Today the Church commemorates Hannah. Our devotional reading comes from the Treasury of Daily Prayer.
“For it is written: Rejoice, O barren one that dost not bear; break forth and shout, thou who art not in travail; for the desolate hath more children than she who hath a husband.” (Gal. 4:27)
Paul quotes this passage, which is completely allegorical, from the prophet Isaiah. It is written, he says, that the mother of many children, who has a husband, must grow sick and perish, while the barren one, who does not bear, must have very many children. Hannah sings the same way in her canticle, from which Isaiah took this prophecy (1 Sam. 2:4–5): “The bows of the mighty are broken, but the feeble gird on strength. 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.” It is an amazing thing, she says: the one who was prolific will be barren, and the one who was barren will be prolific. Those who were mighty, satisfied, alive, righteous, blessed, rich, and glorious will be feeble, hungry, sentenced to death, sinful, condemned, poor, and shameful; and, on the other hand, the feeble and the hungry will be mighty and satisfied.
With this allegory from the prophet Isaiah, Paul shows the difference between Hagar and Sarah, that is, between the synagog and the church, or between the Law and the Gospel… [I]f they follow the Law and perform its outward works, they think they are righteous. All such men are slaves, not free men, because they are sons of Hagar, who gives birth into slavery. If they are slaves, they do not share in the inheritance but are cast out of the house. “The slaves do not con-tinue in the house forever” (John 8:35); in fact, they have now been thrown out of the kingdom of grace and freedom. “He who does not believe is condemned already” (John 3:18). Therefore they remain under the curse of the Law, under sin, death, and the power of the devil, under the wrath and judgment of God.
Devotional reading is adapted from the Treasury of Daily Prayer, page 682–83 © 2012 Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.
God the Father Almighty, maker of all things, You looked on the affliction of Your barren servant Hannah and did not forget her but answered her prayers with the gift of a son. So hear our supplications and petitions and fill our emptiness, granting us trust in Your provision, so that we, like Hannah, might render unto You all thankfulness and praise, and delight in the miraculous birth of Your Son, Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Prayer is from the Treasury of Daily Prayer, page 683 © 2012 Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.