A Trio Sings of the Great Reversal
Hannah’s praise song (I Samuel 2: 1 – 10) is part of a trilogy of praise songs by women of faith in the Bible. The other two praise singers are Miriam, who led the singing after the Israelites had escaped from their Egyptian captivity and Mary, the mother of Jesus who celebrated the deliverance her Son would bring to the world.
Hannah rejoiced at being liberated from the stigma of being a barren wife. Miriam rejoiced that she and her people had been freed from bondage. Mary rejoiced that the sovereign Lord had considered her worthy to give birth to His own Son.
In seeing God at work, these women discovered that He does not fit into our patterns of thinking. The values of God are different that the values of our world. Each of the women echoed this idea in the songs of praise they voiced.
We see in each of the songs God’s great reversal. Hannah talks about how God cares for the poor. “He treats them like princes,” are the words used in one translation. We regard the poor as helpless, not as those to be revered. Hannah would probably understand the attitude of someone like Mother Theresa who tried to see the face of Jesus, in the poor to whom she ministered. Perhaps that helped her treat them like princes. We may find new purpose as we learn to value those who would not be considered important in socio-economic terms. Seeing people this way may, like Hannah give us reason to rejoice.
For Miriam the great reversal was revealed in the way that the Lord leads with love. (Exodus 15: 13.) No longer is power found in brute strength. Even though the enemies of her people have just been destroyed, she somehow understands the strength of the Lord is found in His love. This message shows up so often in the teaching of Jesus. We find new purpose in discovering that no good comes when we respond to violence with retaliation. When we overcome violence by love, when we truly do turn the other cheek, we really overcome our enemies. That love is the strength that comes from the cross of Christ.
Mary describes the great reversal in terms of God’s mercy. (Luke 1: 50 – 51) She tells how He removes princes and he exalts the lowly. The lowly are not exalted simply because they are lowly, but rather because they recognize their need of God. They know the truth that Jesus proclaimed in John 15. Without Him, we can do nothing of lasting value.
The princes believe they possess power and do not realize the power that makes a difference is that which comes from the Lord of mercy and grace. Mary tells how the hungry are satisfied and the rich sent away empty-handed. God alone call fill the hungry soul and nothing else will satisfy. Our purpose comes not through dependence on our own strength or power, but in dependence upon the strength of love that comes from the Lord and in loving interdependence upon one another. Then our lives can reveal something of the presence of God in our world.