“Talk no more so very proudly; let not arrogance come from your mouth.”

Hannah’s Prayer, 1 Samuel 2:3 (NRSV)

Humility in God’s Blessing

Surely foremost in Hannah’s mind were the years of belittling she had endured as Peninah’s tents filled with children, and Hannah’s trousseau of baby things gathered dust. But her prophetic oracle takes on a much broader application. Life is unpredictable, dramatic change can occur when we least expect it, and in ways we never saw coming. In those moments, we realize afresh how really very little we actually control, that God Most High alone is sovereign over all things.

Hannah words may also have been for her own complicated feelings. Perhaps she had enjoyed Peninah’s discomfiture at Hannah’s miraculous, God-given pregnancy, the airing out of her tent to welcome the new little life, and Hannah’s position in the heterarchy of their family shifting to the rightful position of matriarch. Hannah may have been sorely tempted to move past enjoyment of God’s gifts to gloating over her new-found good fortunes.

Instead, she prayed, do not give arrogance any sway. She had asked for a child, and she now would keep to her vow of leaving him in the care of the Lord and the priest, Eli, and return to a once more empty tent, Samuel’s little bed folded up and his things packed away.

Zechariah’s prayer brings in the better perspective, to keep our hearts focused on thanksgiving when God grants favor.

Christmas Carol

Frankincense to offer have I;
incense owns a Deity nigh;
prayer and praising, voices raising,
worshiping God on high.

O star of wonder, star of light,
star with royal beauty bright,
westward leading, still proceeding,
guide us to thy perfect light.

“We Three Kings” John Henry Hopkins Jr. (1857)

Prayer

Most High God, keep our hearts attuned to You, in praise and thanksgiving, for all we have comes by Your favor. Help us replace arrogance with humility, and to have compassion when fortunes shift.

“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has looked favorably on his people.”

Zechariah’s Prophecy, Luke 1:70 (NRSV)
By Charles Caryl Coleman – Online Collection of Brooklyn Museum; Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 21.491.1_SL1.jpg, Public Domain

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