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Follow the link for The literary structure of 1 Samuel 2:1-10

We are finishing up the stories about Hannah in 1 Samuel today. We have covered her prayer for a son, her gift to God of her son and now today we cover her praise to God.

I said when we began this series, that Hannah was a strong and godly woman and I want to take note of this briefly before we get to our passage today in 1 Samuel 2:1-10.

Hannah was a strong woman

  • She endured a great deal of testing – her rival wife’s taunting and a husband who didn’t really get it. She put up with a lot.
  • She prayed boldly at the tabernacle by herself, which must have been unusual in that day.
  • She made a vow to give up her child to God, without talking to her husband first.
  • She placed her child under a Nazarite vow, without talking to her husband first.
  • She defended her character before the High priest and ruler of the land, when he thought she was drunk. She stood up for herself; she spoke up.
  • She named her son, not her husband.
  • She decided when to take Samuel to give to the Lord, 3 or more years later, after he was weaned.
  • She brought Samuel to Eli and offered him up. Even though both she and her husband were there she is the one who says, “I have lent him to the Lord” – 1 Samuel 1:28.

We already know from the story that her Elkanah loved her, but we can see here that he respected her. Her strength was not a threat to him. He accepted her vow to give up the child who was his son as well; he accepted that the child would be a Nazarite; and he accepted that Hannah would fulfill her vow after Samuel was weaned, saying, “do what seems best to you” -1 Samuel 1:23.

She was a strong woman, but also –

Hannah was a godly woman

  • She did not return evil for evil, harm for harm to Peninnah.
  • She took her problem to the Lord, she didn’t scheme; she didn’t fight with Peninnah; she didn’t rely on the flesh.
  • She knew how to pray boldly and persistently
  • She had great faith in God to answer her prayer
  • She kept her word, the vow that she made to God.
  • She was very generous in her offerings to the Lord
  • She gave the gift of her son to serve God forever
  • She publicly worshiped and praised God for his goodness to her.

Well, not only was she strong and godly, as we will see, she was a prophet as well. This leads us to our verses for today.

Hannah’s praise to God

I want to point out four things from these verses. And the first is found in vs. 1-2. 1. Hannah thanked God for answered prayer.

1And Hannah prayed and said, “My heart exults in the Lord; my horn is exalted in the Lord. My mouth derides my enemies, because I rejoice in your salvation. 2There is none holy like the Lord: for there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God.”

She was reviled for not being able to have a child. She was looked down on. Some would have said that God was punishing her. But God heard her prayer and lifted her up. And in response, she not only brought an offering, and gave her son – she also spoke out words of praise to God, publicly, for all to hear. And notice how wholehearted and personal it is – “my heart . . . I rejoice.”

The phrase “my horn is exalted” is not something we go around saying, but it was a way of talking about one’s strength or victory, like an animal that wins a battle and lifts up its head. It can also refer to having a progeny (1 Chronicles 25:5) which she gained through Samuel.

She confesses her strong faith in a God who is beyond compare:

  1. there is none holy like the Lord
  2. there is no God besides God, that is, the one true God
  3. there is no rock like God

And this should remind us that we should also thank God for answered prayer. We might be quick to ask for prayer, but we need to be just as quick to give praise to God when he acts to save and bless us, and to do so publicly. This is only right and it also encourages and strengthens others when they hear what God is doing.

This is a real theme in the book of Psalms. Here is just one example. Psalm 40:10 says, “I have not hidden your deliverance within my heart; I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation; I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness from the great congregation.” God had helped him and he told others about it. And likewise, we need to make it known how great God is through our public praises before the congregation. Just like Hannah did.

2. God knows about and judges the arrogant. The focus of verses 3-5 is found in verse three.

3Talk no more so very proudly, let not arrogance come from your mouth”

The enemies of the faithful are the proud and the arrogant. And these are always boasting and talking it up. They lift themselves up over God’s people. This certainly applies to Peninnah, but also more broadly to the Philistines who were dominating and oppressing Israel at this time.

Next we learn something about God that relates to this.

“for the Lord is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed.”

What she is saying is that God knows and hears all that the arrogant say and do and God will weigh, or judge all their words and actions.

And then we have three examples of how God judges by means of reversal, putting down the arrogant and raising up the lowly who look to him.

