Text: 1 Samuel 2:10, "The adversaries of the Lord shall be broken in pieces; from heaven He will thunder against them. The Lord will judge the ends of the earth. He will give strength to His king, and exalt the horn of His anointed."
"The Book of Joshua relates the thrilling story of the Israelite conquest of Canaan. The book covers about twenty-seven years (1407 -1380 B.C.). Though rich in spiritual lessons and typology, the Book of Joshua contains no personal Messianic prophecy."1
From the Apostle Paul, in his discourse at Antioch in Pisidia, (Acts 13:14-41) we learn that God gave the children of Israel Judges for about four-hundred-and-fifty years, from the time of the death of Joshua until the coming of the prophet Samuel. The dark days of the Judges are recorded in the book by that name, and in the first seven chapters of the Book of 1 Samuel.
As Briggs says, "The period of the Judges was ill adapted for the development of the Messianic idea. The conquest of the Holy Land and the settlement of the tribes in the midst of the conquered Canaanites whom they had failed to drive out, resulted in breaking up the national unity, in lowering the spiritual tone through the influence of the people of the land, and in the decay of the religious life of the nation. It had been impossible to observe any of the Mosaic codes during the wanderings in the wilderness. It was also impossible to realize the Mosaic ideal during the period of the Judges."2
Although the nation of Israel saw many turbulent years during the period of the Judges, God did not allow them to go without testimony of the coming of the Messiah.
As Smith so well states, "Very little in the way of positive revelation occurred during these years. (The years of the Judges, par. mine, DGW) Nevertheless, toward the end of this period two significant Messianic prophecies are recorded. The first comes within the prayer of an exultant mother, the second is found within an anonymous judgment oracle."3
Saul's kingdom was a failure because Saul was not really a theocratic king. This may have been due in part to his mental illness, or his mental illness may have resulted from his disobedience to God. But the scepter of the kingdom passed from the tribe of Benjamin to the tribe of Judah when David became the first great king of the people of Yahweh. The great prophet Nathan put the spotlight of Messianic prophecy on David in an oracle that was spoken about eight years, or so, into the reign of David. This oracle came just after David had conquered the city of Jerusalem and made her the capital of his united kingdom.
Coming now to Hannah, in whose prayer the prophecy was spoken, we find that she had suffered the stigma of being childless for many, many years. After she gave birth to Samuel, and took him to the Tabernacle to serve God, as she had promised Jehovah that she would, she seems to burst forth into a beautiful hymn-like prayer.
Some critics say that since Hannah was but a simple farm woman, she could not have composed such a magnificent piece as is recorded in 1 Samuel 2:1-10. However, two things must be taken into consideration:
This wonderful woman was speaking by the inspiration of God.
There is no reason to believe that because Hannah was a simple woman that she was ignorant, for almost all the expressions which she used in this poem can be found in the inspired writings of Hannah's day.
In her magnificent prayer-poem, this great lady found four sources of joy, or happiness. She rejoices in her 1) wonderful experience (v. 1), 2) in God (vv. 2-3), 3) in her observations about life (vv. 4-8), and 4) in her hope (vv. 9-10).
Her poem reaches its climax in the very last lines in which we find Messianic implications, and this view is supported by some important factors.
Hannah speaks in this poem of a universal judgment against the enemies of God, followed by the exaltation of God's Anointed One.
Her words are very similar to both Psalm Two, and One-Hundred-Ten, both of which are prophecies of the Messiah.
The Aramaic Targum, an Aramaic translation of a portion of the Old Testament, renders verse ten as follows: 1 Samuel 2:10, "The adversaries of the Lord shall be broken in pieces; from heaven He will thunder against them. The Lord will judge the ends of the earth. He will give strength to His king, and exalt the horn of His anointed, and magnify the kingdom of his Messiah."
Hence, when we take the position that this prophecy is Messianic, we are standing on solid ground.
Some Very Encouraging Points That Can Be Gleaned From This Great Prophecy.
In verse nine of this prophecy there is an important point that is made which we shall paraphrase in the following way:
Since the Lord governs the world, and therefore, the righteous have nothing to fear because Yahweh keeps the feet of his saints so that they do not tremble.
The righteous will not fall into adversity and perish.
But the wicked, that is, those who persecute and fight against the righteous, will perish in darkness; they will be swallowed up in adversity when God withdraws his divine grace.
In her poem, Hannah is confident that those who fight against Jehovah will be destroyed because he will thunder against them from heaven as a warning that his judgment is approaching, and this statement makes a good commentary on verse ten.
It is at this point that Hannah's song becomes predictive, and two magnificent facts are set forth:
Ultimately Jehovah will judge the entire world.
God will give strength to his king.
When Hannah makes reference to "the king" it must be remembered that she is speaking in a time of Judges to a nation that has never had a king, so, she is showing that there was, on the part of the faithful Israelites, expectations of one day being a monarchy, that is, a kingdom.
God had promised faithful Abraham that kings would come from him in Genesis 17:6-16.
Balaam, though he tried to curse Israel, actually prophesied of the rise of a king in Numbers 23:21; 24:7.
Moses, In Deuteronomy 17:14-20, gave the regulations that were to govern the rule of future kings.
Evidently God had always planned that Israel would have kings, though he attempted to discourage them when they said, in effect, "Give us a king that we may be like the nations around us."
Some Scholars Believe That "The King" in Hannah's Prayer Was Not a Particular King, But the "Ideal" One.
