We’re continuing in our series in the first three chapters of 1 Samuel. If you’re just joining us, it’s probably best to begin with the first post in the series, last Wednesday.
God the great reverser
As we saw yesterday, God is the great rescuer. Having been rescued, we become part of God’s rescue plan. But Hannah’s song also praises him as the great reverser. That is, those who are powerful but unfaithful will be brought low; those who are weak but faithful will be raised up to be used in God’s service:
1 Samuel 2:4-7, 9 The bows of the warriors are broken, but those who stumbled are armed with strength. 5 Those who were full hire themselves out for food, but those who were hungry are hungry no more. She who was barren has borne seven children, but she who has had many sons pines away. 6 “The Lord brings death and makes alive; he brings down to the grave and raises up. 7 The Lord sends poverty and wealth; he humbles and he exalts… 9 He will guard the feet of his faithful servants, but the wicked will be silenced in the place of darkness.
Hannah praises God that whenever he acts – whether it be in the lives of individuals, or in the grand sweep of human history – the proud and powerful are brought down and the humble and weak are lifted up. Eli’s sons – corrupt, rich, arrogant – they were to perish. But Samuel – the miracle child of a faithful peasant – was raised up to be used powerfully by God.
The ultimate reversal
Just like yesterday, we see in Luke’s Christmas story echoes of the Samuel story. He portrays Jesus using Samuel-language:
1 Samuel 2:26 And the boy Samuel continued to grow in stature and in favor with the Lord and with people.
Sound familiar? It should!
Luke 2:52 Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.
Jesus, too, will cause a great reversal in Israel. The song of Mary also sounds a lot like Hannah’s song (Lk 1:51-53):
Luke 1:51-53 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. 52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. 53 He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.
Simeon, blessing the infant Jesus in the temple, prophesies this:
Luke 2:34 This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against…
Jesus went on to bring in a kingdom. A kingdom that was all about status reversal. The first become last. The leaders must become servants. The rich find it impossible to enter. The poor, the outcast, the sinner – they welcome the message and embrace the values of Jesus’ upside-down kingdom.
Again, here’s how your story connects to God’s story:
God has begun a reversal in your life so that you might be a part of his great reversal project.
If God has ‘raised us up’ from death to life, if God has welcomed us into his kingdom, then we can’t go on living the same way. Our own fortunes have been reversed so that we can be part of God’s great reversal project.
It means we can’t continue living by the world’s rules: Rules that have us chasing status, power & money. Rules that have us judge people by wealth, appearance, and celebrity. Rules that value survival of the fittest, and at best give only token charity to the most vulnerable in our world.
We’re no longer part of that story – we’re part of a different story. A story that brings hope to the hopeless, food to the hungry, equity to the exploited, comfort to the suffering, medicine to the sick, and God’s offer of eternal life to those who have never heard.
So how is your story connecting up? What are you doing to be a part of that story? It doesn’t have to be big or world-changing on its own. In fact, the things that are truly world-changing involve a whole lot of little people like us connecting their little stories to one big story. Sponsor one child in another country. Bring one box of food in to feed the poor in the next suburb. Partner in prayer with one gospel worker who’s reaching an unreached people group.
Do your buying habits give preference to products that pay its third world workers a fair wage? Do your investments seek out companies that are ethical & generate wealth in the poorer parts of our world? Do your bank statements show a regular commitment to funding God’s mission?
They are just some of the ways our stories might connect with God’s. Yours will be unique, just like your story. We can’t all contribute in the same way, which is what makes it all the more astounding when we step back and look at the patchwork God brings together.
The God who answered Hannah’s desperate prayer for rescue is the same God who answers ours. But he’s not content to stop with us. He wants to have an impact through us on the world.
Hannah’s song was all about connecting her story to God’s bigger story. What’s the focus of your song? How does your story fit into God’s big story? How are you being a part of the rescue of others? How are you being a part of God’s great reversal?
If you can’t answer that, then you’re missing out on being a page in the greatest epic ever written. And your life – it’s just another short story.