We shall read two portions of Holy Scripture, and may God the Holy Spirit bless us in the reading of his own Words. We shall first read, in the first Book of Samuel, the second chapter, the song of Hannah. You remember that Hannah was a woman of a sorrowful spirit. A womanly sorrow preyed upon her heart, and brought her very low; not so low, however, as to prevent her from constantly praying to God. Her prayers were heard, and when she came up to the Lord’s house, the joyful mother of son, he took care to remember her former supplication, and to offer unto God thanksgiving. Hannah was a woman of great ability, perhaps the chief poetess of either the Old or the New Testament. I expect that Mary borrowed not of her Magnificat from the song of Hannah, at least, the recollection of that song must have been strong upon her when she sang what we shall presently read.
2:1. And Hannah prayed, and said, My heart rejoiceth in the LORD mine horn is exalted in the LORD: my mouth is enlarged over mine enemies; because I rejoice in thy salvation.
Her deliverance seemed to her to be a type and symbol of the way in which God delivers all his people, so she rejoiced in that great salvation which he works out for his people as a whole.
1Sa_2:2-7. There is none holy as the LORD: for there is none beside thee: neither is there any rock like our God. Talk no more so exceeding proudly; let not arrogancy come out of your mouth: for the LORD is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed. The bows of the mighty men are broken, and they that stumbled are girded with strength. They that were full have hired out themselves for bread; and they that were hungry ceased: so that the barren hath born seven; and she that hath many children is waxed feeble. The LORD killeth, and maketh alive: he bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up. The LORD maketh poor, and maketh rich: he bringeth low, and lifteth up.
With what jubilation she sings of the way in which God deals with men, putting down the mighty, and lifting up the lowly!
1Sa_2:8. He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory: for the pillars of the earth are the LORD’S, and he hath set the world upon them.
Whatever solid thing it is that bears up the frame of this natural world, it is God’s power that doth support it. He hath made all things that are, and he upholds them with the world of his power.
1Sa_2:9. He will keep the feet of his saints, and the wicked shall be silent in darkness;
What an awful picture that is of the doom of the wicked, “Silent in darkness.” We read of the one, in the parable of our Lord, who had not on the wedding garment, that he was speechless; and, at the last the wicked will have nothing to say, nothing with which to excuse themselves, nothing with which to comfort themselves, and all around them will be-“ Darkness, death, and long despair.” Vanquished in their fight with God, conquered for ever, “ the wicked shall be silent in darkness.” I hardly know of a more dreadful picture than that of a spirit sitting amidst the clammy damps of the thick darkness of desolation, for ever silent.
1Sa_2:9-10. For by strength shall no man prevail. The adversaries of the LORD shall be broken to pieces; out of heaven shall he thunder upon them: the LORD shall judge the ends of the earth; and he shall give strength unto his king, and exalt the horn of his anointed.
That is the song of this happy woman; and if we read the last three verses of Psalms 113, we shall see that the writer seems to have studied Hannah’s song, and to have molded his Psalm upon it: “He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth the needy out of the dunghill, that he may set him with princes, even with the princes of his people. He maketh the barren woman to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children. Praise ye the Lord.” Now let us read Mary’s song in the first chapter of the Gospel according to Luke. You remember, dear friends, how the Lord Jesus said, “I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hath revealed them unto babes. Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight.” The Saviour’s heart found a sacred satisfaction in the execution of his Father’s sovereign will in revealing to babes what he had hid from the wise and prudent; and it is remarkable that both Hannah and Mary sang upon that very theme which made the heart of the Saviour leap for joy. We might have expected to find an abundance of affection in a woman’s song rather than a depth of doctrine, but both Hannah and Mary make the sovereignty of God the strain of their songs.
This exposition consisted of readings from 1Sa_2:1-10; and Luk_1:46-55.