If this view is correct, the passage could be Messianic only in that the royal line of Davidic kings was crowned by the coming of the Messiah, our Lord Jesus Christ.
The fulfillment of the prediction is seen as having four phases, in that:
The fulfillment had its beginning when David exercised victory over the enemies of Israel, and was successful in uniting the kingdom under himself.
The fulfillment continued in every victory over the enemies of Jehovah and his kingdom which was gained by those kings who followed David.
The fulfillment of the prophecy had its consummation in the coming and the advancement of the kingdom of Jesus Christ.
And, the fulfillment will conclude with the judgment of the last day through which all the enemies of Christ will be made his footstool. (1 Corinthians 15:25).
Is This Prophecy the Fourth State of Development in the Unfolding of Royal Messianic Prophecy?
If this is the proper explanation of the passage, Hannah's prediction concerning the Messiah would then be an ongoing prediction that will finally be fulfilled in the day of judgment.
However, there is one major problem with this interpretation, and that is that it denies that Hannah's prayer refers to a specific person, namely, the Messiah.
Perhaps the prophecy can best be explained in the following manner:
Hannah's prediction is concerned with the exaltation and final victory of the Messiah which will come at the universal judgment of men and demons.
But at the same time her prediction embraces a principle, namely that God has supported and protected his anointed ones from David down through the Davidic dynasty, and that he still supports the son of David who sits on his father's throne.
We can find many examples of this in the Kings and Chronicles.
So, rightly understood this prophecy of the blessed Hannah is the fourth stage of development in the unfolding of the predictions of the coming of the Messiah. The stages would be as follows:
The basic promise that was made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob that kings were to come from the promised seed who would be a blessing to the people. (Genesis 17:6-16; 35:11; 36:31)
The enlarged promise was made to Jacob that Judah was to have the scepter (ruling power) until Shiloh came, and to him would be the obedience of the people. (Genesis 49:10)
The third stage would be found in Balaam's prophecy that the Star and Scepter would arise and crush his enemies, in Numbers 24:17.
The promise made through Hannah that Jehovah would send a Messiah, who would be a King, and who would be exalted in the highest heavens after that judgment had come upon all men and his enemies were put under his feet.
Briggs makes the following comment upon the history surrounding the development of this prophecy: "The children of Israel were impelled by the circumstances in which they were placed to yearn for a king and a dynasty, and the national unity which this involved. The capture of the ark and the destruction of Shiloh brought this to the focus of a popular demand. The demand assumed the form of rebellion against Samuel and against Jahveh, (Yahweh, par. mine, DGW) whom Samuel represented, because it was really the demand for a permanent dynasty which would prevent the direct calling of the individual by God; but it was in the line of the Mosaic ideal and of the divine purpose, although it was premature on the part of the people. The reign of Saul was a temporary provision, which showed how premature the establishment of the kingdom had been. The reign of Saul was a transition from the old order to the new. Though Saul was the king, Samuel remained the master of political as well as religious affairs. . . . First with the anointing of David and his establishment of the throne of Zion, first after the removal of the ark thither, and the establishment of the religious and political unity of the nation in Jerusalem, did Messianic prophecy make a new advance."4
Keil comments on this the latter part of 1 Samuel 2:10 in these words: "The exaltation of the horn of the anointed of Jehovah commenced with the victorious and splendid expansion of the power of David, was repeated with every victory over the enemies of God and His kingdom by the successive kings of David's house, goes on in the advancing spread of the kingdom of Christ, and will eventually attain to its eternal consummation in the judgment of the last day, through which all the enemies of Christ will be made His footstool."5
Jamieson comments on verse ten of 1 Samuel Chapter Two in the following words: "This the first place in Scripture where the word 'anointed,' or Messiah occurs; and as there was no king in Israel at that time, it seems the best interpretation to refer to it as pointing prophetically to Christ. There is, indeed, a remarkable resemblance between the song of Hannah and that of Mary (Luke i 46); and the language of Hannah pointing evidently to the same great and ardently-expected event, was as if she had said, 'God shall make the Messiah great and honourable, and cause Him to triumph over all His enemies.'"6
We believe that there can be little doubt in the unprejudiced mind that this is a prophetic statement regarding the coming of Christ, the establishment of his kingdom, and his subsequent judgment of the world in righteousness; and we are deeply thankful to God for his prophetic ministry to mankind through the great men and women of the Old Testament.
It is a thrilling boost to the faith of the ones who truly believe the Word of God to study such passages as the song of Hannah.
Try to imagine, if you can, what the world would be like if Christ had never come, and reflect upon the blessings we have because he has come and redeemed us from all unrighteousness, and then tell us that the prophecies of the Old Testament are unimportant to our Christian faith.
1 James Edward Smith, What the Bible Teaches About the Promised Messiah, Thomas Nelson, Inc., Nashville, 1993, p. 76.
2 Charles Augustus Briggs, Messianic Prophecy, T & T Clark, Edinburgh, 1886, p.121.
3 Smith, p. 76.
4 Briggs, (Edinburgh), pp. 125-126.
5 C.F. Keil and F. Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, Vol. II, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, I & II Samuel, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, 1973, p. 138.
6 Robert Jamieson, A.R. Fausett and David Brown, A Commentary Critical, Experimental, and Practical on the Old and New Testaments, Vol. II, Joshua-Esther, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, 1961, p. 18.