4The bows of the mighty are broken, but the feeble bind on strength. 5Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread, but those who were hungry have ceased to hunger. The barren has borne seven, but she who has many children is forlorn.”

  • The militarily strong and the weak change places
  • The well fed and the hungry change places
  • The woman who can’t have children and the one who can change places.

In each of these cases the arrogant who are lifted up are put down and the lowly who look to God are raised up by the hand of God.

Who are your enemies? Do you have any; those who oppose and deride you? Hannah’s message is clear know that God hears the boasts of your enemies and will act. You can trust God to take care of things.

In verses 6-9 we learn that 3. God is able to judge the powerful. The focus here is found in v. 9 and works its way backwards (in parallel to the material above – see the literary structure), so we will go through these verses in reverse order.

9for not by might shall a man prevail.”

The enemies of the faithful are powerful in this world’s eyes. But they depend on mere human strength – whether military, social or political. They rely on their own wisdom and resources.

Next we learn something about God that relates to this –

8For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s, and on them he has set the world. 9He will guard the feet of his faithful ones, but the wicked shall be cut off in darkness”

V. 8 is talking about creation and how God has established the dry land on the waters by means of pillars, as it were. And so she’s saying, God is more than able to take care of his own and judge the wicked, no matter how powerful they may seem to be, because he is the same God who created the world and all that is in it.

And then we have another set of three of examples of God’s judgment that reverses the order of things.

6The Lord kills and brings to life; he brings down to Sheol and raises up. 7The Lord makes poor and makes rich; he brings low and he exalts. 8He raises up the poor from the dust; he lifts the needy from the ash heap to make them sit with princes and inherit a seat of honor.”

God holds the power of life and death. He can raise up and he can put down. Indeed, God can reverse any situation and set things right. The same power that God used to create the world is more than enough to reorder things and bring about justice and righteousness.

Do your enemies seem powerful? Hannah’s message to us is this – God is more powerful than any enemy we have, and he can take care of us.

4. God will use his anointed to bring victory. In v. 10 Hannah looks ahead with regard to her son Samuel and beyond.

10The adversaries of the Lord shall be broken to pieces; against them he will thunder in heaven. The Lord will judge the ends of the earth; he will give strength to his king and exalt the horn of his anointed.”

She sees prophetically that her son will be a judge whom God uses to bring about victory over the Philistines. God will thunder from heaven to defeat the Philistines, just as he does in 1 Samuel 7:10. He is God’s anointed being a prophet, priest and judge.

Not only has God given her a victory over her arrogant and powerful enemies, God will act for all Israel through Samuel.

God will “exalt the horn” of her son and give him victory to lift up the Israelites and to put down the Philistines.

(Samuel was not a “king” or called “anointed.” Israel didn’t technically have a king at this time. This language should be taken like the “prince” and “throne” language of v. 8 in a more generic sense. Israel’s leaders could be called princes, as in Judges 5:15, and a judge ruled – Ruth 1:1 – they decided legal cases and they led in battle. But they weren’t a king like the nations around them had, who had total control of a nation state.)

But her prophetic voice doesn’t just address Samuel. It looks forward to king David, God’s anointed and how God will use him to bless Israel. (The titles of “king” and “anointed” fit David better. God also thunders for David  – 2 Samuel 22:14.) And this is where 1 and 2 Samuel is going – the stories of David.

And ultimately her prophetic vision looks forward to the Son of David – Jesus the Christ, or the anointed one.

  • For it is only with Jesus that resurrection comes as v. 6 says, “he brings down to Sheol and raises up”, that is from the dead.
  • And it is only with Jesus that lasting reversal comes, as he talks about in the beatitudes, when the hungry will be well fed, and the well fed will be hungry – Luke 6.
  • And it is only with Jesus that all the earth will be judged as v. 10 says, he will “judge the ends of the earth,” that, is the whole world.

Hannah as a prophet gives us a picture of the future, from Samuel’s adult life all the way to when Jesus returns and rules over the world.

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A. Introduction/the coming of Jesus: 1 “Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten maidens who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom.

B. Their identity as foolish and wise: 2 Five of them were foolish, and five were wise.

C. About their lamps and oil: 3 For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, 4 but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps.

