1 Samuel 2:1-10
And Hannah prayed, and said, My heart rejoices in the LORD, my horn is exalted in the LORD: my mouth is enlarged over my enemies…
My heart rejoiceth in the Lord. The song of Hannah, "the Magnificat of the Old Testament Church," was the outburst of her deep and holy joy in the Lord. Whilst watching over the infant Samuel at Ramah, she had silently pondered the ways of God, and the condition and prospects of his people and kingdom. After several years of absence from the central sanctuary at Shiloh, she appears once more at its entrance; and, standing on the well remembered spot where she had prayed in her distress, she fulfils her vow, and gives back to God the sacred treasure intrusted to her care. The trouble of former years recalled, provocations and inward conflicts ended, the sunshine of Divine favour experienced, cause her full heart to "bubble up like a fountain," and pour itself out in lofty poetic strains (ver. 1). What a contrast does this language indicate between her condition at the time of the previous visit and her condition now!
1. Then her heart was full of grief; now it "rejoiceth in the Lord."
2. Then her "horn" (strength, a figure taken from animals whose strength is in their horns, and here first employed. 2 Samuel 22:3; Luke 1:69) was trampled in the dust; now it is "exalted," and she is endued with strength and honour "by the Lord."
3. Then her mouth was shut, in silent endurance, beneath the provocation of her adversary (1 Samuel 1:6); now it is "enlarged," or opened in holy exultation, "above her enemies."
4. Then she was petitioning for the help of the Lord now she "rejoices in his salvation," or the deliverance which he has wrought on her behalf; and it is "because" of this that she utters aloud her thanksgiving and praise. Her soul with all its powers, like a harp of many strings, touched by the Divine Spirit, gives forth exquisite music. "The Divinely inspired song of Hannah is like a golden key for the interpretation of the whole book" (Wordsworth's 'Com.'). Compare this song with the song of Miriam and of Deborah. "Those compositions are grand, indeed, and elevated, and worthy of that inspiration which produced them; but they have not that tenderness of spirit, that personality of devotion, and that eucharistic anticipation of good things to come which characterise the hymn of Hannah" (Jebb, 'Sac. Lit.,' p. 395). It is the model after which the song of the Virgin Mary was formed, though there are notable points of difference between them. Considered in relation to the circumstances, and in its general nature, her song was a song of -
1. Gratitude. Her prayer had been answered in the gift of a son; and, unlike those who look no further than the blessings bestowed upon them, she looked from the gift to the Giver, and praised him with joyful lips. Her heart rejoiced not in Samuel, but in the Lord.
2. Dedication. She had given back her child to God, and with him herself afresh. The more we give to God, the more our heart is enlarged, by the shedding abroad of his love therein, and filled with exceeding joy.
3. Triumph; remembering how she had been delivered from her adversaries in the past.
4. Faith in his continued help.
5. Patriotism. She sympathised with her people in their oppression by the Philistines; and, identifying herself with them, she almost lost sight of what God had done for her in the contemplation of what he would do for them. "From this particular mercy she had received from God she takes occasion, with an elevated and enlarged heart, to speak of the glorious things of God, and of his government of the world for the good of the Church." "She discerned in her own individual experience the general laws of the Divine economy, and its signification in relation to the whole history of the kingdom of God" (Anberlen).
6. Prophetic hope. She beheld the dawn of a new day, and was glad. In all and above all -
7. Joy in the Lord. "My heart rejoiceth in the Lord;" not merely before him (Deuteronomy 12:12); but in him, as the Object and Source of its joy; in communion with and contemplation of him, and in the admiration, affection, and delight thereby excited. "My meditation of him shall be sweet: I will be glad in the Lord" (Psalm 104:34). "When I think of God," said Haydn (on being asked the reason why the style of his music was so cheerful), "my soul is so full of joy that the notes come leaping and dancing from my pen." More especially observe that Hannah rejoiced in -
I. THE PERFECTIONS OF HIS CHARACTER (vers. 2, 3). Such perfections must not, indeed, be thought of as existing in God separate and distinct from each other; they are essential attributes of his living personality, and are all really present in his every purpose and act. What is here declared of God is, that -
1. He alone is "holy."
(1) Supremely excellent; whatever excellence exists in any other being falls infinitely short of his (Isaiah 6:3).
(2) Morally perfect; invariably willing what is right and good; transcendently glorious in the view of conscience (Leviticus 11:44).
(3) Absolutely existent, which is the ground of his excellence and perfection. "For there is none except thee." "God is the most perfect Being, and the cause of all other beings." His moral perfection is a peculiar distinction of the revelation which he made to his chosen people, needs to be specially magnified in times of corruption, and can only be rejoiced in by his saints. The conception which men form of God is an evidence of their own character, and exerts a powerful influence upon it (Luke 1:49).
2. He alone is strong. "A Rock."
(1) Firm, unchanging, enduring; a sure foundation for confidence.
(2) None can be compared unto him. They may not be trusted in, and they need not be feared.
