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  • Writer's pictureRebecca Montrone

"My heart exults in the LORD!"

Today I’d like to introduce the prayer of Hannah immediately as she passes the care of her young son Samuel to Eli the priest at the temple in Shiloh. 


Setting the stage

To set the stage, this predates the building of the temple in Jerusalem, which did not occur until the days of King Solomon, the third King of Israel, some 80 years later.  The events we are talking about here took place around 1050 BC, and the beginning of the temple construction in Jerusalem started in 971 BC. 


Although, when Hannah drops Samuel off with Eli, it would not be long until Saul is crowned the first king of Israel, the worship center for the Israelites is at Shiloh (click to see simple map).  This is the period of the Judges, when God used appointed judges to govern Israel and prophets to give the spiritual guidance.

The temple is actually the tabernacle, which the Israelites took with them during their years wandering in the wilderness after the Exodus.  It contained the Ark of the Covenant, which sheltered the tablets delivered to Moses by God on Mt. Sinai and a few other special objects according to God’s detailed instruction.  (See here for a good illustration).


At the time of these events, Eli is both priest and judge.  He was priest during the time Samson was judge, and when Samson died he also took over the role of governing Israel.


Back to Hannah

As explained earlier in the first chapter of 1 Samuel, the Israelites who lived distances away would travel to Shiloh once a year to worship.  It was a big deal; a big trip, with much preparation beforehand.  As I mentioned last time, after Samuel was born Hannah told her husband Elkanah she would not return to Shiloh until she was ready to bring Samuel and dedicate him to the LORD there.  That means the last time she was there was just before she conceived.


From Samuel 1:24-28:


“Now when she had weaned him, she took him up with her, with a three-year-old bull and one ephah of flour and a jug of wine, and brought him to the house of the LORD in Shiloh, although the child was young.”


“Then they slaughtered the bull and brought the boy to Eli.”


“She said, Oh, my lord!  As your soul lives, my lord, I am the woman who stood here beside you, praying to the LORD.”


“For this boy I prayed, and the LORD has given me my petition, which I asked of Him.”


“So I have also dedicated him to the LORD; as long as he lives he is dedicated to the LORD.”


Hannah’s prayer

Immediately as she does this, the Holy Spirit comes upon her, and she utters this beautiful prayer under His powerful influence (1 Sam 2:1-11):

"My heart exults in the LORD;

My horn is exalted in the LORD,

"My mouth speaks boldly against my enemies,

Because I rejoice in Your salvation.

"There is no one holy like the LORD,

Indeed, there is no one besides You.

Nor is there any rock like our God.

"Boast no more so very proudly,

Do not let arrogance come out of your mouth;

For the LORD is a God of knowledge,

and with Him, actions are weighed.

"The bows of the might are shattered,

But the feeble gird on strength.

"Those who were full hire themselves out for bread,

But those who were hungry cease to hunger.

"Even the barren gives birth to seven,

But she who has many children languishes.

"The LORD kills and makes alive;

He brings down to Sheol and raises up.

"The LORD makes poor and rich;

He brings low, He also exalts.

"He raises the poor from the dust,

He lifts the needy from the ash heap

To make them sit with nobles

And inherit a seat of honor.

"For the pillars of the earth are the LORD's,

And He set the world upon them.

"He keeps the feet of His godly ones,

But the wicked ones are silenced in darkness;

For not by might shall a man prevail.

"Those who contend with the LORD will be shattered;

Against them He will thunder in the heavens.

"The LORD will judge the ends of the earth;

And He will give strength to His king,

And will exalt the horn of His annointed."


Oh, my!

Keep in mind, Hannah prays this prayer as she prepares to leave her only son in a different town to be raised by an old man in a tabernacle dwelling. As he grows up, she will see him once each year, at which time she will bring him a new cloak she has lovingly sewn for him over the months in between.


Today I’d like to invite you to use this magnificent prayer in your own life, worship, thoughts, prayer, and may your heart exult and rejoice in the LORD as you reflect on His wondrous power on your behalf!

Next time, I will begin to take apart this prayer and bring us in closer to explore each of its profound truths.  I will also, along the way, be comparing similarities with Mary’s prayer in the New Testament when Elizabeth greets her during the time of their pregnancies; Elizabeth carrying John the Baptist, and Mary carrying our Lord Jesus Christ.

(And, eventually we'll also get to Eli's blessing over Hannah and Elkanah before they return home and how God fulfilled that blessing with many more children for Hannah!) 😄

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