through Christ; she rejoiced not in her husband, nor in the wealth and riches they were possessed of, nor in any creature enjoyments, but in the Lord, the giver of all; nor in her religious services and sacrifices, but in the Lord Christ, through whom her duties were acceptable to God, and who was the antitype of the sacrifices offered; and it is in the person, offices, and grace of Christ, that we should alone rejoice: see Philippians 4:4 this joy of Hannah's was not worldly, but spiritual; not outward, but inward; not hypocritical, but real and hearty:

mine horn is exalted in the Lord: which supposes that she had been in a low estate, was crest fallen, and her horn was defiled in the dust, as Job says was his case, Job 16:15, when God had shut up her womb, and her adversary upbraided her with it, and provoked and fretted her; and when she was so full of grief, that she could not eat her food, and prayed in the bitterness of her soul; but now she could lift up her horn and her head, as horned creatures, to whom the allusion is, do, when they are lively and strong; now she could look pleasant and cheerful, and even triumph, being raised to an high estate, and greatly favoured of the Lord, to whom she ascribes this change of her state and circumstances: it was owing to his power and grace that she was thus strengthened and exalted; as it is owing to the same, that the people of God, who are in a low estate by nature, are raised out of it in conversion, and brought into an open state of grace and favour with God, and put into the possession of rich blessings and mercies, and have hope of eternal glory, on account of which they can exult and triumph:

my mouth is enlarged over mine enemies; meaning Peninnah, and those that provoked her, and upbraided her with her barrenness, to whom she was not able to make any reply; but now her mouth was opened, and she could speak largely, and did; not in a way of reproach and reviling, in retaliation for what she had met with from others; but in prayer to God, to whom she could come with open mouth, and use freedom and boldness, and plead with importunity, fervency, and in faith, and in praise and thanksgiving to him for the great and good things he had done for her, and would now freely and largely speak of them to others; to some, her friends, to their joy and pleasure; and to others, her enemies, to their grief and confusion:

because I rejoice in thy salvation; not only in temporal salvation wrought by the Lord for her, whereby she was delivered from the reproach of barrenness, through a son being given unto her; but in spiritual and eternal salvation, through the Messiah, she had knowledge of, and faith in, as appears from 1 Samuel 2:10, as all believers in him do, as it is contrived by the wisdom of God, wrought out by Christ, and applied by his Spirit; it being so great, so suitable, so perfect and complete, entirely free, and of an everlasting duration; see Psalm 20:5.

(h) T. Megillah, fol. 14. 1.

And Hannah {a} prayed, and said, My heart rejoiceth in the LORD, mine {b} horn is exalted in the LORD: my mouth is {c} enlarged over mine enemies; because I rejoice in thy salvation.

(a) After she had obtained a son by prayer she gave thanks.

(b) I have recovered strength and glory by the benefit of the Lord.

(c) I can answer them that criticize my barrenness.

1. And Hannah prayed] This description of the Psalm is not inappropriate, for prayer includes thanksgiving and praise. Cp. the “prayer of Habakkuk” (Habakkuk 3:1): and the “prayers of David” as a general designation of his psalms (Psalm 72:20).

rejoiceth] Exulteth or triumpheth, a strong word.

mine horn is exalted in the Lord] = ‘I am brought to great honour, and the author of that honour is Jehovah.’ The horn is frequently used as a symbol (a) of strength (Deuteronomy 33:17): (b) of honour Job 16:15). “To exalt the horn” signifies “to raise to a position of power or dignity.” Cp. Psalm 89:17; Psalm 148:14. The figure is probably derived from horned animals, tossing their heads in the air, and there is no allusion to the horns worn by women in the East at the present day. It is found in Latin poets, e.g. Ov. A. A. 1. 239, “Tum pauper cornua sumit” = “plucks up courage.”

my mouth is enlarged over mine enemies] “My mouth is opened wide against mine enemies;” I am no longer put to silence in their presence. Cp. Psalm 38:13-14. In ch. 1 Samuel 1:7-8 it is implied that Hannah made no answer to Peninnah’s taunts.

thy salvation] Cp. Luke 1:47. “Salvation” in the O. T. means (a) deliverance, rescue from dangers or adversities of all kinds (ch. 1 Samuel 14:45); (b) help, the power by which the deliverance is effected, whether divine or human (Psalm 35:3).

