This week I was listening to a podcast that spoke about the story of Hannah in 1 Samuel. I had never seen the link before between the prayer of Hannah in 1 Samuel 2, and the prayer of Mary in Luke 1, but once you see it, it’s so striking to read these two passages side-by-side.

1 And Hannah prayed and said: “My heart rejoices in the LORD; My horn is exalted in the LORD. I smile at my enemies, Because I rejoice in Your salvation. 2 “No one is holy like the LORD, For [there is] none besides You, Nor [is there] any rock like our God. 3 “Talk no more so very proudly; Let no arrogance come from your mouth, For the LORD [is] the God of knowledge; And by Him actions are weighed. 4 “The bows of the mighty men [are] broken, And those who stumbled are girded with strength. 5 [Those who were] full have hired themselves out for bread, And the hungry have ceased [to hunger]. Even the barren has borne seven, And she who has many children has become feeble. 6 “The LORD kills and makes alive; He brings down to the grave and brings up. 7 The LORD makes poor and makes rich; He brings low and lifts up. 8 He raises the poor from the dust [And] lifts the beggar from the ash heap, To set [them] among princes And make them inherit the throne of glory. “For the pillars of the earth [are] the LORD’s, And He has set the world upon them. 9 He will guard the feet of His saints, But the wicked shall be silent in darkness. “For by strength no man shall prevail. 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.”

1 Samuel 2:1-10 NKJV

46 And Mary said: “My soul magnifies the Lord, 47 And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. 48 For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant; For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed. 49 For He who is mighty has done great things for me, And holy [is] His name. 50 And His mercy [is] on those who fear Him From generation to generation. 51 He has shown strength with His arm; He has scattered [the] proud in the imagination of their hearts. 52 He has put down the mighty from [their] thrones, And exalted [the] lowly. 53 He has filled [the] hungry with good things, And [the] rich He has sent away empty. 54 He has helped His servant Israel, In remembrance of [His] mercy, 55 As He spoke to our fathers, To Abraham and to his seed forever.

Luk 1:46-55 NKJV

Similarities

Things both of these women say in praise to God:

  • My heart rejoices in/magnifies God
  • He is holy
  • God in His strength casts down those who are proud
  • God provides for the hungry and sends away the rich/full
  • He lifts up the poor and lowly and brings down those in positions of power
  • He has mercy on those who follow Him
  • God is faithful to His promise to Israel

I love the significance linking these two prayers. Two women separated by about 1,000 years, but both of them were seen and loved by a merciful God. Both were blessed with a miraculous pregnancy. Both had sons who were dedicated to God and who brought a new era into the history of Israel. I wonder if Mary was thinking of Hannah when she uttered her praise as shared in the Gospel of Luke, and if she felt the significance of God’s plan that had been in place since the beginning. I wonder what filled Hannah’s imagination as she spoke prophetic words alluding to the coming Anointed King.

A God who sees the humble

The themes in these words of praise are familiar as we see them all throughout Scripture. God drawing near to the humble and resisting the proud, His faithfulness, His care and providence for the poor and meek, His reversal of the last and the first. These are indicators of His holiness, and compel us to give Him praise. It’s incredible to think of such a God. It’s inspiring that He looked down on these humble women in ancient Israel and met them where they were, to make them a part of His plan.

We quickly forget in our modern world that this is the God we serve. The prosperity gospel is pervasive in our time, and it creeps into our thinking in so many ways. Instead of “blessed are the poor,” we think “blessed are the financially secure.” Instead of “blessed are the meek,” we think “blessed are the tough.” We rely so much on our own strength rather than looking to the strength of God’s arm. I’ve been inspired this weekend as I’ve meditated on the words of these two “maidservants of the Lord,” and hope these thoughts can be an encouragement to you this week, too!