He will guard the feet of his faithful ones, but the wicked shall be cut off in darkness, for not by might shall a man prevail. The 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. – 1 Samuel 2:9-10 ESV
1 Samuel 2:1-10
As Hannah wraps up her prayer of praise and thanksgiving to God, she stresses His strength and dominion over everything and anyone that exists. She also emphasizes His constant care over those who remain faithful to Him. It is not by our own strength that we are to survive and thrive, but by resting in the power and on the provision of God. Those who stand against Him will ultimately fail. Those who remain faithful will be exalted. This is not a blanket promise that every child of God will live a carefree life devoid of all trials or troubles. It is a statement of faith in the ultimate sovereignty and justice of God. He will right all wrongs and see to it that all injustices are one day paid for in full. Even in her prayer, Hannah reveals her belief that God will one day send “his king” to rule over the nation of Israel. The people of Israel knew that God had made a promise to Abraham that included a long line of kings, but to this point in the story, there had been none. “I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make you into nations, and kings shall come from you” (Genesis 17:6 ESV). Hannah believed that God would fulfill His promise to Abraham and to His people. Just a few short chapters after Hannah prayed this prayer, the people of Israel would demand that God give them a king (1 Samuel 8:4-7). For the people of Israel, a king was seen as a deliverer, protector, leader, and warrior. He would be God’s human representative, providing them with justice, guidance and protection from their enemies. He was act as God’s agent on behalf of the people, standing against the enemies of God and bringing peace and prosperity to the land.
But ultimately, Hannah knew that it would not be by human might that the nation of Israel would stand. It would be by God’s power. He alone was sovereign. Any king God might provide would find success only as long as he relied upon God. It is God who guards the feet of His faithful ones. It is God who cuts off the wicked. It is God who breaks His adversaries in pieces. It is God who will judge the ends of the earth. But the sad truth is, the Israelites would end up forgetting this most important detail regarding God’s sovereignty over them. In demanding a king for themselves, they would be rejecting God as their king. When the prophet Samuel heard the people’s demand for a king, he was displeased, but God told Him, “Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them. According to all the deeds that they have done, from the day I brought them up out of Egypt even to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are also doing to you. Now then, obey their voice; only you shall solemnly warn them and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them” (1 Samuel 8:7-9 ESV). Even after Samuel warned them of what would happen if God granted their request, the people said, “No! But there shall be a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles” (1 Samuel 8:19-20 ESV). Rather than trusting God to be their judge, King and protector, they were demanding a flesh-and-blood king. But it wasn’t their request for a king that was wrong, it was their rejection of God.
Hannah’s simple prayer reminds us that our faith and hope are to be in God and in Him alone. Our strength and security are to come from Him alone. We are not to turn to anyone or anything else. Even a divinely appointed human king was not to be a replacement for trust in God. David, while hand-picked by God to be the king of Israel, was never to be a substitute for God. He was simply God’s representative. It was the king’s who remained faithful and committed to God who saw their reigns blessed and their kingdoms flourish. Those, like Saul, who rebelled and against Him, saw that their might was insufficient and their reigns, short-lived. God has called each of us to acknowledge His rule and reign over our lives. He has earned the right to be our Lord and Master. It is to Him we must turn in times of trouble. It is He we must trust when things look bleak. It is His power on which we must rely when our strength grows weak. As God told Zerubbabel, when he was faced with rebuilding the destroyed temple in Jerusalem, “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts” (Zechariah 4:6 ESV). Our hope, strength, and salvation must always come from the Lord. He alone is sufficient for all that we may face.