(3) Happy are those who can say, He is "our God." That which is a terror to others is a consolation to them. "The children of a king do not fear what their father has in his arsenal." "Let the inhabitant of the rock sing." But men often speak proudly and arrogantly (ver. 3), as if they were independent of him, and could do whatever they pleased. Let them not boast any more; for -
3. He is the All-wise; a "God of knowledge" (lit., knowledges) of all knowledge. "The Lord knoweth the thoughts of man, that they are vanity" (Psalm 94:11; Psalm 138:6). His knowledge is
(2) perfect, and
(3) universal. And,
4. He is the Judge of human actions. He determines how far they may go before they are effectually checked by the manifestation of his power and wisdom (Thenius). "By strength shall no man prevail." He also forms a just estimate of their moral worth, and gives to every man his due reward. His righteousness and justice, as well as his strength and wisdom, when contemplated by the good, fill them with great joy.
II. THE OPERATIONS OF HIS PROVIDENCE (vers. 4-8). The operations of Providence are the operations of God in the natural world, the laws of which are the uniform methods of his activity, and more especially in human affairs; wherein, whilst there is room for human freedom and prudence, and the use of means, his will encircles and overrules all things, and his hand moves in and through those events which are commonly attributed to chance or accident, and directs and controls them for the good of those who love him (Romans 8:28). In and by these operations -
1. He manifests the perfections of his character: his holiness, power, wisdom, and justice. "The Lord is righteous in all his ways (Psalm 97:2 145:17).
2. He apportions the different conditions of men, and accomplishes the varied changes of their condition.
(1) Makes the strong weak and the weak strong (ver. 4).
(2) The full empty and the empty full (ver. 5).
(3) Increases the lonely and diminishes the numerous family.
(4) Brings into great distress, even to the verge of the grave, and again restores to health and prosperity (ver. 6).
(5) Makes poor and makes rich.
(6) Brings low and raises up. Prosperity and adversity alike, when received from the hand of God and used aright, become occasions of joy; and the changes of life are morally beneficial (Psalm 55:19; Jeremiah 48:11; James 1:9, 10).
3. He does great things, especially for the lowly (ver. 8). Stooping to them in their utmost need and shame (Psalm 113:7, 8), and raising them to the highest honour and glory. "God does nothing else," said an ancient philosopher, "but humble the proud and exalt the lowly." "Set thyself in the lowest place, and the highest shall be given thee; for the more elevated the building is designed to be, the deeper must the foundations be laid. The greatest saints in the sight of God are the least in their own esteem; and the height of their glory is always in proportion to the depth of their humility" (Thomas a Kempis).
4. He supports the earth and all that is upon it. His dominion is supreme; and he has therefore the power, as he has the right, to do whatever may please him. An unfaltering trust in Providence is a cure of undue anxiety and a cause of abounding peace and joy. "Certainly it is heaven on earth to have a man's mind move in charity, rest in Providence, and turn upon the poles of truth" (Bacon). "The prophets of the Old Testament inculcate with a remarkable perspicuity and decision the overruling agency of God's providence in the affairs of the world. Their whole prophecy is more or less a commentary on this doctrine What a basis is laid by it of peace and tranquillity to every thoughtful and most feeling mind; and how different the aspect of the world becomes when we have reason to know that all things in it, and every combination of them, whether in the fortunes of kingdoms or in a more private state, are under the control of an intelligent and gracious Ruler. Were we in the chains of chance, how gloomy would our case be. Were we in the hands of men, too often how fearful, how humiliating, how conflicting. But the impression of the scene is changed when we admit into it the direction of an all-wise and perfect Being, in whose rectitude and goodness we may acquiesce through the whole course of his providential dispensation" (Davison 'on Prophecy,' p. 59).
"One adequate support
For the calamities of mortal life
Exists, one only; - an assured belief
That the procession of our fate, howe'er
Sad or disturb'd, is order'd by a Being
Of infinite benevolence and power,
Whose everlasting purposes embrace
All accidents, converting them to good"
III. THE ESTABLISHMENT OF HIS KINGDOM (vers. 9, 10). God is a moral governor, and directs his providential operations with a view to the setting up of a kingdom of righteousness upon earth. This kingdom existed from the first, was more fully exhibited in the theocracy of Israel, and culminated in the rule of Christ, who "must reign until he hath put all enemies under his feet." In every stage of development it involves conflict. But -
1. He will protect, its subjects; his saints (lit., pious, those who love God), against whom the wicked will contend in vain (ver. 9).
2. He will overthrow its adversaries (ver. 10); their overthrow being
(3) complete - "broken to pieces," - and
(4) signally indicative of the interposition of heaven (1 Samuel 7:10).
3. He will extend its borders to the ends of the earth.
4. And he will clothe with strength, honour, and majesty the king whom he appoints and anoints for the accomplishment of his purposes. Hannah commenced her song with rejoicing on account of the strength and honour conferred upon herself, and she closes it with rejoicing on account of the strength and honour which would be conferred on him who should be "higher than the kings of the earth." "Let the children of Zion be joyful in their king." "The anointed of the Lord, of whom Hannah prophesies in the spirit, is not one single king in Israel, either David or Christ, but an ideal king, though not a mere personification of the throne about to be established, but the actual king whom Israel received in David and the race, which culminated in the Messiah. The exaltation of the horn of the anointed of Jehovah commenced with the victorious and splendid expansion of the power of David, was repeated with every victory over the enemies of God and his kingdom gained by the successive kings of David's house, goes on in the advancing spread of the kingdom of Christ, and will eventually attain to its eternal consummation in the judgment of the last day, through which all the enemies of Christ will be made his footstool" (Keil). - D.
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.