Summary: Hannah was seeing beyond the circumstance of the birth of Samuel to something of its significance.
A CELEBRATION OF GOD-GIVEN OPPORTUNITY
The Song of Hannah is a song of reversals. It was a celebration of a God-given opportunity through the birth of a child. Yet it is not only a personal response to one particular situation: it is a response which all of God’s people are able to embrace.
The Song is called a prayer (1 Samuel 2:1) - and yet how different now is Hannah’s prayer from the importunate pleading of the previous chapter. Now she has the son that she wants: not just for herself, but for the service of God (1 Samuel 1:25-28). It is a lifting up of Hannah’s heart in rejoicing and exultation. Answered prayer should likewise excite gratitude in the hearts of all of God’s people.
The word “horn” meaning ‘strength’ (1 Samuel 2:1) forms a bookend for the poem, recurring in a remarkable context in 1 Samuel 2:10. Meanwhile we see Hannah in her exultant state, speaking victory over her enemies. This need not be a bad thing, nasty or petulant. If Hannah’s husband’s other wife thought that it applied to her, then that would only be because ‘the hat fits’ (as the saying goes).
The right basis for any ‘boasting’ (if we may call it that) is not one-upmanship, but glorying in the LORD (Galatians 6:14). We must never forget that the reversal is not our accomplishment, but God’s (1 Corinthians 1:27-31).
Hannah was able to see beyond the limitations of her own time and space to the universal and eternal implications of what had happened with her. She speaks of “my” enemies: but rather than rejoicing in “my” victory, we should probably read the Hebrew as “thy” salvation. The basis of Hannah’s celebration is found outside herself, in the LORD whom she celebrates.
Far from revelling in her new-found domestic bliss, Hannah lifts her heart to the LORD. There is none so holy: in fact, there is no other God whatsoever (1 Samuel 2:2). The reference to the LORD as Rock recalls the Song of Moses (Deuteronomy 32:4), and reminds us of the rock from which God’s people drank in the wilderness: ‘and that Rock was Christ,’ adds Paul (1 Corinthians 10:4).
There are similarities between the Song of Hannah and the Song of Mary (Luke 1:46-55). Mary observed the scattering of the proud, whilst Hannah spoke out against all proud boasting because it is against the LORD (1 Samuel 2:3). Both women celebrated reversals between the strong and the weak, and the full and the hungry (1 Samuel 2:4-5).
Hannah joined Sarah, Rebecca, and the mother of Samson as one who could celebrate fruitfulness after barrenness. Later they would be joined by Elizabeth (Luke 1:36-37). I am sure there have been others (Psalm 113:9).
Hannah may have felt herself in the pit of despair when it seemed that she was never going to have the child for whom she prayed so long. Analogies of death are followed by analogies of resurrection. Having this child was, to Hannah, like rising from the grave. Having been brought so low, she now felt the uplifting of the LORD (1 Samuel 2:6-7).
Like Mary after her, Hannah took stock of the reversals between the rich and the poor, and the high and the low. This takes place because the earth is the LORD’s (1 Samuel 2:7-8) - and the fullness thereof (cf. Psalm 24:1).
The reversal between the righteous and the wicked is an on-going theme in the Psalter, beginning with Psalm 1. God keeps His people on the right track: none are kept by their own strength (cf. Zechariah 4:6). The arrogant and proud talker of 1 Samuel 2:3 is now found dwelling silently in darkness (1 Samuel 2:9).
Hannah is in full prophetic mode as she sees beyond her own circumstances to the coming of the LORD to judge the earth (cf. Psalm 98:9). Yet she sees the strength of this judgment as residing in His king (1 Samuel 2:10). This is where the “horn” of the anointed is exalted, just as Hannah’s had been in 1 Samuel 2:1.
Like Zacharias after her (Luke 1:76-79), Hannah was seeing beyond the circumstance of Samuel’s birth to something of its significance: it would be Samuel who would first anoint ‘the man after God’s own heart’ to be king. That king would be David. Hannah foresaw the coming together of the judgment by the LORD with the exalting of one of David’s line, the Anointed One (Messiah/Christ).
Where does our victory lie? Our God is a Rock: there is none like Him. This same LORD is seated high in the heavens, yet stoops low to raise up His afflicted people (Psalm 113:5-8). He has raised us up with Christ, and seated us together with Him in the heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6).