As a reader, I enjoy a story which has a surprise and isn’t too predictable. A good author knows how to draw the reader in and build fascination. Few things do this like a plot reversal, when the story seems to be heading one way, but suddenly changes so the characters see things very differently. This can also be done by role reversal, when a character adopts a role in reverse of one they would normally have in relation to another, who then assumes their role in exchange.
The story of Hannah in I Samuel has a good plot reversal. She is praying for a pregnancy, kneeling at the Temple, and the high priest Eli rebukes her for being drunk, as her lips were moving silently as she spoke to God. Eli was supposed to be a strong leader, but was a poor one; an example for others to follow, but a failure to his own sons. Eli joins his prayer to hers anyway, and God honours the request with the birth of Samuel, who became a prophet, ushering in the kingdom of God’s people under King David. In this plot reversal, joy comes from sorrow, a miracle child born from a woman who was barren, and the poor become rich.
Hannah’s attitude of humility before God forms the role reversal with Eli, who should have had this virtue. She praises God, “My heart exults in the Lord; my strength is exalted in the Lord. My mouth derides my enemies, because I rejoice in your salvation. There is none holy like the Lord; there is none besides You; there is no rock like our God. Talk no more so proudly, let not arrogance come from your mouth; for the Lord is a God of knowledge, and by Him actions are weighed.” (I Samuel 2:1-3 ESV) During the greatest sacrifice of her life, giving up her precious child to the priesthood, Hannah rejoiced in the Lord. She acknowledged His holiness and knowledge of all things, and the need to turn away from pride. God knows how to humble the strong, and how to life up the weak. In a hopeless situation, she was lifted up high and knew it was all God’s doing. The role reversal was possible because *He is in charge*.
My role was reversed, when as a student at the Urbana Missions Conference, I stood up at the call of the reverend Billy Graham, and committed my life to the Lord once and for all. I haven’t always been faithful to that path, but He promises me the grace to pursue holiness. God will give you this grace as well, as you give away that which keeps you from following Him. Renew your vow and devotion today, because Jesus has guaranteed your salvation.
Dearest Lord: One there is, above all others, well deserves the name of Friend. His is love beyond a brother’s, costly, free, and knows no end; they who once His kindness prove, find it everlasting love. (J. Newton, 1725-1807) We thank You with humble hearts for Your power, grace and salvation. Amen.