Hannah had received the precious gift of a son from the Lord, a baby boy she named Samuel. Along with her husband Elkanah, she took little Samuel to the Tabernacle and presented him to Eli the priest for a lifetime of service. Hannah had poured out her heart in a prayer of distress and desperation in chapter 1; chapter 2 records her prayer of joy and thanksgiving.
Hannah’s theologically rich prayer in verses 1-10 is a beautiful psalm of praise. In many ways it mirrors the song of Mary (the “Magnificat”) in Luke 1:46-55. As Hannah expressed her gratitude she affirmed the very heart of Israelite faith: the Lord is the creator of the world and the controller and judge of mankind; He rewards those who seek Him and empowers those who fear Him; He lifts up those who are put down by the world and He puts down those who lift up themselves.
The remainder of this chapter presents a deliberate contrast between Samuel, the boy Eli would raise to serve the Lord, and Hophni and Phinehas, the sons Eli had raised to serve as priests. The chapter begins with a song of praise to God for the birth of Hannah’s son, and it ends with a prophecy from God about the death of Eli’s sons. Verse 12 states that Hophni and Phinehas were “worthless men” who did not know the Lord, while verse 21 indicates that even as a child Samuel had a growing relationship with the Lord. Hophni and Phinehas were fakers and takers, but Samuel gave of himself in ministry. The sin of Eli’s sons grew worse and worse (v.17, 22), but the favor of Hannah’s son increased more and more (v.26).
An unnamed man of God came to Eli and pronounced a chilling message of doom for the old priest and his family (v.27-36). Verse 35 hints that as the family of Eli was being brought down, the family of Samuel was being raised up.
This chapter emphasizes the value of a life of faithfulness to God and the futility of a life of sin and hypocrisy. In the end, one woman’s simple prayer of humble dependence on God outweighed the selfish pseudo-service of two priests. The little boy who served the Lord in purity and innocence was honored above grown men in powerful positions. Honor God by the way you live today, and He will honor you. He has given us His word on that (v.30).