Today's Lectionary Text
1 Samuel 2:1-10
“My heart exults in the Lord;
“There is no Holy One like the Lord,
“He will guard the feet of his faithful ones,
This is one of my favorite passages in all of Scripture. I find this prayer of Hannah’s to be one of the most important and powerful pictures of the character of Yahweh that we have. For me, the prayer’s power comes from the one-two punch of two very important themes:
The first theme is Yahweh’s power. Hannah describes Yahweh as holy above every other God or created thing. Yahweh is the strong rock, the God of knowledge, the one who gives and takes life, who shatters his enemies to pieces. Yahweh is the one who set creation on its foundations. Hannah paints a truly majestic and intimidating picture of Yahweh as the all-powerful God over all creation.
The second theme, which arrives almost like a punchline, describes the way Yahweh uses his power. One might expect that this God of power would align himself with powerful people. Conventional wisdom would say that a nation’s god would show its power by helping the king in expanding the nation’s borders and wealth. But, according to Hannah, Yahweh shows his power by doing exactly the opposite. Instead of being aligned with earth’s strongest, Yahweh aligns himself with the weak and needy. He gets down into the dust with the poor in order to raise them up and give them a place of honor. Yahweh breaks the weapons of the strong in order to stop their campaigns of oppression. Rather than valuing power and strength, Yahweh values faithfulness, humility and justice.
As Hannah’s spiritual descendants in following Yahweh, we must continually ask ourselves where our values lie. As Christians in the United States, are we aligning ourselves with empire or the people under the empire’s boot? Yahweh shows us that true power is expressed in humble service of our needy neighbor; and this is a lesson we American Christians need more now than ever.
St. Andrew’s UMC, Omaha, NE
*originally published 11/16/2018
Prayer for Reflection
Yahweh, Lord of creation, please remind me constantly that you are a God who cares for the needy and oppressed. Humble me whenever I get caught up in power games; and open my eyes to the needs of my human sisters and brothers. Amen.
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