“Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread, but those who were hungry have ceased to hunger. The barren has borne seven, but she who has many children is forlorn.” (ESV – Read the chapter)
Put yourself in Hannah’s shoes for a moment. If you are a woman there is a chance you can. She had been barren for years. In spite of much effort, childbearing remained painfully elusive. Meanwhile the woman she was forced to be with all the time seemed to be able to get pregnant at the drop of a hat. They each had the thing the other desired most, though: Peninnah, children, and Hannah, Elkhanah’s heart. Peninnah could at least take solace in her many children. Hannah merely endured the constant scorn of her rival and wondered why God hated her so much. And then she was pregnant.
Her elation knew no bounds. Yes, she was going to have to follow through on her oath—made before the priest no less—to dedicate the child to the Lord permanently, but if she had conceived once, it could happen again. And hopefully again and again.
So she praised the Lord. She praised the Lord in a song that has been compared in its form and content to Mary’s own song of praise when she learned she would bear the Savior of the World. Indeed, the chief theme of the two songs of praise is what is sometimes called by theologians the Great Reversal.
It is a celebration of God’s justice coming. The idea is that when God’s perfect justice comes, much of this world is going to be turned on its head. Those who have enjoyed their plenty now will have nothing. Those who advanced themselves at the expense of others will be set back. Those who never knew hunger will be unable to fill themselves. On and on it goes.
Now, why should this be a thing to celebrate? Well, if you’re wondering that, there’s a chance you’re on the side of the equation for whom the Great Reversal would not prove beneficial. Yet this concern of our just God is clear throughout the Scriptures. We would do well to take it into account as we live our own lives, especially if those lives are ostensibly dedicated to Him in some fashion.
God has a clear and passionate concern from Genesis to Revelation about those who are struggling to make it in His world. Sin is the ultimate cause of their misery and because of that, He is for them in a way that is stronger than most. He is patiently waiting for when the time is right to fully restore His world to its pre-fall glory and beyond, and those who have suffered the most from sin and yet trusted in Him look to gain the most from this setting-things-right.
So, what does this mean for us. Well, if you’re one who is suffering under the weight of the world’s injustice, rejoice and take heart. God is for you and He will eventually right your situation and the situations of anyone like you. You will know a great reversal of your pain and anguish that will make what was in the past seem like little more than a distant memory.
If you’re one for whom things aren’t so bad right now—you have plenty to eat and a nice place to live and a broad sampling of modern luxuries and a steady income and access to modern medicine and so on and so forth–know well that while God loves you and is for you, He expects you to use the gifts He’s given you for the sake of those who aren’t in a similar position in life. He expects you to join Him in advancing His justice into a broken world.
If you do, you’ll be able to rest well that when the time for restoration comes, you were part of the guard that had been advancing it and will celebrate its arrival. If you do not, then be warned that a great reversal is coming. Your luxury will not last forever. We serve a God who is just. If you are a party to the world’s injustice, or even if you are simply one who looks to benefit from it while you can, you will meet justice one day and it won’t be a sweet affair.