The birth of Samuel marks the start of a new age—not just for Hannah’s family but also for Israel. Through Samuel, the last judge of Israel, God anoints a king: Saul and later David. We know that through the Davidic line God fulfills the promise of establishing a kingdom that will last forever. Though the theme of barrenness dominates the history of Israel’s matriarchs (Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel), it seems to end with Hannah as a culmination of God’s agency of reversal from that of despair to blessing, from childlessness to an assurance of Israel’s future through the line of David.
Not only does Hannah’s life testify to God’s faithfulness to her family, her thanksgiving becomes a prophetic voice for Israel’s story. Before her, we read of God speaking to the Patriarchs in their narratives. Rarely did prophets speak on behalf of God before kings ruled in Israel. But in this passage we hear God’s message of assurance and anointing through one from the margins; one who was oppressed, one who was judged for murmuring, one who was a woman! An unthinkable possibility during her time, but Hannah’s God does not stand on predictability.
Hannah looked to the Lord in her time of dire need and expressed her innermost desires. God employs her situation to display divine faithfulness both to Hannah as God’s servant and to Israel as God’s people. Hannah may have been unaware of the prophetic promise she declares, but God uses Hannah’s utmost gratitude to usher in God’s reign.
May my praise be evident and my thanksgiving be loud, O Lord. May my declarations profess your promises and your faithfulness in fulfilling them. Amen.
The inability to have a child brings pain to many today, and this was equally true in ancient times. In that context it was sometimes even worse, for Peninnah openly ridicules Hannah for being unable to conceive. But as a result of her desperate, heartfelt prayer, God blesses Hannah with a son, Samuel, who will become a powerful prophet. Hannah then rejoices in a God who exalts the poor and needy. Hannah provides an example of the boldness with which we also can approach God now because of Christ’s sacrifice. The destruction of Jerusalem is the focus of the passage in Mark. Jesus here predicts the demolition of the Temple and the city, which the Romans executed in 70 ce.
• Read 1 Samuel 1:4-20. When have you felt trapped by circumstances not of your own making? How did the situation resolve itself?
• Read 1 Samuel 2:1-10. When has a situation in your life changed because you persisted in prayer? What did that experience teach you?
• Read Hebrews 10:11-25. Do you perceive God’s remembering your sin no more as encouragement or license? Why?
• Read Mark 13:1-8. What signs make you anxious about the world’s future? What helps you rest easier?
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This season, Whitney R. Simpson has given us the gift we must open: a clear, accessible invitation to connect with the divine spark that is within us. This is the best present: being present for Jesus’ birth, God made human.”
Learn more about our newest Advent resource, Fully Human, Fully Divine here.