Ch. 1 Samuel 2:1-11. The Song of Hannah

Hannah’s song is a true prophecy. She is inspired “to discern in her own individual experience the universal laws of the divine economy, and to recognise its significance for the whole course of the Kingdom of God.” The deliverance from her proud adversary which had just been vouchsafed to her was but one instance of the great principles of Jehovah’s moral government of the world, principles which receive their fullest illustration in the exaltation of the Lord’s Christ through humiliation to victory, and which will only he fully realised when “the kingdoms of this world shall have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ.” Hence it is that her own peculiar circumstances are so soon lost sight of in the wider view of the dealings of God’s Providence. The failure to recognise this has led critics to deny the authenticity of the song, and to conjecture that some ancient triumphal war-pæan has been erroneously placed in Hannah’s month by the compiler of the book.

A brief analysis will help to explain the connexion of thought.

“Jehovah is the sole author of my deliverance. He shall be the theme of my song.

There is none to be compared with Him for holiness, power, faithfulness: be silent before him, all ye proud boasters! He knows your thoughts and weighs your actions.

Observe the vicissitudes of human fortune: the haughty are humbled, the humble exalted: this is Jehovah’s doing: for He is the Almighty Governor of the universe. He guides and guards His saints, and destroys the wicked.

May He finally discomfit his adversaries, judge the world, and establish the kingdom of His Anointed One!”

The Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55) should be carefully compared with Hannah’s song, of which it is an echo rather than an imitation. The resemblance lies in thought and tone more than in actual language, and supplies a most delicate and valuable testimony to the appropriateness of this hymn to Hannah’s circumstances. The 113th Psalm forms a connecting link between the two.

