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And Hannah prophesied, and said : —
1. My heart exulted in Jehovah,
My mouth was opened over mine enemy,
2. There is none holy as Jehovah,
Surely there is none besides thee,
The sense of her own mercies, we may suppose, first kindled the thought of gratitude in Hannah's mind; but, while she seeks to express her happiness and thankfulness to God, she is filled with the Holy Ghost, and her language soon swells with a greater theme than the birth of Samuel. Even in the expressions with which the hymn opens, we should regard her as the church exulting in the midst of her insulting foes, in prophetic anticipation of a Saviour's birth, rather than as Hannah exulting over her reviling sister. But the subject becomes more distinct and manifest as we proceed:
3. Talk not so very proudly,
Let not arrogancy come out of
As addressed to the scoffers of the church, and of her hopes, we see the propriety of these reproofs, and of this solemn appeal to that God who will judge the world in righteousness. In regard of Hannah's private enemies, the propriety and importance of this would not be so manifest:
For , all the versions have 1b).
4. The bow of the mighty was stayed,*
And the enfeebled were girded with strength.
5. Those that were full have been hired for bread,
And she that was fruitful in children hath drooped. ↑
These are general figures, descriptive of a deliverance, wrought for certain poor and afflicted objects, that produces a complete reverse, not only in their own condition, but in the condition of their insulting enemies. The same metaphor is used in the "Magnificat"--" He filleth the hungry with good things, and the rich he sendeth empty away," &c. The meaning is evident; the people, who, as the children of promise, are waiting for deliverance from the expected Saviour, will be found, for the most part, a poor and afflicted, perhaps a persecuted people; and the salvation, which God will accomplish among mankind, will be of a nature that will lay low the pride of man, and strangely reverse the condition of men in society. In short, the power of God, and the nothingness of man, is to be eminently displayed in this transaction:
6. Jehovah killeth and maketh alive,
He bringeth down to hell and bringeth up:
Jehovah maketh poor and maketh rich,
He bringeth low and he exalteth.
This is, indeed, a striking intimation to Israel, that the salvation expected was not to be accomplished by
* Literally "sealed up."
+ See the Arab. Ja, contempsit, reliquit.
Become weak, or weary; it is applied both to the languor of sickness, and the fading of plants.
might or power of man; but by the sovereign grace of God, and by his strength, exerted often in man's extremest weakness. The patriarchs, who first received the promises, were made to feel this in their own private walk with God: "Out of weakness they were made strong," against hope they believed in hope," and found that "nothing" was "too hard for God." Their enemies, who seemed to be too mighty for them, were subdued beneath those, whom they despised, and whose religion they derided.
The language of the part of the song which next follows is much to be remarked. The general subject which it embraces is, the exaltation to eternal glory, in defiance of the opposition of man, by the direct interference of divine power, of a very poor abject man, and of a depressed people.
The late bishop Horsley has remarked, on the last verse of the fifth psalm: "The Psalmist, speaking with the highest assurance of the final deliverance and happy condition of the good, is driven, as it were, by the Spirit that inspired him, to a choice of words; fixing the blessing to a single person, to him who is blessed over all, and the cause of blessing." Similar observations may be applied to the remarkable passage which follows. Speaking of the low and miserable situation, in this world, of the objects of future exaltation, the prophetess is driven, as it were, by the Spirit that inspired her, to a choice of words, fixing the predicted humiliation and wretchedness to a single person, to him who, by his humiliation, hath exalted us; and by his suffering, has become the cause of happiness to his people:
8. He raiseth up from the dust a poor exhausted' one,'' He exalteth from the ashes one' most destitute;2
That he may be seated with 'his' princes,
The throne referred to, in this place, is the Eastern divan; the royal seat, not only of the monarch, but also of his most eminent princes, who may be strictly said, "to sit down with him on his throne."
For the pillars of the earth are Jehovah's,
9. He keepeth the feet of his beloved,
And the wicked are silent in darkness.
Some critics have exceedingly perplexed themselves, to account for the word I have rendered "his beloved," being found in the singular. In the interpretation here offered, the reason is plain. Perhaps no word of equal importance has been often so inadequately translated; it is sometimes rendered saint, sometimes "merciful one;" though the word from which it is derived is very properly rendered "loving-kindness," and tender affection. In the form in which it is used in the passage before us, as I have elsewhere observed, it" ought to signify the object of the tenderest affection; of an affection naturally or spontaneously flowing from its agent, such as parents feel for their children." It is here, and in many passages of Scripture, an epithet of the "well beloved," the " dearly beloved of the Father;" and in Deuteronomy, the thirty
third chapter, verse the eighth, it is remarkably applied to the object of Israel's worship. To proceed :
10. For, not by strength can man prevail;
They that contend with Jehovah are broken to pieces:
He thundereth over them in the heavens;
Jehovah judgeth the utmost parts of the earth.
And he giveth strength to his king,
And erecteth the horn of his anointed.
We have, evidently, here a contest displayed between God and rebellious man, which is terminated by the interference of the Deity, who cometh to judge the utmost parts of the earth. The issue is the exaltation of the anointed King.
This passage is remarkable, as being the first that contains the term "anointed," or " Messiah," the famous epithet of the Redeemer; under which term the Jews so long expected, and still expect, their Saviour. It has been often, and rightly, explained to refer to the custom of inaugurating prophets and priests, and kings, into their office, by pouring oil upon their heads; denoting that the gift of the Spirit was bestowed upon them to discharge their important functions among mankind. The term Messiah, though principally, perhaps, applied to the Redeemer in his regal character, denoted also that he should unite in his royal person the characters of prophet and priest also, since the truth of every type, and of every shadow, must meet in him.
In reviewing the contents of this divine song, I conceive we shall feel little hesitation in referring, generally, the contest here described between the Almighty and the insulting foes of the church, and terminated, at length, by his own thundering right hand, to that " hos