D. All: 5 As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept.

E. Bridegroom’s arrival: 6 But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’

D1. All: 7 Then all those maidens rose and trimmed their lamps.

C1. About their lamps and oil: 8 And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ 9 But the wise answered, saying, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’

B1. The results of wisdom and foolishness: 10 And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. 11 Afterward the other maidens came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ 12 But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’

A1. Conclusion/the coming of Jesus: 13 Be prepared therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.

(changed ESV – virgins to maidens throughout; v. 13 “be prepared” instead of “watch”)

Alternate pattern for vs. 8-12

A. First exchange

  • The foolish make a request: 8 And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’
  • The wise answer “no”: 9 But the wise answered, saying, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’

B. Action

Foolish: 10 And while they were going to buy,

Bridegroom: the bridegroom came,

Wise: and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast,

Bridegroom: and the door was shut.

A1. Second exchange

  • The foolish make a request: 11 Afterward the other maidens came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’
  • The bridegroom answers “no”: 12 But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’

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An overview of the prosecution and Jesus’ defense – 5:16-18

A. Why the Jews: 16And this was why the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because he was doing these things on the Sabbath.

B. Jesus’ answer: 17But Jesus answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.”

A1. Why the Jews: 18This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.

Jesus’ detailed defense – 5:19-30

A. Jesus only does what he sees the Father do. Life/healing: 19So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. 20For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing.

B. Marvel at greater works: And greater works than these will he show him, so that you may marvel.

C. As the Father, so also the Son. Life, judgment: 21For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will. 22The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, 23that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.

D. Hears Jesus/present life: 24Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.

D1. Hears Son of God/future life: 25Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.

C1. As the Father, so also the Son. Life, judgment: 26For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. 27And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man.

 B1. Marvel that he will raise the dead: 28Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice 29and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.

A1. Jesus only does what he hears. Judgment: 30I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me.”


The words in italics in vs. 16-20 are all the same. Jesus does what the Father does. He does not make himself anything.

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A. The man: 5:1 After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 2 Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades. 3 In these lay a multitude of *disabled people—blind, lame, and paralyzed. 5 One man was there who had been *ill for thirty-eight years.

B. Jesus sees him and speaks to him: 6 When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?”

C. The man answers Jesus: 7 The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.”

D. Jesus tells him to take up his bed and walk: 8 Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.”

E. Healed/Sabbath: 9 And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked. Now that day was the Sabbath.

 E1. Healed/Sabbath: 10 So the Jews said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath,

D1. The Jews tell him it is unlawful to take up his bed and walk: and it is not lawful for you to take up your bed.”

C1. The man answers the Jews: 11 But he answered them, “The man who healed me, that man said to me, ‘Take up your bed, and walk.'” 12 They asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Take up your bed and walk’?” 13 Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, as there was a crowd in the place.

B1. Jesus finds him and speaks to him: 14 Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.”

A1. The man: 15 The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had healed him.


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A. Water to wine in Cana – 2:1-12. Galilee [sign 1]

B. The leaders of Jerusalem in conflict with Jesus – 2:13-22. Jerusalem

C. Conversation with Nicodemus – 2:23-3:21. Jerusalem

D. Jesus baptizes more than John – 3:22-4:3. Judean countryside

C1. Conversation with Samaritan woman – 4:4-27. Samaria

B1. Many in Sychar believe – 4:28-45. Samaria

A1. Healing of child in Cana – 4:46-54. Galilee [sign 2]


A and A1 – 2:11 – There are several inclusion markers – “This, the first of his signs, Jesus did . . .” – 2:11; “This was now the second sign that Jesus did . . .” – 4:54. “Cana in Galilee” – 2:1, 4:26. 4:46 refers back to the making of wine in Cana. Additional parallels between both stories: 1. a need is expressed – for wine, for healing. 2. Jesus offers some resistance – “what does this have to do with me?” – 2:4; “unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe” – 4:48. 3. Faith in his power persists – “do whatever he tells you” – 2:5; “come down before my child dies” – 4:49. 4. Both focus on Jesus’ word – “do whatever he tells you” – 2:5; “the man believed the word that Jesus spoke.” – 4:50. 5. Jesus responds differently than asked – he does a miracle behind the scenes on his own terms; he doesn’t come with the man but heals the boy from a distance. 6. Servants are involved in both stories. 7. Faith is noted at the end of each story – “his disciples believed in him” – 2:11; “he himself believed and all his household” – 4:53. (With thanks to Ben Witherington for several of these.)