Verse 1. - And Hannah prayed and said. Like the Magnificat, Hannah's hymn of thanksgiving begins with the temporal mercies accorded to herself, but rises immediately into the realms of prophecy, foretelling Christ's kingdom and the triumphs of the Church. From this prophetic element, common more or less to all the hymns of the Bible, most of them have been used in Christian worship, and still merit a place in it, though we in the liturgy of the Church of England now use only two, taken both from the New Testament. In ver. 1, in four strophes of equal length, Hannah declares how, first, her heart, the centre with the Hebrews, not merely of the physical, but also of the moral and intellectual life, rejoices in Jehovah; while the exaltation of her horn, the symbol of strength and vigour, signifies that this inward joy is accompanied, or even occasioned, by the changed circumstances of her outward lot. Her mouth, therefore, is opened wide over her enemies, yet not for cursing and in bitterness, but for joyful praise of the God who has answered her prayers. It is his salvation, the being delivered by him, that makes her thus burst forth into thanksgiving. It is a proof too of her faith and spirituality that she thus refers all to Jehovah. In ver. 2 she gives her reasons for this holy joy. The first is God's absolute holiness; the second his absolute existence, in which she finds the proof of his holiness. Hannah may have meant to express only the language of piety, but she also stated a primary philosophical truth, which was early grasped by the deeply religious instinct of the Hebrews, that outside of God is no existence. Many necessary deductions follow from this fundamental truth, that God alone absolutely exists, and that all other existence is secondary and derived; but no deduction is more certain than Hannah's own, that such a Being must be absolutely holy. In calling him a rock she assigns to him strength, calm, immovable, enduring, but a strength which avails for the safety of his people (comp. Deuteronomy 32:4, 15; Psalm 18:2). For rocks, as being capable of easy defence, formed the nucleus of most ancient towns, and continued to serve as their citadels. In ver. 3 she appeals to God's omniscience, "for Jehovah is a God of knowledges," the pl. being intensive, and signifying every kind of knowledge. As too he weighs and judges human actions, how can men venture to talk so arrogantly before him, lit. so proudly, proudly. The last clause is one of those numerous places in which there is a doubt whether the Hebrew word lo means not, or by him. If the negative sense be taken, which the Hebrew spelling favours, the rendering will be "though actions be not weighed." Though wicked actions be not immediately punished, yet Jehovah is cognisant of them, and in due time will requite. In vers. 4-8 Hannah illustrates the working of this attribute of the Deity by enumerating the vicissitudes of human events, which are not the result of chance, but of that omniscience combined with holiness which she has claimed for Jehovah in vers. 2, 3. She begins with the vicissitudes of war; but these are not more remarkable than those of peace, by which the full, the rich and wealthy, have to descend to the position of a hireling; while those previously hungry have ceased, i.e. from labour, and keep holiday. In a nation of small proprietors, where the land was tilled by the owner and those "born in his house," the position of the hireling, the "mean white" of the southern States of America, was lower than that of the slave, especially in Judaea, where the slave was more in the position of a vassal than of a serf or forced labourer. In the next clause the translation may either be, "She that was long barren hath borne seven," or, "Until the barren" etc.; i.e. these vicissitudes may even reach so far as to make a barren woman the mother of seven, i.e. of a perfect number of children, happily generalised in Psalm 113:9 into "a joyful mother of children." But see Ruth 4:15; Jeremiah 15:9. In this there is also a typical reference to the long barrenness of the Gentile world, to be followed by a fruitfulness far exceeding that of the Jewish Church, while it, prolific once in patriarchs, and prophets, and saints, is now comparatively sterile. In ver. 6 "the grave, Hebrews Sheol, is "the pit," the hollow vault underground, which is the dwelling of the dead. Lit., therefore, Hannah's words might seem to imply a belief in the resurrection; but her meaning rather was that God brings a man to the very brink of the grave, and then, when all hope seems past, raises him up again. In ver. 8 beggar is simply needy, but the expressions dust and dunghill add dishonour to his poverty. To set might more correctly be translated to make them sit; sitting, especially on a raised seat, being a mark of honour among Orientals, who generally squat on mats on the ground. In the next clause the A.V. particularises what in the Hebrews is quite general. "He will make them possess (or enjoy) a glorious throne." Their seat among the princes is not inherited, but acquired; and though promoted thus to a place among men of hereditary rank, and given an honourable position among them, yet it was not necessarily "the throne of glory," the highest seat. Still even this was quite possible; for while the tribal chiefs and heads of fathers' houses obtained their rank by inheritance, nevertheless, in early days the judges, and among them Eli and Samuel, acquired rank and power for themselves. Subsequently, under the kings, the great officers of state took their place along with the hereditary princes, but were dependent upon royal favour. In the last clause the word rendered pillars is rare, being found only here and in 1 Samuel 14:4. In both places the ancient versions are uncertain as to its signification, but in the latter it can only mean a crag, or mass of rock. If then the rock masses of the earth are Jehovah's, and he can lift up and poise upon them the inhabited world (Hebrews rebel), how much more easily can he raise up a man! 1 Samuel 2:1The first verse forms the introduction to the song. Holy joy in the Lord at the blessing which she had received impelled the favoured mother to the praise of God:

1 My heart is joyful in the Lord,

My horn is exalted in the Lord,

My mouth is opened wide over mine enemies:

For I rejoice in Thy salvation.

Of the four members of this verse, the first answers to the third, and the second to the fourth. The heart rejoices at the lifting up of her horn, the mouth opens wide to proclaim the salvation before which the enemies would be dumb. "My horn is high" does not mean 'I am proud' (Ewald), but "my power is great in the Lord." The horn is the symbol of strength, and is taken from oxen whose strength is in their horns (vid., Deuteronomy 33:17; Psalm 75:5, etc.). The power was high or exalted by the salvation which the Lord had manifested to her. To Him all the glory was due, because He had proved himself to be the holy One, and a rock upon which a man could rest his confidence.

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