Hannah’s Song: Praising the King
MANY people today debate the potential as well as the limits of big government. The books of 1 and 2 Samuel make interesting reading in light of that discussion, for they offer an account of Israel’s transition from rule by judges to a Jerusalem-based monarchy.
Under the judges, the nation went through periods of political and spiritual health. But for the most part, the people turned away from God (Judges 21:25). Would they do better under the kings?
Hannah’s song (1 Samuel 2:1–10) answers that question from the outset of the book: no matter who “rules” Israel, whether judge or king, the Lord is Israel’s true King, salvation is from Him, and God’s concern is often for the outsiders, the poor—people on the “bottom of the heap.”
The rest of 1 and 2 Samuel, as well as 1 and 2 Kings, bear out these truths:
- When the people demanded a king (1 Samuel 8:4-5), the Lord said that it was because they had rejected Him as their King (1 Samuel 8:7).
- When the nation faced crises, it was not their king who delivered them, but the Lord (1 Samuel 11:13; 17:46; 2 Samuel 5:22–25).
- It was not Saul, the people’s favorite, who firmly established the monarchy, but David, the eighth and youngest son of Jesse, a shepherd of Bethlehem (1 Samuel 16:7-13; 18:23; 2 Samuel 7:12–16).
Hannah’s song addresses our overconfidence in government of any kind. All government is ultimately established by God (Romans 13:1–7). Ideally, governments should seek justice for all. But in the end, one’s faith must not rest in the power of centralized control but in the power of God’s justice, mercy, and salvation.