1 Samuel 2: A Humble Honor

This entry is part 156 of 159 in the series 365 Key Chapters of the Bible

First Samuel 2 contains one of the great prayers of the Bible. Similar to Mary’s Magnificat, the  prayer of this humble woman gives us a picture of the honor and glory and praise due to God. Out of her humility, Hannah magnifies the true King of Israel.

Intimacy from Suffering

We can deepen our own prayer lives by studying Hannah’s prayer. First of all, we see that her prayer reveals intimacy with the living God, an intimacy gained from years of meditation and reflection on the truths of Scripture. Her study had prepared her both morally and spiritually for the humble honor of dedicating her firstborn son to God.

In addition, Hannah’s prayer reveals that her intimacy with God also stemmed from her pain. Her husband’s other wife mocked her for years because Hannah was barren. She had to find her strength in God—and the more she did so, the more she put her hope in Him.

This theocentric prayer demonstrates that Hannah processed adversity with beauty and goodness. She reflected on her trials and meditated on the unchanging Rock (1 Samuel 2:2). People, circumstances, events—these all change, but God does not.

We, too, need to put our hope in God. The vacillating circumstances of this world will discourage us if we focus on them. Only God is unchanging, and He is faithful to provide for our needs.


Looking for more on how to turn to God in the midst of adversity? Read Ken Boa and Jenny Abel’s Shaped by Suffering.


A Contrast of Good and Evil

Hannah’s righteousness is contrasted with the wickedness of Eli’s sons. They willfully disobeyed God’s commands, violating the law and the priesthood. Not only that, but they flaunted their sexual immorality. Although they were supposed to be the religious leaders of the people, they were instead acting out of their own evil desires.

On the other hand, Hannah approached the Lord in a humble prayer and praised His name. Although God did choose to give Hannah more children after Samuel, she expected nothing in return when she dedicated him to the Lord.

In addition, the text contrasts Samuel with Eli’s sons, telling us that Samuel “was growing in stature and in favor both with the Lord and with men” (1 Samuel 2:26). As a result of Eli’s sons’ wickedness, they would lose the priesthood, whereas Samuel would be established as the new priest.

From this account, we see that we cannot be neutral with God. We have to choose whether we will honor Him or despise Him. And those who honor Him will be honored, while those who despise Him will be lightly esteemed (1 Samuel 2:30).

This teaching is based on Ken’s Handbook to Scripture

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