Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Resurrection Sequence in Hannah's Song

Not a big point, but I thought sequence in this verse of Hannah's song of thanksgiving was notable:

"The LORD kills and makes alive; he brings down to Sheol and raises up" (1 Sam 2.6).

Now perhaps all Hannah means is that God is the one who begins and ends people's lives. But even then, you'd sort of expect the sequence to be "the LORD makes alive and kills," since people need first to live before they die.

But the first part of the verse seems to parallel the second part of the verse: Just like those whom he brings down to Sheol he also raises up, so too those whom he kills he also makes alive. In which case, the unnatural sequencing of "kill" and "alive" is there for a purpose -- Hannah is talking about God resurrecting people. After all, in order to be resurrected you first need to be dead.

A similar argument could be made respecting Dt 32.39, "It is I who put to death and give life. I have wounded, and it is I who heal." Just as wounding precedes healing, so death here precedes life.

So God gives life to those he kills. And to push the pont even further, in light of St. Paul's baptismal argument in Ro 6.3-8 (and CPA's comments below), in order to receive life from God we must first be killed by God. The Christian's central hope is not that we avoid death, but that we resurrect after we die. After all, dying frees us from sin, and from the fear of death.


Blogger CPA said...

Luther often cited those words of Hannah's prayer as a short hand for how we only learn to have faith in God through despair in our own works.

March 30, 2008 5:07 PM  
Blogger Jim said...

Interesting. If you have a citation close at hand, please post. It'd be useful. (But please don't waste time finding a citation if you don't have one handy.)

March 31, 2008 9:36 AM  

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