“He will guard the feet of his faithful ones, but the wicked will perish in darkness.”

Hannah’s Prayer, 1 Samuel 2:2 (NRSV)

Faithful Rescue

Hannah lived during a turbulent time in Israel’s history. Canaan at the end of the Late Bronze Age and beginning of the early Iron Age was undergoing certain upheavals in changing people groups. The settlement of the Sea Peoples, whom we know as the Philistines, took the coastlands. Israelite tribes lived at a subsistence level in the highlands, while the lowlands supported Canaanite city states. Border skirmishes and highway robbers were common. Often Canaanite warlords, or nearby nations such as Moab, levied heavy tribute requirements. Again and again, when the Israelites cried out to God for rescue, the Lord would raise up a champion to defend them.

Hannah knew from personal experience that God guarded the faithful. And she had lived through times of war when the enemies of God and God’s people “perished in darkness.”

Something of the same feeling came through in Zechariah’s prophecy, for as a first-century Jew Zechariah had seen his fair share of Roman brutality. Yet, he knew the Lord had many times saved God’s people from those who hated them—famous stories such as Esther, and later the triumph of the Maccabees, bolstered the people’s faith in God’s salvation.

The much greater salvation comes in eternity, when God through Christ rescues the faithful from sin, corruption, and death itself.

Christmas Carol

Joy to the earth, the Savior reigns!
Let all their songs employ,
while fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains,
repeat, repeat the sounding joy.

“Joy to the World” Isaac Watts (1719)

Prayer

Thank You, O God, for so loving the world that You gave to us Your only Son, so that everyone may receive Your gift of salvation through faith. Thank You for Your longsuffering patience, and Your compassionate grace in desiring that none should perish but that all should come to repentance. (John 3:16, 2 Peter 3:9)

“That we would be saved … from the hand of all who hate us.”

Zechariah’s Prophecy, Luke 1:71 (NRSV)
Catacombs of Saints Marcellinus and Peter (Book plate of photo by Wilpert, Joseph. Die Malereien der Katakomben Roms, 1903). Scenes, from top:Orants, Jonah and the Whale, Moses striking the rock (left), Noah praying in the ark, Adoration of the Magi | By anonimus – [1], Public Domain

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