Hannah: Her Prayer and Her Song

W.W. Fereday

(continued from January)

The fact is noteworthy that in no single instance was the Spirit of God pleased to use a woman for the writing of Holy Scripture; neither did the Lord place a woman in the apostolic band, although He was surrounded by women not one whit behind the twelve in love and devotion to His person. But it is also a fact that some of the noblest poems found in the Word of God poured from devout female lips. The utterances of Miriam, Deborah, Hannah, and Mary of Nazareth constitute spiritual treasures of priceless value.

Hannah both prayed and sang, and she became the mother of praying Samuel (Psalm 49:6), and the ancestress of Heman the temple singer (I Chron. 6:3). First, she prayed for a son, in her distress weeping as she prayed (I Sam. 1:10). The man who should have been, of all people, in close touch with God was so thoroughly out of communion with Him that he could not discern the difference between a sorrowful woman and a drunken woman. God's priest should be both compassionate and sympathetic (Heb. 5:2). The risen Christ is all this and more; Eli, alas, was but a poor foreshadow of Him. Being corrected for his error, he could only vaguely say, "Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant thee thy petition that thou hast asked of Him."

Jehovah graciously heard the cry of His handmaid, and in due time the son was born, and was named Samuel, which means "asked of God." Forthwith the mother dedicated him to Jehovah, according to that which she vowed when she prayed.

He was to be a Nazarite of God. Precious example to believing mothers in all ages. Let us pause awhile just here, and ask ourselves - we who are parents - whether we desire for our children above all things separation to God? Or is it possible that we wish them to distinguish themselves in this scene where Christ is not?

How often we read in the records of Israel's kings that 'his mother's name was." Is this meant to be suggestive that the mothers have preeminently - the shaping of the character of their offspring? It is certain that Timothy owed immensely to his grandmother Lois, and to his mother Eunice (2 Tim. 1:5).

When Hannah had weaned the child, she took him to Shiloh, and on the ground of sacrifice dedicated him to Jehovah. The slain bullock for the burnt offering speaks of Christ in the absolute devotedness of His death, the ephah of flour of what He was in His lowly manhood under the eye of God, and the bottle of wine of the joy that God ever found in Him. Thus typically in the value of all that Christ is to God was the boy Samuel presented to Jehovah. "And he worshipped Jehovah there."

Hannah now breaks forth into prophetic song. The careful reader will observe a striking resemblance between Hannah's song and Mary's "Magnificat." Both were fitting representatives of the faithful remnant of their time. Both felt deeply the condition of things among God's people; both felt that there was no hope in men. Of God's generous grace to those who count upon Him both were assured, and of His triumph at the last over all adversaries they could confidently sing. Hannah's song may well be transcribed here: Read 1 Sam. 2:1-10.

Wonderful outpouring of faith, in its language going immeasurably beyond the circumstances of the moment. The gift of a son to Hannah we might suppose scarcely called for this. But God ever has Christ before His mind, and His Spirit through the humble instrumentality of Samuel's mother spoke of Him as the ultimate resource of Israel and of the earth.

A king was thus in God's mind. The fallen priesthood was no longer His link with men. A change was impending. The closing verses of the Book of Ruth have prepared us for this. That charming production is at once an appendix to the Book of judges, and an introduction to the Books of Samuel and Kings. David's pedigree fittingly concludes it.

Although the birth of Samuel was the occasion of Hannah's prophetic outburst concerning the king, it was not he who was destined for the royal once. The man of God's choice appeared in God's time, after the man of the people's choice had brought disaster upon the nation. Yet not David, but Christ, is God's true Anointed. When God's time comes to bring Him upon the scene He will indeed thunder out of the heavens, and all adversaries shall be broken to pieces. For Him we wait at this late hour in the world's history, assured that nothing can really be right here until the iron scepter passes into His firm and competent hand. "Jehovah alone shall be exalted in that day (Isa. 2: 11).