B and B1 focus on two cities: Jerusalem and its temple, and Sychar of Samaria. In the first Jesus symbolically announces judgment and encounters resistance. In the second there is acceptance of Jesus and salvation. In the first Jesus’ death and resurrection are foreshadowed. In the second Jesus as the Savior of the world is foreshadowed.

C and C1 focus on two conversations: Nicodemus is from Jerusalem, is a man, is upright; The woman is a Samaritan (heterodox), a woman, and immoral. Nicodemus came at night; the woman came at noon. Jesus knows people in general -2:24-25 and he knows that Nicodemus doesn’t truly believe – 3:12; Jesus knows the woman’s marital history – 4:16-19. In both Jesus speaks of “eternal life.” In both Jesus speaks of the “Spirit.”

B and C are bound together by – 2:13 “the Passover feast of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem”; 2:23 – “Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast.” Nicodemus as a ruler of Israel also links these two passages together.

B1 and C1 are bound together by an inclusion – 4:4-6 – Jesus passes through Samaria; 4:43-45 – Jesus goes to Galilee. The woman from Samaria links these two passages together.

In B and C and B1 and C1) there are overly literal misunderstandings: B) Jesus says destroy this temple. They think he means the building, but he means his body. C) Jesus says you must be born from above. Nicodemus thinks he means another natural birth, but he means by the Spirit. C1) Jesus speaks of living water. The woman thinks he means a new spring of water, but he means the Spirit. B1)  Jesus speaks of food. The disciples think that he means literal food, but he is talking about doing God’s will.

*There is also geographical symmetry. It begins with Galilee, then two stories connected to Jerusalem, with the Judean countryside in the middle. Then there are two stories connected to Samaria, and Galilee again at the end.

William Higgins

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Beginning inclusion

Jesus goes to Samaria: 4 And he had to pass through Samaria. 5 So he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the field that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6 Jacob’s well was there; so Jesus, wearied as he was from his journey, was sitting beside the well. It was about the sixth hour.

Jesus and the Samaritan woman

A. Jesus speaks with a Samaritan woman/disciples away: 7 A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” 8 (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) 9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.)

B. Jesus’ identity: 10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.”

C. Jacob’s well/another source of water vs. living water of the Spirit: 11 The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.” 13 Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” 15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.”

D. Her married life: 16 Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” 17 The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; 18 for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.”

C1. Mount Gerizim/Jerusalem vs. worship in Spirit and truth:

a. the question: 19 The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.”

b. hour: 21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father.

c. the Jews: 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.

b1. hour: 23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in Spirit and truth.”

a1. who will answer the question: 25 The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.”

B1. Jesus’ identity: 26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.”

A1. Disciples back/Jesus speaks with a Samaritan woman?: 27 Just then his disciples came back. They marveled that he was talking with a woman, but no one said, “What do you seek?” or, “Why are you talking with her?”

The city of Sychar

A. The woman’s witness/Samaritans come: 28 So the woman left her water jar and went away into town and said to the people, 29 “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” 30 They went out of the town and were coming to him.

B. Gods’ work/Jesus’ food: 31 Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.” 32 But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” 33 So the disciples said to one another, “Has anyone brought him something to eat?” 34 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.

B1. God’s work/harvest: 35 Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest. 36 Already the one who reaps is receiving wages and gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. 37 For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ 38 I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.”

A1. The woman’s witness/Samaritans come:

  • Many believed/woman’s testimony: 39 Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.”  40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days.
  • Many more believed because of Jesus/woman’s testimony: 41 And many more believed because of his word. 42 They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.”

Ending inclusion

Jesus goes to Galilee:43 After the two days he departed for Galilee. 44 (For Jesus himself had testified that a prophet has no honor in his own hometown.) 45 So when he came to Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him, having seen all that he had done in Jerusalem at the feast. For they too had gone to the feast.

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Here is a PDF of the literary structure of Psalm 139. The formatting is too complex to put in a post. William

Psalm 139 literary structure

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