“The Lord will judge the ends of the earth; he will give strength to his king and exalt the power of his anointed.’”

Hannah’s Prayer, 1 Samuel 2:10 (NRSV)

Shekinah

Hannah’s Israel was a consortium of tribes who collaborated in times of war and were led by Levi’s tribe in worshipping YHWH together at Shiloh. They had periodic champions called judges but were unique among the surrounding peoples in having no king but God. Judge Gideon, perhaps a hundred years earlier, had even said, “I will not rule over you … the Lord will rule over you.”

Yet Hannah envisioned the Lord strengthening God’s king and empowering God’s anointed. Though her son would one day anoint kings at God’s behest, the Anointed she beheld was surely Messiah, the One to come, prophesied by Moses.

And though Zechariah was praying over his own son, he was also speaking of One even greater, Whose transcendent light would illuminate even the darkest shadow of death. This is the light of God’s glory, Shekinah, the pillar of cloud and fire Who had protected and guided them, Who dwelt among them in the tabernacle, and later the temple.

Three of Jesus’s disciples literally beheld Jesus as the Light of the World when He was transfigured before their eyes, God’s glory emanating from within Jesus’s body. Paul later wrote of the light of the Gospel shining into our hearts.

Christmas Carol

Rank on rank the host of heaven
spreads its vanguard on the way
as the Light from Light, descending
from the realms of endless day,
comes the pow’rs of hell to vanquish
as the darkness clears away.

“Let Al Mortal Flesh Keep Silence” Gerard Moultrie (1864)

Prayer

You are the Light of the World, the Life that is the Light of all people. Your Light shines in darkness and the darkness cannot grasp You, nor overcome You (John 1:4-5). Thank You for filling those who have put their faith in You with Your Life and Your Light.

“To shine upon those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.”

Zechariah’s Prophecy, Luke 1:79 (NRSV)
James Tissot (French, 1836-1902). The Adoration of the Shepherds (L’adoration des bergers), 1886-1894. Opaque watercolor on gray wove paper, Image: 6 1/2 x 8 in. (16.5 x 20.3 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Purchased by public subscription, 00.159.26 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 00.159.26_PS1.jpg)


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