1 Samuel 2:1-10 – Hannah’s Song


1 Samuel 2:1-10


Hannah’s song of praise introduces several themes that will appear in the books of Samuel. The song serves as a model for the Magnificat in Luke 1:46-55.


Hannah’s song, a later poetic piece, has been inserted into the narrative. This poem, a national thanksgiving, is only tangentially related to Hannah’s situation in verse 5b, where “the barren has borne seven.” The reference to “his king” (v. 10) also indicates that the poem is later than its setting.

Nevertheless, this marvelous song beautifully expresses Hannah’s transformation by contrasting her sad song, lamenting her childlessness (1:10-11), with this glad song, praising God for the gift of her son. This movement from sad song to glad song, lament to praise, is foundational to the Psalter. And, indeed, to biblical theology as well. The source of her joy is found in the Lord throughout the song. It is the Lord who has triumphed, and the Lord who brings about the reversal of situation that will form the backbone of the following narrative.

Hannah’s song should also be seen in its relation to two other scriptural songs:

  1. David’s song (2 Samuel 22), coming near the end of 2 Samuel, and Hannah’s song form an inclusio. An inclusio is a literary device in which a writer places similar material at the beginning and ending of a work or section of a work. For example, Mark’s gospel contains an inclusio in which Jesus is recognized (at his baptism and crucifixion) as God’s Son. Hannah’s song and David’s song form a framework around the books of Samuel, attesting to their original unity. Among the similarities are the following:

2. The Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55), sung by Mary upon visiting Elizabeth, also strongly echoes Hannah’s song:

  • Hannah, Mary, and Elizabeth all became pregnant in miraculous ways
  • all three dedicated their sons (Samuel, Jesus, and John the Baptist) to God’s service
  • the songs were offered in response to God’s gift of these sons
  • of more significance, however, is the repeated theme of God’s reversal of fortune by bringing down the powerful and raising up the lowly (1 Samuel 2:4-5, 7-8; Luke 1:52-53).